Tuesday, December 28, 2010

making things a little more advanced, like our minds . . ..

Hi book friends,
Katie had this idea tonight and I thought I'd start to put in motion. She thought it would be fun if we added our names in the "label" section of each post we write. What I understood from her reasoning (correct me if I'm wrong Katie) is that we will be able to search by as well as genre on the links on the side of the blog. If this is confusing to you in anyway, please only ask and I will clarify.

I have taken the liberty of adding names to some of the most recent posts. If you have written a post you can add your name as a label by adhering to the following instructions:

To add a label onto your post look at the bottom right corner of the text box where you type  your post and you will see a box entitled "labels." There you can create new labels, use existing labels, and add your name. Each label will appear on the left side of the screen where you can filter posts by genre.


All Souls

Well, as long as we're all reading books about cities, here's one!

I know that you know that I exaggerate ALL THE TIME, but here's the thing. This book is so good, and all of you should read it. It's one of the best books I've read in a long time.

My sister recommended it to me, she read it for one of her social work classes, and it really is so interesting and heartbreaking at the same time.

I know Katie will love it, because it's about Boston. Specifically, a neighborhood called Southie, and even more specifically the housing project Old Colony.

The guy who wrote the book grew up there, and this is the story of his family. Of the 11 children in his family, 4 died. And only one of them had an illness. In this neighborhood there are a lot of murders, suicides, and drug overdoses every year. Way too many teenagers die. 

It's an honest but not too painful depiction of growing up in an incredibly tough neighborhood. I was a little worried it would be really graphic and make me bawl my eyes out the whole time, but it wasn't and I didn't. I shed a few tears, of course, but it's not just some gut wrenching sob story. He loves his neighborhood, and even moved back there.

It's funny but also sad, it's quick moving, and everyone in it just comes alive. The best person in the book is his mother, always referred to as Ma. To give you a good example of the kind of lady she is, one night she got shot by a stray bullet while standing in the kitchen. It grazed her side, right under her armpit. She said there was no need to call 911 even though she was bleeding a lot, because she was going to go play her accordion at a pub (which she did regularly for extra cash). She changed into a black shirt so no one could see the blood, stuffed a bunch of toilet paper in her bra, and kept arguing and joking with EMTs about going to the hospital, telling her she'd only get in the ambulance if they'd drop her off at the pub. They finally made her get in the ambulance, but when they got to the hospital she hopped out the back and ran to the pub and bragged to all the Irish peeps about getting shot and not even seeing a doctor.

Another amazing chapter is about his 13 year old brother being charged with a murder he did not do, and all the corruption that happens in the system. It's pretty incredible and pretty awful.

Anyway, I can't imagine anyone reading this book and not enjoying it. I highly recommend it. I borrowed it from my sister and had it for a few days before I started it, and once I read it I kept thinking, "I can't believe I had this in my possession for any length of time without reading it." It's really really REALLY good.

One disclaimer--if you don't want to read the F word, don't read this. It's set in the projects in Boston, so . . . yeah. I'ts not gratuitous, but it is there.

Monday, December 27, 2010


I realized that I was reading two similar...but opposite books at the same time. Shanghai Girls was about immigrants to the San Francisco area and this book, Brooklyn, was about a girl who immigrated to New York from Ireland. It took me a  long time to read because it wasn't exactly a page turner, but once I finally got into it I really liked it. I would put it in the same category as A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (oh, duh. Brooklyn), but not as great. Definitely worth reading for something calm and sorta feel-good (but also sorta tragic). Okay I'm not doing a very good job selling this, but I really did like it. My only complaint was that the time period wasn't totally clear. Sometime between 1915 and 1935 is my guess. Who knows, maybe it said it somewhere and I missed it!

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Let me just start with the description of the author that is on inside cover of the the back of the book:

"Douglas Adams was born in Cambridge, England, and attended St. John's College at Cambridge University. After graduating he spent several years contributing material to radio and television shows, including 'Monty Python.'  He has also worked as a hospital porter, barn builder, chicken shed cleaner, bodyguard, and radio producer. He is not married, has no children, and does not live in Manhattan."

I read this description when I was a little more than half-way done with the book and I found it very fitting. It was written in the same style as the book is. In two words, this book is random and clever. It is a fun and quick read. It is the first in a series of 5 books and is a New York Times Bestseller.

What I liked about this book is that it keeps you interested because everything that happens is unexpected and "improbable." It is laden with sarcasm and has moments of good humor. I enjoyed reading it.

If you are looking for a book to inspire this may not be what you want, but if you want a book that is different from other books and refreshingly original I recommend this one.

In 2005 a movie version of the story came out which I enjoyed as well.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Some Suggestions

I just read an article that you might be interested in for last minute gift suggestions or just some suggestions for books you might want to read during the holidays.  The author of the article has written a book about books.  That might be interesting too.  She's been a pretty good source for book suggestions for me in the past.  I thought some of these suggestions looked good too.  See what you think.