This Memorial Day weekend, I will remember those I wish to remember and forget those I wish to forget. I will attend to a few chores. Mostly, I will be getting my read on! I am looking forward to reading some delightful, self-selected books and magazines. I will not be reading a stack of proposals read line by line to check for strengths, weaknesses and inconsistencies. I will not be pouring over summer calendar to check and recheck for grammatical and factual errors. I thought this would be as good a time as any, to share what I’ve read since the beginning of the year. My book reading pace is behind this year (as my shelfari.com site tells me whenever I log in a book I’ve finished or a book I plan to read). Oh, well. Things have been busy. Work has been interfering with my life! The Book Thief by Markus Zusak An exquisitely written book, narrated by death that shows the triumphs and horrors of the human spirit through the life of an adopted girl and her family and neighbors. It is brilliantly conceived and written and will stay with me for a very long time. Skippy Dies by Paul Murray
This Memorial Day weekend, I will remember those I wish to remember and forget those I wish to forget. I will attend to a few chores. Mostly, I will be getting my read on!
I am looking forward to reading some delightful, self-selected books and magazines. I will not be reading a stack of proposals read line by line to check for strengths, weaknesses and inconsistencies. I will not be pouring over summer calendar to check and recheck for grammatical and factual errors.
I thought this would be as good a time as any, to share what I’ve read since the beginning of the year. My book reading pace is behind this year (as my shelfari.com site tells me whenever I log in a book I’ve finished or a book I plan to read). Oh, well. Things have been busy. Work has been interfering with my life!
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
An exquisitely written book, narrated by death that shows the triumphs and horrors of the human spirit through the life of an adopted girl and her family and neighbors. It is brilliantly conceived and written and will stay with me for a very long time.
Skippy Dies by Paul Murray
Why did Skippy, a teen in an all-male Catholic boarding school in Ireland, die? In finding out, the novelist drops you into the middle of the school with its jocks, geniuses, romeo-wannabees, geeks, etc. He also exposes the administrators and teachers and indifferent or clueless parents. Very well-written, bawdy, laugh-out-loud funny, and tender. Heartbreakingly real. Great material for a movie.
Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson
I don’t read mysteries much but I liked this one although it slogged a little bit. I will read more by this author. The cynicism of the characters borne out of their work as policemen, detectives, etc., was bracing. Almost all of the dots connected by the end. This is Boook 4 in the a Jackson Brodie Series. Maybe I’ll read the others. Maybe not.
The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker
Very enjoyable and quick novel whose protagonist, Truly, is a “giant” because of pituitary problem. Her size, in contrast to her sister’s petite beauty, makes her an outsider in a small town. Torment and triumphs result.
The Healing by Jonathan O’Dell
This white Mississippi-bred author, writes a novel about a former slave woman who has healing powers and is a midwife in the present time and her reluctant apprenticeship under a powerful slave healer during slavery times. The novel is fairly sensitively written and enjoyable (no “The Help” shenanigans here). Still, I could peek his writing as an outsider even when though he writes with understanding and outrage. Good information about the psychology behind healing and the wisdom of healers.
The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski
Harrowing tale of an orphan during World War II who suffered atrocities from the Nazi’s and the peasants who torment and terrorize him because he is dark – looking like a gypsy. The book caused quite a stir when it was published and the introduction by the author is raw with emotion.
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
Ann Patchett is a phenomenal storyteller. While this novel is not quite the triumph of Bel Canto, it does grip you from the beginning to the end. The mystery set in the Amazon. A pharmaceutical researcher goes missing and one of his coworkers/lab partners, Dr. Marina Singh, goes to find him and get an update on the work of her former teacher whose research he was also checking. And that’s only the beginning.
Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke
Very engaging chapter book for children in grades 2-3 featuring Anna Hibiscus who lives in “Afridcan – amazing Africa.” Stories about her middle-class extended family and every day adventures f- rom being chosen to sing for the President to facing the consequences of avoiding getting her hair combed and braided – will resonate with young readers every where. Published originally in England. Recommended. (This is a series of 4 books about the Anna. There is also a lovely picture book – Anna Hibiscus’ Song.
While i like the lies, sometimes I want the truth, hence I read fiction.
The Dressmaker of Khair Khana
Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe
By Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
Even in the most repressive regimes, in this case the siege of the Taliban in Afghanistan, women find a way to support each other through the efforts of an extraordinary young woman who turns her home into a dressmaking enterprise. Her entrepreneurial spirit, familial support, love of and sense of duty to her country, and having had a forward thinking father, mother and sister who nurtured the importance of education make her able to make a way out of no way.
Dark Tide (2003)
The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919
by Stephen Puleo
Well-written, riveting account of the Molasses Flood of 1919 in the North End of Boston, Massachusetts. This historical account is written from many points of view – those of the corporation who built and owned the facility, the residents who lived near it, the workers and the lawyers in the resulting court case. I learned a lot about the anarchist movement of the time as well.
The Tender Hour of Twilight: Paris in the 50s, New York in the 60s – A Memoir of Publishing’s Golden Age
By Richard Seaver
I especially enjoyed reading about his coming of age in Paris and pursuing Samuel Beckett, meeting Jean Genet and attending the Democratic National Convention in Chicago and being witness to the riots. His attraction to bringing controversial and banned writers to print especially at Grove Press was fascinating. Unfortunately, a lot was left out of this memoir and his years post-Grove were dispatched up in an epilogue so that the book ends abruptly. For all of his early revealing about meeting and falling in love with his wife, his children are largely left out and it would have been nice to learn about them as adults and whether they survived his benign neglect.
Changing Lives: Gustavo Dudamel, El Sistema and the Transformative Power of Music
By Tricia Tunstal
I truly enjoyed reading about the work of José Antonio Abreu who started the El Sistema youth orchestral movement in Venezuela modestly, which became a movement throughout his country and has now gone global. Master Abreu’s name should be on the cover of the book. His highest profile pupil is the passionate/accomplished/young conductor Gustavo Dudamel, conductor of the LA Philharmonic Orchestra who was profiled on 60 Minutes. I especially connected with the information on learning and on give poor children the best teachers and aspirations possible. “Culture for the poor must never be poor culture.”
The Art of Choosing
By Sheena Iyengar
Very well-researched, academic though accessible book about how we make choices. My only complaint was that the author cited a few too many research studies some of which are so contrived that they weren’t necessary to me.
This inspirational book is full of wisdom that is imminently quotable and demands to be shared. Ms. Cost discusses how and why to leave the Land of Make Believe (where she used to dwell) and begin living an authentic life that is true to your values, desires and calling. If there is a lack in the book, it is that it could have used a professional editor’s eye – something that many self-published books lack. This is a minor concern because the author, a woman of considerable accomplishments in the corporate world and the proud mother of two boys, clearly had positive and useful advice to share.
That’s the update on 2012’s reading thus far. I plan to post more regularly about what I’m reading on this blog as well as keep updating my shelf at shelfari.com.
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