I am not sure what I can say about this book that hasn't already been said. Coates writes a wrenching and extremely personal letter to his teenage sonI am not sure what I can say about this book that hasn't already been said. Coates writes a wrenching and extremely personal letter to his teenage son in which he outlines the individual and familial and social and political consequences of living in a black body. Every American should read this. It will make you angry and frustrated and sad, and still you should take a couple of hours to read and absorb Coates' voice. I have a copy if anyone wants to borrow it....more
A Muslim, a Christian and a Jew walk into a New York apartment...
Ranya, Suzanne and Priscilla are mothers struggling with faith after 9/11. They startA Muslim, a Christian and a Jew walk into a New York apartment...
Ranya, Suzanne and Priscilla are mothers struggling with faith after 9/11. They start a writing project that will explain the commonalities of their religions to children, but quickly realize they share values, but not necessarily interpretations. Thus launches the Faith Club, a multi-year project in which the women read, research and explore their own faiths and share findings and questions with each other.
In some ways, this is a 4-star book. All three women confront their own stereotypes and cherished beliefs and are very honest about their journey. Unfortunately, the writing is drab. This would be an interesting choice for a book club or even a Bible study group....more
My MIL recommended this book and I am glad she did. I've always been more interested in the print side of journalism and I didn't know much about RathMy MIL recommended this book and I am glad she did. I've always been more interested in the print side of journalism and I didn't know much about Rather's career, but this is more than just "Memoir of Stories I Covered." Rather covers the history of CBS television news and what he sees as its downfall after the network was purchased by Viacom.
Rather explains the chain of reporting that led to his CBS exclusive regarding Pres. George W. Bush and his military service (or lack thereof) during the Vietnam War. Viacom's corporate executives fought to keep the story off the air, then blamed the reporters after the story ran and the Bushies got angry. From Rather's perspective, he and other longtime correspondents were fired or otherwise removed not because their reporting was false but because CBS was less concerned with truth and more concerned with its corporate image vis a vis the Republican Party.
Some reviewers cast Rather as whiny. He does have several moments of "they were out to get me" and "I really trusted that person," but I also agree that Rather was screwed. He has a strong ego--it would be hard to do his job otherwise--but he also wanted to get the true story to the American people and was stifled by corporate TV. I would willingly read the other side of the story but his evidence is damning.
A few minor quibbles--the writing is choppy in places and a few news stories aren't explained well. For example, Rather explains how Rep. Charlie Wilson got involved with the Soviet war in Afghanistan, but lets the story dangle and assumes the reader is familiar with Wilson's story. Extra points because I only found a couple of small typos; it appears someone actual copyedited this book.
Recommended for people who hate corporatized news or are interested in the history of CBS, Rather or TV news. ...more
I read this years ago and it was a fascinating memoir about a young man who learns that his parents were raised as Jews and then converted to CatholicI read this years ago and it was a fascinating memoir about a young man who learns that his parents were raised as Jews and then converted to Catholicism. Fun fact--this is the same Stephen Dubner who does the Freakanomics radio show.
I don't remember when I read it but my grandmother gave me the rec and she died in 2004....more
This isn't a perfect book but I am giving it five stars because it provides a well-written and fascinating perspective on the early days of the AIDS fThis isn't a perfect book but I am giving it five stars because it provides a well-written and fascinating perspective on the early days of the AIDS fight. Dr. Abraham Verghese is best known for his novel, Cutting for Stone, but before he was a best-selling author, he was an infectious disease specialist. Early in his career, he landed in a small city in eastern Tennessee. This was the mid-1980s and AIDS cases were starting to appear in places other than San Francisco and New York. Verghese found himself treating a number of patients whose regular physicians had abandoned their care. It is difficult to capture the tone of this memoir, much of which came from Verghese's detailed journals. He catalogs symptoms and prognoses and the inevitable declines in those days when AIDS meant certain and painful death, but it is his portraits of his patients and his struggle to help them maintain dignity that makes this book such an incredible story.
Although the book was written in the early 1990s, parts of it already feel like ancient history. The attitudes toward gay people, while far from perfect in this country, have greatly advanced in the past quarter century. Verghese is unflinching in his descriptions of prejudice and his own changing views. He is honest about the bravery of his work but also about the toll it takes on him and his family. AIDS remains a terminal illness in many parts of the world and AIDS healthcare can always see improvement but the struggles of AIDS patients to even be acknowledged in Reagan's America are now an embarrassment to our country and a testament to the activism of the early victims and their survivors. I lived through this history as a self-centered teen and it was educational to read about it as a middle-aged parent.
