Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Love in the Time of Cholera

My sister recently began reading Love in the Time of Cholera by Nobel Prize author Gabriel Garcia Marquez so I decided that I would join her. It has recently been turned into a movie and was choosen as an Oprah book club pick. I had already read One Hundred Years of Solitude by Marquez, which I found to be rather long and difficult to get through. Love in the Time of Cholera, however, I whizzed through....well I really didn't have a choice since I borrowed someone's book and I promised to have it back to them by a certain day.

The book was written in wonderful prose that at times were lyrical. It relays the story of Florentino Ariza who is in love with Fermina Daza for over 60 years of his life. Their love is kindled by love letters. Florentino has a knack for writing poignant and truly beautiful letters that envelope one's soul. The novel jumps back and forth between the lives of Florentino and Fermina. Fermina ends up marrying a well to do doctor and Florentino bids his time between many women. In fact he has a total of 644 affairs. However, Florentino never forgets Fermina, his first and true love. This is a unique love story that I would recommend reading.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Gift Giving

This Christmas season consider donating to a charity. We all have those family members who are impossible to shop for. Maybe they would appreciate having some books donated to needy children, soldiers in Iraq, African women, etc. in their name. For someone who has everything this is the perfect gift. Here is a list of charities that you might want to consider: This is a program that involves donating a laptop for a child in a needy country. It is a new program that is just getting off the ground.

Remember sometimes the best gifts are those that come from the heart. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 18, 2007


I have read a number of Carl Hiaasen's books including Skinny Dip and Hoot. Hiaasen originally was only an adult writer, but recently has begun writing YA fiction. His most recent book is entitled Flush. Like almost all of his books the setting is Florida and the book's theme centers around environmental issues. In Hoot, the main character attempts to prevent a pancake restaurant from being built on land where endangered owls inhabit. In Flush, Noah's father is a pro environment fanatic who ends up in jail for sinking a local casino boat. According to Paine, Noah's father, the casino owner is dumping gallons and gallons of sewer into the waters every night. Since there is no proof of this occurring, Paine is arrested. Meanwhile, Noah and his younger sister, Abbey, decide to help their father's cause by becoming involved in unearthing evidence to pin point the casino owner's illegal actions.
The entire book is fast paced, witty and fun. The underlying themes of environmentalism are great lessons for any young adult to become aware of and learn. To find out more about Carl Hiaasen and to check out his latest books visit his website at

Saturday, November 10, 2007


The Dental Wives book club, that I am a member of, recently finished reading Lois Lowry's The Giver. This is mesmorizing read about 12 year old Jonas and the world that he lives in. He is surrounded structure, rigid formality and order. Every person has a specific job and task from which he/she should not sway. What is lacking is creativity, memories and imagination. At first glance this may seem to be an idyllic world. For Jonas, however, the discovery that the old of the community are exterminated after a certain age and that young babies who are sickly are killed is beyond comprehension. When children turn twelve they are given specific jobs. Jonas is given the job of Receiver of Memories. It is his responsiblity to keep all of the memories of the people, whether pleasurable, happy, painful, sad, etc. This is an emotionally draining job that leaves Jonas questioning the reason why he is living in such a world.

Although this is considered a young adult book it is a thought provoking book for people of all ages. The book leaves one with many questions and thoughts about one's own life, society and how one views the world. Humanity is brought into question throughout the book since Jonas' world keeps people from fully participating in certain emotions, thoughts and feelings. This book is truly worthy of the 1994 Newbery Medal that it was awarded.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Italian food, Catholicism and Family

Francesca's Kitchen by Peter Pezzelli was a nice break from the heavy books I've recently read. The book was a light read which brought to mind fragrant aromas of Italian cooking, going to Confession and the joys of family life.

I have always had a dream of going to Italy (which I hope will come to fruition someday) and maybe even living in Tuscany. The idea of going to a small town market, buying local produce and creating a wickedly delicious meal is something I wish I could do every day. I love the book Under the Tuscan Sun and in some ways Francesca's Kitchen was reminiscent of this book, although it takes place in Rhode Island.

