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.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason by Sam Harris (2004)

This is the heavy book I've been working through in the last month or so, which was discussed in a church sermon. I started off with a flourish and thought I was going to sail right through it - how most of the religions today ask their members to believe such unbelievable things that lead to intolerance, terror, war, infanticide and many other horrors. The horrors got to me, and I got bogged down. Some of the philosophical chapters also took some plowing through, but in the end I'm very glad I read this and that someone has had the fortitude to say this. Harris expounds on the historical and current sins of Christianity and Islam, but he criticizes Islam the most. "Can we say that Middle Eastern men who are murderously obsessed with female sexual purity actually love their wives, daughters, and sisters less than American or European men do? Of course, we can. And what is truly incredible... is that such a claim is not only controversial but actually unutterable in most contexts."p. 189 I don't know how this discussion will be continued, as so much of what Harris says is taboo in our society. I wish I had the guts to criticize the religious who use their religion as an excuse for prejudice, ignorance, intolerance, etc.

Acorna's People by Anne McCaffrey

I used to love Ann McCaffrey, but hadn't read anything of hers in a long time. This was an OK book, but I realized I am looking for something different than space-faring alien life forms, even if they are wonderfully empathetic with healing horns and unable to do anything violent. Acorna is a nice character, but for her to save her people in one final chapter, with help from the traditional space rogue was quite unbelievable. It just wasn't a very satisfying read anymore.

Secret Life of Girls by

I needed another book on cassette tapes instead of CD, so I took this young adult book. I did not enjoy reading about the inner thoughts of 11 year old girls. The only thing I got out of this was that many young adult books are written for very narrow audiences. They usually are of interest for an age range of a year or so before and after the age of the main character, and often also interesting to the reader that is the same sex as the main character.

Morrigan's Cross by Nora Roberts (2006)

Didn't I just say I was going to avoid vampire stories for a while? Well, Roberts' latest series is about vampires and it is more fantasy, magical than most of her books. After reading the short fantasy stories she tried, I thought she was better in other genres, but it looks like this is where she wants to go for a while. One funny aspect is that she tends to work with three couples at once - she will focus on one in a particular book, but the others will be in the background, or ready to happen, and they will be covered in subsequent books. This vampire fighting team consists of six people, but there were only two women, so I was wondering if Roberts would actually dare have a gay couple in one of her books - but no, one of the guys gets killed and sure enough the third woman arrives to fill out the tri-couple formula. She is combining people from different time periods, and I find it a bit unbelievable that they could get along so smoothly.

Face Value by Catherine Johnson (2006)

Free advanced copy from ALA. A so-so story meant for young adults about the modeling industry, where people are taken at face value -literally. There are dangers and exploitation, and parties that draw young models into their strange world. Having just seen the Devil Wears Prada, I just realize how much I dislike that whole world. I did like the London setting.

Books and Islands in Ojibwe Country by Louise Erdrich (2003)

Picked up this summer at Wall Drug in South Dakota. I have always like Erdirch's work. This non-fiction piece was something I read slowly over a few months. I enjoyed her story of going to northern Minnesota, into Canada, looking for Ojibwe rock paintings. There was one moment when she would have needed to do some dangerous climbing to see the rock paintings up close. She thought of the baby waiting for her below and decided she could not risk it. I have had those thoughts. Pre-child I was willing to do a lot of crazy and maybe not so safe things, now I think twice. But my favorite part of this story was all the references to books and libraries. It was fun to find out that she runs a bookstore. One story was of a man who returns to the reservation with an education and tells his people that they need a library: "Books. Why? Because they are wealth, sobriety and hope." (p. 99) Another passage: "I had a strange, covetous, Golum-like feeling as I held the book, my precious. I suppose it was the beginning of the sort of emotional response to books that drives those collectors you hear about, occasionally, to fill their apartments with books until there are only book tunnels to walk through..." (p. 120) And she ends the book with: "Books. Why? So I can talk to other humans without having to meet them. Fear of boredom. So that I will never be alone." (p.141)