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

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Reader's Block

This was the topic in a group I belong to. What do you do when you hit a slump and the books you're reading just seem uninteresting even though you know that you should enjoy them. You know it isn't the books; the problem is with the! Here is my response to the group. "I guess this is universal! We all hit this occasionally, no matter how much we like to read. I usually get out an old favorite and read it...a "comfort book" that is more like visiting with old friends than a book. Books like 44 Scotland Street , 1st Ladies Detective Agency , Hamish Macbeth , Out of Africa , Cry, the beloved Country, The Moonstone,

 I have 287 of books in the "Comfort Read" category and I enjoy reading them over and over because I always get something new from them."

 One interesting aspect of this malady is that I can come back to the books I was mired in and often find them to be great books; books that even become favorites. It was a revelation to me perfectly good books can be read at the wrong time. In that way, books are a lot like food. Sometimes I find a favorite recipe and I make it over and over again. I can't seem to get enough of it until the day comes when it looses all appeal. Although the food is the same, my taste buds aren't. So I put that food aside and don't cook it anymore....not for a long time, then suddenly, I find the old recipe, or eat it at a covered dish supper and it's wonderful again! I can't think why I have gone for so long without having it.

 My books are the same. I read a certain genre or books by a favorite author or subject and really enjoy them. I continue until one day, I can't get back into the author's latest. I look at recommendations and find other books I should like and they are just blah. I can't seem to get into any of the books. I try television or movies and they leave me cold also. What's wrong? I have to admit that it is me that is wrong. I eventually go to a comfort read and get started again, but until recently, I didn't realize something.

 Once I start reading again, I need to go back to those rejected book and give them another try. Instead of filing them away as books I didn't like, I need to put them in the category called "Try again." It may just be that I will find another treasure when read at the right time.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Tears of the Giraffe (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, #2)

Tears of the Giraffe (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, #2)Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Again we meet Precious Ramotswe as her family begins to expand. Her friendship with Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni has become a trek towards marriage but before that can happen, her household is enlarged to 3 as she takes on the orphans Mr. Matekoni has been talked into rearing. Precious takes them in her stride and they prove to be charming and grateful adding a new dimension to the story.

Her secretary, who graduated with 97% has begun to take on detective duties and the contrast of personalities of all the characters becomes more marked. I feel like these are real people who have very little need to change or manipulate each other. In fact, this inclusiveness is one of the reasons these books feel so good. Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni has immature and almost worthless apprentices at his car repair shop and yet Smith doesn't just make them disappear. Mr. Matekoni struggles with his duties as a role model and teacher and you can feel his dispair at ever teaching them anything, but he continues to care about them and to try.

When I finish reading one of these books, I feel like I used to feel as a child playing with my dolls at the feet of my relatives when we all sat on the big back porch. As they chatted about the things that grown ups talk about, I felt a sense of security and peacefulness. At the end of this book, I felt like I had been visiting with a wise old friend. In fact, I even found some bush tea and now my friend and I sit together and drink tea every Saturday...I just realized that!

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Ebola K: A Terrorism Thriller

Ebola K: A Terrorism ThrillerEbola K: A Terrorism Thriller by Bobby Adair
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At first this book jumped around quite a bit and was hard to follow, but after a few chapters, it settled down. The book centers around the village of Kapchorwa in Uganda where there has been an outbreak of Ebola which has become airborne. Four college students are in the village helping to educate the street kids and to provide medical assistance, when the outbreak happens. At the same time, a group of radicalized young terrorist have been brought together for training and eventually are led to Kapchorwa while it is in the midst of the outbreak. The terrorist plan to take advantage of this plague to wreak vengeance on the developed nations whom they see as oppressing them. This is well written and fast paced. I enjoyed it and can hardly wait until the sequel comes out.

