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.

Friday, March 31, 2006

The Things They Carried by Tim Obrien

This is the Reading Together selection for our town this year, which even brought the author to town. Great way of getting accross the feel for the VietNam War.

The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman

This book was recommended by the International Education Council at my university and had been read by our president, so I thought it a good idea to read. I ended up both buying the hardback and listening to it on CDs. This book has created a paradigm shift in my thinking. Friedman brought together a lot of details that I sort of knew and painted a coherent picture of where the world is going. For a while I thought him too capitalistic, too business oriented, but he redeemed himself, as when offering thoughts on the future, he did consider the environment and other issues important to me.

Cordinia's Royal Family: Gabriella & Alexander by Nora Robers

Two of Roberts' books from 1980's reprinted. I still like her, but don't enjoy the early books as much. They mystery plots in both are weak, and this whole prince and princess stuff gets old. I did like the setting in the theatre world in the second book, though I think she would research it in more detail next time. The plays she mentioned were too cliche for me. Europe is aware of American playwriters.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Swan by Frances Mayes

Something about this book didn't work for me. Maybe it was the pacing, maybe listening to the story told from different views without visual cues made it more difficult. I did like the uniqueness of the opening event - a woman is found unearthed from her grave, and we never do find out for sure who did it or why, but the situation brings back her two grown children who have not coped well with her suicide. The sister leaves her archeology site in Italy to come back to Georgia, and her brother is pulled out of a life of fishing and turning away from the world. As the life of the dead woman unfolds, the brother and sister start letting go of the past to be able to commit to life and relationships. The main setting is the deep South - Swan, Georgia, the extreme heat and the pace of life. There are glimpses into Italy and the Palo Alto area. I sometimes felt the descriptions were overdone.
(Finished listening in early March.)

Plays by Susan Glaspell

Motivated to read at least one play by Susan Glaspell from doing library instruction for an English class, I found a 1920 book with eight of Glaspell's plays first performed between 1916 and 1918 in Provincetown, MA. One of the fascinating things about this brittle edition was, that it included the original cast for each play, and I found that Glaspell herself had played in almost all of them and her husband George Crook was in a few. One even included Edna St. Vincent Millay.

I understand why Trifles is the play that is reprinted the most, though I enjoyed almost all of the one act plays. The only one I really didn't care for was the three act Bernice. Bernice has just died and her father, husband, sister in law, friend and maid thrash things out, a bit long windedly and mellodramatically. it works better in the short plays.

In Trifles a woman has shot her husband and the sheriff , attorney and a neighbor have come to investigate, The sheriff's wife and neighbor's wife fome to get some things for the woman in jail. The "official" investigators don't uncover anyuthing, while the women discover the evidence and realize the woman had been abused and decide to keep this evidence from the men. Very interesing for a 1916 play.

The People is about a publication "The People" ready fo fold and various types (artist, firebrand, philosopher) offer suggestions for saving it. But only a woman, touched by the editor's words has the power to move it forward.

Close the Book is a comedy about the class system. Jharsi is the rebel in love with Peyton, but his family is stuck-up, but then someone brings out a book of family histories with some interesting facts - which is the book that they want closed at the end of the play.

The Outside was a bit strange. A woman has moved to an abandoned life-saving station to run away from her past and has hired a soman who speaks only when absolutely necessary. An incident makes them reevaluate their choices.

Woman's Honor is a silly comedy where a man arrested for murder refuses to give an alibi, because he is shielding a woman's honor. a whole line of women show up as the one being shielded.

I really enjoyed another silly comedy - Surpressed Desires, which pokes fun at psychoanalysis, which cames close to destroying a marriage.

Tickless Time, another comedy poking fun at intelletualization, didn't come off as well. One couple tries to give up clocks and watches and relies on a sundial.