From Jamie Kauffman
The Rites & Wrongs of Janice Wills
Author: Joanna Pearson
The book The Rites & Wrongs of Janice Wills is a great book for teen girls. Its about a nerdy anthropologist, Janice, and all of her observations on the life of a high schooler. Throughout the book she discovers how strong her friendship with her best friend, Margo, needs to be. Once the Miss Livermush pageant comes up, (which is the most exciting thing in Melva) everything and everyone seems to be changing in ways her anthropology research cant explain. This novel was an exciting and addictive read.
From Catherine Given
Author: Nina Sankovitch
Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: my year of magical reading
I just finished Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading by Nina Sankovitch, about a woman who self-prescribes a book a day for a year as a way to re-group after her beloved sister’s death. It’s a beautifully written story of lessons distilled from 365 authors’ works. By briefly sharing what she derives from the experience and how she applies writers’ messages to her own life, Sankovitch creates a unique memoir, one that any avid reader of books will appreciate. She also provides a list of richly meaningful non-fiction and fiction books to add to our own must-reads. She says:
\”Words are witness to life: They record what has happened and they make it real. . . . Stories about lives remembered bring us backward while allowing us to move forward. The only balm to sorrow is memory: The only salve for the pain of losing someone to death is acknowledging the life that existed before.\”
Tolstoy and the Purple Chair will likely be cherished by anyone mourning the loss of a loved one. For others, it will provide an affirmation of the value of thoughtful reading of good literature.
From Ellen Druda
Author: Aravind Adiga
Title: Last Man in Tower (sound recording)
Love of money is indeed the root of all evil. A congenial group of apartment dwellers who share the same building in a middle-class neighborhood in Mumbai are offered a buy-out deal from a powerful real-estate developer. Most are happy to accept the offer, but a few are hold-outs, including retired teacher Masterji. The pressure begins to build to convince Masterji to agree to sell his share in the building, and as the story draws to its inevitable conclusion, we watch this group of once friendly neighbors commit desperate acts so they can cash in. Aravind paints a vivid picture of life in current day India and narrator Sam Dastor brings the story alive with his authentic reading.
From Jackie Cantwell
Author: Joe McGinniss
The rogue : searching for the real Sarah Palin
One word to describe this book is: juicy! If you’re a fan of Sarah Palin, you’ll consider this book a hatchet job. If you’re not a fan, you’ll devour every word. One thing is certain: Sarah made many enemies along the way, many of whom were willing to talk to the author. There are many revelations. She does not cook or clean, and her children essentially raised themselves. Any parental supervision they received was by Todd, her husband. She and Todd fight and threaten divorce all the time. She rarely eats, instead surviving on caffeinated drinks. She has serious mood swings. She can’t keep to a schedule and has never had a legislative agenda, except to mix religion with government. She viewed the governorship as a P.T. job, going in at 10 AM and leaving by 3 or 4 PM. She would go straight to bed when she came home, and didn’t want to be disturbed. She’s obsessed with shopping and reading People magazine. A strength she possesses is that she is good at meet-and-greet events during campaigns. She fought to get her former brother-in-law fired as a state trooper, because he was divorcing her sister. She fired all of the people of color after she was elected governor. John Bitney, her legislative director, was quoted as saying “She just isn’t comfortable in the presence of dark-skinned people.” Mr. McGinniss rented the house next door to the Palins as he was researching the book. Fox News jumped onto Palin’s claim that McGinniss was peering into Piper’s bedroom from his balcony. He used the balcony to make cell phone calls & to look at the lake. It wasn’t possible to peep into Piper’s bedroom from his home. A “Cast of characters” and an index would have been helpful.
From Jackie Cantwell
Author: Jacob Weisberg
Palinisms : the accidental wit and wisdom of Sarah Palin
According to the author’s very humorous introduction, Palinisms occur when Palin expresses one of her views about God, Alaska, oil drilling, or the political establishment in her idiosyncratically involuted syntax. According to Weisberg, Palin’s exuberant incoherence testifies to an unusually wide gulf between confidence and ability. She is proud of what she doesn’t know and contemptuous of those “experts” and “elitists” who are too knowledgeable to be trusted. Here are some of my favorites. When asked by Katie Couric which newspapers she reads, Sarah replied, “All of ‘em, any of ‘em that have been in front of me over all these years.” And this is Sarah speaking at a town hall meeting in Michigan, “Oil and coal? Of course, it’s a fungible commodity and they don’t flag, you know, the molecules, where it’s going and where it’s not.” And Sarah explains her foreign policy experience to Katie Couric, “As Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America, where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just right over the border.” This book is a lot of fun and at just 96 pages, it can be read in one sitting.
From Eileen Effrat
Author: Alison Weir
Mary Boleyn : the mistress of kings
Alison Weir, noted Tudor historian, is on a mission. Weir wants to set the record straight on what is known and what is not known concerning Mary Boleyn, sister of Anne Boleyn and sister-in-law of Henry VIII. Using an impressive array of primary sources and extensive secondary research, Weir attempts to stop the myths and correct many unsubstantiated claims that keep popping up in recent historical fiction (The Other Boleyn Girl) and the HBO series, the Tudors. While Weir attempts to fill in unknown gaps in Mary’s life, she makes it very clear that this is speculation on her part backed up by her reading of historical documents. If you are a fan of Weir’s previous biographies, you will not be disappointed.
From Rosemarie Jerome
Author: N.M. Kelby
White truffles in winter : a novel
This literary gem needs to be shared. It is a quiet, intense portrayal of a man who loved two women but whose passion was food. This man is the great French chef Auguste Escoffier and this is his elegant “memoir in meals.” Like his magnificent culinary creations, there is a complexity to this story that evokes the spirit of the time and captures the essence of the man. His was a life of extremes: suffering and captivity during the Franco-Prussian War; wealth and splendor communing with royalty, high society, the powerful, and poverty in his declining years. The cornucopia of images and feelings bombard the senses and creates a rich realism that you could almost touch and taste. Escoffier did not want to be forgotten, this story makes you want to know more about the man who was an epicurean genius yet a sad, idealistic romantic.