This week, while a short one, has been full of challenges for us. Frankly, we are tired. With this in mind we have some howling, a political prisoner, an unhappy Numbers Woman, some OCD, walking, more walking, walking and lugging, a search for truth, some dishonor, a rabbit in a pot and a whole lot of whining,
You will also notice please that not ONE PERSON is accusing me of making them do things this week. Thank you.
Let us begin!
Erin is reading Caitlin Moran's How to Be a Woman. “It has been touted as the British Bossypants and I can absolutely see why. While books tend to make me cry at the drop of a hat, it's much more difficult to get me to laugh out loud. But this morning I was howling on the subway as Caitlin describes the tragedy of her first period and her unwillingness to accept the inevitable: she will become a woman. Here's a choice line, ‘I want my entire reproductive system taken out and replaced with spare lungs, for when I start smoking. I want that option. This is pointless.’”
Ann is as usual looking for the bright spot in a bad situation. This is just how she is. She can’t help it.” I am reading A Hundred Flowers by Gail Tsukiyama. I have always been a fan of Ms. Tsukiyama's work from The Samurai's Garden to Dreaming Water. I was happy to see her new book and happy that I read it. A Hundred Flowers takes place in 1957 when Chairman Mao declared a more open society for all of the Chinese people including teachers, artists, etc. This turns out to NOT be the case and begins a family's nightmare. Shing, a strong teacher with many political ideas promises his wife he will not get involved in this new political movement. Much to his wife's surprise and shock he is arrested and becomes a political prisoner. His young son, Tao, looks for his father and is injured doing so, his wife Kai Ying is devastated, but it is Shing's father, a renowned professor, who will face the biggest challenge of his life. This is a story of great love, compassion and forgiveness.”
Alison our Numbers Woman is unhappy. Believe me when I tell you this is to be avoided at all costs. This is especially true on the 15th and the 30th of the month. ” I am almost done reading James Patterson's Zoo and I am NOT liking it. It does not ring of Patterson at all (of course it was co-written, although I can't believe he did anything). From page 4 you knew what the problem was and what would happen. All you have to wait for is the solution. Why do I keep reading you ask? I have too many pages invested to stop now.”
Gretchen is exploring her dark side. “I am on a dark and scary reading kick it seems. I am taking home the Neil Cross's Luther; The Calling galley, because I LOVE that show and want to see how the writer handles this medium. And while I just devoured Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes, I found I couldn't read it at night it was just too scary. It was a domestic abuse, OCD horror story. And then for something completely different, I discovered Magda Gerber's Caring for Infants with Respect parenting book. I have skipped the infant and jumping right into the toddler years. “ Happily her dark side does not seem to be colliding with her maternal side. This is good news indeed!
Tiny Tina the Basement Dweller is on the move! Go Tina! “I just finished reading Wild and loved it. Trekking the Pacific Crest Trail seems like a breeze after this week. I just started reading The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. Why am I reading all these books about walking?”
Pat T. is also walking! “ I am meandering along with Harold from the book The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce! Harold is a complacent retired gentleman set in his ways, but all this changes one day when he receives a letter from a long lost friend. Queenie is in hospice and wanted to say goodbye to Harold. Harold decides to do something extraordinary! He sets out to walk 660 miles to visit Queenie. On this journey Harold reflects on his life, his relationship with his wife Maureen and son David and is surprised by the kindness of strangers who give him shelter and help care for his blistered feet and aching body. One of our library friends who hails from England, Alan Haughton, recommended this charming book to me!”
Stephanie is walking also but she is lugging a tome. “This week I immersed myself in Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon. It is a door-stopper of a book, but every page was worth lugging it around on my commute. Solomon examines the idea of horizontal identities, which children develop independently in relation to their parents, such as autism, deafness, being a musical prodigy, or severe disability (as opposed to vertical identities, which are inherited from parents, such as skin color or ethnicity). He spent ten years interviewing hundreds of families, and their stories are the backbone of this fascinating examination not only of communities the average person knows little about, but also of the relationships between parents and children. At its heart the book is interested in questions all of us wonder about: how do you become who you are? How should we treat people who are different than we are? How much do parents have to do with who their children become? The book spends a lot of time in dark places, including the treatment of minors in prison as well as with the children who are the products of a rape, but Solomon is a writer of great skill and compassion and is able to be respectful, rather than exploitative, of these situations. As with his National Book Award-winning The Noonday Demon, Solomon is able to insert his personal experiences in a way that enhances the book, rather than distracting. It is a stellar book that I just can't stop thinking about. I think it's one of the finest works of non-fiction of 2012.”
Abby is unwilling to let her time Down East go. “I love Maine, and love mysteries. So, it makes sense Paul Doiron’s series featuring Mike Bowditch appeals to me. Bad Little Falls is the third in the series and is an enjoyable read. Having once again managed to upset the decision-makers in his search for truth, young Maine game warden Mike Bowditch has been sent into exile on the Canadian border. The Down East locals who enjoy illegal activities do not take kindly to his presence and set about making him feel unwelcome. On the eve of a blizzard their antics make the discovery of a murder and some poorly thought- through personal entanglements even more complex. At several points I found myself saying out loud “Don’t do it, Mike!” A good cast of returning characters and the State Of Maine itself make for entertaining reads. And yes, do read in sequence. (I know I always say that. And I always mean it.) The first two are The Poacher's Son, and Trespasser.”
Jeannie is reading The Absolutist by John Boyne. “The story is about Tristan Sadler, a twenty year-old Londoner who has survived three gruesome years in the Great War. He lied about his age in order to enlist. It is now 1919 and he is taking the train to Norwich to deliver a packet of letters to the sister of someone he trained with and fought alongside. This "someone" who Tristan cared a great deal for was Will Bancroft, who had laid down his guns and declared himself a conscientious objector, bringing dishonor to the Bancroft family and confusion to Tristan. The letters are not the only reason for the visit. Tristan harbors a dark secret; one that he is desperate to unburden himself of if he can muster the courage. I was skeptical at first as the story starts slowly, but I was intrigued by the title! This is a war where men are being blown up and dying, but the explosion in the book comes when Boyne develops an unexpected twist in the story that knocked the wind out of me. The imagery on the battlefield and language between the characters evoke a picture of the sad, tragic fact of man's inhumanity to man that goes way beyond the war itself.”
John,aka the Warlock of Minecraft has some company on this week’s commute, but it seems to be a bit unsettling. “This week, I'm listening to the rabbit-in-a-pot-boiler, Gone Girl. It's hard to talk about this book without letting any spoilers slip. Leaving out any details, it starts as a classic wife-gone-missing-so-obviously-the-husband-killed-her story, then goes off on a much creepier, more alarming and suspenseful jag. Gillian Flynn has an amazing understanding of the nature and dynamics of relationships and applies it in this novel to create a heady psychological thriller that will keep you turning the pages (or in my case, listening) well into the wee hours of the morning. “
I am reading George How Colt’s book Brothers: George Howe Colt on His Brothers And Brothers in History. For those of you who read and loved The Big House as I did already know that he was not a big fan of his time during his childhood that he lived here. Well frankly, he is a big grown man and he needs to get over it and move on. The whining is driving me crazy. So this being said, I am, nevertheless, really enjoying the historical brother parts. His research is fascinating. Just follow my advice, when he starts in moaning, move on to the History bits. You’ll be glad you did. This one comes out in November.