In January of 2005 I started this blog as a record of books I’ve read as I was afraid I would forget what I have read. I have often referred back to my own blog to remember a book's contents or see what I have read by an author. I have enjoyed passing my books on to friends or recommending books to read. I know I have missed recording some, but in general I try to keep up with what I have read or listened to.
- Name: Maira Bundza
- Location: Kalamazoo, MI, United States
I am a librarian at Waldo Library at Western Michigan University.
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Looking for Alaska by John Green (2005)
Thursday, October 24, 2013
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (2011)
seemed outside the thriller genre, which I did not want to be reading for a while. Our narrator is looking back on his life from his retirement years and remembering school buddies, his first romance. Some things happen in the present that make him revisit those school years, analyze those relationships. The setting is Britain in the 60's, so just a decade before my own history. I liked his comment that the changes of the 60's did not reach everyone, it depended where you were and who you were. I was not that far removed from the time to know that things like dating and relationships were different back then.
I liked this self analysis, contemplating history, how memories of events differ, how we interpret what we see, hear about, remember. I feel I am spending some time on this type of contemplation, looking back at my own life. And then to make it even more relevant, there are a couple of suicides in the book by young people, and I am just dealing with one in my own life - a student I was working with on a few projects. You may never know what triggered that self destructive act.
The main character Tony is supposed to get a bit of money and a diary after the death of his old girlfriends mother. He tries to get the diary by contacting Veronica, the old girlfriend. She was not easy to understand in her youth and has become even more enigmatic in the present. She keeps telling him that he "just doesn't get it," but since she doesn't tell him anything, I am not sure how he was supposed to "get it." The only thing that was unsatisfying is the ending.Tony tries to figure out what happened to Veronica and his old friend Adrian that committed suicide and whose diary he was to have. In the end Tony seems to understand what happened, but I didn't. Again, the audio version of the book didn't help, but I listened to the ending twice, and still only understood a part of what Tony understood. I would have to go back to different parts of the book to see if I could decipher it. The book was still worth reading. I should take time and write down my own thoughts outside the snippets that appear in my blogs.
When I have questions about a book, I see what other people have said about it. If I want a better summary of the book, I can read it on the author's site. The book received the Man Booker Prize. I liked the quote in the Wikipedia from BBC news: " It's a quiet book, but the shock that comes doesn't break stride with the tone of the rest of the book. In purely technical terms it is one of the most masterful things I've ever read." And then I go check out Amazon, because the reviews there are by regular people, not reviewers. There were plenty who did not understand the ending, and I didn't find any that did explain it (but there were hundreds of reviews and I only have so much time.) One review by Third Age Traveler had pulled out some quotes from the book (s)he liked, and those were memorable for me too, so I will repeat them here:
"...of course we were pretentious--what else is youth for?"
"...our fear: that Life wouldn't turn out to be like Literature."
"If you'll excuse a brief history lesson: most people didn't experience "the sixties" until the seventies. Which meant, logically, that most people in the sixties were still experiencing the fifties--or, in my case, bits of both decades side by side. Which made things rather confusing."
"Sometimes I think the purpose of life is to reconcile us to its eventual loss by wearing us down, by proving, however long it takes, that life isn't all it's cracked up to be."
Sunday, October 13, 2013
Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts (2013)
Saturday, October 12, 2013
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (2013)
I remember reading another book - Rodzina by Karen Cushman (2003) -about orphan trains that brought orphaned children from cities out west, supposedly to find new families, but often worked hard as servants and sometimes took the young girls as child brides. Author Kline has done thorough research and found that people who had been sent out on these orphan trains have been contacting each other, organizing reunions, writing books. I appreciated her acknowledgements to all the places she had done her research, including the New York Public Library that had lists of orphaned children from the Children's Aid Society.
What drew me to this book was not just the orphan train story, since I had read one of those already, but how Kline tied that in with a foster child of today. Molly has to do community service (for trying to steal a copy of Jane Eyre from the library of all things) and ends up helping this rich old lady clean out her attic of memorabilia, and they find they have more in common than anyone would have realized.
