June 30th, 2012

Jazzy Looking Around the Corner

June Reads

57.  Anybody Out There? by Marian Keyes Anna Walsh wakes up in her parent’s home not remembering how she had gotten there.  She seems to have everything the perfect job and a husband who loves her.  She returns to New York looking for her husband and wondering why he doesn’t respond to her calls or emails.  When she does remember what has happened to her husband she deals with the truth in an interesting way.  The author depicts Anna’s grief in a realistic way.
58.  Wanted by Sara Shepard
59.  The Fiddler by Beverly Lewis This is a sweet love story about two young adults who are at a crossroads in their lives.  Amelia who is a classical violinist as well as a country fiddler runs into a big rain storm on the way home from a fiddling gig where she meets Amish man, Michael.  The two of them strike up a friendship while Michael is struggling with his decision to join the Amish church.  The author does set up an idealized Amish community.  This is a sweet love story about two people from two different worlds.
60.  Marley and Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog by John Grogan
61.  Three French Hens by Gayle Ramage  This ebook of three short stories based on Christmas Carols is a young hip way of looking at old Christmas songs.  She has an interesting take on the Christmas stories that she has decided to base her short stories on.  This is a short, fun read.
62.  Raised Right:  How I Untangled My Faith From My Politics by Alisa Harris
63.  Whitethorn Woods by Maeve Binchy
64.  Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin
65.  Never Have I Ever by Sara Shepard
66.  The Harvest of Grace by Cindy Woodsmall  Instead of managing a household and raising babies like most Old Order Amish women Sylvia Fisher dreams of tending and nurturing the herd on her family’s dairy farm.  She suffers a betrayal from a beau when she isn’t ready for marriage when he is though she still lives close to him.  After betraying her sister, her married her former beau she becomes the hired hand at another dairy farm that needs her help as a place to start over.  The family’s son Aaron returns home from rehab hoping to convince his parents to sell the farm and to move with him in another town and help to run an appliance store.  The romance between Sylvia and Aaron is sweet and tender.  You are also caught up with the other characters in her Ada’s House series.
67.  Theodora’s Diary by Penny Culliford
68.  How To Be Cool by Johanna Edwards This is a look at Kylie Chase who lost seventy pounds and began teaching others how to be cool.  Then her apartment burns down where she has to move back in with her parents, which is not cool.  She begins to put back on some of the weight that she had lost and through this she has to learn how to love herself for who she is, no matter what her size is.  This is a good book about learning how to love yourself.


books 17-18

Originally posted by audrey_e at books 17-18
17 MOBY-DICK Herman Melville (USA 1851)

The story of Captain Ahab and his search for the whale named Moby-Dick was of course very challenging. The major difficulty was to go through the chapters that focus on such topics as the anatomy of whales, the different species, or the organization of a whaling boat. What was also literally painful to read were the parts that dealt with the way whales were captures and killed. I'm very sensitive to these types of descriptions and do not enjoy them. There is also a (purposeful?) contradiction between the awe in which the narrator Ishmael is before the whales and the relentless killing of whales that his profession requires.
However, when I allowed myself to go past these difficult chapters (that constitute the majority of the book!), there were several aspects of the novel that I was able to enjoy, such as the soliloquies that typically belong more to a play than a novel, or the strange gradual disappearance of the narrator.
At this point I really need to buy an analysis of this novel that could help me better understand its symbolism.

18 IMPERIAL WOMAN Pearl S. Buck (USA 1956)

This is a fictionalized account of Tzu Hsi the last empress of China. It tells the story of how she entered the Forbidden City as a concubine of lower rank and gradually became the emperor's favorite and ultimately the real ruler of China.
I had read a more recent version of her story in Anchee Min's Empress Orchid and The Last Empress. Not only is it a great story, but I was also very curious to see which of Pearl Buck or Anchee Min's versions I would prefer. My preference goes without a doubt to Anchee Min's version. Pearl Buck's writing is overly clean and to the point, and she does not have the ability to create the painful suspense that is central to Anchee Min's books (especially the second one). Moreover, Pearl Buck does not give as many details about Chinese customs.But overall, Imperial Woman was a good read, and readers need to give credit to Pearl Buck for fictionalizing the life of the last empress in a way that clearly paved the way for Anchee Min's superior books.
Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

Slipping into the weekend, I finished reading Osprey Warrior #141: Merrill’s Marauders, a book about a specially-trained unit of the US military that fought the Japanese in WWII. Along with descriptions of their equipment and training, there's a fairly detailed unit history including several of their important actions. Pretty solid read.

27: Around the World in 1000+ Days

In 1898, Joshua Slocum became the first person to sail solo around the world - a voyage recounted in his appropriately-titled41JTBtq8nnL._SL500_AA300_ Sailing Alone Around the World. Contrary to expectations, Slocum's account of his 3 year+ voyage is surprisingly small and personal, a collection of little memories rather than a momentous narrative of triumph - memories that range from meeting a quiet man who watched over the graves of his family in the Azores to going canoeing with Mrs. Robert Louis Stevenson in Samoa to being charged with speeding by a Tasmanian chief to being informed by the president of South Africa that he couldn't have sailed around the world, as everyone knows it's flat.

Narrator Nelson Runger made the audiobook; while Slocum's turns of phrase and syntax are very much of his day and seem archaic to a modern ear, Runger's friendly, everyman tone made the essential bonhomie of the voyage shine through. The tale gets to a bit of a slow start, and tracing some of the early geography is a bit confusing (why are you spending so much time in Tierra del Fuego? why are you crossing Cape Horn about five separate times?); I also wished at times I had a better working knowledge of the parts of a ship, not to mention a better grasp of where various island groups were in the world. It perhaps isn't the best book that could've been written on this material, but it is a uniquely humble and free-spirited take.


Some years ago, literary type Harry Stein was mugged by reality sufficiently many times to pen How I Accidentally Joined the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, which made it into the Cold Spring Shops library before the Fifty Book Challenge began.  More recently, he wrote I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next To a Republican, in which he relates some of his experiences as the sole, or perhaps most vocal, dissenting voice from the Blue State Smug.  There's enough substance in it to evade the proscription of polemical material and offer a very brief Book Review No. 22.  The simplest way to understand the book is to consider the possibility that a Pauline Kael could be surprised with a Richard Nixon victory because either Pauline Kael's social world is as circumscribed as Mr Stein suggests it is, or because Pauline Kael's friends have marginalized by their scorn those people who might agree with the intellectual Right, or have persuaded those people who suggest those righties have a point to keep still.  That point, expressed most succinctly, might have been made by Madison radio talker Vicki McKenna, who gets props from Mr Stein for expressing dissenting views from within one of the citadels of Political Correctness.  Turn to page 126.

We start a brand new class in the public schools, running from kindergarten all the way through high school.  It's called "Middle Class Values."  And Mom's got to take the class, too -- because she fails to understand what deferred gratification is.

Once upon a time, the common schools implicitly did that -- that is, until the cultural studies types decided that "privileging" the mode of behavior of successful people had more negative than positive effects.  By their fruits shall ye know them.

(Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops.)