Francesca, is an old Italian Catholic who lives alone. Her husband is dead, her two daughters live far away and her son although near by is a bachelor. She finds herself going through extended periods of loneliness and depression and longs for something to break up the monotony of her days. Eventually she responds to a babysitting ad in the newspaper. Soon every afternoon she babysits Penny and Will. They are the children of Loretta, a young single mom who struggles to balance work, her family and her sanity. Francesca wins her way into the children's hearts through food, tough love and compassion. It is Francesca's Catholic faith, strong will and determination that also help her to once again find joy in her life.

At the back of this book you will find an author's interview as well as some favorite Italian recipes (lasagna, biscotti, etc.). This book will have
your mouth watering the entire time. It is a heart warming story that will make you smile!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides is a book I have been meaning to read for a while. I thought for some reason that the book was written years ago when in fact it was recently written in 2002 and won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
This fictional account traces the Greek family history of Callie (Cal) Stephanides, a hermaphrodite who struggles with his sexuality throughout his entire life. The Stephanides gene pool is infiltrated with intermarrying, this is what Cal blames for his condition. Cal's grandparents were brother and sister who migrated to the United States from Turkey and his parents were first cousins. Supposedly, back in Greece some of his ancestors were born with both male and female genitalia, but this was never verified. When Callie is born he is deemed to be female. His doctor fails to recognize that he does in fact also have tell tale signs of male reproductive organs.

Callie leads a relatively normal and happy childhood. At times he feels different and finds women to be more attractive then men. It isn't until the age of 14 when Callie visits a specialist in New York, that he changes his name to Cal and begins to lead a life as a male.

Although parts of this book were a little long I found it incredibly interesting to read about the struggles and hardships of being a hermaphrodite. Many experience shame, depression and feel ostracized. This book, however, is about the importance of finding hope and peace with oneself!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Is the World Flat?

I finally finished reading The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman. It was an extremely enlightening and educational read. Unfortunately, I do not read enough non-fiction, but I am trying to expose myself to more in the future.

The main premise of this book is the discussion of globalization and how this phenomenon has essentially leveled the playing field between countries. Outsourcing, economic diversity and the rapid rate of technological advancements (primarily the Internet) have all contributed to what Friedman describes as the "flattening of the world."

Although I do not agree with all of Friedman's opinions or points of view, I did find them compelling. The fact that more and more of American goods are being made overseas (look at all of the toy recalls from China) is a reflection on the current state of affairs in many countries. Interestingly, more and more young adults in India and China are obtaining degrees in engineering, math and science then in the United States. As a result, young adults in the United States are not staying competitive and often are losing their jobs to individuals overseas.

What I found to be eye opening was how much work is actually distributed to places such as Bangalore and New Delhi where call centers abound. The phones are ringing off the hook in places like Bangalore, India to answer questions such as "where is my lost baggage," "how do I hook up my wireless Internet," or "how do I put together this toy." Sometimes it is frustrating for consumers who have trouble understanding the person at the other end, but companies such as Delta Airlines are finding that they are saving millions by outsourcing. Individuals, in India, who are working for the call centers are also often happy to find jobs that offer them decent pay and often benefits.

The advancement of the Internet is another phenomenon which has made it virtually seamless for countries to communicate. In an instant individuals and companies can make contact, participate in virtual meetings and use live web cams to keep up on every day business operations. These advancements were something which were not around 15-20 years ago. Every day more and more web pages are being created and more and more people are becoming "virtually connected." While there are a plethora of pitfalls to technology, overall it has leveled the playing field for many and made access to information more equitable.
The World is Flat is the type of book that I would recommend reading in segments. Each chapter is chalk full of anecdotes and personal stories, which makes the read fun. It is not just a long litany of statistics and facts. Friedman has updated this book a couple of times, so make sure you read the most recent version when you check it out of the library!
Finally, check out Friedman's website at:

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Farewell Summer

I have been meaning to blog about this book for quite some time! A week ago I finished Ray Bradbury's book Farewell Summer, which was published in 2006. It is a sequel to his book Dandelion Wine, published in 1957. For any of you who haven't read Ray Bradbury, I suggest that you do. Although he is known as a sci-fi writer I have read many of his books (and I am not a sci-fi reader). His books such as Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man are among my favorites. Many of his books are a commentary on society and humanity.

Farewell Summer follows Douglas Spalding, a twelve-year old boy, who is always looking for an adventure. The book as been cited as being semi-autobiographical. Throughout the story, Douglas and his friends create an imaginary rivalry between the town' s elderly and themselves. They make believe that they are in the midst of war. Meanwhile, the story also looks at young romance, the virtue of honesty and being true to one's moral character. The story is a poignant look at the contrast, yet similarities between the old and young. The writing is artistic, light and airy. Reading this book, made me yearn for the summer's of my youth when life was innocent and carefree.

