Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Books Read

Inside All by Margaret H. Mason

rating: 5 of 5 stars
This would be a sweet bedtime snuggle for any child 0 to 4 years or thereabouts. This would be a great picture book for parents who want to nurture an understanding of our interconnectedness and every child's buddha nature. (No, it never mentions buddha nature, but that's what I took it to be, and so did the person who recommended it to me.)

It's simple and sweet, with soothing artwork.

Twilight (Twilight Series, Book 1) Twilight (Twilight, Book 1) by Stephenie Meyer rating: 1 of 5 stars
There should be a shelf option besides "to-read," "reading," and "read," and that should be "could not finish." I created my own shelf.

I limped through the first chapter. I did not need to be told at least four times that the narrator doesn't like her own appearance; didn't need to be told at least four times that she doesn't like rain; didn't need to be told all the things she did as she did them.

Oh yes, good girl, bad boy...clearly she's going to obsess over him and not any of the other nice boys that told her in so many obvious ways that she's actually quite pretty. Clearly this is shaping up to the teen romance with fantasy skin, but without the sexiness I usually like that comes with those. I'd read religious moms like it because the protagonist sticks to her values and doesn't succumb to her passions. I thought maybe they didn't get the point of a vampire book. Now I wonder if it's a sanitized vampire book, but I don't care enough to read further.

Librarians are often looking for books for kids that read above their age level. I'm presuming this one could make the list for those reading below their age level.

Democracy in America (Penguin Classics) Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I read selections this time around, as I did years ago.

de Tocqueville toured and studied America not long after the French Revolution. He was hoping to glean ideas for his own country. I think what he found couldn't necessarily apply. He says we had no democratic revolution, because we began democratically. This makes sense, as our Revolution was simply an effort to keep that independent flavor, rather than lose it to our parent country.

Among the many things he observes and analyzes, I was interested in his view of property inheritance and how that affects society. In the aristocratic countries, it traditionally went to the eldest male. Consequently, family formed a larger portion of a person's identity. You stick by family, you depend on family for your welfare, and when you're the head of the family, you have obligations.

Here in America, that was not the law. Instead, land is divided among children. Because the land is divided and lots become smaller, it is easier to sell and move on. There is consequently less ties to the land and to the family. While he did make a point of saying "Anglo-Americans" I thought this analysis could have gone a little further and address the room which people felt they had to move to. That may have been in a section I didn't read.

Many of his observations still hold true today, I believe.

For example:

In the proudest nations of the Old World works were published which faithfully portrayed the vices and absurdities of contemporaries....Moliere criticized the court in plays acted before the courtiers. But the power which dominates in the United States does not understand being mocked like that. The least reproach offends it, and the slightest sting of truth turns it fierce; and one must praise everything, from the turn of its phrases to its most robust virtues.
(Don't mock the president, Mr. Colbert. Wear your flag pin, Mr. Obama.)

The Book Thief The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak

rating: 5 of 5 stars
It makes sense to me that Death would not want to get involved in the lives of humans. He must do his job, be dispassionate. He explains quite carefully how he finds distractions in the colors, distraction from the ones he leaves behind, the survivors. So why does he choose to tell a story of a girl in Nazi Germany, a book thief?

Death first sees her when her little brother dies. Her mother is leaving her in the care of others, foster parents. Since this is Nazi Germany, I immediately wondered what would become of her. The girl finds her way with these new parents, with her new school, and you learn she can't read. Her foster father begins to teach her, with her first stolen book, "The Grave Digger's Handbook." Perhaps the title is what caught the attention of Death. Is it her innocent spirit that gets his attention? Is it her knack to find color in the world?

Even while a war rages and Nazi political-correctedness hovers over the lives of Liesel and her friends and family like stink over garbage, kids still go to school, compete in games, and find amusements to relieve their boredom. They also have secrets.

The language of the book is beautiful and compelling, and the reader, Allan Corduner, does do it justice. Listening had its pluses and made the storytelling compelling...but it's not so easy to backtrack if you think you missed an important bit. Indeed there's at least one drawing in the book that I didn't see while listening. I look forward to reading the book as well, which I will do for my book group in April '09.

This was a Printz Award Challenge book. I listened to it quite a while ago but am quite behind with my book remembrances.

View all my reviews.

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