books I've read

Anne Hawn's books

Who Moved My Cheese?
If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans
Scientific Secrets for Self-Control
Just One Damned Thing After Another
The Vanishing
Exercises in Knitting
The Good Dream
The Very Best of Edgar Allan Poe
The Chosen
BT-Kids' Knits
Talking God
The Professor
The Christmas Files
The Finisher
Home Decor for 18-Inch Dolls: Create 10 Room Settings with Furniture and 15 Outfits with Accessories
Dracula and Other Stories
A New Song
All Quiet on the Western Front
File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents

Anne Hawn Smith's favorite books »

I'm reading 150 Books

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Elegance of the HedgehogThe Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is not for everyone, but I loved it. I already knew that the action didn't really pick up until the middle of the book, and I did find it a little slow going at first, but is was well worth my patience. When you take an elegant apartment for the very wealthy in the middle of Paris, pair it with a 12 year old genius who is hiding her light under a bushel and plans to commit suicide on her 13th birthday, and then throw in what seems to be a cantankerous old concierge who appears to only watch television all day, but who is secretly an autodidact who loves art, philosophy, and Oriental culture you have something that ought not to work, but does splendidly.

Most of the wealthy inhabitants of the building lead boring and predictable lives, and 12 year old Paloma refuses to join their ranks. She is a competent scholar, but knows that even in school her brilliant mind will not be appreciated. She is planning to wait only until her 13th birthday to see if, just possibly, there is more to look forward to than the lives she sees around her.

Renée, the concierge was raised in abject poverty and ignorance and she was cursed with a brilliant and cultured mind that had no possibility for expression. She had to hide her mind in what little schooling she had and eventually found her way into a job where her brilliance again had to be hidden from everyone in the building. What does a peasant do with a brilliant mind? Renee chose to hide hers by leaving the television on while she was hiding her bedroom reading Proust.

Nothing seemed to change until Japanese man named Ozu arrived in the building. He was able to sense the secrets in Renee and Paloma and carefully create an environment where their true natures could be expressed. As I look back at the book, I think Mr. Ozu could be called a “people whisperer.” He was able to create an environment where each of these two lonely people could be herself. But this is not an ordinary “feel good” book. It is much too close to reality for that. I don’t think anyone who finishes this book will ever be the same.

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Saturday, August 21, 2010


MiddlesexMiddlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My doctor recommended this book to me and I am finding it fascinating. It is about a rare genetic abnormality that causes the main character to be a hermaphrodite. The story starts in the shadow of Mt. Olympus in Asia Minor and concerns the main character's grandparents from whom Callie/Cal gets the gene which sends her/his life careening into the textbooks.

The story is told well, not just as background, but as an exciting glimpse of the lives of ethnic Greeks whose lives are turned upside down by an invasion of the Turks. The brother and sister emigrate to America and end up living in Detroit in a Greek community. Into this community, Callie is born and lives the life of a girl for the first 14 years of her life. Although this portion of the book is actually background for the main focus of the book, it is written in a charming way and the characters are well developed.

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Monday, August 09, 2010

Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities

Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical AtrocitiesWicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities by Amy Stewart

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a delightful book that gives the important information of plants that are deadly, illegal, poisonous, and otherwise obnoxious. The writing is wonderful with a light touch to even the most deadly plant. The illustrations are also charming and quite often very funny. I would recommend it to anyone who comes into contact with plants...which is just about anyone. It will be especially helpful to families with small children.

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