Monday, September 10, 2007

We wish Madeline L'Engle a fond farewell

Madeline L'Engle, well-known children's author, passed away this past week. I decided that it was time that I reread her classic A Wrinkle in Time. I forget how old I was when I first read this Newbery Medal winner, but I am so glad that I took the time to re-read it. The story is a mix of science fantasy, teen anxst and family ties.
Elements of magic, Eienstein's theory of relativity and physics swirl together to make this fast paced story truly enchanting. Every pre-teen will also be able to relate to Meg. She finds herself to be ugly because of her mouth full of braces and her glasses. She is also incessantly arguing with her teachers and not doing well at school. My favorite characters in this book are Charles Wallace, Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which. They are absolutely charming!
I promise you all that this enduring classic is an excellent read for young and old alike.

Friday, September 7, 2007

The Kite Runner

I belong to a book club that is comprised of women whose husbands are also going through the masochistic pursuit of dental school. We got together the other night to discuss Khlad Hosseini's first book entitled The Kite Runner. Hosseini was born and raised in Afghanistan until he moved to the U.S. in the 1980's. His perspective on the culture and way of life of the Afghan people is stark and palpably real. As a citizen of the U.S., it is difficult to comprehend just how much suffering the people of Afghanistan face on a daily basis.

During our book club meeting we not only discussed the book, but many of us brought food that was either mentioned in the book or that is commonly eaten in Afghanistan (or at least we hope). I made homemade hummus and others made dal, naan, Afghan rice, an amazing chicken dish and more! The food was phenomenal. Discussion points that were revealed included the issue of guilt that was experienced by Amir, friendship and mental versus physical suffering. Someone noted that mental anguish can be acutely more painful than that of any physical ailment. I would say that I have to agree.

In conclusion, in our ever narrowing and globalizing world it is important for us to constantly learn about other cultures, religions, points of view, etc. I know that it is easy to become narrow minded and closed. But even though we may not be able to visit a place or see it with or own eyes this isn't an excuse. Increased technology has made it easier for us to listen to podcasts, view on-line journals, video clips, news clips and of course read. Always remember to Read! Read! Read!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Dinah...the daughter of Jacob

I just finished reading The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. This is the story of Dinah, the only daughter of the old testament's Jacob, who has twelve sons. Dinah has a pleasant childhood with many fond memories. She is well cared for by her mother, Leah, and her three aunts Rachel, Zilpah and Bilhah. However, once Dinah comes of age everything in her life changes. She is thrown into a world of violence, tragedy, injustice and insecurity. At times Dinah feels like giving up, but she learns to persevere. She becomes a midwife and finds satisfaction in bringing new life into the world.

Although Diamant takes liberties in expounding upon Old Testament biblical stories, the book is well written and narrated. Dinah's story is one of hope and faith in a world that at times can be so cruel.

I am also in the process of reading The World is Flat. The book is very interesting and educational. When I am finished with it I will be sure to write a review.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Baby books and more

This past week I was on vacation with my family. I read two baby books which I would like to share with you. The first is The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp. This book offers excellent tips on how to help calm and relax a new born baby when he/she is upset. The "5 S's" are what Dr. Karp suggests for calming one's baby. The "5 S's" include:

-shushing sound
-side/stomach position

Using one or more of these techniques will help to make the baby feel secure, comfortable and calm. They are also excellent techniques to use when putting your baby to sleep. Visit for more information on the book and the techniques mentioned! I can't wait to become a mom so I can put Dr. Karp's words into action!

I also read a couple chapters of Buy Buy Baby: How consumer culture manipulates parents and harms young minds by Susan Gregory Thomas. I am often aware of the fact that as Americans we live in a culture of excess where commercialism tends to be the norm. For example, walking into Babies R'Us for the first time was overwhelming! There are a million toys, gadgets, gizmos, etc. etc. Society has made us think that more is better! After reading this book I was able to better see inside the minds of the consumer giants such as Mattel and Fisher Price who market materials to parents and babies. Thomas brought up two interesting points that are worth highlighting:

1.) DVDs and video games for children under the age of 3 are overstimulating and unnecessary. As a result children are not learning how to use their imagination and to play creatively on his/her own.

