Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See


What a lovely book. Yes, it was hard to read, but the language is exquisite.  The characters are so believable.  The story so moving. 

Chinese history at possibly its lowest point told in the most beautiful way.

The Nineteenth Wife by David Ebershoff

Combine lots of historical fact, enough fantasy to sweeten the plot and a modern crime story and you have the ingredients for a page turning book.  The only problem is that the average reader (me) doesn't exactly know where the historical fact and fantasy start and stop.  The process of sorting it out is made more difficult with the never ending switches in time. 

I loved the book, but I would have liked the delineation between fact and fiction to have been a bit more clearly drawn. 

Pillars of the Earth and World Without End by Ken Follett


If you have any interest in 12th century Europe or architecture or personal relationships or the Catholic Church, you should seriously consider reading these two massive volumes.  Mr. Follett makes dreary, dusty history come alive through his characters.  Reading two books of this size is quite an undertaking, but if you persevere, you will have a much better understanding of the world as it is today - shaped by yesterday's actions.

Room by Emma Donoghue

Wow!  What a page turner!

A young woman is kidnapped and locked away in a totally secure shed where she gives birth to two children.  After seven years, she is determined to escape.  What if her attempts fail?  How much worse might her conditions become?  What if her attempts succeed?  Is she really ready for the outside world?  You'll never know if you don't read the book!

I have a favorite quote from the book I would like to share:

. . . when I woke up in that shed, I thought nobody'd ever had it as bad as me.  But the thing is, slavery's not a new invention.  And solitary confinement - did you know, in America we've got more than 25,000 prisoners in isolation cells?  Some of them for more than twenty years." . . . "As for kids - there's places where babies lie in orphanages five to a cot with pacifiers taped into their mouths, kids getting raped by Daddy every night, kids in prisons, whatever, making carpets till they go blind -" . . . "Not just children.  People are locked up in all sorts of ways."

Makes you think, huh?

Black Like Me


I was able to attend a book club discussion of The Help during which the group leader talked about this stirring book which was first published in 1961.  

Black Like Me is the account of a white journalist who dared dye his skin black and travel through the south as a black man.  I had read the book long ago, but thought it deserved a reread and it was worth the effort.

Going through this material not only helps the reader focus on how far we have come with civil rights, but how far we have left to travel.

If you missed reading this during the 1960's, it should certainly go on your "To Read" list.  If you read it back then, put it on your "To ReRead" list.

Science at the Edge Edited by John Brockman


I don't pretend to comprehend even a small fraction of this material, but occasionally, I like to step out and read something that really stretches my imagination and my view of the world.  Every one of these essays will do that and more.  Besides, I can sometimes impress my husband with one of the gems I gleaned from its pages.  Great for conversation starters in front of the fire on a winter evening. 

The Grapes of Wrath

Sometimes a person needs to reread a classic, remember the plot as the pages are turned, reconnect with the characters, and be grateful all over again for the sweet grapes so readily available in today's world.