Like almost everybody, I grew up with The Sound of Music. I don't remember when I learned that it was based on a true story, but I have had this book...moreLike almost everybody, I grew up with The Sound of Music. I don't remember when I learned that it was based on a true story, but I have had this book on my book bucket list since I was young.
Maria's voice was refreshing. She's a straight talker, and I felt less like I was reading a memoir and more like I was sharing a cup of tea with her over the kitchen table.
I was completely charmed by the book, and by Maria, and the entire Trapp family. (less)
Disclaimer: I received a free review copy from the publisher through Goodread's First Reads program
Trigger warning: for those who just wanted a fun bo...moreDisclaimer: I received a free review copy from the publisher through Goodread's First Reads program
Trigger warning: for those who just wanted a fun book about a guy doing battle with a rooster, McGrory starts out by dedicating a good chunk of the beginning of the book to his awesome dog, Harry, who gets very sick and he has to put to sleep. I had just put my cat to sleep a few short weeks ago and found myself sobbing while reading that section in public.
I really enjoyed this book, despite my crying jag. Harry's death led to a relationship with Harry's vet, who happens to also come with a suburban life, two kids, and a small menagerie. Buddy, the title rooster, comes along thanks to a science experiment from one of Pam's daughters. McGrory's trials and tribulations with the rooster mirror his own struggle to adjust to suburban and family life, after decades of living alone in the city.
This was a sweet and funny book. Though I was as befuddled by McGrory at the sheer amount of STUFF his soon-to-be step-daughters needed. I grew up and live in surburbia. I don't have kids but I have memories of when I was a kid and I certainly didn't have $200 birthday cakes or extravagant birthday parties. Weird.(less)
The most fascinating part of the book for me were the parts of the book detailing Bornstein's stint in Scientology. Those bits were so interesting tha...moreThe most fascinating part of the book for me were the parts of the book detailing Bornstein's stint in Scientology. Those bits were so interesting that I actually found the rest of the book a bit of a let-down in terms of keeping me engaged. A very interesting memoir.(less)
Given the intensification of the political onslaught against women's reproductive rights in this country, reading this book felt very apropos. I know...moreGiven the intensification of the political onslaught against women's reproductive rights in this country, reading this book felt very apropos. I know very firmly where I stand in the whole abortion debate, and I thought myself very knowledgeable about the various issues. Wicklund showed me that I knew next to nothing about what actually having an abortion entails, and that while I may know the issues I don't know the emotions. The threats and dangers that Wicklund faces on a day-to-day basis shocked me, and I have nothing but respect for a woman who continues to do her job with compassion and conviction in the face of all that. I don't think I could do something - no matter how deeply held my sense of rightness - in the face of such ugliness, ignorance, hate, and hypocrisy.
Disclaimer: I received a free review ARC from the publisher through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program
There is a distinct lack of personal stories...moreDisclaimer: I received a free review ARC from the publisher through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program
There is a distinct lack of personal stories of Tibetan refugees, and with the population aging and dying off, it is vital that Yangzom took the time to document her grandmother's and mother's stories in this remarkable book. I will admit that I don't know much about Tibet and the Chinese invasion and occupation, other than the basics. I also don't know much about Tibetan culture and it's unique form of Buddhism, again, other than the basics.
Brauen takes pains to not only tell her family's story, but to explain to the reader Tibetan culture, beliefs, and societal structure. She spent the majority of the book on her grandmother and mother's story, focusing on their life in Tibet, their escape and subsequent life in India, and then in Switzerland. The writing was simplistic, but the story swept me away.
China has written the story of Tibet within its borders as one of liberation and progress, a jingoist picture that I think most outside of China know is false, but it is important that stories such as Across Many Mountains continue to be told, to counteract the Chinese re-interpretation of history. While reading, I came across a few lines in the book that made me pause and reach for a pen to underline it. "I think we have to find a solution that enables the Tibetans and Chinese to live together in such a way that both groups are guaranteed their respective rights and freedoms. Part of this must be a change in the Chinese attitude toward Tibet. The Chinese people know far too little about our culture and history, having for decades been fed a constant diet of misinformation and propaganda." This is key, but will be near impossible in a society as tightly controlled as China, where the government restricts access to information and has proven most adept at brainwashing the current generation of young people, who do not remember Tienanmen Square.
