At a Glance Talk Radio

Book Reviews: January 2012 – May 2012

MAY 11, 2012:  THE SOMMER DUMP — IF I LIKE YOU, YOUR PUBLISHER MAY NO LONGER

Fifty_Shades_Trilogy_CoverYou’ve heard of the Colbert Bump?  If not, that’s what happens to sales of movies, CDs and yes books when the creator of said art appears on The Stephen Colbert Show.  Well, I think I can now credit myself with the Sommer Slump which Rodney so supportively pointed out when he left a voice mail noting that “Fifty Shades of Grey”, “Fifty Shades Darker” and “Fifty Shades Freed” are the number one, two and three books according to every Best Seller list in existence.

I couldn’t get through it.  I am old and out of touch… but just how out of touch… well, I went back and looked at my past reviews to find out … and well, it’s not pretty….

Captive_Book_cover“Captive”  by Megan Lisa Jones, which was my first review for this program on September 2, 2011.  I chose the book because I know the author and because the tenth anniversary of September 11th was the following week.

Megan Lisa Jones’ debut novel, Captive is a thriller set the shadowy world of post 9/11 insecurity.

The book is currently ranked 2,329,304.  I wanted to go back and figure out what it’s rank was pre September 2, 2011 and then post airing my thoughts but couldn’t figure out how to do this on Amazon – Were that I could blame Amazon’s software; sadly, I think it is my software that is limited.

Take_A_Deep_BreathMy next appearances on September 16th and 30th I talked about parenting issues.  The first time I talked about things that a group of articles that should worry parents; on the 30th I reviewed – favorably – books that help ease parents’ worries; Take a Deep Breath by Dr. Nina Shapiro, Director, Pediatric Otolaryngology and an Associate Professor UCLA School of Medicine (currently 728,125 in paperback and 591,274 in Kindle) and Dr. Cara Natterson’s “Worry Proof” (an updated, paperback version of “Dangerous or Safe”) is ranked 644,556on Kindle and 1,725,803 in paperback).

Surely, it’s cocktail time somewhere in the world but hey; at least these titles are in the top million…. Okay, Chardonnay, please, NOW!

The next time I talked about books was on October 21, 2011 shortly after we moved in to our new home, one that we built (DON’T DO IT) so my topic was books about organizing stuff. Francine Jay (aka Ms. Minimalist) The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life” is actually doing okay, 4,939 in Books and 6,559 in Kindle. Karyn L Beach is doing even better, 2,825 in Kindle, and 52,149 in paperback.  The final part of the trio, “The Clutter Diet: The Skinny on Organizing Your Home and Taking Control of Your Life” by Lorie Marrerois more in keeping with my track record in paper back: 259,304 but not so for the digitally inclined: 66,931 in Kindle – clearly folks are trying to de-clutter their book shelves.

Soldier_Dogs_CoverI’m getting better though: on March 17th we discussed “Why be Happy When You Can be Normal” by Jeannette Winterson is 1,921 in hardcover, 49,226 in paperback  and 2,841 in Kindle.  Then, I kept it up in March 30th’s book, “Soldier Dogs” by Maria Goodavage, is 1,137 in hardcover; 8,042 in Kindle and doing okay in audio versions too – maybe I’m learning something….

April 27, 2012 IF WALLS COULD TALK: AN INTIMATE HISTORY of THE HOME by LUCY WORSLEY

Worsley is a social historian and curator.  By day she works as the chief curator of Historic Royal Palaces, the charity that oversees The Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Banqueting House, Kensington Palace and Kew Palace.  In her spare time this under achieving, brilliant Oxford graduate writes insightful and witty books about history and how humans, social creatures that we are, have evolved.

If_Walls_Could_TalkThe book was written as a tie in to her BBC series (which I must find) and details how habits at home reflect our sometimes slow embrace of evolving technologies and how society’s changes are reflected without our family’s cave.

For example, particularly appealing to me as I am stain prone, people in Tudor England used urine to take out stains.

For the most part, the book sites secondary versus primary resources so those using this for term papers, double check all of the information before siting it yourself.

