Sunday, December 10, 2006

Book Award Rules

I am down to reading final nominations and there is a policy about "revealing" those to the public (or more importantly publishers) before the award is announced so I will not be posting my reviews until after January 22nd. Check back then for updates and the announcement of the final list.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Translator by Leila Aboulela

The story of (oddly enough) a translator:) This is about a Sudanese widow who has embraced her Islamic religion. She is living in Scotland when she start working as an Arabic translator for an Islamic scholar who is not a believer. After they fall in love she must decide what is stronger, her love or her faith. What this novel explores with great finesse is the true nature of faith. What it means to be faithful and what it means to give your life over to that. The language in this novel is a joy to read and the story is lovely. Highly enjoyable and different look at the Islamic faith.

The Lay Of The Land by Richard Ford

I hate it when I read a book and can appreciate the good points of it but not really be able to identify with the characters or lose myself in the book. Richard Ford is a technically gifted author with a huge following of appreciative readers but I have never been that enamoured of his writing. Perhaps it is because he so often explores "boomer angst" and I cannot really relate to it.

In this novel, realtor Frank Bascombe, previously appearing in Independence Day and The Sportswriter, finds that his wife has left him, his children's lives are in upheaval and he has been diagnosed with cancer. Sprinkled with quirky characters, this novel explores what it means to confront your own mortality and make peace with it. This was an exceptionally well-done novel that does have humorous moments and clearly shows the affection the main character feels for his friends and family. It also clearly shows the impact the last election had on large numbers of Americans

The Road by Cormic McCarthy

Oh my goodness. Last night I got home from a play at 11 or so and thought I would read for a little bit. I can safely say that I read one of my best books of the year.

The Road by Cormic McCarthy was stunning and completely different than anything he has ever written before. This is the story of a father and son who are traveling through a post-apocalyptic world in search of food, warmth, survival. The father hangs on to the last shreds of his morality because of the son's continued faith in their goodness. It is an amazing journey that explores the power of love in a world of no hope. One of the most profound reading experiences of my year.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Local Author

Joe Miller, the author of Cross-X: A Turbulent, Triumphant Season with an Inner-City Debate Squad, did a presentation about the book at my Rotary club this morning. I knew he was a local author but I guess I hadn’t realized that the school he is talking about was one I visited when I was a children's/ya librarian and that he is the same guy that has a blog that I read from time to time. Funny what a small world it is.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Tigers In Red Weather: A Quest For The Last Wild Tigers by Ruth Padel

Chronicling two years, eleven countries and countless dedicated guides, the quest to find and observe the wild tiger obsesses Ruth Padel in this poetic narrative. The simple descriptions illuminate the natural world and the obvious love that the author develops for tigers shines through. Personal narrative and private heartbreak are sprinkled throughout the text but at its heart is always the plight of the ancient tiger in a modern world.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

House of War

House of War is the story of the Pentagon. The author, a self-described beatnik, is the son of a general who spent his career at the Pentagon. Noting ironically that the birth of the Pentagon matches exactly the birth of the Atomic bomb he takes through the years showing how each president has effect the nuclear arms race for good and bad. He also make a point of highlighting Gorbachev's key role in ending the cold war and starting the disarmament process. Despite years of trying implement reductions each president has made it worse, so by accident, others by design. In the authors opinion George W Bush is singlehandedly responsible for the return of the nuclear arms threat and has significantly increased the possibility of a nuclear warhead being used against the United States.

This is one big, scary book that has me anxiously waiting for a new president to undo the damage that the current administration has unleashed.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution by Simon Schama

Very readable nonfiction account of a little known migration that resulted in runaway slaves siding with England during the American Revolution and their struggle to become free. The promised land is Sierra Leone and the unlikely moses was Thomas Clarkson, an undistinguished second son. After getting to know some of the slaves who had risked their lives to fight with the British army, Thomas became a relentless advocate for and leader of over 1,000 ex-slaves.

Sadly, the dream of abolitionists and Thomas Clarkson of a free black self-governing colony in Sierra Leone did not come to pass but the tale is still riveting and the historical figures are well drawn.