The Lost Girls: Three Friends. Four Continents. One Unconventional Detour Around the World by Jennifer Baggett, Holly Corbett, Amanda Pressner 542 pages; 2010
The Lost Girls are three twentysomething Manhattanites who ditch their high pressure magazine jobs to backpack around the world for a year, leaving their boyfriends behind. Each chapter is told from a different girl's perspective. As they journey 60,000 miles across four continents and more than a dozen countries, Jen, Holly,and Amanda step far outside of their comfort zones, embracing every adventure and experience the world has to offer—shooting blowguns with Yagua elders in the Amazon, learning capoeira on the beaches of Brazil, volunteering with preteen girls at a school in rural Kenya, hiking with Hmong villagers in Vietnam, driving through Australia in a psychedelic camper van and training to become a yoga teacher in India. Along the way, the Lost Girls find not only themselves but also a lifelong friendship. Theirs is a story of a bond forged by sharing beds and backpacks, enduring exotic illnesses, fending off aggressive street vendors, trekking across rivers and over mountains, and standing by one another through heartaches, whirlwind romances, and dancing til dawn at nightclubs. The girls are also honest in their faults. It was a fun, interesting and inspiring read.
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter 337 pages, 2012
The story begins in the early 1960’s in a remote fishing village just beyond Italy’s fashionable Cinque Terre. Young Pasquale, fresh out of college, has come back home to run his family’s small hotel. A beautiful American actress named Dee arrives as a guest. She was originally in Rome for the filming of Cleopatra with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Though Pasquale’s English is not great, and he’s also a bit shy, his earnest good intent makes an impression. We then cut to contemporary America – Hollywood. Claire is a film-loving assistant at Michael Deane’s studio. Deane began his career as a production assistant for Cleopatra, later became a big-time producer, then fell off the pace awhile before getting his groove back via reality TV. Claire is about to give up when two visitors show up. One is a young writer hoping to pitch his sensationally bleak movie idea and the other is an older Italian gentleman there to see Michael. The third story line in the book is the one of an American writer who visits Pasquale’s hotel annually with the intention of writing a book, but in practice to drink wine. He did manage a chapter, though, and the truth is it’s very good. As the book goes back and forth between story lines you eventually see all they all piece together.
House of Hilton by Jerry Oppenheimer 304 pages, 2006
This juicy tell-all is the unauthorized story of the Hilton family. If you want to know how Paris Hilton became who she is, you have to know where she came from. The cast of characters includes Paris’s maternal grandmother who married 4 times, Paris’s mother, Kathy Hilton, groomed by her mother to be a star and marry rich. The book reveals that Kathy Hilton is described as pushy, arrogant, condescending and social ladder climber, basically an older version of her daughter. Kathy was quoted in the NYPost threatening anyone that contributed to this book, which only advertised the book in production and got the author more sources. Conrad, Paris' great-grandfather who built the hotel empire, set it up so that none of his relatives could get discounts staying at Hilton hotels, but Kathy threw her name around anyway. Hotel staff dish on the lack of parental care the young girls had running around the hotel and Paris' pet ferret that she carried around in her Prada bag. If you watch the "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" it dishes on Kim and explains so much. I'm ashamed by how much I enjoyed this book, it’s a really good trashy beach read, I couldn't put it down as it was an entertaining read!
Oh You Pretty Things by Shanna Mahin 368 pages, 2015
Jess Dunne is third-generation Hollywood, but her star on the boulevard has yet to materialize. Sure, she’s got a Santa Monica address and a working actress roommate, but with her nowhere barista job in a town that acknowledges zeroes only as a dress size, she’s a dead girl walking. As a personal assistant for a famous (and secretly agoraphobic) film composer, Jess’s workdays are now filled with shopping for luxury goods and cooking in his perfectly designed kitchen. Jess kills at cooking, a talent that only serves her intensifying urge to dig in to Los Angeles’s celebrity buffet. Enter Jess’s narcissistic mother who projects her unrealized dreams as a failed actress and deepest class shames onto her daughter. Jess is kind of a mess. Actually a hot mess. She always seems either completely insecure or wildly overconfident. She quits jobs before she has other jobs lined up. She mouths off to her bosses, sometimes for imaginary slights rather than real ones. Shanna Mahin's sarcastic and humorous voice in this LA setting, highlighting (and surely mocking) the obsessive nature of celebrities and their fans alike.
Paper Towns by John Green
305 pages, published in 2008 and coming out as a movie on July 24. It debuted at #5 on the New York Times bestseller list and right now is #19 amazon where the kindle version is only $4.
Quentin Jacobsen, 17, has been in love with his next-door neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman, for his entire life. A leader at their Central Florida high school, she has carefully cultivated her bad ass image. Quentin is one of the smart kids. His parents are therapists and he is, above all things, "goddamned well adjusted." He takes a rare risk when Margo appears at his window in the middle of the night. They drive around righting wrongs via her brilliant, elaborate pranks. Then she runs away (again).
If you need some more book recommendations check out last summer's reading list.