Sunday, May 27, 2012

Female Nomad and Friends - Rita Golden Gelman

This is a travel book I snagged for our road trip last week.  I'd read the author's first book, "Tales of a Female Nomad" and loved her adventurous spirit.  This book continues with short essays from kindred spirits sharing their adventures and recipes from their travels.  I probably marked over 20 pages of authors to seek out and recipes to try.

Gelman is a children's author with many published works.  She divorced in her early 50's, sold everything she owned and became a nomad, travelling the world by sharing homes of members of the Serva organization.
I'm not nearly as risk-taking or trusting but I find her stories and those of her contributors to be inspiring to step a little bit farther out of my comfort zone.

Published: 2010    Read:  May 2010    Genre:  Travel

[I will loan this if you would like to read it]

The Ghost in the House - Tracy Thompson

subtitle: Real mothers talk about maternal depression, raising children, and how they cope.

Over 30 years ago, I had a very bad case of postpartum depression.  The stories shared in this book recalled that time when I felt so helpless.  And, they put into perspective the worries I have had over the impact on my child.

The author describes maternal depression as "what happens when a mother's depression reaches out to ensnare her child".."it can be transmitted from mother to child via learned behavior, environment, genetics or any combination of the three" so it goes beyond just the postpartum experience.

The author, who's own mother was depressed and who had depression before having children and after, surveyed 393 women who had received a medical diagnosis of major depression and worked with a psych professor at Emory University to analyze and present their results.  The book is a powerful picture of the impact of depression on mothers and their children.

Some quotes:

"So unrealistic cultural expectations, the demands of an increasingly complex society, the inherent difficulty of the work, combined with lack of social recognition - they all add up to mother stress."

" turns out...the so-called maternal instinct is ...hardly foolproof".

The author noted that depressed mothers don't necessarily have depressed children but states "When we asked, "Do any of your children ever say things that sound similar to what depressed people often say, such as blaming themselvs for things that weren't really their fault, or being super critical of themselves, not giving themselves credit for good things they've done, or thinking pessimistically about the future?" 42% said "occasionally" and 15.7% said "yes, often".  Children do learn what they live.

The chapter on coping covered the different familiar treatments - medication, exercise, counseling - as well as escaping for a time, keeping busy and opening up to family and friends.

I would recommend this book to all mothers - to understand how difficult it can be for so many.

Published: 2007   Read: May 2012    Genre: Non-fiction link

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Blood of Flowers - Anita Amirrezvani

Set in 17th century Iran, this is the story of a young country girl making her way in the city through her skill in weaving carpets.  Along the way we learn of life in the 1600's under the rule of the Shah; the food, the households, men and women, family and fairy tales.  The book is historical fiction, using a fictional character to illuminate the reality of the past.

I enjoyed this book and got wrapped up in the story, wondering how the heroine's life would turn out.  The tidbits of every day life I contrasted in my mind with what I have read of Western Europe history of the same period.  The importance of carpets and carpet making comes alive:

p. 359  "..a carpet directs us to the magnificence of the infinite, veiled, yet ever near, closer than the pulse of the jugular. ..."In each pattern lay the work of the Weaver of the World, complete and whole; and in each know of daily existence lay mine."

In today's world when we speak of Iran as a place of war and extremist, the story provides a sorely needed contrast to modern times and a perspective on a country I know so little about.

Published: 2007    Read: May 2012    Genre: Historical fiction

Not on - email me if you'd like my copy.

Friday, May 11, 2012

For Love of Evil - Piers Anthony

This series has been one of my guilty pleasures.  This volume is the 6th in the series "Incarnations of Immortality".  This is a fantasy series that explores Death, Time, War, Fate, Nature, Evil and Good, personifying each.  It's a clever and complex constructed tale. The author also has a quirk of writing notes at the end of each book about his writing experience which are equally as entertaining as the story.
They were written in the late 80's so some parts are a bit out of date.  If you like fantasy, these are some classics.

Published: 1988   Read: May 2012   Genre: Fantasy

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Beginner's Goodbye - Anne Taylor

Finally a good read!  I have enjoyed all the books that I've read by this author and this one did not disappoint.  I was so hungry for a good story I finished it in one day.  I picked it up at the library that I'm lucky enough to be able to walk to when it isn't too hot.

It's the story of a widower struggling with the loss of his wife in a sudden accident and his way through grief.
I was taken in by the first paragraph and savored every chapter.


"That was one of the worst things about losing your wife I found; your wife is the very person you want to discuss it all with."

"I used to toy with the notion that when we die we find out what our lives have amounted to, finally.  I'd never imagined that we could find that out when somebody else dies."

Anne Taylor writes with a true feeling for people and their relationships, without getting sappy.  Highly recommended.

Published: 2012  Read: May 2012  Genre:  Fiction
(library book)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Get up and Get Out - John Tartaglia

sub-title: The Geezer's Guide to Living Your Dreams on the Road

I love to travel.  As a kid, we went camping several times and crisscrossed the country by car to visit family.  As an adult I traveled mostly by plane, logging many miles visiting five continents, many countries and cities.
Since getting married, we've traveled across the country to visit grand kids and explore our national parks. We spent a summer in Northern California in an RV.  We don't travel as often as I'd like so I read blogs and books about the RV life style as a poor substitute.  I'd read of this book on a blog and ordered it through Amazon.  It's cute and covers the basics and a couple of topics I enjoyed - making art on the road and doing nothing, both things I'm not very good at!  Not great literature, but fun!

Published: 2006  Read: May 2012  Genre: Travel non-fiction link

Story of Howe Caverns - Virgil H Clymer, ed.

I think I picked this slim hardback volume up in a used bookstore somewhere.  I'd heard stories of how my great-uncle Ted helped build some of the paths and visitor areas within the Cave.  His daughter still lives in the area.  With that connection in mind, I'd picked up the book.

Written in 1949, the book tells the story of the surrounding country, the finding of the cave and perspectives from an engineer, electrician, geologist, paleontologist and biologist.  It describes the tour through the cave that included a boat ride on the underground river that helped carve the cave.

I hope to visit the Cave and compare the descriptions from the book to the way it is today, 63 years later.

Published: 1949  Read: May 2012  Genre: Travel non-fiction

(I plan to give this to my cousin who lives near the cave)