Saturday, December 11, 2010

Wealth, Entitlement, Human Condition

The back of this book doesn't do the story inside justice. It's difficult, though, to write an accurate synopsis, review or even publicity teaser for this book without giving anything away. This is the type of story that should be discovered by the reader as it unfolds. To elude to the deeper experiences of the protagonist's life would be to cripple the reader and jeopardize her enjoyment.

I apologize for the cryptic review. If you're still waffling about reading this book, consider this: it contains witty prose and dialogue throughout--the author presents a never-flagging, continuous onslaught of salacious phrasing and pithy observations. It also explores family dynamics, the mantel of privilege and celebrity, travel, war, death and bravery. Most of it takes place on Martha's Vinyard and the East Coast.

Enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Paper vs. Screen

I love paper. Books, calendars, cards, maps, files, cardstock, vellum, grid paper, plain paper, colored paper. I love its smoothness and openness, its readiness to transform into something different, according to my imagination. Its ability to fold and hold a new shape. Its scent. I have a whole closet dedicated to paper and rubber stamps, waiting for my next creative urge to overtake me and compel me to dig out ribbons, glitter, glue and ink and paper, wonderful paper.

My husband knows I love paper, and he knows I love to read. Books, that is. I'm not much of a news follower (too depressing) and I only subscribe to a select number of magazines (fewer than 3!), which I peruse noncommitally each month. He also knows I love gadgets of the elctronic persuasion, so he bought me a Kindle. I've been salivating over the Kindle for months now--since it first came out--but was reluctant to put my money on something that would actually decrease my contact with paper books. It doesn't smell like a book; it doesn't rest in one hand like a book (no binding); and you can only loan titles for a specific amount of time to friends' Kindles.

However, the Kindle has several redeeming characteristics I am obliged to illuminate:
1. The screen does resemble ink on a page (they aren't exaggerating--it's amazing how real it looks)
2. The Kindle retains your place--no bookmark needed. It will retain your place in all of the books or periodicals you open and begin reading.
3. The classics are free--ever wish you'd read Charles Dickens? Leo Tolstoy? Jane Austen? They're all here, and they're all free. Everything published before 1923 is free.
4. The reader controls the font size. That's right--no more squinting at tiny font or wearing yourself out flipping pages with large print!
5. It keeps your books organized in categories, named by you, so you can easily find them again. Or you can leave them listed willy-nilly on the screen, in the order in which they were purchased, if that is your style.
6. It's easier to read in low light. A light is necessary--it can't be read under the covers or anything--but it's slightly brighter than a real page.
7. The Kindle book store never closes and boasts most titles at the ready for downloading at a moment's notice or a reader's whim.
8. I almost forgot about the free samples--just like a book store, you can browse a selection for free by downloading a free sample of the first few pages of a book before deciding whether or not to purchase the whole thing.

So, if you've been considering a Kindle, take the risk! Don't be afraid. It makes a great traveling companion.

Monday, December 6, 2010

An Irresistible Story

Remember Home Ec class? In addition to learning how to maintain a home and prepare meals and desserts, students had to care for a simulated baby for a week or two. The baby might be an egg, a doll or even just a journal in which each action could be recorded, but the general principle and restrictions of adult responsibility were thus taught and (hopefully) learned. Imagine having a practice baby: a real live, human bundle of squalling, demanding responsibility counting on college students for basic survival and nurture. This is the premise of The Irresistible Henry House by Lisa Grunwald, based on a real program run in the 50's and 60's at certain Midwest colleges or universities.

Henry House, the main character, is the practice baby who remained to be raised by the house mother and subsequent students, and this is the story of his development and the effects of enjoying the attentions of multiple mothers while forming an attachment to no one.

So far, three Bookworms have read this book and we predict it will earn the Bookworms Anonymous Stamp of Approval. Watch the website for news in the next few months: