"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Saturday, April 2, 2016

March Books

Granny D: Walking Across America in My 90th Year by Doris Haddock -- the story of an old woman who wanted to continue fighting for causes so she decided to walk across the US - from California to Washington, D.C., - spreading a message about national campaign finance reform.  In the book she talks about sights and weather along the way, people she met, speeches she gave, but also reflections on her years as a child and young adult, her husband, her children, her friends, her causes.  A remarkable lady.  I looked her up online, and saw she died a few weeks after her 100th birthday.

The Angel of Grozny: Orphans of a Forgotten War by Asne Seierstad -- This journalist from Norway - actually a lady who speaks Russian who becomes a journalist because it's easier to teach journalism to someone who already speaks Russian than to teach a journalist, Russian - goes to parts of Russia and Chechnya to report on people she meets.  Such a sad tale.

Meeting Islam: A Guide for Christians by George Dardess -- Last year a FB friend mentioned this book to me, and I saw that my library had it. I kept forgetting to check it out, but finally did. I kept thinking it seemed really similar to another book I'd read, but later I checked and, oh!, I read this very book back in 2008 or 9.  Since I'd already committed myself to reading over half the book, I decided maybe a refresher was needed so I finished it. 

The Double Life of Liliane by Lily Tuck -- When I saw this book on the New Books shelf at the library, I admit the author's name is what took my attention. Not because I recognized it, but because I did. At least the Tuck part, right?  Hey, that's my (married) last name!  I always like when I see a family name - or even my own first name in an author - so I checked out the book. It's described as Lily Tuck's "most autobiographical novel to date" and an "autofiction" because they claim life is "part fact part fiction."  Also, as you may recall Susanne means "lily" so there's that.  This lady is way more worldly and interesting than I.  Also her family so different than mine. I don't understand parents who leave their children alone so they can pursue affairs and such, but maybe that's just me.   This was a fairly easy read, and I enjoyed the lovely higher-than-normal spring temps while reading it outside.

Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson -- I saw Bridget mention this in her recent book post so I decided to find it at my local library, and I read it this week. I am not sure if I ever read it as a child. If I did, I've forgotten. The story is familiar, but maybe that's because similar themes are present in several stories I've read including the one mentioned in the title.  This is the story of Sara Louise called Wheeze and the favored, blonde, much-loved, shining twin Caroline.  With a nickname like Wheeze you can't be pretty or talented, right?  It makes you feel as if you have a constant lung problem.  Good read especially as I sat outside during these lovely spring days while Zach played Mario with friends at the park.

Walking the Nile by Levison Wood -- The story of an English explorer and adventurer on a mission to walk along the Nile - all four thousand two hundred plus miles of it.  He starts his journey in an area that is the disputed beginning - this adds an extra few hundred miles to his journey.  He travels north with a guide named Boston who later becomes a friend.  The author tells about people he meets, villages he goes through, food offered to him, and wildlife he sees.  When he finally reaches Egypt, he is stuck in Aswan for three weeks while an expensive fixer tries to get proper permission and guides for his trek through this final country.  He observes the lack of tourism in an area where tour guides speak ten languages, and boats wait to take people out on cruises, and cooks survey the empty tables with sadness.  He credits the Arab Spring and the military coup with the lack of tourists.    

He says, "Just four years ago, there had been hundreds of boats serving tourists out on the Nile, but now they were all mothballed, moored up, four or five abreast, on the banks of the river with only skeleton crews to keep them afloat. Shops were boarded up or left empty; now nobody sold trinkets and you'd struggle to find a plastic pyramid even if you wanted one. Tour guides fluent in ten languages were sweeping the streets or driving taxis, or otherwise sat idle in the coffee shops lamenting the good old days. As far as I could tell, all of them seemed to regret the revolution - the first one, at least - and blamed it on the ignorance of youth."  (pg. 287)

A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl's Journal, 1830-32 by Joan W. Blos -- since I was in the J Fiction books the other day, I checked out another.  This was a pretty good story of Catherine's observations on life just before she left her New Hampshire home to help a family. 

