Kelly Strom | Books look at varied moods of the holidays

Kelly Strom | Books look at varied moods of the holidays

It's the time of year that is filled with the juxtaposition of love and hate. We love all of the holiday food but hate the extra poundage. We love buying gifts for others but hate the commercialism. We love seeing loved ones but hate the stress that comes with it.

I have pulled two books that address some of these things but in different ways.

In the highly amusing "Smothered" by actress, comedian, and debut author Autumn Chiklis, we meet Lou. Well, her full name is Eloise Laurent Hansen, but she goes by Lou, Louie or Lulu.

She is the oldest child of a major L.A. real estate developer dad and society maven mother, known as "Mama Shell." Lou's younger sister, Val, is a bit of an Instagram star and seems to have her life all put together at age 17.

Lou has just graduated Summa Cum Laude from Columbia University with a degree in philosophy and psychology. She definitely does not have her life pulled together. Without any job prospects, she is forced to move home to L.A. and live in her childhood bedroom.

Lou is academically brilliant but fairly weak in the subject of the real world. She resorts to making a list of her goals, including waking up by 7:30 a.m., losing weight, finding a job and learning to cook something other than a bowl of cereal.

Apparently, her family is quite wealthy, and through emails, text messages and journal entries, we learn of Mama Shell's propensity for healthy algae shots, juice cleanses and hot yoga. Oh, and Mama Shell is an incredibly annoying helicopter parent. To the extreme. Without asking, she redecorates Lou's room, sets up "friend visits" for her and expects her to come along to all of the activities planned with mom's group of friends.

Do not expect any deep revelations with this book. The characters are over-the-top funny but are also shallow and entitled. Lou does a lot of whining about not having a job but doesn't put a lot of effort into it either.

The book is fun to read, if you can laugh at other people's ridiculousness. After reading some pretty intense thrillers recently, this was an enjoyable change. We all need a change-up every now and then. The characters in "The Ramblers" by Aidan Donnelley Rowley are also a fairly entitled bunch, but there is more depth to their stories.

Three friends' lives become intertwined in New York City during Thanksgiving week as they struggle to find themselves after trauma. Set in the beautiful areas of NYC — Central Park, the Upper West Side and Greenwich Village — our three protagonists strive to make the right decisions in their ever-changing lives.

Clio Marsh is an adjunct professor and ornithologist who had a difficult childhood and therefore keeps everyone at arm's length. This is causing major problems with a new relationship with a successful older man.

Clio's best friend, Smith Anderson, is a "perfect daughter" from a wealthy family and works to get other people organized, while her own world is falling apart.

College friend Tate Pennington founded a wildly successful start-up company, but after a painful divorce, he wants to start over in New York City. Hey, rich people have problems, too.

At a crossroads due to mental illness, abandonment, marriage and frustration, the three need to start making the big decisions and reconcile their pasts. Apparently, great wealth does not equal great happiness. #FirstWorldProblems.

Mixed in with the turmoil are some lovely architectural comments, interesting bird facts and quotes from the rich and famous. The author created characters that are flawed like the rest of humanity, and it was interesting observing their way of life and the trials that they've encountered along the way.

Two different books to correspond with the varied moods of the holidays, both of these were successful in their particular styles.

Kelly Strom is the collection manager at the Champaign Public Library. She orders books, ebooks, magazines, newspapers, audiobooks and CDs.

Sections (1):Living
Topics (1):Books
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