Friday, March 30, 2012

Wabi Sabi

Written by: Mark Reibstein

First line: Wabi Sabi was a cat who lived in Kyoto, Japan.

Why you should read this book: The expression “wabi sabi” is hard to explain, learns a little cat of the same name, but in this case, curiosity edifies the cat, who goes on a long journey to learn the roots of Taoism and Zen: simple things are beautiful. This is a gorgeous book, both visually—Ed Young’s distinctive textured collage illustrations creative a three dimensional feel in a book with an unusual portrait orientation—as well as structurally—each long page includes a new English haiku that follows the story as well as an ancient Japanese haiku by the celebrated poets, Basho and Shiki. Includes supplementary information about the philosophy of  wabi  sabi and haiku.

Why you shouldn’t read this book: You’re a modern architect, in favor of clean, sleek lines and shiny new skyscrapers.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How Turtle’s Back Was Cracked

Written by: Gayle Ross

First line: This is what the old people told me when I was a child, about the days when the people and the animals still spoke the same language.

Why you should read this book: A retelling of an old Cherokee legend with vibrant painted illustrations, you’ll learn of the partnership of Possum and Turtle in the sharing of persimmons, and how Wolf’s mischief ultimately led to Turtle’s bad behavior and sad fate. Although Possum is the one who thwarts Wolf, Turtle takes credit, brags, and treats himself like a hero, until the other wolves take their revenge on him. Like Brer Rabbit, Turtle talks his way out certain death, but unlike Brer Rabbit, he pays for his braggadocio.

Why you shouldn’t read this book: You expect a hero’s welcome wherever you go.

How to Lose All Your Friends

Written by: Nancy Carlson

First line: If you don’t want to have any friends, follow these simple instructions:

Why you should read this book: A succinct primer with six easy steps not only for alienating any potential playmates, but also for irritating adults and turning yourself into a repulsive person who is unhappy and unlikable. Much more efficient than an etiquette book for the younger set, here you’ll find a fast overview of the worst childhood behaviors and the lovingly implied message. The choice is the child’s: choose to behave in an ugly fashion and have no friends, or eliminate these poor behaviors and find happiness.

Why you shouldn’t read this book: You have lots of friends and you have no trouble keeping them. 

Boots and the Glass Mountain

Written by: Claire Martin

First line: Boots was scared.

Why you should read this book: After his two older brothers fail to save the family’s crops from the trolls that devour all their grain on Midsummer’s Night, they doubt that little brother Boots will have the fortitude to overcome the monsters, but Boots girds his courage and, three years running, outwits the threat and wins a fine stallion each year. When the foolish king declares that the man who can ride up a glass mountain will win the hand of his daughter in marriage, Boots has an advantage over all the other knights. A lovely retelling of an old tale with many popular and familiar thematic elements.

Why you shouldn’t read this book: You think your youngest sibling is an incompetent dolt who can never surpass you in anything.

Tam Lin

Written by: Jane Yolen

First line: There was once a strange, forbidding castle with ruined towers on a weedy piece of land called Carterhaugh.

Why you should read this book: It’s a true fairy tale, with a strong female protagonist and a deceptive and chilling antagonist. The possibility of dread and ruin lurk on every page, while the redemptive power of love continues to strive against all odds. Yolen’s masterful retelling, along with Charles Mikolaycak’s lovely illustrations create a beautiful and chilling experience for the reader.

Why you shouldn’t read this book: You think fairies must be tiny happy folk with rainbow wings who live amongst the flowers and giggle an awful lot. 

The Secret Stories of Hotel Suites by Chelly Levin, Adulteress

Written by: Gloria Hollister

First line: The coffee was strong, and hot, and drinkable, which almost made up for everything else.

Why you should read this book: Chelly Levin is bored at work, bored in her marriage, unfulfilled as an artist, and rapidly approaching a flat, gray, middle age when Noah Grimm, a once-nerdy admirer from her childhood, appears in a whirlwind of change and whisks her off to a wonderland of sexual ecstasy. This somewhat trashy but eminently readable chick-lit novel makes no apologies for its close examination of an adulterous affair and its inevitable conclusion, and manages to titillate, entertain, and shock the reader on the way. Not for the faint of heart, but certainly for those who appreciate a little illicit and well-described sex.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You believe marriage vows are sacred and cheating should be punishable by death.


 Written by: Rumer Godden

First line: “He’s hideous,” said Malcolm.

Why you should read this book: Li-la is not like the other girls in her English village; she is one-quarter Chinese, and every year her Great Uncle sends her a beautiful Chinese treasure on her birthday. This year, she receives the unusual green satin Fu-dog, who can talk, shares with her amazing details about her Chinese heritage, and promises to take her to London to meet the rest of her family. Dragging along her reluctant brother, Malcolm, Li-la  and Fu-dog take a magical adventure to Chinatown and learn what is truly important in life.

Why you shouldn’t read this book: You don’t believe in dragons or magical talking dogs.