Sunday, March 18, 2012

The last book reviews from 2011: Winter Books

In Defense of Food

Author: Michael Pollan

First Published: 2008
Where I read it: I listened to this just after Thanksgiving as I commuted.  

Pollan starts off with this sentence:  Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly Plants.  You don’t really need to read much after that.  It was interesting to hear about the development of the food industry and how it convinced us all that cooking like our Grandmas did on the farm was bad.  But his first line was also his bottom line.  Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.   

Maniac Magee
Author: Jerry Spinelli
First Published: 1990
Where I read it: I listned to this book while I was working 100 hours of overtime for my school directing “Joseph and the Amazing Technicholar Dreamcoat.”  After teaching singing all day and then staying after to direct the musicl sometimes the LAST thing I wanted to do was get into my car and listen to more music.  Reading Maniac was a great way to get my mind off of school and Go, Go, Go Joseph out of my head.

This is a great story geared toward children that tacles the tough issue of racisism.  I got totally wrapped up in Maniac’s journey as he moved between the white and black sides of town.  I love his relastionship with Amanda McBeal’s family.   I’ve liked Jerry Spinelli since I read Stargirl.  I’ll make sure to read this one to my children.

Jane Eyre

First Published: 1847
Where I read it:  I listened to this one around Christmas.  It is a good book to read in the dark of winter.  

I read this in high school.  At least I think II remember reading it.  I remember the “big secret”  I think I remember...Maybe. I do remember madly trying to finish Jane Eyre for a book report in my AP English class.  I probably  got an A on the report.  But if I did, Mrs. Forsgren must have been very tolerant to her young and naive readers.  Reading Jane Eyre as an adult I gleaned so much more than my teenage self did.  All I remembered as a 16 year old girl was: Wife.  Tower. Fire. Marriage.  Drama.  As an adult I found the narrative much more interesting than the story.  Jane’s upbringing at boarding school was fascinating.  Her transition from wayward student to model teacher was especially interesting and I would have loved a little more insight into that part.

The first part of the book is flooded with Jane’s feelings and thoughts.  She hated Mrs. Reed.  She was confused at the discipline of school.  Her ideas flowed freely on the page.  But as Jane grew up her fiery thoughts became more guarded.  The reader had to decipher Jane’s ideas and passions based on her conversations.  Her conversations with Mr. Rotchester offered the most insight into Jane’s adult life.  This is a great story and I’ll reread it several more times.   


Author: Jerry Spinelli

First Published: 2000
Where I read it: I listened to this book with my entire family.  We did the yearly exodus from snowy Salt Lake City to warm(ish) Tucson for Christmas.  It was a fun book for the whole family.  

This was a re-read.  I read (listened to) Stargirl a few years ago.  I loved it then and I loved it the second time too.  But the re-reading made all of Leo’s silly high school insecure decisions seem almost tragic.  How could he let Stargirl slip through his fingers?  Why would Stargirl try to be Susan?  Yes this book was sadder the second time through.  

Howl’s moving Castle
Author: Diana Wynne Jones
First Published: 1986
Where I read it: I read this down in Ariozona during my Christmas Break.  We all got the stomace flu and were in and out of the bathroom around the clock.  It’s never fun to be sick, but having an easy fairy tale to read while you are makes it a little easier.  I recommend this book when you want something light and fun. Read it to your children who have never been to a Castle but are enchantented by pictures of them.   If your children are lucky enough to have been to castles then read it to them anyhow.

My review: I didn’t get Howl’s Moving Castle the first time and turned around and re read it.  The plot was better than the writing, but the writing wasn’t by any means painful.  The idea of a moving castle is so romantic. I’ll recomend it to my children.  It isn’t as good as the hype but still fun.  


Jungle MOM said...

Have you seen the movie Howle's Moving Castle? It's a good one! :)

Tiana said...

I adore Stargirl. Love it. But you're right, it's definitely sadder as a re-read. I also recently re-read Jane Eyre, and loved even more.

josh said...

I read Maniac Magee for the first time as a senior in college. For some reason one of my roommates schlepped a copy around with him from apartment to apartment. I loved it!

I think I first truly appreciated YA fiction after reading it. Since then I've re-read many of those books I read when I was younger and have gotten a lot out of it.

Evenstar said...

Hey! You never reviewed Castle in the Air for the book blog.