April 19, 2013 § 6 Comments
So. It’s been the Week of Suck to end all Weeks of Suck. And here in Boston we’re currently still waiting for an end to an intense manhunt that’s been going on nearly 24 hours. But the Boston community is holding strong, so this week’s Friday Fifteen is dedicated to Boston-area writers.
2. Choosing a Jewish Life: A Handbook for People Converting to Judaism and for Their Family and Friends by Anita Diamant
Warm and inclusive look at conversion. Read for novel research; very interesting on its own.
3. The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin
How to win friends and influence people with tasty veg.
4. The Devils Arithmatic by Jane Yolen
Pretty sure I read this, but totally forgot the “time travel” and am questioning myself.
5. Drown by Junot Diaz
Read in a contemporary novel class; one of the few I really remember.
Thanks to everyone for the support and love this week! Bostonians and non-Bostonians alike, we are going to get through this.
April 18, 2013 § 5 Comments
It’s been a tough week. I feel like I keep turning on the news to see more bad news (like the devastating fertilizer plant explosion in Texas this morning). When it seems like there’s no end to tragedy in the world, I’m reminded of Madeleine L’Engle’s The Moon by Night–specifically by Vicky’s conversation with Uncle Douglas after seeing a play about Anne Frank. Vicky can’t imagine how a loving God could have let the Holocaust happen. Uncle Douglas says he thinks of the universe (and all its tragedies and injustices) like a jigsaw puzzle:
“You know those puzzles with hundreds of tiny pieces? You take one of those pieces all by itself and it doesn’t make sense, does it?…we find it hard to realize that there is a completed puzzle….We find it almost impossible to think about infinity, much less comprehend it. But life only makes sense if you see it in infinite terms. If the one piece of the puzzle that is this life were all, then everything would be horrible and unfair…But there are all the other pieces, too, the pieces that make up the whole picture.”
I love that reminder that when we think about tragedy, we’re thinking about the universe in a very limited way. There is a lot of unfairness and destruction–but that’s a small part of what makes up the whole. It’s not the whole picture on its own. That doesn’t mean to say we can’t feel sad about terrible events, but I do like reminding myself that the world isn’t just terrible events. Even when it feels like that’s all I hear about.
April 12, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Let’s kick Friday off with this week’s fifteen-word book reviews:
2. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
The ultimate novel about academia. Which says it all for me.
3. Felicity Saves the Day (American Girls: Felicity #3) by Valerie Tripp
No, Ben, you can’t fight in the Revolutionary War because you already have a job!
4. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
Sci-fi YA takes on Frankenstein. Really dug it, but felt complete; why’s there a sequel?
5. The Bad Beginning (The Series of Unfortunate Events #1) by Lemony Snicket
I liked that the Baudelaires never solved problems easily. Lots of literary fun sprinkled throughout.
April 9, 2013 § Leave a Comment
This week is the national Days of Remembrance, which commemorates Holocaust victims and survivors. I remember learning about the Holocaust in school, primarily with two main books. The first was Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, which my class read in third or fourth grade. I knew about WWII in general, but this was the first time I remembered hearing about the significant threat to Jewish people during that time. The book provided a safe way to learn about a very scary part of history; the threat to Ellen’s family is very real but Lowry is careful not to go into too much detail about what could have faced the Rosens if they’d been caught.
Night by Elie Wiesel was another significant book in my learning about the Holocaust. By the time I read it, I was in eighth grade and knew millions of innocent people had been tortured and killed. I didn’t expect Night to affect me so, but I read it in one evening and spent the entire time crying. For me, it was an opportunity to understand the Holocaust in a very personal way. Somehow it’s easy to gloss over statistics about how many people died; it’s far harder to ignore real stories about the horrors that individual people experienced.
Which is why the Days of Remembrance and honoring all the specific victims and survivors are essential. We need to hear their stories and remember that these were/are specific people with specific lives. They were mothers and singers and readers and kids who liked silly jokes and lawyers and on and on. All of their stories are valuable and need to be shared.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has resources for taking part in the Days of Remembrance, including a webcast of the national ceremony on Thursday, April 11 at 11:00am. In case you can’t take part in an organized event, you can also share the stories of victims and listen to the stories of survivors, as documented on the museum website. Make sure their voices are heard.
April 5, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Hey guys, it’s finally Friday! Time for some book reviews in fifteen words or less.
2. Daughters of Eve by Lois Duncan
At thirteen I had mixed feelings about this feminist-cult book; felt very dated.
3. Faulkner in the University ed. Frederick L. Gwynn, introduction by Douglas Day
Read The Sound and the Fury, matriculating at UVA. Of course I snatched this up.
4. Stone Soup by Marcia Brown
Or “How to Host a Dinner Party Without Having to Cook.” Our 2nd grade play.
5. The Older Boy (Sweet Valley #15) by Francine Pascal
You’re sixteen and think a sixth grader looks like an average high school girl? Riiiight.
March 29, 2013 § 1 Comment
Happy Friday, everyone! Can you believe it’s the end of March? This month was kind of a whirlwind for me, so I’m glad to see April on its way. Let’s round out the month with some good ol’ fashioned fifteen-word book reviews.
2. Chief O’Neill’s Sketchy Recollections of an Eventful Life in Chicago by Francis O’Neill, ed. Ellen Skerrett and Mary Lesch
Memoir by a policeman in early 1900s Chicago, who then documented Irish folk music.
3. Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss
Great rhyming early reader; but even in first grade I wondered what it all meant.
4. Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle
Doyle does MG? Awesome! Sweet and touching road trip/ghost story with four generations of women.
5. Once Upon a Time (Childcraft: the How and Why Library #4) by World Book-Childcraft International
Mostly nursery rhymes and folk tales, but a solid primer for young reader Annie.
March 22, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Happy Friday, everyone! Let’s kick off the weekend with some good ol’ fashioned fifteen-word book reviews.
2. Ming Lo Moves the Mountain by Arnold Lobel
Fun folktale about changing perspectives. I used to pull this out all the time.
3. Happy Birthday, Molly! (American Girls: Molly #4) by Valerie Tripp
I learned about the Blitz during WWII from this book.
4. Speaking With the Angel ed. Nick Hornby
Short story collection with some great writers. Features my favorite work by Dave Eggers.
5. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Didn’t connect with me like I wanted. Probably read too close to quirky Weetzie Bat.
March 19, 2013 § 1 Comment
Lots of great links to get us through Tuesday:
- I love wild opening lines.
- Concord is one of my favorite places to day trip! And lots of literary goodness still to check out there.
- Being a strong YA heroine doesn’t just mean kicking ass and taking names; a great reminder that there are lots of ways to be strong.
- I have very deep feelings about the comma.
- Tin House on how to not be sexist in the literary world.
- Congratulations to Natalie Babbitt and her win of the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Inaugural E. B. White Award!
- I wish I were young and tortured enough to apply for the Tortured Artist Grant.
- The Hunger Games was still a hot seller in 2012. Guessing that’ll continue when the Catching Fire movie is released this year.
- Remember how awesome the Tortall book are? Relive all that goodness on Mark Reads. (H/T Elizabeth Brenner)