The To-Read Pile

There's an ever growing pile of books I want to read…

Birthday Reads: Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple and The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple and The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

As I might have mentioned once or twice, I’m not buying books this year. I’m not counting any advance reading copies that publishers are nice enough to send me and I can make an exception if I have gift vouchers but, otherwise, I’m not spending money on books. Not because I don’t want to buy books. If anything, not allowing myself to buy them is making me want to buy them even more.

The trouble is that my to-read pile has reached critical mass. At last count, there are 165 books waiting to be read. Some things have been there for years.  Personally, I don’t think that this is a problem. What if one day society collapses and I have nothing to do but read? What if someone decides to pay me just for writing these reviews? (Unlikely, I admit!) I’m not going to regret having lots on my pile if that ever happens.

My husband disagrees. He feels that if the pile gets much bigger, we won’t actually have enough space to move around in our flat. It’s possible he has a point but don’t tell him that, okay? I could happily keep acquiring books until every inch of our flat was filled with them, but eventually I’d miss being able to sit and sleep and make food.

Anyway, all of this means that when my mum asked what I wanted for my birthday, my answer was a pretty emphatic ‘BOOKS!’ She took my to my spiritual homeland (by which I mean a bookshop) and let me loose to choose what I wanted. I picked two books: Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple and The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. They were both things that I had been desperately wanting to read and I enjoyed them both a lot.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

I love, love, loved this book. I can’t think of a single aspect of it that I’d criticise. I think it’s probably a marmite book; I suspect that you either love it or hate it. (For the record, Marmite is completely disgusting and no-one will ever convince me otherwise)

The story is narrated by Bee, the precocious daughter of Elgie Branch and Bernadette Fox. Bee has assembled letters, emails, notes to put together the mystery of Bernadette’s disappearance. I loved Bee and Bernadette and, by the end, I’d developed a soft spot for Elgie too.

I was desperate to know what had happened to Bernadette. “What’s happened to Bernadette?” I asked while I was reading. “Where is she? I hope nothing bad has happened to her!” My husband answered these enquiries with a shrug and advice to keep reading. I kept picking it back up every spare moment and, at the same time, I didn’t want to finish too soon. I often carry books around for a while without doing any reading but this book was one I couldn’t wait to get back to whenever I stopped.

The story also really made me want to go back to Seattle. My girlfriend lives there and this book made me homesick (if you can get homesick for a place you’ve never lived) for awesome geeky computer types and Molly Moon’s ice cream.

Overall, this book was well-written, absorbing and completely stylish. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to you.


The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

It’s a shame that I read The Rosie Project immediately after Where’d You Go, Bernadette. They were both good but I think that The Rosie Project definitely suffered in comparison. I might reread it at some point to make sure that I’ve really appreciated it fully.

The Rosie Project is about Don Tillman. Don is a genetics professor who really wants to find himself a wife. He comes up with “The Wife Project” to save time he might waste dating unsuitable women by narrowing down only those who fit his preferences using a questionnaire. Rosie does not fit any of Don’s preferences and she definitely won’t fit into his neat and organised life but she needs his help to find her biological father.

Don and Rosie were both wonderful characters. Don’s perspective is a little unusual and the reader is pretty sure (although Don doesn’t realise) that he has Aspergers. This makes his narration really fun, especially in places where the reader understands what is happening while Don does not.

I laughed so much while I was reading this book.

I’d definitely recommend that you read this. It’s a fun, light read. Maybe wait till it comes out in paperback and take it on holiday with you. I think it would be great to read on a beach somewhere.


Hilariously, my desperation to read these two books had leaked out into talking about wanting to read them where people who could make my wishes come true found out. I got back from work after my birthday to find that the publishers had sent me proof copies. I have sent both to good homes with other booksellers, who hopefully will also enjoy them and spread the word.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion and Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple proof copies

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This entry was posted on June 1, 2013 by in Holiday Posts, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , .
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