Some of My Favorite Books

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

This Is Where We Live by Janelle Brown

Okay, I can't believe how good this book is! I thought it would be a fluffy, girly-girl chick lit book with little substance. A book I could cruise through when I felt like it. Wrong. I ended up reading a chapter here and there throughout the day, every day, to see what Claudia and Jeremy would do next. It was that good.

This Is Where We Live is a timely look at today's crap economy, including the job market and real estate bust, how some people feel entitled and their reactions when things don't go the way they'd planned. And the author spins a good tale of life in Los Angeles, among the fruits and nuts that would personally drive me crazy if I ever tried to live there.

I have Brown's other book, All We Ever Wanted Was Everything, on reserve at the library. Yay! That should take me through the weekend. Get busy, girl, and write some more.

Book Read:  This Is Where We Live
Author:  Janelle Brown
ISBN:  978-0-385-52403-2

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The House on Salt Hay Road by Carin Clevidence

The House on Salt Hay Road is a novel about the lives of an extended, makeshift family living on Long Island. Nothing much happens, but normal family stuff, which is to say nothing is normal to all families, so things happen indeed.

I love this kind of book because of the nitty gritty details that unfold about the individual family members. From outward appearances, most of the time nothing special happens but when we get to see what they're thinking and wanting, their worlds are pretty interesting after all.

This novel is set in the late 1930s and just their existence is sometimes hard work, not to mention their inner obstacles. The ending brings more action than anyone could have wished for.

Book Read:  The House on Salt Hay Road
Author:  Carin Clevidence
ISBN:  978-0-374-17314-2

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Wow! I hadn't heard of this book when I picked it up at the Phoenix Library last week but I'm glad I brought it home. I almost didn't because it wouldn't check out at the self-service area where you have to check out books. I took it to the counter and a librarian checked it out for me. I'm so glad. This is probably the best nonfiction book I've read in years. 

The cover of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot reads:

"Doctors took her cells without asking. Those cells never died. They launched a medical revolution and a multimillion-dollar industry. More than twenty years later, her children found out. Their lives would never be the same."

This book tells the story of a poor Black woman in the 1950s who had cervical cancer, went to Johns Hopkins for treatment, and died at the age of 30. She left behind five children and the HeLa cell. At the time, cells were taken from all patients and Henrietta's cancer cells lived and multiplied unlike any other cells before. The name HeLa was given to the cells by the doctors and scientists taking the first two letters from the patients' names. In this case, He from Henrietta and La from Lacks to make HeLa.

The story of Henrietta's children and her cells are intertwined, making for a fascinating tale. The author spent 10 years researching and writing the story after hearing the name Henrietta Lacks in a science class in high school and being unable to learn anything about the woman whose cells have contributed so much to the science and medical worlds.

You've benefited from HeLa cells. We all have. Her cells have provided cells for scientific researchers to test drugs, vaccines, and much more. Read it. I think you'll like it.

Book Read:  The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Author:  Rebecca Skloot
ISBN:  978-1-40000-5217-2

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Private Life by Jane Smiley

What a nice surprise I got at the library last week. I saw a new book by Jane Smiley! Private Life is the story of a woman born in 1880s Missouri and her life up till World War II. Like all of her other novels, which I've read except The Greenlanders, Smiley wrote another winner with Private Life. I liked this one in particular but felt total pity for Margaret. She finally realized that everyone thought her husband was a FOOL, affirming her hidden feelings. Whew.

If you've never read any of Jane Smiley's books, I'd say pick one, any one. Do not tarry.

And today when I went to volunteer at Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, I saw My Name is Memory on the bookshelf. How cool! I'd just finished reading it in real life then got to record a few chapters today.

Book Read:  Private Life
Author:  Jane Smiley
ISBN:  978-1-40000-40600-5


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