Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Weight of Silence

Heather Gudenkauf is another new author with an amazing first novel. This book reminded me of Jodi Picoult's work because she deals with high stress situations and relationships that feel real. As each character's unique viewpoint is told, you truly see the world from that character's perspective. In this gripping book, two young best friends go missing at the same time. As the families of the two girls search for them, the reader gets to know some of the hidden world of each family.

If you enjoy Jodi Picoult, you will enjoy this book. It is an insightful look into what happens in a family when a child disappears. It also deals with issues of spousal abuse and parenthood. What makes a good parent? This is one of the questions this book asks.

I highly recommend The Weight of Silence, and look forward to any more books Heather Gudenkauf might write.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Help

After anxiously awaiting a copy of this book, I have it in my possession and have read it. It was great. This is Kathryn Stockett's first book, which sadly means it is her only current offering. I will definitely pick up any other books she might write.

This book is an insightful treatment of what it was like to be "the help" in the South in the 60's. The story revolves around three women, two black women with differing experiences and one white woman who wants to help them tell their story. Together these courageous women uncover the hidden side of the conundrum of the help. Stockett does a beautiful job of letting the reader into the world that she is portraying. She highlights the way that the help was both trusted to raise children and distrusted in a myriad of other ways. She shows how the affection between the women of both races was tenuous because of the many social rules that they lived with.

I recommend this book as a must read. I think all adults and some teenagers would benefit from reading this book. There is a nice mix of humor, tenderness, and serious life issues in this novel. It will be especially enjoyed by those interested in the Civil Rights Movement in the USA.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Help Surprise

I am a little bit confused by this, but I have the book The Help from the library. It was suddenly on hold for me, after looking like I still had to wait for over 100 people to get it. Now I am wondering, how did this happen. Was that big number of people waiting for the book wrong? Does the library inflate this number, or did over 100 people simply decide they didn't want to wait any longer? I don't know. I have begun the book, and am excited to have it so much sooner than anticipated.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Books in Bed

One day when my oldest daughter was eight, I discovered that her bed was literally covered in books. She slept on the top bunk and I hadn't been up there in a while, because I was in an unwieldy pregnant state. When I say that her bed was covered in books, some naive people may be under the impression that this means a mere five or ten or even twenty books. Those people would be quite wrong. No, the books were five or ten thick covering the entire surface of her bed. They were children's books and therefore thin, but the poor child probably hadn't felt the mattress in weeks.

I think the obvious question that comes to mind at this point is why I wasn't aware that so many books were missing. The answer is that we have such an abundance of children's books that I had no idea. (The eternal state of our bookshelves will now be easy to guess--unruly.) I did realize that some books were up there on her bed, but the magnitude was surprising. She was supposed to be sticking of a limit to five books in the bed each night. She may have even been sticking to that limit, but neglecting to put away any of the books.

Reading is a delightful way to end the day, but books are not always very comfortable in bed. It is a skill to read a large hardback book while lying on one's side, and I certainly have logged plenty of hours trying to learn it. Paperbacks are so much easier to navigate that for a while I declared a personal rule of no hardbacks in bed. This lasted for a good six months before I succumbed to the whiles of Gone With The Wind. Falling asleep on a paperback isn't much more comfortable than a hardback. Some paperbacks are so large the pages flop back and forth if you read them with any tilt at all. And the thicker the book, the more impossible the whole scenario becomes.

Even though reading in bed can present its own unique challenges, I won't stop. I will continue to fall asleep with a book in hand more often than I would like. My rest will continue to be disturbed by paper companions. I will lose sleep as I stay up later than any sane person would to see what happens next. Books in bed are part of my life, and have been for as long as I can remember.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Hold Update 6: The Help

I am now the 187th person waiting for the book The Help. The library now has 66 copies of the book. I think this puts my current wait time at approximately 10 weeks. The time has been passing much faster than I initially estimated. Hooray for the library!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Young Wives

I picked up this book because it was an interesting title. I decided to bring it home because the book jacket stated that it was by the same author as "The First Wives Club." I saw that movie and found it entertaining, so I decided to give the book a try. It was a mildly entertaining read, if you aren't expecting a plot too different from "The First Wives Club." It doesn't begin the same and the individual stories of the three women are unique to this book, but it began to take on a very familiar plot towards the second half of the book.

I also want to point out that this book title is misleading, since by the end of it none of these women can really be called wives. So instead of a story about women who are young and beginning their marriages, it is a story about women who are young and are ending their marriages.

If you are not experiencing a negative situation at the hands of a man, this book may be mildly entertaining. Perhaps it would make a good vacation read. If I was a woman currently or recently victimized by a man, I would probably find some parts of this book inspiring and empowering. I can recommend this book to women in such situations.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The "List"

I don't keep a formal list of what I want to read in a particular place. I have a notebook that I jot down notes and ideas in when I am reading, and occasionally books I am interested in reading will be written down there as well. This helps me remember book recommendations or books mentioned in other books. If I have access to my computer when I get a book recommendation, it might go on a library list.

I have books that I want to read that are not written anywhere. Some of them are classics that I haven't had the opportunity to get to yet. One book I have on my unwritten list is Wuthering Heights. I have tried to read this book on three separate occasions, and I even know the general plot and characters. I haven't made it through the book. However, I have a number of friends that really enjoy it, and I would like to read it for this reason.

This list has also manifested itself in physical form. There are books in my house that I haven't read yet. I purchased them or received them as gifts, but they languish on the shelf. Why do I keep putting books on hold at the library, if I have unread books at home? This question has a complicated answer. (Which I may delve into in a future post, but not today.)

I have attempted to write out a to-be-read list in the past, but the pace of my reading quickly outdistanced the list. It was frustrating, and I felt constrained to read a specific book at a specific time. The lack of system is working pretty well for me right now.

Hold Update 5: The Help

I am now #211 on the hold queue at the library for the book The Help. This puts my estimated time till acquisition at twelve weeks. After this long wait, I hope the book is a great read.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Double Dipping For Readers

Double dipping is considered a bad thing when it comes to food. It's not polite to put the same piece of food back in the communal dip. But when it comes to reading, double dipping is a great thing. If you know you will have to spend time waiting, or even if you think you might, a book will make the time go faster. Books are portable, and can be enjoyed almost anywhere.

I like to take nonfiction with me when I think I will be reading on the go. It seems easier to read in snippets when it is nonfiction. Fiction can be more difficult to wrench myself away from.

Typically, everywhere I go, a book goes. I choose my purses based on whether they are big enough for a standard book. I have read books in waiting rooms, fast food drive-thrus, parks, hospitals, and that is just the beginning. (I don't recommend reading and driving as a double dip. It's extremely hard and dangerous.)

What about you? Do you take books with you on the go?