December 05, 2006

December's Book: A Christmas Memory Truman Capote.

This one is technically a short story--actually, you can get the entire text online here:

I think. Unless I'm missing something...

Anyway, here's a synopsis from
A Christmas Memory is the classic memoir of Truman Capote's childhood in rural Alabama. Until he was ten years old, Capote lived with distant relatives. This book is an autobiographical story of those years and his frank and fond memories of one of his cousins, Miss Sook Faulk.

Thanks for the submission, Sharon!

November 08, 2006

November's Book: The Speed of Dark

I'm sure everyone out there knows someone with some degree of autism, and it's fascinating and incomprehensible. I just read in a magazine article the other night that "One in 166 children in the US are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder today, as compared to one in 10,000 in the 1980s." I wanted to understand more about it, and I came across this novel, "The Speed of Dark," by Elizabeth Moon.

Plot summary
Lou is a bioinformatics specialist, and high-functioning autistic, who has made a good life for himself. A new manager at the firm where he works puts pressure on the department where many autistic people work. Lou is pressured to undergo an experimental treatment that might "cure" his autism. Lou does not think he needs curing, but he risks losing his job and other accommodations the company has put in place for its autistic employees.

September 29, 2006

October's Book: Something Wicked This Way Comes Ray Bradbury.

It is about two boys, named Jim Nightshade and William Halloway, who have a harrowing experience with a nightmarish carnival that comes to their Midwestern town one October. The mysterious and sinister carnival is presided over by Mr. Dark, a man who bears a tattoo for every person who, enticed by the offer of living out one's secret fantasies, has become part of the show — many unwillingly. Countering Mr. Dark's malevolent presence is Will's father, who finds his own life force tempered by middle-age melancholy.

(I have read several places that this novel is considered a "companion" piece to Dandelion Wine, a great favorite of mine, and something I had never heard before. I have missed this one far too long, I think!)

September 01, 2006

September's Book: The Diary of Adam and Eve

The book is The Diary of Adam and Eve by Mark Twain.

I don't know how many times I have read excerpts from "The Diary of Adam" or "The Diary of Eve"--many, many times--and I have been wanting to read the entire thing for a long time. So why not now?

So I found it at the library just a day or two ago and checked it out. And let me say--it isn't a proper "book"--it's really just a bunch of short stories put together in a book, but oh, is it delightful!

August 07, 2006

August's Book: Man Who Was Thursday

This one comes to us from the mind of Sharon (thanks, Sharon!): Man Who Was Thursday by
G. K. Chesterton.

Perhaps best-known to the general public for his Father Brown detective series, G. K. Chesterton was renowned for his wit, rhetorical brilliance, and talent for ingenious paradox. Those qualities are lavishly displayed in this funny, fast-paced novel about a club of anarchists in turn-of-the-twentieth-century London. Ostensibly a story of mystery and espionage, it's also--on a deeper level--a vehicle for social, religious, and philosophical commentary.

July 03, 2006

July's Book: Our Only May Amelia

Our Only May Amelia, a Newberry Honor Book by Jennifer L. Holm, has been suggested by Rebecca (when I asked for a suggestion two months ago, she gave me two books, and this is the second! Thanks, Rebecca!)

Here's a synopsis:
May Amelia is the only girl in the Jackson family and the only girl ever born along the Nasel River. Her family, including seven brothers, refers to her as the 'Miracle.' Sometimes it is great being referred to as the miracle, other times it is plain maddening. May Amelia thinks the real 'miracle' would be if the baby her mother is expecting turns out to be a girl. Will May Amelia be the only miracle? Or will the new baby be the sister she is wishing for?

June 01, 2006

June's Book: I, Coriander

I coerced Rebecca into choosing for this month, and here is her suggestion:

I, Coriander by Sally Gardner.
(Synopsis copied from the book flap:) "It is night, and I have lit the first of seven candles to write my story by. My name is Coriander Hobie, and I have a great many things to tell--of silver shoes that tempted me and an alligatro most rare; of London, the home of my childhood, and another, stranger land, on that I thought only existed in dreams; and of an ebony box whose treasure only now am I begining to understand. The box was once my mother's, but its secrets were meant for me. This is my story and a fairy tale besides, I will start...once upon a time."

May 09, 2006

May's Book: Uglies

This month's pick is from Sharlene (too busy ushering new nieces into the world to post--congrats!)--Uglies, by Scott Westerfield.

Here's a synopsis from Amazon:
Playing on every teen’s passionate desire to look as good as everybody else, Scott Westerfeld projects a future world in which a compulsory operation at sixteen wipes out physical differences and makes everyone pretty by conforming to an ideal standard of beauty. The "New Pretties" are then free to play and party, while the younger "Uglies" look on enviously and spend the time before their own transformations in plotting mischievous tricks against their elders. Tally Youngblood is one of the most daring of the Uglies, and her imaginative tricks have gotten her in trouble with the menacing department of Special Circumstances. She has yearned to be pretty, but since her best friend Shay ran away to the rumored rebel settlement of recalcitrant Uglies called The Smoke, Tally has been troubled. The authorities give her an impossible choice: either she follows Shay’s cryptic directions to The Smoke with the purpose of betraying the rebels, or she will never be allowed to become pretty. Hoping to rescue Shay, Tally sets off on the dangerous journey as a spy. But after finally reaching The Smoke she has a change of heart when her new lover David reveals to her the sinister secret behind becoming pretty.

April 03, 2006

April's Book: The Memory of Running

This month's selection was made by Jen, The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty. Here is a blurb from the publisher:

Every decade seems to produce a novel that captures the public's imagination with a story that sweeps readers up and takes them on a thrilling, unforgettable ride. Ron McLarty's The Memory of Running is this decade's novel. By all accounts, especially his own, Smithson "Smithy" Ide is a loser. An overweight, friendless,chain-smoking, forty-three-year-old drunk, Smithy's life becomes completely unhinged when he loses his parents and long-lost sister within the span of one week. Rolling down the driveway of his parents' house in Rhode Island on his old Raleigh bicycle to escape his grief, the emotionally bereft Smithy embarks on an epic, hilarious, luminous, and extraordinary journey of discovery and redemption.

March 10, 2006

March's Book: The Mapmaker's Wife

This month's book was selected by Sharon--"The Mapmaker's Wife" by Robert Whitaker. Here's a description from
In the early years of the 18th century, a band of French scientists set off on a daring, decade-long expedition to South America in a race to measure the precise shape of the earth. This is the story of Isabel Grames, who became stranded in the Amazon--an epic love story that unfolds against the backdrop of the greatest expedition the world has ever known.

February 02, 2006

February's Book: Sky Burial

I'd like to suggest Sky Burial by Xue Xinran for the read for this month. (This is all Amy's fault, by the way, because Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress made me want more stuff with Chinese culture in it. Though of course this book isn't anything Chinese--it's about Tibet. But it's still Amy's fault.)

This is the story of a Chinese woman who spends thirty years in Tibet trying to find her husband--or, at least, to find the truth about what happened to him. It's beautiful, stark, and as far as I can tell, it's true.