Friday, February 24, 2017

January Reads

I feel like I'm always writing "I'm always behind", which I am, but I'm taking the "half-glass full" approach and state..."At least I'm writing"....

So here are January's "reads" a little late.

Number the Stars

Number the Stars
By Lois Lowry

Annemarie Johansen is a wonderful protagonist and her story is beautiful.  For some reason I had been putting off reading this book.  I have enjoyed all the various books I've read by Lois Lowry from "Gooney Bird Green" to "The Giver".  This story is the same old story of WWII, but as we all know there is never the same old story.  This time the Denmark Jews are being "relocated" and some Jews recognize the "relocation" isn't a good deal and so they hide and some lie to save their lives.  I think the thing I love most about reading historical fiction is realizing no matter how many times you read about a subject such as WWII, the personal story teaches you something new you never knew about that historical subject. Easy read, that I think any age of reader could enjoy. 

Comfort Food
Comfort Food
By Kate Jacobs
I first fell in love with Kate Jacobs when I read her book "Knitting Group".  I have now read three books by her and enjoyed everyone of them.  I gave this book 4 stars, but when I recently reviewed the reviews I found many didn't get above 2 stars.  Many felt that the book put them to sleep.  I didn't fall asleep and I found the characters, and the main one "Gus"- Augusta Simpson entertaining.  I like a good "people" story once in awhile.  I liked how the main story about "Gus" and her "mid-life" crisis at the big 50 carries throughout the book, but I also enjoyed the minor character stories going on also.  Maybe I'm easy to please, but I think I'll keep reading Kate Jacobs and ignore other's reviews. 

Madame Bovary
Madame Bovary
By Gustave Flaubert
After my "Ulysses" crash and burn I felt I needed to read a classic.  This was better than "Ulysses", but I'm not sure I'll be picking up any other books by Flaubert.  I thought it was a very materialistic/superficial story about a lady who was always wanting what was on the other side of the fence.  Madame Bovary's materialistic nature and her self-centered being was a little painful to read through, but I made it. 

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
Hillbilly Elegy
By J.D. Vance
This was our book club book for January. It is a very popular book right now.  The reason for it's popularity? Some feel the people represented in this book are many who voted for our current president.  The main story line is how a young boy grew up in a dysfunctional family in Appalachian town and got out going into the marines and then making it to Yale Law School.  I read this book as a story of this young man.  I wasn't attune to the hype of the book because of the recent win of Trump over Clinton. However, when I read further and got towards the end of the book, along with talking to others who had read the book, I did see some interesting points.  I think Vance says it best....

pg 191 " Barack Obama strikes at the heart of our deepest insecurities.  He is a good father while many of us aren't.  He wears suits to his job while we wear overalls, if we're lucky enough to have a job at all.  His wife tells us that we shouldn't be feeding our children certain foods, and we hate her for it- not because we think she's wrong, but because we knows she's right".
This line helped me understand a little bit of why some voted for Trump.  I had been really struggling with why these people hated/disliked Obama so much and I think this quote tells me a lot.  I kept on hearing that some Americans wanted "something new" and that was what was appealing about Trump nominee for president. 

pg 228 " Unfortunately the fight-or-flight response is a destructive constant companion.  As. Dr. Nadine Burke Harris puts it, the response is great 'if you're in a forest and there's a bear'. The problem is when the bear comes home from the bar every night".
I thought this was a great analogy and a great way to visualize constantly being stressed, anxious and ready to flee.  What that constant being "on" must feel like. 

pg 238 " People sometimes ask whether I think there's anything we can do to 'solve' the problems of my community.  I know what they're looking for a magical public policy solution or an innovating government program.  But those problems of family, faith and culture aren't like a Rubik's Cube and I don't think that solutions... really exist."
As hard as it is for many of us to read this and believe this statement.  I think J.D. Vance has something here.  Change has to come within the community or else change has to come by moving out of the community, but no government program/policy or "outsiders" will likely make that change happen.  Start at community roots with patriarchs or matriarchs such as J.D.'s grandmother and that maybe how change occurs. 

Pg 256 " These problems were not created by government or corporations or anyone else. We created them, and only we can fix them."
I appreciated his honesty in this statement.  I think this statement could be used for so many problems in life. 

Great Read, Great Honesty, and Great Story that I'd highly suggest you read.

Wildflower
Wildflower
By Drew Barrymore
This was my Audiobook for the month and I enjoyed it.  Not quite what I thought it was going to be.  I think I thought it was going to be more like a typical biography- baby, child, teenage, young adult, and then mom timeline.  Instead it was not really chronological.  Her witty, comical nature shined through and I really enjoyed listening to her read her story.

The Daring Ladies of Lowell 
The Daring Ladies of Lowell
By Kate Alcott
This was my favorite read of the month.  The main character Alice Barrows joins the Mill Girls and in joining these ladies she becomes a powerful lady in her own right.  Alice has a lot of challenges: the heavy labor, the unsafe conditions of their work place, fitting in with the other boarders at her boarding house, and loving a man way out of her league.  I love historical fiction and this book had great history and great fiction- the perfect match.  It's a keeper. 

Looking forward to sharing February's reads in a few weeks.  It's been a good month of reading.