Thursday, November 27, 2008

Close to Spider Man

Author: Ivan E. Coyote

First line: Everyone on our street had kids.

Why you should read this book: With brief, poetic brush strokes, the author sketches the bare bone lines of her childhood in the Yukon and her burgeoning understanding of herself as an individual whose insides do not match, quite, her outsides. It's a small book, packed with surprises and pain, pierced with flashes of beauty of hope. There is rage and acceptance, love and rejection, colorful characters and scarcely expressible heartbreak.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You want to know all the details of every story and relationship; you hate to be left hanging as to motivation and resolution.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Loose End

Author: Ivan E. Coyote

First line: Every Saturday morning all summer long, the parking lot across the street from me is transformed.

Why you should read this book: Coyote is a consummate storyteller, and this book presents a series of short slice-of-life vignettes, recalling her experiences as a gender-fluid, chain-smoking writer in Vancouver, through quiet, humorous prose. Whether she's recovering from a gay-bashing, applauding her godson for his taste in fancy dresses, or untangling family dynamics from her Yukon upbringing, her sense of observation remains keen and uplifting, revelatory without hitting the reader in the head with a moral. Fast, easy, brilliant stories to open your eyes and your heart.

Why you shouldn't read this book: I really liked this one. Nobody gets a pass.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Andromeda Strain

Author: Michael Crichton

First line: A man with binoculars.

Why you should read this book: Crichton's classic novel is a prescient look at a topic that is of great concern to us today, but scarcely registered on the consciousness of readers in 1969: biological destruction through microorganisms. When a government program to develop bacteriological warfare through extraterrestrial agents actually results in the recovery of lethal alien organisms, a team of very human men leap into action in an underground research facility, where theories are created, experiments performed, and mistakes made. As with all of Crichton's work, there is no happy ending, just a cautionary message for those who would meddle with forces beyond human control.

Why you shouldn't read this book: Hypochondria.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hans Christian Andersen: The Complete Stories

Translated by: Erik Cristian Haugaard

First line: A soldier came marching down the road: Left...right! Left...right!

Why you should read this book: Andersen wrote his fanciful tales with an idiosyncratic mix of Christian morality and magical pagan whimsy. Love features prominently as the major theme of these complex and detailed stories, where animals, inanimate objects, and forces of nature are just as likely as human beings to experience intense emotions and sacrifice themselves for others. Classic tales for perceptive children, provided they have decent attention spans and the ability to follow Andersen's sometimes convoluted style.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You haven't taught your children about Christianity and you don't want to start now.

Freight Train

Author: Donald Crews

First line: A train runs along these tracks.

Why you should read this book: Glancing at this deceptively simple concept book, adults may not immediately grasp the brilliance of a story that earns its Caldecott Honor through an intense appeal to children's love of machines, color, and movement. Using few words, Crews provides readers with a basic glance at a short freight train, ingeniously painted like a rainbow, as it speeds through cities and over trestles. This book never fails to elicit enthralled reactions from children, who can see supersonic movement and a vast, continental scope in the bright, clean artwork.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You don't like the sounds of happy children.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Bridge to Terabithia

Author: Katherine Paterson

First line: Ba-room, ba-room, ba-room, baripity, baripity, baripity--Good. His dad had the pickup going.

Why you should read this book: A brilliant and gripping story about fear and fearlessness, and the power of imagination to recreate reality. Jesse Aarons is the weird boy who draws funny pictures and dreams of being the fastest kid in fifth grade, a dream that is shattered by the arrival of newcomer Leslie Burke, a strange girl who upends his flat and joyless life and delivers him into a world of fantasy and magic. In the poetry of their young friendship, Jess comes alive to love and possibility through a story that touches readers in the deepest seat of emotion.

Why you shouldn't read this book: Like life, it will make you cry.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My Voice Will Go with You: The Teaching Tales of Milton H. Erickson

Edited and with Commentary by: Sidney Rosen

First line: "What you don't realize, Sid, is that most of your life is unconsciously determined."

Why you should read this book: Milton Erickson was a brilliant therapist who effected widespread change in many of his clients through hypnosis, reframing, startling powers of observation, reverse psychology, and other methods of delving into the psyche to diagnose, confront, and disperse the cause and symptoms of neurosis. This book presents many of his "teaching tales," small stories from real life that serve as uplifting instructional tales, hypnotic inductions, post-hypnotic suggestions, and persuasive reasoning that work on conscious and subconscious levels, along commentary categorizing the tales based on types of problems and solutions and explains how and why each method was effective for the client. Erickson's stories are uplifting, entertaining, funny, touching, and profound, presenting one message that is easily heard and other messages that burrow into the mind and create mental health stability from the inside out.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You're busy coddling your neuroses.