Monday, January 9, 2012


It's seems as if World War II is the theme for about half of these books. You have to realize that I taught history, and my favorite era is WWII, so I may be a bit biased...

New York times #1 best seller Unbroken, tells the true story of Louis Zamborini who was first an Olympic athlete to Berlin in '36 and then a pilot in the Pacific during the war. But that's only the beginning of his story. When Louis' plane crashes he manages to survive for weeks on a drifting life raft, only to be picked up by a Japanese ship and made a POW. The horrors of the Japanese prison camps are almost nauseating, but I was left inspired by how Louis maintained his dignity despite his situation. His is a story of courage and strength and individual power. It's long (and you could probably skip the first 75 pages) but I found his story amazing and ultimately uplifting.

Written by the author of Devil in the White City,Larson's In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin, tells the true story of the American Ambassador to Berlin the mid 1930s. While the author stays completely faithful to history, he manages to provide the details and dialogue that makes Garden of Beasts feel like a novel. It's crazy how you can see things start to happen and feel the devil taking hold. Ambassador Dodd struggles to maintain diplomatic relationship with these evil personalities and all the while you know that it's going to end badly. It really gave a sense of the time period and you can see these historical figures as real people. There was sex and power and intrigue. An excellent book!

The Spy Wore Red is the third of the nonfiction World War II reads. This autobiography follows a young American women who becomes a spy for the US in Spain during WWII. It was interesting to learn about life as a spy and to see the role Spain played in WWII. At times her story feels a little exaggerated, but it was still a good story.

OK, enough of WWII. The premise of Life As We Knew It is that an asteroid hit the moon, which forced the moon closer to the Earth with disastrous results. The bulk of the books follows a single mother with her three teenage children as they try to survive. It's like The Road lite. The author does a good job capturing the voice of a teenage girl (the book is set up as her journal - whiny at times, emotional at times, strong at times.) It was a quick and interesting read, leaving me thinking about what I would do in such a situation.
I had seen the Hitchcock movie Rebecca, and loved it and so I was excited to read the book for our book club. The story is great - as a young bride settles into her new life she finds herself dwarfed in the shadow of her husband's dead first wife. It's a bit creepy - a perfect read for fall. It was a bit long, but if you haven't ever been exposed to Rebecca, at least rent the movie.

In my continuing effort to read the classics, I picked up The Secret Garden. What a sweet little story! Spoiled rotten Mary comes to live with her uncle in England and as she begins to explore the grounds she discovers a locked up and neglected garden. What is great about this story is how she, and others come to life as they spend time working and cultivating the garden. I love the idea of how being outside and getting wrapped up in nature allows for growth, healing and happiness.

Me Talk Pretty One Day was a crack up! It's a funny, witty autobiography that was perfect for reading over Christmas break. There are a few shady moments (I skipped the entire chapter about his brother,) but otherwise it was really clever and very enjoyable.

If I didn't end up hating this book I probably would have really liked it. Big Boy #1 had to read Homeless Bird for school and answer a million ridiculous and annoying questions about it all. It wasn't even my homework, and it annoyed me! Thirteen year old Koly is forced into an arraigned marriage only to find herself widowed shortly thereafter. She ends up struggling to survive in the big city in India. Really, if I wasn't for the schoolwork BB#1 had to suffer through, I really would have liked it a lot.

I have a whole list of books to read right now - and lucky me, I got a Kindle for Christmas to read them on! I'm so excited! I love it when there are bunch of books I'm anxious to read. Yay!


Julie Ramsay said...

Love Rebecca and me talk pretty one day. Haven't read the others! Thanks for the tips!

Vern said...

Definitely want to get my hands on that Erik Larson book! How about you just download it and let me borrow your Kindle. Indefinitely.