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The Crucible

The CrucibleThe Crucible by Arthur Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've read this before, but it was a very different thing to read it today when I have done genealogy and found I'm a descendant of Elizabeth Proctor and also another woman, Elizabeth Clawson from Stamford, CT also accused in 1792. (There is an interesting book about her called, Escaping Salem: The Other Witch Hunt of 1692. ) I have another ancestor, Hugh Jones, and according to the trial transcript, he was supposedly murdered and came to one of the accusers in a trance and said that Elizabeth Proctor murdered him. With all the new genealogy information, I somehow felt it was much more real than I did when I studied it in school, or read The Crucible in my 40s.

I listened to this book done by an excellent cast and I believe the play made the hysteria even more understandable. The play brings to life the sense of chaos and desperation. It also brings out the political and practical reasons that also caused the situation to get out of hand. It shows how the struggles between Samuel Parris and his congregation led to a polarization within the town. Parris seemed to have no skill at mediation and his action served his own cause as well as those parishioners who followed him.

The play also showed how the situation originally was a tool to get back at many of the villagers but it soon got out of hand. You have a number of people who realized that some people like Rebecca Nurse could not possibly be witches, but if that was true, then the whole pack of cards would tumble to the ground and they would be implicated in the deception.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Yellow Crocus

Yellow CrocusYellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was not sure if I was going to like this book because it seemed to run along the same lines and so many other books; pampered white child, compliant wet-nurse, cool mother, intrest in the slave quarters, slave gets whipped, rape, slaves get sold, slave escape, white child grows up conflicted by what she sees etc. It pretty much went along those lines. There were some incidents that raised the book above those levels, but I didn't see much that was new.

There were some individual incidents that rose above the story line, but there needed to have been more. Still, this was an easy readable book and the characters of Lisbeth and Maddie did stand out. In each generation this story needs to be told and this book does a pretty good job.

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Saturday, November 08, 2014

Before Ebola: Dispatches from a Deadly Outbreak

Before Ebola: Dispatches from a Deadly Outbreak (Kindle Single)Before Ebola: Dispatches from a Deadly Outbreak by Peter Apps
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a very short book about the Marburg outbreak in Northern Angola in 2005. Marburg is a hemorrhagic diseas that is even more deadly than Ebola and the period between onset and death is very short.

It does not go into the medical aspects of the virus or the source of this particular outbreak. It is about the everyday life that surrounds an outbreak of this kind and the lengths a reporter has to go to inform the world. Usually we just see the story and video clips about sick and dying, but this is what goes into that report. Somehow this made a bigger impact on me than the medical aspects. Apps describes the problems of getting into such an area when most means of transportation refuse to have anything to do with the area. It describes the hotels with no more beds, the arduous task of reporting and the stories under these conditions and of some of the aids workers who chose to stay and work with patients.

In passing, he tells of a woman who was sick with Marburg. As soon as her husband saw that she had the virus, he got himself and all the children out and locked the door from the outside. He was doing exactly what doctors recommend, but he will never recover from the sounds of his wife all alone and crying for help. I found that one story, probably enacted all over Africa, almost more terrifying than the disease itself.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Lord of the Flies

Lord of the FliesLord of the Flies by William Golding
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've read this and had it on my list to read again. I've seen things that I missed before. For example, I realized that Piggy was the smartest one on the island and that his support and help allowed the more charismatic Ralph to be the leader he was. Piggy was able to see what was happening and he was the only one who had any real insight into the things necessary for their rescue. I think I just saw him as a natural target of cruelty and bullying the other times I read it and didn't realize his gifts.

Ralph was a natural leader because he had absorbed his earlier moral training and he understood the wisdom of it, but during the dance of the savages, he was pulled into behavior that he couldn't understand or condone.

I saw the struggle between Ralph and Jack as a struggle between civilization and savagery, but I didn't see Simon as the only truly moral child. He was one of the rare individuals, like Gandhi, Mandela and Martin Luther King, whose sense of justice was not just the product of the civilizing effects of society and culture, but a deep sense of natural empathy and morality.

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