The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis -- I decided to read more J Fiction books, and saw this one about a black girl - Deza (that's Deh zuh, not Dee za) - growing up in Gary, Indiana, and later Flint, Michigan, during the Great Depression. What a charming girl, and what a hard life, and what an interesting way to learn more about it.  I really liked this book, and am going to look for more books by this man.  (In general, I don't read a lot of fiction by men and more particularly by black men. This may be my first - and it was good.  But I won't dare say what some white folks said to Deza that he's a credit to his race. *eyeroll*)

Mrs. Jeffries & the Yuletide Weddings by Emily Brightwell -- this book must be part of a series and I picked this one up at a book exchange in Southport.  A group of servants and a friend or two outside the household come together to help solve mysteries that their employer and friend, the Inspector, is hired to solve.  A pretty cute story though I still don't get all the English talk and slang, but this was easy enough to follow.

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson -- the story of Jess and his new friend Leslie and their special friendship; another J Fic book

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko -- imagine being the child of a prison guard. On Alcatraz while Al Capone is in residence.  Also imagine having an older sister with autism, and having to look after her while your mom teaches piano on the mainland.  A rather cute story. Again from the J Fic section of the library.

Rodzina by Karen Cushman -- a cute J Fic book about a twelve-year-old Polish girl on an orphan train to the West.  This was truly a thing at one time in US history, and this story shows Rodzina's journey to various stops as she heads towards a new family. 

The Loud Silence of Francine Green by Karen Cushman -- I could relate to Francine quite a bit. The girl who followed the rules and often chose not to speak up so she wouldn't rock the boat. I wish often I could be like her friend Sophie who was outspoken about social justice issues of the day, the girl who dared to question authority and God's existence.  This tale took place during the end of 1949. Communism and finding Communists among us were themes, and the story was about thirteen year old girls. Yeah, another J Fic book.

The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman -- a J Fic book that won a Newberry Award; cute tale of an abandoned girl who evolved from Brat to Beetle to Alyce.

Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War by Tony Horwitz  -- Years ago I read a book from this author about his travels around Arabia. It was so good. I had seen this Confederate one at that time, but I was a bit burned out on Civil War stuff and more interested in books about the Middle East so I put this one on my mental "read later" list.  Well, last month we were looking around a Barnes & Noble in Myrtle Beach, I saw this book, and remembered to check it out of the library. So I did.  I really enjoyed the author's trips with hard-core historical interpreters (this one group didn't like the term "reenactors").  The one guy from Ohio - Southern parents, but he grew up in Medina - was especially hard-core. In fact I realized just last night that the photo on the cover was him (Robert Lee Hodge).  The author mentioned in the book that Mr. Hodge posed for a number of Civil War photos so I should have caught on sooner.   When the author - Tony - was invited to travel with these hard-core guys for a marching weekend, most of his stuff was thrown out as not authentic enough.  Even his Granny Smith apples were too shiny and had to be tossed.   They gave him a new pair of glasses  (weaker prescription) to wear because his own glasses frames were not right for the times (1860s).   I marveled at these guys smearing bacon grease in their beards and on their clothes, carrying live chickens since the Rebels often did, spooning instead of carrying heavy blankets.  Quite the tales at times and some of it rather amusing!
Other bits from the book:

