"The Help" by Kathryn Stockett is fantastic in every way! It's going to be a great movie, I can't wait! I loved the story about the color divide in the 1960s South. It has lots of great roles for actresses.
I also read "The Dogs of Babel" by Carolyn Parkhurst and loved its depiction of a grief-struck widower struggling to make sense of a mystery and then finally letting himself know what he always knew. The reveal at the ending made utter sense and was done great skill and sensitivity.
I did not care for "The House on Oyster Creek" by Heidi Jon Schmidt. The omniscient narrator was an intriguing twist on an old tale - woman married to rich man who doesn't understand her and gets a crush on local handyman, etc. But their relationship never really got off the ground or held my interest. The pacing was very slow. There were some nice lines though - she felt as if she was coming unraveled and he held the string or something like that.
"Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer is a powerful and challenging book. It's so good, it's dismaying. I don't know how I'm going to go grocery shopping after reading. He asks - what is eating meat worth to you? He lists all the costs - ecological destruction, global warming, risks of a pandemic due to antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, etc. But what makes his book different from Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver is an emphasis on the suffering of animals. Pollan and Kingsolver say - eat local foods for your health and the planet's health. Foer says - animals are sentient creatures, not products, and they should be treated as such. He depicts PETA with sympathy.
I do eat seafood - I started being "pescaterian" in high school. I thought meat was gross and liked the idea of limiting my appetite. It's possible to eat fantastic meals without beef or chicken or pork and it's more likely they will be healthy for you. So why not? I've stuck to it for years and now I am glad! I didn't go vegetarian for environmental reasons but now that I'm more familiar with the costs of eating meat, I am certainly glad I didn't contribute.
His discussion of "bycatch" and the "war of extermination" going on in the oceans is giving me pause now. I keep getting attracted to vegan lifestyles - "Food Inc" and Alicia Silverstone's "The Kind Diet" get me riled up. But then I end up eating lots of processed soy, which doesn't seem healthy either.
I read Shirley Jackson's "Raising Demons," a sequel to "Life Among the Savages." It was cute but more of the same, not very different from the first book. It kind of made me sad to read that her later life was full of problems with addiction and agoraphobia. Those years with her little ones were the best of her life, perhaps.
I am currently very excited about a special book about my son's second year! I am making a photo book on Shutterfly.