Sunday, May 19, 2019

Henry Himself by Stewart O'Nan FIC ONA

   I adored this book. As always I have several books going at the same time.  There are so many I want to get read.  So unless it is an audiobook, I often find myself reading quickly and skimming parts that are just descriptive passages or what appears to be minutia.  You can't do that with this book because it is basically made up of minutia.  For most of us there will be some big events, but in between those events is usually a life filled with, well I would call it minutia.
      Henry is now 75.  He lives with his wife, Emily.  They have children and grandchildren.  He has a sister.  They have a dog.
    Henry is retired now (He was an engineer).  People his age are really starting to notice how close they may be to the end.  It makes him retrospective.  He questions if he handled things with his children over the years - is that why there often seems to be a distance between them.    The marriage between Henry and Emily seems to be a strong, happy one.  They have their unspoken rules and a pattern of life that is rarely interrupted.
      I love the way he writes.  It is all about the characters.  They seem so real and normal.  There were many times I felt the tears in my eyes and many times  I found myself smiling as I agreed with something he did, or said realizing it reminded me of someone I know (or myself).

The Library Book by Susan Orlean (027.4794 Orl)

If you are just browsing the shelves in the Library, you might miss this wonderful book.  Because, honestly, the Dewey Decimal number puts it in an area of the Library's collection that not many people see.  It's between the computer books (004-005) and the psychology books (133-155).  But if you miss it, you will miss a wonderful reading experience.  It's in the part of the library's collection assigned to books on libraries.  And, quite frankly, only librarians usually spend in time in that part of the collection.

Orlean's book ostensibly investigates the devastating fire in the Los Angeles Central Library on April 28, 1986.  I won't describe it here - she does a wonderful job of explaining how it started and spread as well as the results.  In a nutshell, 400,000 books were destroyed, another 700,000 damaged possibly beyond saving.

This book is so much more.  It is the history of the Los Angeles Public Library.  But in describing the history of this particular library, the author also explains the history of libraries in general.  She talks to people who love libraries, who love to work in libraries, and who support libraries. 

She talks about how the Los Angeles Public Library is adapting to the needs of today's society.  And in so doing, she talks about how all libraries are adapting to today's society.

You might think that this book is only about one writer's love of libraries and reading.  And only about one library.  But you would be wrong.  To get an understanding of how libraries (including the Indianola Public Library) operate and respond and believe, read this book.

Let me say this again.  Read this book!

So says the retired librarian.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Those Other Women by Nicola Moriarty FIC More

        The title refers to the way Poppy refers to women with children.  She and her husband had decided not to have children. Poppy’s best friend doesn’t have children.  Everyone is happy - until Poppy comes home to find her husband and bff waiting to talk to her......seems her husband is now in love with her bff (he used to complain about her all the time!) and he wants a divorce. Oh, I forgot to mention that her bff is pregnant!
     Poppy moves out and finds an apartment above that of Annalise - a co-worker and soon to become her new friend.  Together they begin an online group made up of  childless women who celebrate their freedom and want to socialize where they can air their complaints about women at work who often need special favors to attend to their children. Or the children that  interfere with their evenings out in a restaurant.
     There is another online group in their town.  It’s made up of mothers who want to support each other in the tough task of raising children.
     When the mom group finds out about the anti-children group things are going to get nasty.
An entertaining book!

The Soul of America: the battle for our better angels 973 MEA

     Unless you are able to totally ignore what it going on in government and politics, you are possibly depressed.  That was how I felt when I began this book.  I have seem Jon Meacham many times on television and I could listen to him talking about history all day long.  His title is taken from a phrase in Lincoln’s first inaugural address.
       Meacham takes us through many times in American history when it seemed our country, and what it stands for, was in danger. The time span of this book goes from Lincoln and slavery to Lyndon Johnson and civil rights changes.  By telling us about many of the crises that have occurred - and that still our country has endured, I  feel (a bit) better.  I definitely feel I am better educated about American history!

The Uninhabitable Earth Life after warming by David Wallace-Wells ebook available on Bridges

        I have read some scary books over the years but this book makes Stephen King’s books seem like fairytales.  Like many people, I have been concerned about climate change for decades.  This book increases my anxiety to a whole new level.
      I listened to this book and found it well done and kept my interest from beginning to end.  Chapter after chapter I heard about why it is happening  - and then the consequences. If I were a Canadian I think I would encourage my government to start building a wall now because it seems if we do nothing to reverse this now, it will be the Americans immigrating north.
     Climate change will change everything - our towns, our states, our countries, our cultures, our way of life and of course the human race.
       I hope that many people will read this book.  You may doubt some of his predictions but should we be willing to take a chance?

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen (FIC Bow)

It is 1918 and the Great War (you know, the war to end all wars) is still raging in Europe.  In England, Emily Bryce chafes at the restrictions placed on her by her parents.  Ever since her older brother was killed in the opening weeks of the war, her parents have kept an eagle eye on her and still insist that she act as though nothing in their society has changed.

Finally 21 and able to make her own decisions, Emily joins the Women's Land Army.  Her parents are horrified but Emily is determined to finally do something to help the war effort.  Sheltered for her entire life, she is now forced to fend for herself and learn how to take care of herself.  Thrown into the mix is the charming Australian pilot she meets and falls in love with.

The war continues as Emily's life changes in ways she could never have imagined.  Facing censure from her parents, she forms a new life with the women she meets in the WLA and the people she works for as a result of her efforts.

It still amazes me how many books and novels are written about WWII and how few, in comparison, are written about WWI.  So I enjoy the different perspective as well as a look at what life was like for people who thought that THIS was would solve all the world's problems.  Throw in a likable main character who grows and finds herself in the course of the novel and this book is a win-win.  I enjoyed it a lot!

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly FIC Kel

     This is a great read if you enjoy historical fiction.  If you want to know the background of this story, check out the end of the book where you will find the Author's Note.  She also explains how she became interested in this topic and the preparation and traveling she undertook.
       There are three main characters in the book.  Caroline Ferriday (who was a real person) lives in NYC.  She is a socialite and spends her time volunteering giving family assistance for the French Consulate.  She has a deep connection to France and loves helping French citizens trying to escape conditions in France in 1939.  Her other passion was sending packages to the suffering children in France.
      In Poland lives Kasia Kuzmerick who is a teenager.  Her world is changing rapidly as the Nazis invade her country.  When she tries to help the underground as a courier, she becomes a prisoner and is sent to Ravensbrück - a women's concentration camp.
        Herta Oberheuser is young, ambitious and a doctor in Germany.  There aren't too many opportunities for a female doctor.  She longs to be a surgeon but has been settling for working as a dermatologist .  The one day she sees an ad.  She applies for a job working for the German government.  She sees this as a chance to finally practice real medicine - and she will do it in Ravensbrück.
        One of the horrific things at Ravensbrück was the experimental surgeries done on women.  Those women became known as the Ravensbrück Rabbits.
       This is a powerful novel.