For more information: http://www.lucyworsley.com/

 

April 20, 2012 STUFF: COMPULSIVE HOARDING and the MEANING of THINGS by GAIL STEKETEE and RANDY FROST

I will never call my husband a pack rat again nor beat myself up for an unorganized drawer, I do hereby promise after reading the fascinating this book.  These two researchers – Steketee is a Professor at Boston University School of Social Work and she and Frost, a professor at Smith College, wrote the manual used by other health professionals to treat hoarders.

Stuff_Book_CoverUnlike the A&E series, “Hoarders”, — who make up two to five percent (some six to fifteen million folks) of the population — this book doesn’t dramatize or sensationalize the disorder but instead seeks to find the reasons behind the disorder through portraits of some of those who hoard starting with the Collyer brothers whose extreme hoarding was a media sensation in 1940s New York City.  The story of the Collyer brothers and the others told within these pages read like a novel – and maybe even a warning to observe our own behaviors in a materialistic society.

The most frequent items saved are clothes and newspapers. Other commonly hoarded items include containers, junk mail, books, and craft items.

Reasons; waste not want not – item might have future use

Important information – fear losing important information

Emotional attachment – item has emotional significance.

Their research didn’t find relationship between material deprivation and hoarding.

 

March 30, 2012 SOLDIER DOG by MARIA GOODAVAGE

Full_ServiceMy mother is reading something dirty: Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars by Scotty Bowers (Author), Lionel Friedberg (Contributor) which proves that Hollywood big wigs always got perks – and that just like our current screen Gods and Goddesses, some of them had ‘interesting’ tastes.

Clash_of_KingsMy husband is reading something violent: A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 2) by George R.R. Martin, the second in the Game of Thrones books, proving that fighting, jealousy and deceit are as old as humanity.

So, since I am not in the company of either my mother or husband – who took the kids to visit his parents; yes he is as good a dad as he is a husband – and only of my dogs, I thought I would speak about a wonderful book about pups.

Soldier_Dogs_Cover

This book  is a fascinating story about military dogs who are fighting the War on Terrorism.  Goodavage, a well-known writer whose work for Dogster.com certifies her as a dog person and journalist (along with her stints at USA Today and other publications), tells the story of three dog handlers and their beloved pooches.  While she does delve into some “soap-boxing” in the middle of the book – lamenting that dogs are not candidates for medals, the of funding for dogs, etc – the history of our four-legged soldiers and the blessing that they are to our brave, bipeds is worth a read for its well-told history of Soldier Dogs and what it takes – in terms of their handlers too – to work as one.

Military dogs are credited with discovering 12,500 plus pounds of explosives in 2010

There was a Top Secret Dog who was part of the Seal Team Six that took out Bin Ladan.

MARCH 16, 2012  WHY BE HAPPY WHEN YOU CAN BE NORMAL by JEANETTE WINTERSON

Why_Be_Happy_CoverA beautifully written (as are all Winterson’s works) autobiographical look at how Winterson’s decision to become a writer affected her deeply religious parents.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MARCH 9, 2012 THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Great_GatsbyEconomics is an emotional social science no matter what my college beau had to say.  The Labor Department reported today that the economy added 227,000 jobs in February marking the third good month in a row.  Yet, the unemployment remained at 8.3%… because nearly 500,000 folks found the previous two months of good news encouragement enough to join or rejoin the millions of people looking for work. So, what better time to reread The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic as the distance between the “have”s and “have-not”s grows.  Besides, I’m writing the catalogue for my daughter’s school auction and Gatsby is the theme.

 FEBRUARY 24, 2012 ALI IN WONDERLAND AND OTHER TALL TALES by ALI “ALEXANDRA” WENTWORTH

Maybe it’s because;

  1. I think that depth is highly overrated
  2. because I grew up in the Northeast
  3. I’ve nicknamed my eight-year-old daughter “Generalissimo”
  4. – or maybe it’s because of all of the above that I so enjoyed “Ali in Wonderland: And Other Tall Tales” by Ali “Alexandra” Wentworth.

The WASP Cookbook her 1997 tome on all things mayonnaise and mannered was a comic hit with actual recipes that those who read it say were tasty.  This book is more of a memoir and tells the story of her very proper upbringing – and her best efforts to upend the decorum of her environs at all times.  A fun read told in Wentworth’s breezy prose, I recommend the book as a fun read.Ali_in_Wonderland