Although I only have knit one thing, I loved Yarn Harlot: The Secret Life of a Knitter. There are so many parallels between knitting and quilting, or really any crafting activity. Her chapters about her stash were hilarious, her frustration with certain patterns was hilarious. When she triumphantly achieved a new knitting skill after several pages of funny struggle, it reminded me of all the quilting skills I have achieved through huge effort. And when she talks about her first baby blanket she ever made: for her first child and uses it for a blatant metaphor for parenting in general, I loved it. She also nearly had me crying when she talked about one of her experiences as a doula. I haven’t had such a range of emotions for a long time from a book.
In Office Hours is all about adultery as the title implies: in the office. We are treated to the story of two love affairs. One is a traditional man and his subordinate, the other in a feminist reversal, woman and her prodigee. This is written in a kicky sort of British way, very reminscent of Bridget Jones diary. There is a sadness about it, but it keeps up a remarkably fast pace that made it fun to read. Although there was some sexual tension, it unfortuately left much of the sex to the imagination. While I do fine in my imagination, I never mind reading a racy scene. It brought up an interesting question to my mind: Where are all these men in offices? I also would like to know where these offices are. Every office I have been in is stuffed full of women, with only a sprinkling of men. Which brings up the question where do men actually work?
In Stitches is one of the best books I read this year. The book is full of the stress, paranoia and narcosis that is those first years of adulthood, only with the added craziness of medical school. Dr. Youn has a self-depreciating humble way of describing the rigors and trials of medical school. Several times I laughed right out loud. He also delves into his personal life, including details about growing up Korean American and somewhat of a nerd. He talks about his father’s heavy pressure on him to become a doctor, and not just any doctor: a surgeon. His father is the only parent he knew who would have been disappointed in him if he became just a regular doctor. He talks about kind of floating along uncertainly with only his father’s intensity to guide him until he finally has an epiphany based on one sad incident, that gets him into plastic surgery. All in all, he is very personable, interesting, and funny to read.
In Stitches Youn, Anthony, 2011
I am not really a best seller reader. I tend to read what I am interested in. I read a small amount of general fiction to other books. However, I can readily see why people have been charmed by The Secret Life of Bees. I listened to it on tape, and the actor who reads it had a wonderful childlike voice, of course, with an southern accent. It was a wonderful book full of detail and overblown metaphors. The end almost started to go no where, but then it abruptly got back on track in a simple but satisfying way.
Of course, I then had to rent the movie which as the cliche goes, was not quite as good as the book, missing much of the detail and changing some parts to suit a more heavy handed Hollywood message of racism. Still, I enjoyed it as a ghost of the book. Although Dakota Fanning, was only ok, Queen Latifa was fabulous as August Boatwright channelling Whoopie Goldberg in the Color Purple.
The Secret Life of Bees Publisher: Penguin Audio; Unabridged edition
For a Christian, there is an undeniable curiosity about Christ. This book, as stated by the author, does not try to tell us how Christ lived, instead it tries, as much as anyone can know without a time machine, tries to reconstruct the living habits of the time. Of course, these living habits and cultural constructs reflect back to Christ, and make us understand him better.
I was interested to learn about how Christ felt when he came to Jerusalem, and how the roof of the house the man was let down into was probably reeds. Also, how poor the little corner that Jesus came from was. All of these things, added to the reflected quality of the book.
This was a great book to listen to. The actor had a slightly tongue in cheek way of reading that melded well with the enormous amounts of author’s notes dispersed throughout the book. At first, I thought this author’s note asides would be annoying but for the most part they were not, except when the fell in to the trivial, as when the author talks about the crucifix and Madonna (the rock star, not the Blessed Mother).
Life in Year One: What the World Was Like in First-Century Palestine
How to Fix Copyright is one of the most important books concerning cultural growth in the Western world. Mr. Patry explains how copyright laws are insisting on stifling creativity at a time when the internet is making it explode. His argument is that copyright laws are too broad. The laws are not allowing cultural building. The copyright laws have too long of term with two outcomes. Some works are over protected and due to this not allowed to be part of the canon to be built on by newer artists. Others become obscure because the owners can’t be found to release the works even as the internet allows small disperse audiences to grow. Either way the cultural loss is apparent. Copyright does not serve and promote the artist’s interests as much as protecting corporate interests.
The book is very well written, although I would say if you aren’t particularly interested in this issue you may find it a little long.
How to Fix Copyright, William Patry, 2011, Oxford University
I struggled with this book. I empathized with the main character in the beginning when she was in her overwhelmed parental state. That plus an exciting opening scene hooked me in immediately to Precious and Fragile Things. However, as the book dragged on, it became embroiled in a mental space not an action space, and I became a little frustrated with it. I found the ending too surprising and abrupt. There was something profoundly disturbing about the whole thing that I can’t quite put my finger on.
Precious and Fragile Things Megan Hart, 2011 Mira Books