Thursday, January 18, 2007

Water for Elephants

This story about a traveling circus veterinarian in the 20's was captivating! I heard about this book on a book club website and thought it sounded interesting. It hooked me from the first page. The author takes you on a wild ride through the strange and terrifying life of a circus worker traveling from town to town on a train. Workers get thrown off in the middle of the night if the boss can't pay them. Female performers put on a special "men's only" shows while wives and children are buying cotton candy and waiting in line. And the beautiful animals that help draw in the crowds are treated less than kindly by the man in charge of training them.
I found myself thrown into this world, sympathizing with so many of the worker and animals. I'll admit, my heart felt like it would break on a few occasions. But you find out in the first chapter that the man who rains down abuse on so many of the people and creatures around him will get what he deserves in the end. So I had to keep reading to find out how it happened. And it was great! I enjoyed it the whole way. I think I finished this book in 3 days, picking it up in any spare moment I had. It's definitely worth a read.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

Ok, so I know this is like beating a dead horse, but Amanda, I really do think that you would love "Running With Scissors" by Augesten Burroughs. I've told everyone about this book already, but not only is it a quick read (I finished it in two days, so in the dark, for a half hour a night, you'll be done in a week tops, I bet), it's also really funny. There are some crazy moments - mostly because everyone in the book, more or less, is nuts - but it was something I really enjoyed. It made me want to read his other memoirs, too, though I haven't had a chance to pick those up yet. Definitely something I think you will like, Amanda.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

I made it...finally. Let me just say, this one took me a while to read. Please remember, I'm reading about 30 minutes a day in a darkened nursery while my daughter falls asleep. So it took me a few weeks to get through this one. And that's what I felt like I was doing, some of the time...getting through it. Not that it wasn't an interesting story - it was. But I guess it just never gripped me emotionally. I felt more like I was reading an interesting history book or something. So, not bad. But not the best book if you're pressed for time and want something to carry you into another world. You'll go to another world, with this one, but it kind of feels like my grandparents old basement. You know what I mean?

I guess the whole hermaphrodite thing isn't too scandalous to me either. That's one thing I don't have many of...sexual identity hang-ups. So I kind of kept asking, "what's the big deal?" But it was good. Glad I read it. Anyone have some other suggestions that are a quicker read?

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

I'm on! Ok, so as I think all of you already know, I loved "The Lovely Bones," thanks to Amanda. But a book that you may not have read yet is called "My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult. It's about a 13-year-old girl, Anna, and her struggle for her own identity - most importantly because she was the product of a very carefully genetically engineered project by her parents. Her older sister, Kate, has leukemia, and so her parents decide to have another child, created to be a perfect genetic match to help keep their daughter alive. But now that Anna is becoming a teenager and finding her way, she's realizing that her entire identity is wrapped-up in her sister's illness; everytime Kate is sick, Anna is sick, donating different parts of herself in order to help keep her sister alive. But she has now decided to sue her parents for rights over her own body, and the story is told through several different viewpoints - that of every family member, as well as the attorney who chooses to take Anna's case. It's incredibly well-written, easy to read, and poses a lot of compelling ethical questions woven within the very complicated lives of this family. I highly recommend it......and let me know what you think!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Bonewits's Essential Guide to Witchcraft and Wicca by Philip Emmons Isaac Bonewits

Okay, okay. Let me explain myself a little bit. After reading "Year of Wonders" I became really fascinated with the local healing women who were called witches by the plague ridden community. And I've always been interested in things psychic and/or spooky. So I checked out this book from the library. Yes, the librarian looked at me a little funny, then looked at poor Katie...Living in the South and checking out books about witchcraft don't bode well for the looks you'll get from people. They've probably already called Child Protective Services...but whatever.

This book was REALLY interesting. It's not about how to cast spells or dance in the light of the moon or anything (I got another book for that! (-:) This is a really sane, historical guide to the roots of modern witchcraft. Basically, he makes the argument that there was NOT some ancienct society of witches, there was NOT some goddess worshiping culture that went underground during the spread of Christianity through Europe. There were "cunning folk" who had some knowledge of herbs, midwifery, etc. But they were not persecuted as witches...they usually called out others as being witches.

He makes the argument that the modern Wiccan religion was basically created in the mid 1800s. He doesn't discredit the religion, as he is a member. But he argues that modern "witches" need to accept the fact that this is basically a new religion based on sometimes wishful (and wistful) thinking about some sort of "ancient way" that never really existed.

I'm not sure if any of you would be interested in reading this book, but it really is very good if you're looking for something a bit offbeat. Enjoy!