Sunday, December 30, 2007

Why I Jumped

by Tina Zhan

Tina Zhan attempted to jump off the Tower Drive Bridge, in an act of desperation, but was saved by an attending police officer. This is her story. It is a painful tale of child abuse, neglect, and her battle with postpartum depression. With the support of her church group and medication, Tina was able to overcome her depression and write this book to inspire those who feel that life is hopeless. An absorbing and motivating book.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Men are from Mar, Women are from Venus: A Classic Guide to Understanding the Opposite Sex

by John Gray

This book was published in the early 90's, and a paperback version has been sitting on my shelf for years. I decided, after some frustrating discussions with my husband, to read it and hopefully gain some wisdom into the mystery that is Man.

If you haven't read this book and are in a relationship, please do! It will save you so much frustration trying to interpret the actions and words of a very different gender. Although some critics say that the depictions in this book are stereotypical, I found them to be (at least for me) to be very accurate. I was laughing out loud at some of the described situations because I had played them out almost word for word.

For example, Dr. Gray explains how men have a "cave". It is the reason that men usually escape into football, the newspaper, tinkering with the car, etc: they like to escape stress. By solving smaller problems, their stress about larger issues is eased. Women, on the other hand, have a tendency to "talk out" their problems and stress. Man comes home, plunks down with TV. Woman comes home and wants to talk about her day.

The problem comes in the translation of the spoken and unspoken actions of both partners. She feels he is ignoring her and being distant because he won't share his feelings. She thinks she is being supportive by peppering him with questions about his day, when really all she is doing is annoying him. While she talks about the stress of her day, he thinks she is asking him to solve her problem. When he offers solutions to her problems, she becomes frustrated because she feels he isn't listening to her. She becomes more upset; he feels like he can't do anything right and retracts further into his cave.

This is just a small sample of the insight that the book offers. I thought this book was very educational and helpful!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Bitter Sweets

Roopa Farooki's first novel is the story of a Bangladeshi family that spans three generations. Each member of the family is keeping a secret, and the novel follows the effects each member's deception has on the rest of the family. Some secrets are innocuous; others, earth-shattering. Some are revealed, and others are kept hidden. Either way, the reader knows all, and the omniscient point of view allows the reader to see into the mind of each character. Farooki's prose is simple yet compelling, and I found myself eagerly turning the pages as the scandals snowballed. It's a juicy, satisfying read.

Through the Lens: National Geographic Greatest Photographs

National Geographic has made a name for itself through its photography, and this collection showcases the venerable journal's work over the decades. These images are interesting; of course they're high-quality, well-composed photos. But each also conveys an entire story as well, often much more powerfully than could any printed words.

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Aperture Masters of Photography: Walker Evans

Walker Evans is one of America's iconic photographers. He is perhaps best known for his work with impoverished Southerners during the Depression. This collection includes much of that work, but also many of his images before and after that period. It's short on accompanying text, opting instead to let the images speak for themselves.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

This book, featured on Oprah, is a nonfiction work about the author's spiritual journey after her devastating divorce. She was majorly depressed and being a writer, got the opportunity to travel and write a book about her journey. She traveled for about a year to Italy, India and Indonesia (Bali). This book has turned into quite the blockbuster and is being made into a movie. I enjoyed the book but I don't think it is for everybody. She is an unconventional person. I found her style of writing to be quite funny and poignant. What I liked the most is that she befriended unique individuals wherever she went and made a real connection with them. The book is written like a diary with rather short sections, so it is easy to read.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Kite Runner

by Khaled Hosseini

I searched this blog to see if anyone had written a review of this book in the past, and surprisingly, no one has. So, I will in anticipation of the upcoming film, released on December 14th in theaters.

The Kite Runner is set in Afghanistan where two young boys, Amir, the son of a wealthy businessman in Kabul, and Hassan, the son of Amir's father's servant, grow up together. They spend their time flying kites in the competitive kite contest and playing under the tree near their village. Their lives are relatively free of strife until Hassan is brutally attacked by local bullies. Amir sees the attack, yet does not help his friend. Out of guilt he severs the relationship. They grow further apart and even further as Amir travels to America, where he tries to live down his betrayal.

It is a story of friendship, the tragedy of lost innocence, and reconciliation. Amir is given the chance to repair his relationship and be absolved of past regrets in a journey back to Afghanistan, to a country he no longer recognizes raging with war and crawling with Taliban. The story is passionate, moving, and I am definitely looking forward to seeing it on the big screen. From the reviews I have seen, the movie is supposed to be almost exactly like the book, which does contain some sensitive subject matter. I highly recommend this book, and we still have a few copies left. If you liked this book, I also recommend A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini as well.

Friday, December 07, 2007

American Photography: 1890-1965

This is a strong assortment from one of our country's leading collections of photos, the Museum of Modern Art. Many of the big names are represented. My only gripe is that some of the work seems to be included on the merits or its obtuseness. That's the minority, though, and overall this book collects some memorable images.

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Silverfish, by David Lapham

A graphic novel about a delusional killer, this title eschews the gruesome imagery many artists would lean on in favor of character examinations. It's a strong plot with capable artwork and vibrant characters.

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