Posts Tagged ‘LibraryThing’
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! 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: 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: 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?
“Love Marriage is the first novel of promising young writer V.V. Ganeshananthan. What began as her Harvard senior thesis has blossomed into a multi-generational, multicultural tale of love, tradition, and family.
The fictional story unfolds through the eyes of Yalini, an American-born daughter of Sri Lankan immigrants. As Yalini reveals the secrets of her family’s past in Sri Lanka, including the story of her uncle, a former militant Tamil Tiger, readers witness her internal struggle between American modernity and the customs of her ancestors. The thread of differing types of marriages (arranged, love, self-arranged, outside, cousin, village, abroad, without consent, under pressure, proper and improper) unites the pieces of her relative’s stories that she can wheedle out of her close-lipped parents. For the rest, she must rely on her dying uncle, whose time is quickly coming to a close.
Reminiscent of Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake, Ganeshananthan’s Love Marriage has the capability to transcend American indifference, quietly sharing the background and history of a culture frequently identified as the enemy. The novel, well researched and magnificently crafted, will surely (and thankfully) not be the last we see from Ganeshananthan.”
-Erin Dorney, July 2008
“Moose: A Memoir of Fat Camp is a coming-of-age story detailing the dramas of a chubby adolescence. Complete with teen-aged diary excerpts, Klein takes readers on a condensed journey of her time spent at a fat-camp, her struggles with a weight loss support group, and the unforgiving mockery of her peers.
Composed in a very Juno-esque narrative style (quirky attempts at wit and humor laced with sarcasm), Klein’s memoir is quickly paced but lacks development. While honest discussions about body image, self esteem and family dynamics do occur, they are cursory at best. Readers are left wondering why Klein delves into certain topics yet neglects to explain their relevance or importance (including her relationship with her sister as well as her budding sexuality).
Although Klein’s memoir is jumpy and somewhat repetitive, there are a number of passages that truly illustrate her strengths as both a writer and a woman. However, it’s tough to struggle through the rest of the book to pick out the gems.”
-Erin Dorney, May 2008
After recently finding out about LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers group (more info. here), I was able to sign up and over the holidays received my first book to review! It’s probably the neatest thing I’ve ever heard of. You get books for free and all you have to do in return is write what you think about them! Seeing as I love to write as much as I love to read, it’s pretty much a win/win situation. You’ll have to let me know how I did, because this is my first book review (ever!).
“Dreamers of the Day is the most recent offering from Mary Doria Russell, New York Times bestselling author of The Sparrow and A Thread of Grace. Continuing in her traditional vein of historical fiction, Russell’s newest novel is narrated through the voice and experiences of Ohio’s Agnes Shanklin.
After losing her family during the Great Influenza epidemic of 1919, Shanklin embarks on a journey to Egypt and finds herself in the midst of the 1921 Cairo Peace Conference. Rubbing shoulders with the likes of Winston and Clementine Churchill, Lady Gertrude Bell and T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia), Shanklin leads readers on a compelling history lesson about the creation of the states we now refer to as the Middle East.
Adventuring with her companionable dachshund Rosie, Shanklin finds herself in a middle-age love affair with a German-Jewish spy. Although slightly over pushed at times, Russell should be commended for her attempts to spark discussion about the effects of past decisions on modern day issues in the Middle East. Drawn into the novel through Russell’s rich descriptions of street life in Cairo, scenes of the world-renown pyramids, and her trademark character development, newcomers and fans alike will enjoy adding Dreamers of the Day to their reading repertoire.”
-Erin Dorney, January 2008
Many thanks to LibraryThing and Random House for providing me with an Advance Reader’s Edition of this book through the Early Reviewers program! This review is also posted on my LibraryThing account here.