Books & More for Santa Cruz Readers...
"The most technologically efficient machine that man has ever invented is the book. "
— Northrop Frye
Monday, June 17, 2013
A private telescope
Title: Wilderness: a novel
By: Lance Weller
Some might say this book was about the Civil War, but I think that would give the wrong impression. The Battle of the Wilderness in Virginia is only part of this account that spans 1864 to 1965 through several characters’ stories. The author skillfully traces a few human connections between very different people, leading to a life saved, a life lost. There are some harsh, difficult scenes between characters, contrasting with beautiful descriptions of wild lands in the Pacific Northwest. Wilderness is celebrated, and human ugliness and merit are exposed. It’s as if we have a private telescope focused on the particular moments the author selected for us to witness.
Thursday, June 6, 2013
Title: Searching for Sugar Man
By: Malik Bendjelloul
Sugar Man, which won the 2013 Academy Award for Best Documentary, is the very sweet, true story of an American Music Legend that wasn't--and now, 40 years later, is. In 1970, Sixto Rodriguez, an American musician of Mexican and Native American heritage living in Detroit, released an album of pop/folk/rock songs, some reminiscent of Bob Dylan, others of Cat Stevens. It sold about as many copies as he had family members...at least, in this country. To tell any more of the story might take away some of the fun of watching and discovering for yourself a truly fascinating and inspiring tale.
See it with friends. You will be touched by Rodriguez, his story, and his music.
Thursday, June 6, 2013
Savor the wisdom
Title: A Calendar of Wisdom: daily thoughts to nourish the soul
By: Leo Tolstoy
Leo Tolstoy spent 15 years researching and “collecting the wisdom of the centuries” to create his Calendar of Wisdom, which was first published in 1904. He enjoyed reading it every day until the end of his life in 1910. After the Russian Revolution, publication of the book was forbidden because of its religious nature. In 1995, Russia again allowed the book to be published and the first English translation was published in 1997.
Although I’m not quite wise enough to imbibe daily, I do enjoy dipping into his calendar for a savory taste of wisdom now and then. In fact, I enjoy this book so much that I have gifted it to a number of friends and family, including myself. I highly recommend this exquisite opus. Check it out today!
“A wise thought for every day of the year, from the greatest philosophers of all times and all people.”
Monday, June 3, 2013
Read the book (then see the movie)
Title: Ender's Game
By: Orson Scott Card
It seems these days the credo we live by is that every good book must become a movie. Ender's Game is not just a good book, it's a great one, and herein lies my reasoning of why you should read the book in lieu of seeing a summer blockbuster:
1. It's science fiction at its best: dystopic, addressing current concerns (i.e., population growth), with a protagonist you care about and a believable premise. My love of science fiction stems from its ability to examine the choices we as a society make by being somewhat extreme in its interpretation or representation of the future. It's like a playground for social commentary, without the caveat of reality.
2. Ender Wiggin enters Battle School with humanity facing insurmountable odds (got to love the underdog!). We watch Ender being shaped by his experiences at the school, the people he meets, his commanders, and his love for his sister.
3. Anyone over 12 will understand the plight of Ender Wiggin as he faces discrimination in varying forms: older brothers, peers, etc.
4. The. end. is. epic.
Okay, I should be honest here: opening night, I'll be at the movie Ender's Game (Harrison Ford AND Ben Kingsley? Geeking out!). But once you've read the book you can chortle with me at the obvious plot holes the director and writer left out to save time. You can entice your friends with background that the movie will be unable to supply. Or you can just threaten to spoil the ending if no one buys you popcorn.
Monday, May 20, 2013
Title: The Fall of Alice K.
By: Jim Heynen
This is an American novel, but one with such a different point of view from most I am exposed to that it kept startling me. At first I wasn’t sure that I could get into the story, but something about Alice suddenly grabbed me, and I had to finish the book. Alice K. is a very intelligent and responsible high school student with a troubled family, living on a well-run farm in Iowa that is failing due to market conditions. The setting is a devout and traditional Dutch-settled area of the state. Alice’s cross-cultural friendships and intrepid character propel her into and out of trouble. The author really gets inside Alice’s teenage head in a way that does credit to his understanding of a young woman’s feelings, although there are a few passages that I find unrealistic. I love the way he describes her relationship with the big red Ford 150 pickup she drives. My only serious disappointment was how he chose to end the story. Read it yourself and see if you feel the same way.
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