Adrienne Martini shares her adventures in the knitting world as she attempts to knit a Mary Tudor, a complex Fair Isle sweater designed by Alice StarmAdrienne Martini shares her adventures in the knitting world as she attempts to knit a Mary Tudor, a complex Fair Isle sweater designed by Alice Starmore.
If you just said to yourself, "Why would I read a book about knitting?" or "Alice who?" this might not be the book for you. Martini wrote it for knitters. She covets the Mary Tudor but it is impossible to knit it exactly to Starmore's specifications because some of the yarn is unavailable. Find new yarn? It gets more complicated and Martini visits a number of knitting superstars (Ann Shayne, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, Amy Singer) as she works on the sweater and tries to figure out the relationship between an artist and her artwork.
Martini is my kind of memoirist. She rarely gets in the way of her own story, and while the book asks some serious questions about art and copyright, it is meant for entertainment and I was entertained.
Recommended for knitters and other fiber folks....more
Cheryl Strayed is a 40something writer who, in her twenties, hiked a section of the Pacific Crest Trail in California and Oregon after her mother diedCheryl Strayed is a 40something writer who, in her twenties, hiked a section of the Pacific Crest Trail in California and Oregon after her mother died. Her original plan for coping with this tragedy was to use heroin and cheat on her husband, which made a solo backpacking trip look like a better option.
Strayed's self-destructive streak simply emerges in a different form. She is ridiculously unprepared for the trip and makes errors that even I recognize immediately and I dislike camping, backpacking and all things dirt. She survives with some luck and some common sense earned from a childhood in the northern Minnesota woods, but I didn't admire her "pluck." I thought she risked her life in a lot of really stupid ways. For example, it doesn't take an Outward Bound instructor to know that you do not venture into the desert without making assurance double sure that you have enough water.
Strayed is an excellent writer and the way she writes about complex family relationships is poignant and real. I found her excruciatingly annoying but she tells a good story. Some pages were 5s and others were 2s, but she deserves at least a 4 for a sustained and fresh, if whiny, voice.
Also, did any Carls read this? Were the Three Young Bucks from Carleton (an insular college an hour from Minneapolis?) I wish I had their real names because they would have been around my age.
This is one of those books that I found on a "librarians' choice" shelf and I love Trillin, so I checked it out. In the early 90s, Trillin wrote doggeThis is one of those books that I found on a "librarians' choice" shelf and I love Trillin, so I checked it out. In the early 90s, Trillin wrote doggerel each week for The Nation, basing his verse on current events. The book is basically a tour through the headlines of 1990-94 and he includes many of his poems. If you like Trillin's work and bad puns, you should read this book. Otherwise, I recommend his essays from The New Yorker or his trilogy about American food. He is a terrific writer and this is not his very best....more
Jasmin Darznik is a successful, first-generation, Iranian American—a lawyer and English professor who remembers little of the country she left as a chJasmin Darznik is a successful, first-generation, Iranian American—a lawyer and English professor who remembers little of the country she left as a child. After her father dies, she finds a wedding photo of her mother, Lili, at her wedding to a much older man.
Lili is unable to talk to her daughter about the photo, but after Jasmin returns to her own home, Lili sends her audio tapes that tell the story of her childhood, first marriage and life prior to Jasmin's birth. The book is a memoir, but it is Jasmin telling her mother's story.
Her descriptions of the foods, scents and traditions of pre-revolution Iran are tempting and lush, all the more poignant because Lili's life is violent and unpredictable. She divorces her abusive husband but she is left with nothing, not even her first baby girl, who is raised by the father's family.
Lili's spirit and resilience are the center of this story. While still in her teens, she travels to Germany to study midwifery, then ricochets from Europe to Iran and back as her financial and family circumstances dictate. She eventually meets and marries Johann, a German of Slavic origin who is a hard worker but also an alcoholic, and struggles with infertility before giving birth to Jasmin. Lili is the family's emotional center and she earns professional respect as a midwife while trying to raise Jasmin and maintain contact with the daughter she left behind.
Lili, Jasmin and Johann eventually move to the United States, and in these last chapters the story falters for me. The writing remains beautiful but Jasmin is trying to piece together the story with her own memories and to find some sort of resolution, and it didn't feel genuine. Family stories teach us lessons but they don't really resolve. I also wish Darznik shared more about her writing process. Did her mother read the book for accuracy? Did she base the story entirely on the tapes? These are minor quibbles, however, and I highly recommend this book both as a memoir and as a tale of motherhood and the power of family history....more