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.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Exception by Christian Jungersen (2004, trans. 2006)

This was one of the Danish novels suggested to me at AABS. I am returning it to the library, but I never did finish it (got to 323 of 500 pages). It has been a while, so I had to look up the plot summary. It was about four women at Copenhagen’s Danish Center for Information on Genocide, who were very nasty towards each other, especially the librarian, Anne-Lise. They gather information on genocide around the world, publish articles, some of which are included in the book. Evil and its causes has fascinated me as a topic, but I don't recall what I thought of the essays. I know I couldn't stand the women trying to drive Anne Lise insane, so I just stopped reading. (And as I have recently noted, I can depend on most American books to end fairly well, but no so European ones.) Ah well, there are plenty of books out there to try.

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The Gift of Story by Clarissa Pinkola Estes (1993)

Subtitle: A wise tale about what is enough.
Just a slip of a book that has been in my office for a while and needs to be returned. This is just one tale within a tale within a tale, but always uplifting. The innermost tale is one I have heard before where two young impoverished people want to gift each other, so she cuts her hair to buy a chain for his watch and he sells his watch to buy her a comb for her hair. They laugh at their foolishness, but realize that they have given each other love and trust. And that is enough.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Absolute Power by David Baldacci (1996)

Somehow Baldacci's preface on how he had decided to quit law and write novels was as compelling as his fiction. I was so engrossed I forgot that this part was non-fiction and that it was his real story. I am glad he chose to share his gift of storytelling with the rest of the world.

This was great for a first novel - and with the culprit being as many say, the most important man (so far) on earth - the president of the United States, one whose secret liaison becomes a little too rough, and the woman is killed. Now this is before Clinton got caught with Monica, but I guess people thought Baldacci had seen into the future. A slick thief who steals only from the very rich happened to see the tryst and murder. I loved the complexity of the plot. You had the thief Luther, his estranged daughter Kate, and her former boyfriend Jack, a lawyer. Then there is the president, his chief of staff and secret service men. Then there is detective Seth Frank and his crew. The murdered woman Christine and her very wealthy husband Walter Sullivan. The law firm Jack works for, their machinations, wealthy customers, including Jack's fiance. It all came together very nicely.

Note to self: Just do Baldacci as audio books, especially for long trips where you have to stay awake. He does keep my heart pumping, and at times I had to stop reading, as it seemed one more awful thing was going to happen. And then I told myself, remember this is an American novel, most of the good guys, and especially the main character will be OK.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dangerous Old Women By Clarissa Pinkola Estes (1996 book, 2010 audio)

Subtitle: Myths and Stories of the Wise Woman Archetype
I believe this audio version is based on Pinkola Estes' book, but it was set up as six sessions with the author, where she talked, told stories, explained them and ended with a prayer or meditation. I found her book Women who Run with the Wolves really valuable and inspiring. These stories and her explanations didn't quite talk to me as much, but I really like Pinkola Estes herself, her throaty laugh, and being told that being unique and different is good. She took stories from various cultures, starting with an extensive analysis of Snow White, touching on Baba Yaga and other stories, some that I had never heard. I also found out that some of her ancestry was from Eastern Europe. I would love to meet her.