Erin Dorney

Blogging life & librarianship

Book review blast!

with 2 comments

While I was at the 2009 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Colorado a few months ago (yet another thing I should post about – fear not, it’s on the way) I picked up various advance readers’ editions of books scheduled for publication this spring. Instead of doing in-depth reviews, I’m going to briefly mention some along with my observations. Here goes:

Socialism Is Great!“Socialism is Great! A Worker’s Memoir of the New China” by Lijia Zhang
Zhang’s poignant memoir makes the case for literacy, education, freedom of expression, coming of age, intellect and love. That may seem like a high charge for a 360-something page book, but you will not be able to put this one down. Zhang’s experience as an international journalist makes this autobiography flow with rhythm and spirit sure to engross anyone interested in China’s cultural history.

Annie's Ghosts“Annie’s Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret ” by Steve Luxenberg
This memoir tells the story of Luxenberg’s unearthing of a deep family secret. When his mother passes away, he finds out that she had a sister – kept hidden in various mental institutions throughout her entire life. The book is well-written and holds a journalistic bent, expected as Luxenberg is the editor of the Washington Post. As he traces Annie’s records from one hospital to the next, readers learn much about the social history of various institutional movements in America. While the story is an interesting one to follow, the questions Luxenberg asks of himself reveal the true gems. Should he be blowing open this closely kept secret? What will the publication of this book do to his family? Are some secrets meant to be kept forever?

Clara's War“Clara’s War: One Girl’s Story of Survival” by Clara Kramer
Un-fucking-real. Pardon my language, but this story is incredible. Kramer and 17 other Polish Jews lived in an underground bunker for twenty months in order to escape persecution and murder by the Germans during WWII. During that time, we learn about the depths of humanity, the loss of loved ones, the sacrifices of family and more. The diary of 15-year-old Kramer is on permanent display at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. and is the basis for this heart-stopping story.

I also picked up the following but have yet to complete them: “I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti” by Giulia Melucci, “The Believers” by Zoe Heller (author of “What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal”), “Tide, Feather, Snow: A Life in Alaska” by Miranda Weiss, and “Wish You Were Here: An Essential Guide to Your Favorite Music Scenes- From Punk to Indie and Everything In Between” by Leslie Simon (author of “Everybody Hurts: An Essential Guide to Emo Culture”). More on those soon! And by soon, I might mean summer…

What are you reading?


Written by Erin Dorney

March 6, 2009 at 5:37 AM

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2 Responses

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  1. I didn’t realize they gave out ARCs at the conference! And I see you tagged this post “LibraryThing;” did you get these books from the LibraryThing booth?

    They all sound excellent. I wish my current reading list weren’t so long, or I’d totally grab them as soon as they come out!

    And right now I’m reading too many books at once: an ARC from LibraryThing called Serendipity, an ARC of The Believers by Zoe Heller! (from Barnes & Noble, I think), The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon, and a book about Drupal… Oh my! You must read so fast. How do you manage to do all these ARCs and LJ reviews (and everything else you do, for that matter)?


    March 8, 2009 at 4:29 AM

  2. Hey Melissa! Yeah, I didn’t know either, but it was awesome! Piles of books everywhere free for the taking. 🙂 Mmmmm… No, I didn’t get them from the LibraryThing booth (although they did have a booth there where I got a sweet laptop sticker). They were mostly from different publisher booths (Random House, Hyperion, etc). I think I tagged this post with ‘LibraryThing’ so I would remember to post y “mini-reviews” on my profile there.

    Let me know what you think of The Believers, if you don’t like it I might skip it. My pile is insanely long as well! Usually I can read a 300 pager in 2 days… depending on what’s going on at work and stuff. Sometimes I go for weeks without reading anything for fun though, that sucks.

    So… I want to learn Drupal this summer. Any ideas/thoughts on how I should attack it? A book? A class? I was going to see if there was anything like the books they make for Adobe where they give you little “lessons” that you build on as you go along… let me know if you know of any good resources!

    Time management is basically the only way I get anything (and everything) done. I have lots of lists. And a very organized calendar. I like to have multiple projects going (i.e. read a book, review a book, work on an article, make a survey) so that I can choose what to do depending on my mood. There’s nothing worse than having to work on an article when all you want to do is read (or vice versa). Enjoy your books, and I’m looking forward to seeing your reviews! 🙂


    March 9, 2009 at 12:04 PM

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