Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Now and Forever

Author: Ray Bradbury

First line: There was a desert prairie filled with wind and sun and sagebrush and a silence that grew sweetly up in wildflowers.

Why you should read this book: Bradbury beats a new path through a forest of familiar old tropes in a pair of novellas that parse time and desire. In "Somewhere a Band Is Playing," a reporter travels to a desert oasis of small town fantasy where he uncovers a true understanding of youth, aging, and drinking deep from the cup of miraculous life. In "Leviathan '99," an ambitious astronaut named Ishmael is tossed through an updated reimagining of Moby Dick as his mad captain drags the crew across the universe in pursuit of the great, white comet.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You prefer love stories with more sweat and space operas with more blood.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Long Goodbye

Author: Raymond Chandler

First line: The first time I ever laid eyes on Terry Lennox he was drunk in a Rolls-Royce Silver wraith outside the terrace of The Dancers.

Why you should read this book: In meaty metaphor and knife-sharp prose, Chandler sends his hard boiled private eye, Philip Marlowe, on a convoluted ride through the lifestyle and death throes of the rich and inebriated. Marlowe's casual friendship with harmless-seeming alcoholic goes south when his friend's wealthy wife is found beaten to death. A simple kindness embroils him in a world of angry cops, angrier gangstera, a string of beautiful and occasionally nymphomaniac women, and one millionaire recluse determined to get his way, any of whom may be guilty of murder, but Marlowe, propelled by Chandler's astoundingly rich and precise storytelling, rises time and again to the occasion.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You've ever lost someone terribly dear to you, only to find that they weren't really gone, but had merely become someone you didn't like.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

Author: Avi

First line: Not every thirteen-year-old girl is accused of murder, brought to trial, and found guilty.

Why you should read this book: Since her hard-nosed father won't let her leave school in the middle of the semester to travel to America with the rest of the family, proper young lady Charlotte Doyle must sail unaccompanied across the Atlantic on one of her father's ship, the Seahawk, under the care of Captain Jaggery. But Jaggery is a twisted and perhaps insane sadist who has cut off a sailor's arm, and Charlotte finds herself the only passenger on a ship manned by an angry, beaten-down, and mutinous crew, torn between her upbringing as an obedient child subservient to authority and a courageous young woman with a stake in equality. A glorious page-turner, this award-winning novel submerges the reader in a nineteenth-century world of murder, hurricanes, lies, and redemption.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You have a very rigid definition of natural behavior for girls.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God

Author: Carl Sagan

First line: In these lectures I would like, following the wording of the Gifford Trust, to tell you something of my views on what at least used to be natural theology, which, as I understand it, is everything about the world not supplied by revelation.

Why you should read this book: In an accessible, cumulative argument, Sagan lays out his natural theology, an examination of scientific and spiritual truth based entirely on observable phenomena. His perspective encompasses all that is known of the universe as he takes the reader on a journey through space and time, examining human prejudice and possibility. UFOs, evolution, nuclear war, and the very existence of God are among the gripping subjects held up for impassioned and intelligent scrutiny.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You theology does not allow for quantitative analysis.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How Many Dragons Are behind the Door?

Author: Virginia Kahl

First line: Long ago, in a castle, far, far away, A Duke and a Duchess were living and they Had a family of daughters whom they loves dearly.

Why you should read this book: It's a story told in romping rhyme revolving around the discovery of a pregnant dragon by the youngest daughter. Hidden away in the castle's tower, the mother dragon broods away, much to the Duchess's eventual dismay. Is there any way to remove the massive creature from the tower?

Why you shouldn't read this book: You pray the answer to the titular question is zero.

Swimming Pools and Spas

Author: Sunset

First line: For anyone who has taken a refreshing dip in a pool on a hot summer's eve, a soothing soak in a hot tub after a tension-filled day at the office, or a cleansing bath in the relaxed heat of a sauna, it's not hard to understand why these facilities--once aristocratic luxuries--have become common features in the landscape of many backyards today.

Water Gardens

Author: Sunset

First line: Whether it takes the form of a simple stone fountain bubbling peacefully in the corner of a patio or a full-fledged natural pond, stocked with colorful koi carp and a plethora of plants, a water garden is a dramatic addition to any space--indoors or out.

Diet for a Small Planet

Author: Frances Moore Lappe

First line: In 1971 my book began: "When your mother told you to eat everything on your plate because people were starving in India, you thought it was pretty silly."

Why you should read this book: This is the classic text on the topic of complementary proteins, a reference that vegetarians new and old have turned to for almost four decades. Although my edition is somewhat dated, the text explains how the consumption of meat taxes the environment and why meat is an inefficient protein source. Important information is expressed in easy-to-read charts and multiple appendices, while the bulk of the book contains interesting recipes for delicious, healthy, meatless meals.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You live in a hunter-gatherer society where you must harvest all your food from the bounty of nature, and you count yourself lucky to eat meat once or twice a month.

When Debbie Dared

Author: Kathleen Robinson

First line: Debbie Robyne counted the money for the third time.


I'm well aware that it looks like I didn't read any books in the month of June. Clearly, this is not the case, and while I certainly spent far too much time playing with Facebook applications, they are not to blame for my lack of blogging. As a freelancer with a large family, I find these two areas of my life sometimes collide. Last month, I had to work double time in order to devote the end of the month to my adorable nephews. I did read books. I just didn't have a space in which to blog them.

Unfortunately, I don't have copies of some of the great children's books I read, and I still don't have time for real blogging at the moment. In the interest of keeping it real, I am going to add the links for a few books. With any luck, I'll get to write the reviews later.

Keep reading!