2.) Children associate with characters such as Dora the Explorer and Barney. Children than begin to want anything and everything that is associated with these characters (tooth brushes, books, cereal, etc.). Children are being targeted and viewed as ways to earn more money for consumer companies.
This book is a must read for every parent! The mantra enough is enough rings true and should be heeded!

The Master Butcher's Singing Club by Louise Erdrich was the third and final book I read this past week. I started out not enjoying the book. After the third chapter I was even tempted to put the book down and never pick it up again. Luckily, however, I was patient (which is unusual for me) and I continued reading.

The novel traces the life stories of Fidelis, a German butcher and Delphine, an attractive traveling performer. As a side note: the word fidelis means "faithful" in Latin and Delphine means "calmness" in Greek. Unforeseen life circumstances allow Fidelis and Delphine's paths to collide in the small town of Arugus, North Dakota. Murders, illnesses, tragedies and disappointments circle around this small town to seemingly no end. As the reader we desperately want both Fidelis and Delphine to find happiness and contentment. The book is set between the difficult and trying years between WWI and WWII.

The novel is well written and executed. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading historical fiction and subtle, not overly dramatic love stories.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Maytrees

Last night I finished reading The Maytrees by Annie Dillard. The book was rather short and an easy read. I was intially inspired to read this book because of a review that I read on NPR. Here's the link

At times I found that Dillard was trying too much in her use of analogies. She throws in periodic medical terms that are unnecessary and confusing. However, her images of the sea and love were poetic and touching.

The story itself I found to be rather dull and typical. Themes of betrayal, forgiveness and family were commonly connected and undone. I did not find myself drawn to the characters or feeling for their pain or suffering. In fact near the end of the book I was tempted to read the ending (which I did and never usually do). I did end up going back and reading what I missed...but by than most of the thrill was gone.
Since the book is only 215 pages if you have some extra time you might want to give this book a read, otherwise, save your time and mind for a book with more of a plot and better use of vocabulary!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Another one bites the dust

So tonight I finished The Book Thief. Here is my opinion of the book:

The story stage is set in pre-Natzi Germany. Although the book is told through the perspective of "Death," the story line is not overtly morbid. In fact, the story is filled with every day seemingly mundane microcosms of life which are vividly touching. The story circle is rather small only encircling the lives of a few individuals who share their lives on a simple street in a small German town. However, the reader soon becomes entranced by what will occur next and how the protagonists will react.

Lisel, the book thief, is the book's main character. She is a young teenager, who discovers that she has a passion for books. This passion at times consumes her life and also eventually saves her life. Books and the power of words play an integral part of the story's beauty.

I highly recommend this book.

Next on the agenda is The Maytrees by Annie Dillard and The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich

Saturday, August 4, 2007

What it means to be a librarian

At the end of May, 2007, I officially earned my masters in library science! I am now a librarian. Since I no longer have to read books for class, study or write papers I have lots of time to read! During this current reading kick I have been reading a book a week. In this blog I am going to share with you a year of reading through the eyes of a librarian. I am going to tell you a little bit about me so that my reading habits make some sense:

1.) I'm 4 1/2 months pregant (so a few mother and baby books may appear)
2.) I love mysteries (I grew up on Nancy Drew, Agatha Christie and Mary Higgins Clark)
3.) I love to cook and read both cooking magazines and books.
4.) I read a lot of fiction!
5.) I work at a library for special needs children.

1.) To read a book a week.
2.) To read a variety of books (fiction, non-fiction, children's books, young adult books, mystery, history, political, religious, etc.)
3.) To report on these books by writing mini summaries and reviews (remember these are my opinions).
4.) Post links to other reviews, articles, etc.

Here is a list of the books I have read in the past few summer months:
1.) A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khlad Hosseini
2.) Rules
3.) The Higher Power of Lucky
4.) Penny from Heaven
5.) Hattie Big Sky
6.) The Thousand Secret Senses
7.) What to Expect when you're expecting-in progress
8.) The Baby Whisperer
9.) The Happiest Baby on the Block -in progress
10.) Savannah Blues
11.) The Wonder Spot by Melissa Banks
12.) Harry Potter Book #2
13.) The Thirteenth Tale
14.) The Friday Night Knitting Club
15.) The Book Thief-in progress