Monday, September 08, 2014

A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley

This book is an amazing story and a quick read for those who are looking for interesting non-fiction. Saroo Brierley was born in India, where at the age of 5 he became lost while at a train station with his brother. He tells of his memories of India and his family prior to getting lost. Then he relates the ordeal of  getting lost and spending weeks on the street in Calcutta. What's astonishing is that he survives his time in Calcutta (as a 5 year old!) and gets placed in an orphanage where he is soon adopted by a couple from Tasmania. The second half of the book deals with his growing up years and eventual quest in his twenties to retrace his steps to his family in India using Google Earth. Saroo's painstaking internet search is finally met with success. The last part of the book celebrates the reunification with his birth family. I recommend this inspirational and a culturally enlightening book.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Public Library: A Photographic Essay by Robert Dawson

If you enjoy libraries and photos, this book is a pleasant diversion and offers food for thought on the role of libraries in America. The author/photographer Robert Dawson, traveled the United States for eighteen years capturing hundreds of public libraries. Initially,  he focused on rural and inner city libraries which were under threat of closure. Eventually Dawson added more affluent libraries to round out the selection. In between the photos are essays by authors such as Barbara Kingsolver, Ann Patchett, and Amy Tan. All of course, are outlining the ways in which the public library has made a difference in their lives.

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett

This is a collection of essays written by Ann Patchett over several decades. In addition to being a fiction writer, Ann "cut her teeth" and supported herself by being a non-fiction writer for magazines. Being used to her novels, I wasn't sure what to expect. This is non-fiction, but it mostly centers around Ann's life/experiences, so it's not what you might expect say, from Bill Bryson. Nonetheless, if your familiar with Ann's work and would like to know more about her background, writing process or personal life, it's an easy enjoyable read. For those who want to read only a few of her essays, the ones that focus on caring for her dog, her former teacher (a nun) and grandmother are the most satisfying and touching.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast

I've always enjoyed the New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast. She has such a wonderfully neurotic perspective on things. So when she wrote/drew this memoir regarding her parents aging process, I was eager to read it. As with most things Chast, her humor here is bittersweet.  Roz realizes over time that her parents are not fully capable of living without assistance. As an only child born to older parents, their care is her sole responsibility. She goes through all the stages: home assistance, hospital visits, assisted living, and finally hospice. Meanwhile, she draws, catalogs and writes as only Roz Chast can do. It's a cautionary tale for all Baby Boomers who can relate to her experience with aging parents. I highly recommend it for highlighting all the aspects of dealing with aging parents and as a reminder of our own journey to come.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Elizabeth of York by Alison Weir

Alison Weir has written many books about the Wars of the Roses Era.  This one is told through the eyes of Elizabeth of York who was the Daughter, Niece, Sister and Wife of four kings.  She lived through and was a pivotal part of one of the most tumultuous times in English History.  The book was very interesting, but it is plain that not much is known about Elizabeth's actual thoughts or actions. Much of what Weir writes about she has surmised from records of other people.  Despite this Elizabeth of York is a good overview of the time period and what her life was like.

Also Try:
Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion by Anne Somerset
The Forbidden Queen by Anne O'Brien
Cecily Neville: Mother of Kings by Amy Licence