In Salisbury, NC, he attended a Jackson-Lee birthday party complete with trivia and refreshments in honor of those Confederate generals.  (pg. 25)
I liked his term of "latter day rebels."  (pg. 26)
Also the discussion about Jews in Charleston was interesting.  The author is a Jew so he brought up his own family history a few times. It was always neat when he was recognized as a M.O.T.   (pg. 62)
He interviewed Shelby Foote, and I learned from him a bit more about the KKK's history and the mentality of people during its formation (pg. 153).
I loved the chapter when Tony visited the battlefield in Shiloh, TN,  and the ranger who gave Tony a personal tour explaining the story that the landscape there tells. (pg. 178)
In Atlanta, Tony met a guy from Connecticut selling Confederate t-shirts, mugs, trinkets, and other stuff.  He also met Melly Meadows - a Scarlett O'Hara lookalike - who regularly appeared at events. Who knew the Japanese were particularly fond of Scarlett (at least when this book was being researched - the mid-1990s)?
Did you know people asked about Scarlett's grave - where they could find it?  Also, at a place in Charleston one tour guide said people sometimes wondered why all the battles were fought at national parks! 
I learned about Rebel soldiers writing Yankee women (pg. 315), and Fitzgerald, Georgia, as a Yankee settlement with a goal of reconciliation - pretty cool story (pg. 332).
In Selma, AL, the author sat in on a few classrooms. In one classroom, the white students sat on one side, the black students on another, with Tony in the middle.  He asked why this was, and the students seemed to not even realize they self-segregated.  He met with students once in an alternative school for black students and discussed the Civil War.  The greatest conflict Tony reported from his whole trip (and this book has just over 400 pages with the index) was a talk with a black leader in Selma, Alabama. While Tony appreciated her work and initially admired her, they had words over Ms. Sanders' admiration of Farrakhan.

"A few things?" I snapped back. "He says Hitler is a great man. As a Jew, I've got a problem with that."
"Oh, here we go again.  Jewish suffering.  What about our suffering?  Our holocaust? What about the holocaust of Indians?"  (pg. 369)

The Lopsided Christmas Cake by Wanda & Jean Brunstetter -- an easy read for my time at Southport; not the most exciting or interesting tale, but I read it.  The story of how a couple of Amish twins met some eligible bachelors because of a baking fundraiser.

Will Sparrow's Road by Karen Cushman -- I've read a few of her books lately. I found them in the J FIC of the library. This one is about a boy who ran away from the inn after he was caught stealing. He ends up helping a "troupe of 'oddities and prodigies' traveling from fair to fair."  This book takes place in England in 1599.

A Thousand Naked Strangers by Kevin Hazzard -- I heard him interviewed on an NPR program, and then I saw his book in the library.  This is "a paramedic's wild ride to the edge and back." 

A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World by Tony Horwitz  -- Since I found his Confederates book again, I decided I should see what else my library has by this author. This book begins with Tony in Plymouth, Massachusetts, where many Americans celebrate the founding of our country.  Plymouth Rock. Pilgrims.  The Mayflower.  All that stuff.  In this book Tony looks before that time to Vinland, the Dominican Republic, Columbus, de Soto, the Conquistadors, the French Calvinists near today's Jacksonville, Florida, and how that brought about the settlement at St. Augustine as the Spanish Catholics cleared "their" territory of these heretics (that was an especially interesting chapter to me.)  He speaks of those who came to the banks of (now) North Carolina and Virginia.  Lots of interesting stuff!

Beside Bethesda: 31 Days Toward Deeper Healing by Joni Eareckson Tada -- I saw this mentioned online somewhere last year, and someone bought it for me off my Amazon Wishlist.  It has a short talk for each day of the month. Some good reminders and challenges in those few pages, too.


S Wibby said...

YA books! Yay!

I remember all the girls in my 5th grade class reading Jacob Have I Loved and talking about how great it was. I got it in a bag of old books at some point years ago but still haven't read it. That year all the girls were also reading terribly sad books about teenage girls dying of cancer, so I'm suspicious. :D

On the other hand, I loved Bridge to Terebithia. It made me cry a lot, though. And then the movie they made of it recently (well...last 5-10 years. That's recent, right? :D I don't see a lot of movies) made me cry even more.

Karen Cushman sounded familiar but I couldn't remember why and and had to look her up. Catherine, Called Birdy! That book was so cute. I guess I'll have to read some of her other books too! Al Capone Does My Shirts also sounds interesting.

I like your book summaries. Thanks for sharing!

Susanne said...

I loved your comment! I'm glad you were familiar with some of these books or authors, and left your thoughts on them. :) Always good hearing from you!