Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Three Books and No Real Winner

I have read three books this past month of May and none of them really grabbed me.  I gave up on one of them.  The other two were worth reading.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley is the book I quit.  I read 224 pages, over half the book and I just never got into it enough to care about the characters or the plot.  I love the cover of the book and had read some good reviews, so I bought it.  Bad decision.  Since giving up on it, I have read reviews that have agreed with me.  So I don't feel like I am losing my taste in just wasn't my "cup of tea".  For those who care, it is the story of a young girl, Flavia, who aspires to be a scientist and, it seems to me, also a detective.  She discovers a dead bird on her doorstep with a stamp stuck through it's beak.  Then, the same day, she discovers a man dying in the family's garden. Flavia sets out to learn more about the man.  I believe that this is the beginning of a series of books about Flavia (although I'm not certain of that, and don't care enough to actually find out!).

I next read Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada.  It was an interesting book, and I did finish it, but I am still on the fence about it.  What interested me the most was reading on the back cover that the author wrote the book "in a feverish twenty-four days, soon after the end of World War II and his release from a Nazi insane asylum.  He did not live to see its publication."  The book is 509 pages (and not large print by any means). 

It may be a classical type book...I guess that I just need more time to think about it.  The story is based on a true story which occurred during Nazi occupied Germany.  It basically is the story of a couple who stood up for what is right and what they believed in, after they received the news that their only child/son had been killed in the war.

I think that I would recommend this book, just with the caveat that it is a very long book.

Lastly, I read Still Alice by Lisa Genova.  I had heard and read so much about this book that I had great expectations for it, and the book just didn't meet my expectations.  I had avoided reading it for quite some time, but one day it just appealed to me and I read it. 

The story is about 50 year old Alice, a psychology professor at Harvard, who begins to be aware of memory problems.  She is diagnosed with early onset of Alzheimer's.  The book tells of the struggles of Alice, her husband John and their three grown children as they deal with the diagnosis and the in-their-face reality of Alzheimer's affecting their wife/mother.

For some reason, I had thought that the story was a true story and that the husband narrated it.  I was totally wrong.  It is a novel and told by Alice herself.  I found the writing to be rather simplistic and never felt like I really knew the characters.  It was an easy read and there is a lot of information about Alzheimer's in the book.  Again, I guess that I would recommend it, also.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Appetites-On The Search For True Nourishment

Appetites seems to be a less-known work of Geneen Roth's.  After reading Women Food and God, I began to work on the concepts of being kind to myself and listening to my body and taking care of it.  I happened across this book and I am glad that I found it.  There is much wisdom in this book.  It is not quite like her other is not directly about eating, food, etc.  It really struck me as a book about finding your true self.  It is primarily Geneen's story of her journey in learning who she was.

It is a very easy book to read.  It really held my attention and I found it very insightful. An example:
"Despite my valiant efforts to the contrary, I know that the purpose of life is not to be safe.  It is to be open.  To be dedicated to the truth, to the joy as it streams through your life.  Because if you are not, then no matter what you have, you will always want more, you will be forever hungry.  And if you are, then no matter what happens, you will one day discover that you are who you have been hungering for.  It has been you, not the food you eat, the clothes you buy, the people you love, the money you make.  For lifetimes, for eons, for as long as it takes for a mountain to become a mountain, it has always been you. You are the feast. You."

I really love the way she writes.  Her words speak to me.   Geneen tells of her struggles, especially when she was ill for several years and questioned who she was without hair! She tells of many different examples of others struggling with issues of "who am I now" after hearing and/or suffering various debilitating problems.  Perceptions and perspectives.  Geneen's writing seems to put the words that we are looking for in our searches.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

House Rules

House Rules is the newest book out by Jodi Picoult.  It is about an eighteen year old boy with Asperger Syndrome who is accused of murder when his social skills tutor is found dead and all clues lead to him.  

Jacob Hunt lives with his divorced mother and his fifteen year old brother, Theo.  Live is difficult living with Jacob.  He is both the sweetest boy in the world, and very difficult if anything in his life is changed or disrupted.  Only certain color foods and clothes are allowed each day of the week (ie. Thursday is brown day-he will only wear brown, and dinner is steak, baked potatoes, gravy and brownies.  Friday is a little more difficult-that is blue day!).

Jacob is fixated on crime scene/forensics.  He is an expert on the subjects.  He figures that the police could learn a lot from him if they would listen.

The story is told from several points of view.  Each chapter is told by either Jacob, his mother Emma, his brother Theo, or by his attorney Oliver.

Ms. Picoult appears to have done an excellent job researching Asperger's and autism.  There was a lot of good information about these disorders in the book, so if you are curious about Asperger's, this book, although it is fiction, would be quite educational.  I thought that the ending of the book was a little weak, but all in all, an interesting book.