In this very slender graphic novel, Marjane Satrapi gives us a peek into the lives of Iranian women. Well, the romantic and sexual aspects of their li...moreIn this very slender graphic novel, Marjane Satrapi gives us a peek into the lives of Iranian women. Well, the romantic and sexual aspects of their lives anyway.
I felt like I was sitting in this roomful of multi-generational women as they gossiped about themselves, each other, and friends they knew. I think all women have sat in a group like this, when there aren't any men around, and said just exactly what we really think. It's not all ladylike and demure. This is the chance to be as ribald as you'd like.
I laughed so hard at some of these stories! They were hilarious!
Others were heartbreaking. I might not be able to relate to tales of arranged marriages, but I think most of us have enough imagination to understand how horrible it could be.
What I mostly took away from this is that, despite some cultural differences, women are women and men are men the world over. We have much more in common than we think.
If you aren't embarrassed by women talking frankly about sex and love, go ahead and pick this up. It only takes an hour or so to read, but it's very enjoyable.(less)
When Janet Elder was diagnosed with breast cancer, she and her husband promised their twelve-year-old son Michael that they would get him a puppy as s...moreWhen Janet Elder was diagnosed with breast cancer, she and her husband promised their twelve-year-old son Michael that they would get him a puppy as soon as she was better. They realized that life is too short to deny their son something he so desperately wanted, but they also knew that she would be in no condition to care for a puppy for a while.
True to their word, they got Michael a red toy poodle, whom he named Huck and whom they all immediately fell in love with. They couldn't imagine a life without Huck in it. Then, while they were on a much-needed vacation and Huck was staying with Janet's sister in New Jersey, the unthinkable happened. Huck ran away. The family immediately returned to start looking for their dog, and they found unexpected help throughout the small town of Ramsey, New Jersey.
This was a heart-warming story, but, being honest, I didn't find it very unexpected. I think being from a small town (it's not even technically a town) and living my whole life in a couple of small towns within half an hour of home skewed my perspective a little. I would have been more surprised if the people they came across didn't offer to help. Pretty much every business in the small towns I know have a community board to post lost dog signs and business cards. That said, this was a reminder not to take that for granted. Huck and his family live in New York, and they were amazed that perfect strangers spoke to them, helped them look, and let them post Lost Dog signs.
That's really about all I have to say. Huck sounds like a very sweet dog, and animal lovers of all kinds will enjoy this tale of "hope and happy endings."(less)
Susannah Charleson sort of fell into search-and-rescue. After volunteering as an assistant for her local search-and-rescue team, she eventually receiv...moreSusannah Charleson sort of fell into search-and-rescue. After volunteering as an assistant for her local search-and-rescue team, she eventually received approval to train a dog of her own. After a prolonged nation-wide search, the Golden Retriever Puzzle landed in her lap.
I'm not a huge non-fiction reader. Let's take a peek at my shelves, shall we? Let's see.... I've labeled 1252 read books as fiction and 129 as non-fiction. Yeah, I'm not a big fan of the true stories.
Yet I was drawn to the story of Susannah and Puzzle. I don't watch the news a lot, but even I have noticed that whenever a disaster happens, there's always footage of a SAR (search-and-rescue) worker and his or her dog in the background. I did not realize that these workers are volunteers who spend hours training each week, not to mention the time that they spend actively searching. What a huge commitment to make to help out other people.
When I was asked if I wanted to read and review this book, I asked the publicist, "Is this one of those books where you get all attached to the animal and then you sob the last fifty pages as they get sick and die? 'Cuz I don't do the whole crying thing." To my relief, the answer is that Puzzle is still alive and well.
And what a dog Puzzle is! She is highly intelligent and creative, and through Susannah's eyes we can watch Puzzle reasoning her way through the problems she's confronted with. I was amazed at some of the stories I read, not just about Puzzle but about all the dogs in their SAR team. I don't want to give anything away, so I won't say much, but just think about training in burnt buildings and the myriad of scents these dogs must be confronted with. I had no idea that SAR dogs can work on the water also. Who knew? Oh, and the picture of the volunteer and his dog rappelling down the side of a building together blew me away. A dog calmly rappelling? Wow.
There's one section where Susannah writes feelingly about her time as an assistant on the search after the Columbia space shuttle exploded. She handled it with sensitivity, but it was heart-breaking to read about. Even the dogs suffered from burnout on that search.
I think part of the reason the author chose to write this memoir is to confront the misconceptions the public, especially those who work in public services such as law enforcement and emergency medicine, have about what exactly the dogs can do. She quotes one officer who tells her that he hates to see the dogs called in because that means they've given up hope on finding a live person and believe they're now searching for a body. She gears up to tell him that these dogs can practically work miracles and they should always be called to a search early on when he cuts her off and says, "We only use dogs for human remains....Live people just don't smell bad enough." Susannah amply proves her point in this book that the dogs absolutely should be called in before all hope is given up.
