Friday, October 18, 2013

Perfect Halloween Reading

Heart-Shaped BoxHeart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I simply could not put this book down. I just kept wanting to read one more page, then one more, then one more. . . Then when I would finally put the book down in the wee hours of the morning, I would lay awake, staring into the darkness, wondering, "Did I just see something?"

Joe Hill's "Heart-Shaped Box" is a terrific ghost story, with the usual Joe Hill themes: music, cars, roads, broken families, and characters trying to be better. Pick this book up, you won't be disappointed.

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Friday, October 11, 2013

Living Simply and Intentionally

Made from Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade LifeMade from Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life by Jenna Woginrich
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“Made from Scratch” is a charming memoir of the author’s journey toward self-sufficiency. Jenna Woginrich reminds me a lot of myself. She is constantly trying to learn new skills and pick up new hobbies. Though I have no interest in sled dogs or sheep keeping, I found that her book had some wonderful stories full of warmth and discovery, and some excellent project suggestions and references.

This is a great primer for those who are just starting to think about getting some country skills. It is a fun and inspirational read, and it offers a lot of resources for people looking to get started. From baking your own bread or playing your own music, to raising fiber animals and back yard chickens, “Made from Scratch” has it covered. You will learn both from Woginrich’s victories and from her mistakes. Even if you don’t ever plan to do most of what is discussed in the book, the writing is so engaging that it is a pleasure to read.

I enjoyed this book and plan to pick up Woginrich’s other book, “Barnheart” as well.

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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

On Inequality and Hope

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai UndercityBehind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Katherine Boo’s non-fiction work, “Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity” is a gripping expose of life in one of India’s poorest slums. Annawadi is a slum that grew beside the expansive Mumbai International Airport complex. Boo’s story follows the lives of several Annawadi families as they churn through their own dramas and through the shockingly sad case of The One Leg.

“Behind the Beautiful Forevers” reads like a well-paced novel. Reminding myself that this isn’t just a story, that this is a true account of these real people’s lives, made the tale all the more horrifying and heart wrenching. Boo writes the characters beautifully and honestly. You feel like you really know these people who live in unimaginable squalor. Despite their social status, experiences, living conditions and work, most of them maintain an admirable hopefulness about the future. They struggle every day to bring themselves a speck closer to their goals.

I highly recommend this book. I couldn’t put it down, and thoroughly enjoyed getting to know these amazing Indians. Though the story isn’t a happy one, it is vital to the understanding of global inequality. Annawadi is a perfect example of the same wealth and poverty disparities seen in major U.S. cities, and large cities around the world. These people live across a busy road from some of the wealthiest residents and tourists of Mumbai. They are constantly gazing at the City’s most successful, but the gaze is not returned. The residents of Annawadi need you to know them. Their invisibility in Mumbai is a large part of their plight. The more people know and care what happens to them, the more opportunity will be afforded them.

So pick up the book and get to know Abdul, Sunil, Asha, and so many others. And don’t skip the Author’s Note at the end. Her goals and interests are not irrelevant to the story.

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