Monthly Archives: November 2013

the color purple…

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purpleThe Color Purple by Alice Walker is a great book.  It is one of those books that you think about when you are not reading it (I love that!).  I had already seen the movie, but I still really enjoyed reading the book (I wish I would have read the book first, but it didn’t happen that way).   The book reads almost like a diary, but Celie is writing (and reading) letters.  The letters that we read are shockingly honest and open.  Celie and her family are very, very interesting characters.  You may not like them all, but they are great to read about.

Goodreads describes the book:

Celie is a poor black woman whose letters tell the story of 20 years of her life, beginning at age 14 when she is being abused and raped by her father and attempting to protect her sister from the same fate, and continuing over the course of her marriage to “Mister,” a brutal man who terrorizes her. Celie eventually learns that her abusive husband has been keeping her sister’s letters from her and the rage she feels, combined with an example of love and independence provided by her close friend Shug, pushes her finally toward an awakening of her creative and loving self.

Please view “reading now” for current and past book postings.

the dinner…

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dinnerThe Dinner by Herman Koch was deemed “A European Gone Girl” by the Wall Street Journal.  It was actually a pretty good book.  The characters were very (very!) hard to like, but they were interesting and they had me thinking about them when I wasn’t reading the book.  The book takes place during a dinner with family.  The book goes from the dinner table to memories and then back again.  I loved talking about The Dinner with my friend who recommended it to me — we both questioned a medical condition the father had.  Was it a real condition?  Was it made up just for the book?

If you’re inclined to read about some unlikeable, but interesting characters – The Dinner is a good one.

Goodreads describes the book:

An internationally bestselling phenomenon: the darkly suspenseful, highly controversial tale of two families struggling to make the hardest decision of their lives — all over the course of one meal.

It’s a summer’s evening in Amsterdam, and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant for dinner. Between mouthfuls of food and over the polite scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse — the banality of work, the triviality of the holidays. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened.
     Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. The two boys are united by their accountability for a single horrific act; an act that has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable, insulated worlds of their families. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children. As civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple show just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.
     Tautly written, incredibly gripping, and told by an unforgettable narrator, The Dinner promises to be the topic of countless dinner party debates. Skewering everything from parenting values to pretentious menus to political convictions, this novel reveals the dark side of genteel society and asks what each of us would do in the face of unimaginable tragedy.

Please view “reading now” for current and past book postings.

read it…

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threadI listened to An Invisible Thread: The True Story of an 11-Year Old Panhandler, A Busy Sales Executive, and an Unlikely Meeting With Destiny by Laura Schroff as an audio book.  My friend recommended this book to me and it was available at the library as an audio book, so I borrowed it.  I have a long drive to and from work in the morning, so I decided to take advantage of that time and listen to this book.  I am not sure if I just disliked the reader of this book or the book itself (or both!), but I didn’t enjoy it.  I have to admit, they totally lost me when the author said the 11 year old panhandler in New York didn’t know how to blow his nose, use a knife and fork, and didn’t realize people went to work on a daily basis.  I may be totally naive, but I found this hard to believe.

In addition, the reader of the book used a fake bad-grammar accent to imitate the poor, black people in the book (and I tried REALLY hard not to hold it against the book), but I was actually very shocked!  I have to assume that in the book the author actually wrote the sentences with the bad grammar in them and she was not writing conversations from memory — she was not there.  This was supposed to be a memoir (of sorts) and she concocted conversations as if she were there… and gave the people bad grammar (and bad accents from the reader) which I am assuming she thought poor, black people in New York have.  I felt like the entire book was one HUGE stereotype!  It made me sad.  I was sad for the little boy in the book and I was sad that the author wrote the book about him in this way.  I wonder if he really had NO idea, at 11, how to blow his nose.  I wonder if he really had NO idea, at 11, how to use a knife and fork… maybe really bad table manners, perhaps — but couldn’t actually use a knife and fork?  She also called the places where the little boy lived “Welfare Hotels” throughout the book.  I just don’t think that is okay to call a poor person’s apartment complex a “Welfare Hotel” and she said she visited the little boy’s residence once and she said the entire complex smelled like fried chicken.  Again, just not sure any of this was an okay description — it felt wrong to read it (or listen to it, in this case).

The author could have had a great story here, but chose to use stereotype after stereotype that was offensive.  I listened to the entire book, but was only moved once or twice.  This book should/could have been amazing.  Also, I wonder why the co-author was not Maurice, the little boy in the story?  I wonder if Maurice would agree with the way she describes him and his life in this book.  The Goodreads rating for this book is great, but I completely disagree.

Again, not sure if the reader of the audio book made the book worse, but she sure did not make it better!  This one is not on my recommended reading (or listening) list.

Goodreads describes the book:

In the tradition of the New York Times bestseller The Blind Side, The Invisible Thread tells of the unlikely friendship between a busy executive and a disadvantaged young boy, and how both of their lives changed forever.

Please view “reading now” for current and past book postings.