Training Puzzle is no easy task. A dog as bright, independent, and inquisitive as she is has her own ideas about proper behavior. Convincing her otherwise provides some entertaining moments. Especially when they share the house with a multitude of jealous Pomeranians. They all have to play the searching game! And when Puzzle decides to find someone's hidden stash of treats--well, let's just say the results aren't pretty but they're funny.
I think animal lovers of all kinds will love this book. It kept my attention, and I even kept reading bits to my husband, something I don't recall ever doing with a non-fiction book before. I also think it's important for the law enforcement and emergency medical communities to give it a try just so they do know the dogs' abilities. I loved learning about these dogs and their volunteer handlers, and I loved "meeting" Puzzle and Susannah, may they share a long and healthy partnership!
Thanks to the publicist for sending me a copy of this wonderful book for review.(less)
In this memoir, Lithgow writes of how his early years shaped him as an actor, from his childhood, to his time at Harvard, to his studies in the UK as...moreIn this memoir, Lithgow writes of how his early years shaped him as an actor, from his childhood, to his time at Harvard, to his studies in the UK as a Fulbright scholar, and on to his breakthrough on Broadway and film.
I truly enjoyed listening to Lithgow narrate his own personal history. I don't know how much of his work I've actually seen, but I do like his voice. He took my thoughts and feelings exactly where he wanted them to go. I was quiet and pensive as he spoke about the power of story in his father's last days, I was howling with laughter alone in my car as he wrote about his father telling off a decidedly unpassionate Romeo, and I was interested enough not to notice as I listened and worked my way through yet another week of the Couch to 5K training program.
You could probably accuse Lithgow of name-dropping, but when he's speaking of his work, it's impossible not to name-drop. I was very interested to learn that he was at Harvard with Tommy Lee Jones and that he saw some of Meryl Streep's earliest Broadway auditions.
He doesn't hold much, if anything, back. His first marriage was rocky and he acknowledges his role in that. He writes honestly about his great love and respect for his father, how confused he felt to sort of surpass his work, and how determined he became to disassociate himself from his father's influence.
If you like memoirs at all, I do recommend this as audio. It's wonderfully narrated by a fascinating man.
Our bed & breakfast in Tuscany gave us this book. We didn't use it for any travel planning, but I love looking through the photos and revisiting t...moreOur bed & breakfast in Tuscany gave us this book. We didn't use it for any travel planning, but I love looking through the photos and revisiting the places we visited and seeing pictures of other beautiful places for the first time.(less)
A great big hint from my mother-in-law. I think we'd been married all of two MONTHS when we got this for Christmas! It's a beautiful book, but it didn...moreA great big hint from my mother-in-law. I think we'd been married all of two MONTHS when we got this for Christmas! It's a beautiful book, but it didn't set any internal clocks to ticking! :-)(less)
A co-worker insisted on lending me this book. It doesn't sound like my kind of thing, but I didn't know how to tell her I wasn't interested. We'll see...moreA co-worker insisted on lending me this book. It doesn't sound like my kind of thing, but I didn't know how to tell her I wasn't interested. We'll see how this goes...
Written in a format that leaves me wondering whether to classify this as fiction or non-fiction, The Richest Man in Babylon uses the framework of established Babylonian men telling stories about how they gained their hard-won financial wisdom. The book is short and surprisingly readable for someone who doesn't understand much about Finance. I understand budgeting and saving, but that's as far as I go with that.
The advice in the book seems sound to me, at least the parts that I understand. It boils down to:
1. Live on 70% of your income. 2. Save 10% of your income. 3. Use the remaining 20% to pay off your debts.
Sound financial advice.
Then it tries to get into investing. I just don't get it. The story in the book is about a man giving a shield-maker money for his business and the shield-maker pays him back with interest. I can't translate that into modern times. Oh, I know it's something about investing, but I'm so vague about how that works that I'm just left scratching my head, wondering where I can find an honest shield-maker.
The format worked well for me. I was getting a little bit of a story along with my Financial Advice, so that made it easier. "A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down" kind of thing.
I did get tired of all the "Thee" and "Thou." Maybe I'm wrong, but that's just King James English, right? I don't really think that's how ancient Babylonians talked. Just write "your" and be done with it. I guess it was supposed to give this a "wisdom of the ancients" kind of feeling, but it just irritated me.
At 140 pages, this will probably be the shortest, easiest book you will ever read about money matters. If you're looking for monetary advice (I wasn't--I don't know why my co-worker shoved this at me), this is a good place to start.(less)
After college, Rachel Shukert ended up working for free for a well-known experimental theater director. The play took a brief tour of Europe, and Rach...moreAfter college, Rachel Shukert ended up working for free for a well-known experimental theater director. The play took a brief tour of Europe, and Rachel was thrilled when she found out that her passport had not been stamped. That meant she could stay in Europe as long as she wanted without a visa, since no one officially knew she was there. Setting out to "find herself," she ends up living with two of her gay best friends in Amsterdam, jobless, but more than willing to try out the local booze and dating scene.