I applaud Brauen and her family for this book, and hope that it can influence some change. Either way, it is an important story that needs to be told. (less)
Disclaimer: I won an advance review copy from the publisher.
I knew I should have been moved and blown away by this book. I was not. I should have felt...moreDisclaimer: I won an advance review copy from the publisher.
I knew I should have been moved and blown away by this book. I was not. I should have felt emotionally connected to the author. I did not. I should have sped through this book without stop - well, yes but that was because it was short. I feel oddly guilty that I did not love this. But a large part of it was Strauss's detached writing style which never quite convinced me of the impact Celine's death had on him. Yes, intuitively I knew that he was affected but I never felt it.
But considering that he mainly wrote this book for himself, that is okay. I hope he found whatever he was looking for in this book. And yet... I found the entire book a bit crass. The one moment that stuck with me was when Strauss's date berated him for thinking about himself rather than thinking about Celine. I think that if she had read this book, his date would say the same thing again. While it was very introspective about his feelings and guilt, and how the accident impacted him, there was very little thought given to how the accident affected other people other than when those other people directly interacted with him. The whole thing came off as rather selfish, and the publication of the book very self-serving. Strauss talks about how he could never open up in therapy, so he took to writing it down. I understand that writing is cathartic and healing. But then to publish it just strikes me as profiting from Celine's death. (less)
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book via Goodreads giveaway program from the publisher.
I have Nick Trout's first book on my TBR list, though I h...moreDisclaimer: I received a copy of this book via Goodreads giveaway program from the publisher.
I have Nick Trout's first book on my TBR list, though I haven't read it yet. This is his third memoir, focusing on how the pets of his family influenced not only his career decision to become a veterinarian, but how his relationships with the animals, and his observations of others' (especially his father) informed his philosophy of animal-human interaction and relationships. This book made me really reflect on my own connection to my pets. A really well-written, engaging book that is both bittersweet as animals leave Trout's life, but also hopeful as it explores all that or pets add to our lives.(less)
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book via Goodreads giveaway program from the author.
I started reading it as soon as I got home and saw it in the...moreDisclaimer: I received a copy of this book via Goodreads giveaway program from the author.
I started reading it as soon as I got home and saw it in the mail, and finished it a little over two hours later. Overall, I really liked the book. It was quirky, a bit gut-wrenching, disturbing, and hopeful all at the same time. Why the 3 stars then? Because I can't get over the title. It's an interesting title, a unique title, a title that is sure to make someone do a double take. Unfortunately, it's also, in my opinion, a horrible title for this book as it completely gives the wrong impression about what the book is about. This was not a memoir of a Catholic girl writing about weird questions she had to deal with. It was a memoir of a girl, who just happened to be Catholic (though religion isn't a big part of this book at all), writing about growing up with an extremely abusive and horrendous father and moving past that.
Simas tells a compelling story. I was a little thrown at first by the episodic nature of the book, but it becomes clear just why she chose that structure at the very last few pages of the book. She writes about some truly traumatic and horrific experiences defiantly, catharticly, and with a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor I admired. I don't know if I could have survived in her family and emerged half-way functioning.(less)
The problem with finding a new author you love who happens to be deceased is that you know he or she won't be producing any more books for you to read...moreThe problem with finding a new author you love who happens to be deceased is that you know he or she won't be producing any more books for you to read. The problem if that author is Helene Hanff is that she only wrote five memoir books, and another book that collects the transcripts of some radio program she did. Totally unfair, I say. I only discovered Hanff a few weeks ago and have already sped through three of her six books, and it makes me sad to think there are only three more left to go.
This was a delight. Hanff really brought to life what being an out-of-worked, unknown, starving playwright in the 40s and 50s was like. I know that I wouldn't have lasted a month in that life, but she made it sound so fun that I was half tempted to give it a try myself.(less)