I felt the Kline did a good job of conveying that total feeling of abandonment and loss felt by both the Irish immigrant girl Nimaha in 1929 and current day foster child Molly, and
Sunday, October 06, 2013
English Girl by Daniel Silva (2013)
Madeline gets kidnapped while vacationing on Corsica. Soon a retired Israeli spy, Gabriel Allon, gets pulled in to look for her, as it turns out she has friends in high places at 10 Downing Street. We get taken on a wild ride through Israel, France, England, Russia and a few other European countries on the way.
I liked the fact that this was reflecting current day politics of Europe. I liked that Gabriel was on top of current events, but also a painter and art restorer, not a totally ruthless killer, middle aged, and that he appreciates and really loves his wife.
When it looked like the girl would be found fairly easily, I knew that wasn't going to happen, as the book was only a quarter of the way in. The various twists and turs were quite interessting, maybe even confusing in the end.Once again I listened instead of reading the book, so it is not easy to flip back and reread some part.
I will keep Silva in mind when I need a book to keep me awake, but I think I have read enough of these recently. So hopefully I will read other genres for a while.
Sunday, September 22, 2013
The Bookwoman's Last Fling by John Dunning (2006)
I just looked up Cliff Janeway books in WorldCat - there are a whole slew of them, so I have another series to read.
Friday, September 20, 2013
Open Season by C.J. Box (2001)
Open Season is the first Joe Pickett novel and Joe Pickett, instead of being a sheriff, is a game warden with a great supporting wife and two lovely young daughters. He is a family man, so no sexy ladies for him, but some of his more unsavory colleagues go for romps between the sheets. I had put a slip of paper in one place, where Box does a great job of describing the mentality of certain men and put these words in the mouth of one of the bad guys: "Men are promiscuous. ... We try to pretend otherwise, but deep down we know it's true. We wake up with hard-ons and don't really care who's next to us." The story has the usual mystery, murder, corrupt officials, greed, big bad oil companies, etc. There are quotes from and about endangered species legislation at the beginning of sections of the book, so obviously endangered species are an important piece of the story.
The setting again played an important role in my enjoyment of the book, and this one was set at the foot of the Big Horn mountains in Wyoming, an area I know fairly well, as I have visited my cousin there numerous times. Twelve Sleep County is fictional, but there really is a Ten Sleep, where a friend of mine recently had car trouble, and the Big Horn mountains are really there, and Billings, MT is the closest big city. So I could visualize Joe Pickett doing his job, traveling around the area, sometimes on horseback. The first time I camped out on my cousin's property, before he had even moved out there, a man came riding up to me on a horse.
I am aware that there are more Joe Pickett books, but I have too many other books stacked up to read, so I will let this author go for now, but when I head out West, I might pick up another.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Montana by Norma Tirrell (2006)
Saturday, September 14, 2013
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini (2013)
This is a story of deep connections between people. It starts out with brother and sister are separated when they are young, the sister being sold off to a childless couple in Kabul. We slowly hear the stories of the people around these two siblings - the uncle who brings the girl to the couple and serves the couple. After the man suffers a stroke and the wife and girl move to Paris, the uncle continues to care for the man until his death. During the war much of the splendor of the home is stolen, but later a group of international doctors rent the place. We hear the story of the woman and her adopted daughter in Paris. We hear the story of one of the doctors from Greece. This story seemed most out of place when I started reading it, but as the author pulled me into this man's story, it just reminded me how the fates of people from around the world get intertwined. We see what happens to the small village where the brother and sister grew up - interestingly from a child's viewpoint. We hear of the brother's fate in San Francisco from his daughter, though there were references to the brother's Afghan restaurant before we got his story.
It is an art to tell a coherent story from so many voices, each moving the story forward piece by piece. The fact that Hosseini could speak on behalf of so many characters of all ages, of both genders, from various cultures, even throwing in a gay character in the Afghan world, speaks volumes of his skill as a writer. Since I "read" the audio version, it too was interesting, as it was read by various voices - both male and female with various levels of foreign accents, which also brought the story to realistic life.