I'm not the right reader for this book. Call me a prude if you want, but I somehow (thankfully) avoided the stage of life that Rachel Shukert describes in her memoir. I don't understand the appeal of drinking until you end up in the hospital, or waking up with a man you met for the first time the night before. So when I ran into both things within the first few pages of this memoir, I knew this wasn't going to be a book that I connected with.
If you did go through this stage, perhaps you'll enjoy this memoir more than I did. It is funny, but, like I said, I just didn't really connect with what Rachel was going through inflicting on herself.
The book is well-written, and I did end up cheering for Rachel in the end, but the lifestyle described in the pages is a turn-off for me.
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy for review.(less)
In this autobiographical graphic novel, Craig Thompson describes his first love, his childhood relationship with his brother, and his loss of faith.
I...moreIn this autobiographical graphic novel, Craig Thompson describes his first love, his childhood relationship with his brother, and his loss of faith.
I think there's something in this graphic novel that everyone can relate to. Whether it's the rush of falling in love for the first time, the bullies at school, or the tangled relationship with a sibling, Craig's experiences, while unique, are also universal. I know that doesn't make sense, but there you go. It was a bit cathartic for me to watch him working them out.
Every frame rang true. His fights with his brother over the blankets in the wintertime. His isolation at school. His relief at finding other loners at church camp. The first infatuation and later love.
I love the artwork. They show more of what Craig is feeling than the words do. The black and white pictures fit the stark feeling of this story, which mostly takes place in the winter.
I know there's more, but I've waited too long to review this book. It's a lovely graphic novel. Just read it.(less)
In this true story, Roy and Silo are two male chinstrap penguins in the Central Park Zoo who don't quite fit in. They don't take any notice of the fem...moreIn this true story, Roy and Silo are two male chinstrap penguins in the Central Park Zoo who don't quite fit in. They don't take any notice of the female penguins and instead form their own little family.
What an adorable little book! The illustrations by Henry Cole are charming. The story of Roy and Silo is sensitively written for the young ones. I was sad as they tried to nest and then uplifted when little Tango came along. All in the space of 30 or so pages. And I just love that the story is completely true.
Much as I wish this world were more accepting, this book is not going to be for all families. If your family can handle it, I do recommend the book. It's a good introduction for children to the concept of families that are a little different but that are still built on love.(less)
I would never have picked this up on my own. A book about cadavers? How morbid can you be? Not to mention th...moreChalk this up to a win for the GR friends.
I would never have picked this up on my own. A book about cadavers? How morbid can you be? Not to mention the heebie-jeebies that would be sure to haunt me throughout the book.
But so many people have read this and raved about it that I decided to go ahead and give it a try.
It's somehow hilarious. But not disrespectful. And odd. And hilarious. And hard to describe.
With chapters ranging from human decay, to body snatching, live burial, and new ways to "dispose" of human remains, I never realized that there were so many aspects of death to think about.
I can't say that I was completely comfortable with all the topics covered (I really don't need to know exactly what happens to a decomposing body), but neither did anything give me too bad a case of the heebie jeebies.
I was surprised by how interesting I found most of the topics to be. There's a lot of history, anecdotes, trivia, and science crammed into this book.
If you think you can handle it, and most people probably can, I recommend this for an upfront look at a topic most of us avoid.(less)
Torey Hayden is what I can only call a special ed teacher. At some less-politically-correct point in her career, she agreed to teach the "garbage clas...moreTorey Hayden is what I can only call a special ed teacher. At some less-politically-correct point in her career, she agreed to teach the "garbage class" (her words, not mine) that consisted of the abused, unteachable, unreachable kids. The class of eight students, a teacher's aide who lacked even a high school diploma, a high school student volunteer, and Torey made it through the first semester in decent shape. But in January, little Sheila joined them. She seemed to be more troubled and harder to reach than most and she set the class on its ears. But Torey made the effort to try to help this six-year-old child.
What a heart breaker. The five stars reflect the importance of the subject rather than the quality of the writing. The story is told in a straightforward manner and is very readable in and of itself, but it's really nothing special. But this little girl. Oh my gosh, little Sheila. What a survivor. I work in a hospital that has one floor dedicated to psychiatric patients. It has always blown my mind that we have an area in there dedicated to pediatric (as in not-a-teenager) patients. The few times I've been called to do a test there, I've left wondering how such a young child can get so broken. Is it just a bad hand, genetically? Or has someone made the effort to break them? What could break these young children? I always stop my thinking there, not really wanting to know, wanting to stay safe in my middle-class sheltered existence. But One Child showed me what can happen to these kids. It was not by any means an emotionally easy read. It's left me quite disturbed. But it's so important. We're losing too many kids this way, and they all have a part to play in this world, no matter how small. We need books like this to remind us of what we take for granted, and to remind us to take the time to care. And to show us that there is hope. Because, ultimately, despite the heart break we go through, the book is about hope and healing. Highly, highly recommended.(less)