Thursday, January 7

Book Review: Julie & Julia

Title: Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen

Author: Julie Powell

Pages: 359

Summary: Nearing 30 and trapped in a dead-end secretarial job, Julie Powell resolved to reclaim her life by cooking, in the span of a single year, every one of the 524 recipes in Julia Child's legendary Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Her unexpected reward: not just a newfound respect for calves' livers and aspic, but a new life--lived with gusto.

My Rating: 6/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Since the book caught my eye last year in the blogverse, in fact this is one of the books I’m using for the I Wish I Read That Challenge, because the amount of recommendations and advertising it’s received. Everyone said what a great laugh the movie was, so of course I grabbed the book, to make sure I’d have read it before I watch the movie. What a let down!

The book wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t anything like I expected and it certainly didn’t live up to all the hype it’s received. This is the first memoir I’ve reviewed, but it wasn’t that it was a memoir that made me unhappy with it. It was more on how the book was executed, because it reads more like a work of fiction, loosely based on the real people mentioned in the book. It seems odd to me to find the book placed in the non-fiction sections of the libraries and bookstores, because it’s not really written like a non-fiction book, it seems more chick-lit than anything else.

One of the main issues I have with the book, is that the author constantly went of these little side stories, that really didn’t add anything to the main story line. If in fact this was a memoir based on the year she cooked all of Julia Child’s recipes, I want to hear the triumphs, disasters and everything between of her attempts. I want to read/see experts from her blog, more in-depth descriptions about cooking and the process. This is a non-fiction book on cooking, but the cooking part is somewhat lacking at times, being drowned out on her complaining of work or explaining her friends boyfriend troubles.
     A second issue is how whiney and self-absorbed Julie is. She goes on and on about how horrible her life and job are, yet does little about it. If you really hate your secretary job so much, why not try for something better? She lives in New York, I’m sure there’s something out there. When she first started writing about these characteristics it didn’t bother me that much, it’s who she is as a person, but when it becomes almost every page of her going on how horrible she has it because the bathroom sucks, she’s a failure because she can’t get the recipe right, it becomes tiresome very quickly. Also, I don’t care about how much the author likes Buffy, but Buffy has nothing to do with cooking, or the Julie and Julia project. (Can you see why it reads more like a fictional book?)

The good stuff, because there were parts that were funny and amusing. The book does have a lot of laugh-out-loud moments. Some of her attempts to cook the food, her disasters were funny. And someone who likes to cook and has had some very disastrous cooking attempts can relate to her on that level (I once made cookies from scratch that some how tasted like sulphur (or at least the taste of what it smells like, if you get what I mean)). I just wish more of the book was concentrated on this part, rather than her whining and side tracks of work, friends and family issues.

Overall, I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I think this is a case where the movie might be better then the book, because you can actually see all the disasters in the kitchen, and the characters reactions. The book does convey that, but not as clearly as I would like.

Would I recommend it to read: Hmm, I'm not sure I would. It wasn't that good, boring at times. This may be one of the RARE cases where the movie might be better then the book. (Please don't through things at your computers at me), the movie just might be better for an entertainment/good laugh value

What to read next: I'm at a total loss for this one. Maybe grab one of Julia Child's cookbooks and try to cook some food? Other than that I'm not sure what to recommend or where to go from here. If you liked the book, then try more books by Julie Powell, but that's the best I can do.

Challenges: Read 'n' Review Challenge, Pages Read Challenge,10/10 Category Challenge,
52 in 52 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, A - Z Challenge, Countdown Challenge,
Support Your Library Challenge, Wish I Read That Challenge


  1. I have to admit this one has never sounded remotely interesting to me. Nor has the movie.

  2. The fact that she loves Buffy actually makes me want to read it more. :)

  3. I read this book last spring after I found it in the bargain section. I hadn't heard anything about it or the movie... and I had to force myself to finish! I didn't like the way the book was written and just couldn't get to a point where I felt like I cared about the author.

    I watched the movie a couple of weeks ago, though, and it was so much better than the book! I actually quite enjoyed the movie.

  4. The movie was great, too bad the book doesn't sound as good. Except the Buffy fan part, that makes me want to read it as well. We Buffy fans are ;-)

  5. I'm a Huge Buffy fan (actually I like most of Whedon's work), but the buffy fanatic just didnt fit in with the book. The movie I want to see because Myrel Strep is it it, and she always does a fantastic job in her roles.

  6. Thanks for the honest post. Now I don't have to read the book. I was kind of iffy on reading it in the first place.

  7. I couldn't get past page 60. It's been sitting on my nightstand for months, and I think I'm going to put it back on the shelf and maybe give it a try some other time. I just couldn't like her no matter how hard I tried, and I wanted there to be more cooking. I still want to see the movie, though.

    Diary of an Eccentric

  8. I enjoyed the movie but Julie Powell is still a bit too whiny for my tastes even in that. I LOVED Julia Child's memoir My Life in France, though. Now that was inspiring.

    I couldn't read this book. I gave up aroudn page 25 or something. I too wanted it to be about cooking not her personal problems, but that's not what it was. Ah well. on to the next book.

  9. very interesting!
    I want to see the movie- I'm glad I didn't get the book.
    Thanks for the review!

  10. Thanks for this great review! I recently watched the film and wasn't overly impressed with it as everyone else seemed to be. I thought about reading the book, but your review has convinced me it might be worse than the film.

    What's actually an interesting next read is Julie's blog itself: The Julie/Julia Project

    It's not been updated since 2004, but you can go back to the beginning and follow all of her trials and triumphs in the kitchen as she did the project.


  11. Thanks for the warning! After everyone started raving about the movie, I figured I'd pick up the book. Guess not!

  12. I read this book a few years ago before it was re-released for the movie. I felt much the same way about it that you did and have to assure you that the movie is indeed better. I am sorry that this was such an unpleasant reading experience for you though!

  13. Swirl, Robin and Jenni B - I'm glad you enjoyed the review.

    Swirl, I want to see the movie too, because I really like Meryl Strep (sp?).

    Jenni B - I glanced over Julie Powells old blog briefly, but I found the format of it hard to navigate through.

    Anna - it gets a tiny bit more interesting further on in a few cooking incidents (lobsters) but for the most part it's the same. If you're one of the people who can stop reading a book without finishing it, the move on to better things ( I'm sadly not one of those people)

    Zibilee - The book could have been worse, but one bad thing is, is that I bought the book for a friend for Christmas, because she really enjoyed the movie, and I thought it would be fun to have a book discussion about it. But the book is awful and now its wrapped waiting for me to see her and give it to her. Oopps! Note to self: read books before you send them out as gifts, so you don't torture your friends.

    Our Westmoreland School - the movie might be good, so maybe just avoid the book and grab the movie.

    Also sorry for the late reply to the comments, I seem to have some sort of error in my comment feeds, and am looking into fix that.

  14. I absolutely adored the movie. Immediately after seeing it I checked out this book and My Life in France by Julia Childs. I did not like this book. I kept reading it til the end in hopes that it would get better. I checked out her blog too and found that much more interesting than the book. The movie was so much fun and was definitely a rare case of the movie being BETTER than the source material.