Maira's Books

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.

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Location: Kalamazoo, MI, United States

I am a librarian at Waldo Library at Western Michigan University.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

Wonderful, incrdible book I want to reread right away, but I have others waiting. It was suggested by my friends Liene and Inta. This book is about so much, that this short description can't do it justice. The narrator is a hermaphrodite, but we only learn the details about that in the last section of the book. He traces his history back to his Greek grandparents escaping from a Greek settlement in Turkey in 1922. Then there is a facinating story about the Greeks settling in the Detroit area, the 1967 riots (I remember the ones in Newark), the birth of Calliope, the narrator, who discovers is raised as a girl, but at 14 finds out she is really Cal, a male, mostly. S/he grows up in my times, so many of the details I remember myself. There was even something I was quite sure had not yet happened at the date mentioned, but the story swept me along and I forgot about it. There was also a great analysis of the 70's where men and women became very similar - an age and sentiment I relate to. The author explains that really didn't go anywhere, and the differences are back again. Yup, having a male child has changed my mind on these things too.
(Finished reading 1/29/06)

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Mirror Mirror by Gregory Maguire

I really enjoyed reading Wicked some time ago, so I figured this would be fun too. Obviously, this is a book long version of the Snow White story.
(Completed listening to 1/26/06)

Never Stuff Your Dog and Other Things I've Learned by Alan Alda

I have always loved Alan Alda as an actor and still watch Mash reruns, so I thought it would be entertaining to listen to his book, not realizing it was his autobiography and as a bonus - it was read by him, just making it that much funnier. He grew up in a family of actors - a childhood spent in vaudeville would explain a lot of things. There were a lot of great stories from his life, and another reminder that an acting career is not easy - a constant looking for parts, and when one is good enough - of parts that satisfy. I think I first realized this in a biography of Katherine Hepburn. The title refers to a dog he missed and his father had it stuffed, but it was never the same. You can't "stuff" your past experiences, you just have to move on.
(Finished listening to mid January)

White Oleander by Janet Fitch

I listened to an abridged version of this Oprah Book Club book. This was the strange tale of a girl who landed in a series of foster homes when her mom was jailed for murder. Though outwardly very beautiful Scandinavian, a non-conformist poet, this mother was one of the creapiest characters I've read about in a long time. I felt for the daughter, trying to learn to love and trust, trying to work on her art. For a moment two of my books converged. On the same day I listened about the main character of this book, Astrid, ending up in Berlin, and read that the narrator of Middlesex lives in Berlin for a while, both running away from their families, their pasts. I want to see the movie now, and I did look up the poisonous flower white oleander to see if I had ever seen it out in California - maybe.
(Completed early January)

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Mermaid's Tale by Sue Monk Kidd

I don't believe I forgot to put this in the list. Since I loved The Secret Life of Bees, I wanted to read this one too. I don't think this was as powerful as the previous book, but it was still great. A woman goes to take care of her mother, who has just cut off her finger, on the island where she grew up in coastal South Carolina. It is so much more than her meeting a monk, with whom she has an affair - she tells you this on the first page of the book, so I'm not giving anything away. Another beautifully drawn book, leaving me thinking about many things. This one was the best one to give to Inta for Chirstmas. (finished reading in November)

Bartimaeus Trilogy - The Golem's Eye by Jonathan Stroud

I couldn't stop with just the Amulet of Samarkand, so I have continued to listen with pleasure to the story of Bartimaeus, the djinni with an attitude and his now 14 year old master Nathaniel. We now get the full story of Kitty, a spunky commoner who has joined the resistance to fight the powerful magicians. Another lively demon in this story has taken over the bones of the famous magician leader Gladstone. Some of the action leaves London and takes place in Prague. Nathaniel started grating on my nerves, but Bartimaeus continued to delight. Can't wait for the third book - turns out that is has only just come out, so I had to order it at the Talking Book World.
(finished listening 1/4/06)