Friday, June 29, 2012

Blessings - Anna Quindlen

A touching story of redemptive love.  I enjoy this writer very much.  Her descriptions of the setting and of her characters feelings are so well chosen; she makes every word count.

"The happiness or contentment or resignation or whatever it was a person felt when the repeated customs of her life had become that life itself."

It's a story of a caretaker who finds a baby left on the door step and the landowner near the end of her life who shares his love and care for the child.

I would read this one again.

Published: 2002  Read: June 2012  Genre: Fiction

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

On the Grid - Scott Huler

Subtitle - A plot of land, an average neighborhood, and the systems that make our world work

I like quirky books.  I especially like finding out how things work or evolved or came to be.  I read an earlier title by this author [click here] and looked for his latest one.

The book traces the development and functioning of public works that we couldn't live without but hardly give any thought - land management, water, electric, gas, sewer, and more.  The author sets out from his own home in Raleigh, North Carolina, to discover how all these services came to be and how the provide for his family.  I've had an article in my "do some day" pile of stuff that describes how to trace where your water comes from.  Living in Arizona, I thought that would be a worthwhile effort but I've never gotten to it.  Huler gets it done and more.

He sings the praises of engineers and all those who work behind the scenes to keep these services running.  Makes me wish I'd studied some engineering (I could never of hacked the math!).  I recommend it for an enlightening read.

(Library book)

Published: 2010  Read: June 2012   Genre: Non-fiction

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Ask Me Why I Hurt - Randy Christensen, MD

Subtitle: The kids nobody wants and the doctor who heals them - with Rene Denfeld

This is the story of the Phoenix Arizona Children's Hospital's Cruz'n HealthMobile, a hospital in a Winnebago that serves the homeless children of the valley.  It's an inspiring book and the stories of some of the children are heartbreaking.  The dedication and commitment of Dr Christensen and Jan and the others working in the unit is remarkable.

I won't make a lot of comments here because I read this for my reading group and we haven't discussed it yet.

Published: 2011  Read: June 2012  Genre: Non-fiction

(library book)

Friday, June 8, 2012

We the Animals - Justin Torres

A first novel of an Iowa Writer's Workshop graduate is a slim book that tells the story of 3 brothers growing up.  Their parents, a Puerto Rican father and white mother married at 16 and 14 are alternately madly in love and mad, mentally and physically.  The plural first person drew me into the boys'  point of view and their desperate young lives.  I liked the writing style.  The author says the story is semi auto-biographical and the ending is a bit of a shock.

I picked this up in the library.  My branch has a "new releases" shelf that I review when I go to pick up the books I've put on hold and since there were 3 copies I thought it might be interesting.  I'd love to do the Iowa Writer''s Workshop, I'll have to find out what their criteria are.

Published: 2011   Read: June 2012   Genre: fiction

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Hillbilly Gothic - Adrienne Martini

Subtitle: A Memoir of Motherhood and Madness

This book was a recommendation from a blogger I follow on the topic of postpartum depression.  The author experienced PPD with her first child.  Her stories were eerily familiar and had me crying at the memories. We still have so far to go in understanding this horrible disease and its effects on families.

She traces the history of depression in her family tree and the unwillingness of family to discuss it.  The lack of information even in 2002 when she had her baby is disheartening.  She has a wry wit that I suspect helped her get through the dark days.

Published: 2006  Read: June 2012  Genre: Biography

(library book)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What is the What - Dave Eggers

This is the true story of one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, Valentino Achak Deng.  Achak told his story to the author to create the book.  It tells of his experience of being driven from his home in Sudan, walking to Kenya and being brought to the United States.  It is eye opening to realize the chasm between his culture and experiences and our everyday life.

Tribalism in Africa, slavery, greed for precious metals and natural resources create a powder keg that explodes into ongoing civil wars and the murders of thousands of people.

I devoured this novel in a few days and recommend it highly. It was a New York Times notable book and Best Book of the Year for Time Magazine and many others.  I learned much about the politics and history of Sudan and the heartbreaking experience of an immigrant to America.  Google Achak to learn "the rest of the story".

Published: 2006   Read: June 2012   Genre: biography link to purchase

Let Me Finish - Roger Angell

What a delightful read!  This is a memoir from a long time contributor and fiction editor of the New Yorker magazine.  He tells stories from his growing up in New York and Maine and his family, including stepfather E.B. White, the author of Stuart Little.

I enjoyed the easy, conversational tone as he shared stories and insights of the people he met and the way life was in the 30's and 40's.

Published: 2006  Read: June 2012   Genre: Memoir

(this one has already moved on to swap land!)