Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Guardians of Ga’Hoole Book 8: The Outcast

Written by: Kathryn Lasky

First line: You are a mask.

Why you should read this book: In exile from his hateful family, young Nyroc begins to explore the world and contemplate the terms of his destiny. To this end, he changes his name to Coryn and journeys to Beyond the Beyond, for what purpose he can only guess. Along the way, he begins to hone his skills as a hero while collecting allies, until multiple character converge at the sacred volcanoes and the plucky owl can discover the fate that the world offers.

Why you shouldn’t read this book: You consider your own offspring, or other people’s children, perfect sacrificial lambs.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mountains beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World

Written by: Tracy Kidder

First line: Six years after the fact, Dr. Paul Edward Farmer reminded me, "We met because of a beheading, of all things."

Why you should read this book: In turn heartbreaking, inspiring, astonishing, painful, and eye-opening, this Pulitzer-winning book recounts the life and work of Dr. Paul Farmer, as seen through the eyes of writer Tracy Kidder, who accompanies him around the world, from Haiti to America to Peru to Russia and back to Haiti, documenting Farmer's determination to eradicate multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis, AIDS, and any other disease that comes him way amidst populations that most of the planet has already decided should be allowed to die. Farmer's unrelenting work on behalf of the poorest and most downtrodden people of the world serves as a wake-up call that anyone, anywhere can make a difference if he or she is determined to change the world, and this book demonstrates how Farmer's advocacy for the poor has changed the world: building clinics and houses, cleaning up water supplies, and negotiating with the international groups that determine treatment protocols, distribute funds, and control drug prices. Kidder's sensitive reporting helps the average reader understand the mind of a nearly super-human genius, rendering his subject accessible and encouraging a little more compassion, understanding, and determination from his audience.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You've already assuaged your white liberal guilt with your checkbook.

Go the Fuck to Sleep

Written by: Adam Mansbach

First line: Cats nestle close to their kittens now.

Why you should read this book: Pairing familiar, cozy images of peacefully slumbering animals and happy babies with tongue-in-cheek text in which the narrator begs an overly wakeful child to go the fuck to sleep, this is a satirical look at the desire of all adults for their children to turn off at the end of the day so everyone can decompress. Sleep deprived Moms and Dads will recognize the hysterical juxtaposition: there is that adoration of ones offspring paired with parental desperation; anyone who has ever wondered why their child will not go the fuck to sleep will find their feelings mirrored in the increasingly frantic pleas for a little big people solitude free of further requests for drinks, teddy bears, or bathroom trips. For a truly grown-up treat, check out Samuel L. Jackson reading this text at

Why you shouldn't read this book: You think it's for children and are horrified by the language.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Guardians of Ga'Hoole Book 7: The Hatchling

Written by: Kathryn Lasky

First line: "It's the hatchling," a young owl said as the group watched Nyroc, only son of the great warrior Kludd, begin a power dive.

Why you should read this book: The Guardians of Ga'Hoole series takes a different turn, and gives evil a new face, as the action shifts to the enclave of the Pure Ones, where Kludd and Nyra's newly hatched son, Nyroc, demonstrates his amazing ability to do everything his mother asks of him. Nyroc is a likable little owl, clever and open-minded, who possesses talents far beyond anything his power-hungry mother can guess at. Will he grow up to fill his father's battle claws, or will there be tasks set before him that he simply cannot answer to?

Why you shouldn't read this book: You think asking a kid to murder his best friend is a great test of loyalty.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ends of the Earth

Written by: Roy Chapman Andrews

First line: Almost every day someone asks me: "How did you start exploring and digging up dinosaur eggs in the Gobi Desert?"

Why you should read this book: Affable adventurer Andrews provides detailed accounts of many of his expeditions, from his first whale collecting field trip in 1907 through to his scientific exploration and leisure pursuits in China and Mongolia in the late twenties. With rich descriptions of the most imposing animals to ever die at the hands of a gentleman scientist, along with his personal observations on Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Mongolian peoples and culture and dozens of near-death experiences, this book brings the author's journeys to life in a vivid way. This volume includes dozens of black and white photographs, all taken by the author, in the early part of the last century, documenting some of his travels to distant lands.

Why you shouldn't read this book: Contains a lot of the same material as the later (and shorter) Under a Lucky Star.