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Preview: A Handful of Books

A Handful of Books

Updated: 2014-10-04T21:20:28.982-07:00


Is there anybody out there? Just blog if you can hear me.


Hi there,
Are we up for a new book? Here are a couple that are on my radar..... What do you think?

1. Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky


2. A Delusion of Satan: The Full Story of the Salem Witch Trials by Frances Hill

Long Lost Blogger


Hi Ladies-
I wish I could join in the blog, but I fear I will not be ready until probably Thanksgiving. I have been reading and will continue for the next month books that have been provided to TMS from Scholastic. I have to read every book so that I am able to defend having it on my shelf. A mom already complained this year about "Are you there, God? It's me Margraret" so I have to be pretty careful/aware of what the students are reading. Remember that I am teaching 7/8 graders and not 9/12! This winter, though, I will be able to rejoin.

New Book?


Paula, Vicki or Julie-Please suggest a new book.

King Dork


Finished reading King Dork last night. Feel a bit wishy washy about it. The title character bugged me a lot at first, but sort of grew on me as the story progressed. Some parts were very funny, but it was way longer than it needed to be.

Title suggestion


People seem to like the idea of our sister book blog!

My coworker Teri recommends this title to us: Special Topics in Calamity Physics. She says it's addicting and that she can't put it down!

War and Peace


Just finished a good novel, Plum Wine by Angela Davis-Gardner. It’s set in the 1960s and is about an American woman, living in Japan, teaching English (if casting a movie version, I see her being played by Cate Blanchett).

Before reading the book, when I would hear Hiroshima, I would see a mental picture of a mushroom cloud. Now I will think of these characters….

Survivors of the atomic bombing are called hibakusha. At a Japanese friend’s funeral, the American woman mentions that the deceased was hibakusha; a comment that is met with stunned silence. Later she asks a friend why:

“I realize now that I shouldn’t have mentioned that Michi-san was an hibakusha – but could you please tell me why? I don’t understand.”

“The bomb survivors are associated with bad luck and death. Indeed with their exposure to radiation the victims themselves are considered a pollution. Hibakusha have become almost a pariah caste in Japan.”

“It’s hard to comprehend how victims of bombing could be considered outcasts.”

“This has its beginning long ago in Japanese thinking. Any group which is different or in some way shamed may be regarded as outcast.”

The book depicts war, not as a mushroom cloud or lines and colors on a map, but as it affects individual lives – the flesh of war – brothers, sisters, friends.

The woman falls in love with a man who is hibakusha. He loves her, too, but is unable to be happy because of the things he has experienced… and because of his guilt over being a survivor. The whole novel feels like that – like emotions held back. It’s a love story, but unlike Anna Karenina or Wuthering Heights, there’s no heroine throwing herself in front of a train and there’s no tortured hero wandering the moors. It’s civilized and spare – and in that way feels real to me.

Finished King Dork


So, as discussed earlier, King Dork refers to Catcher in the Rye a lot. It also refers to a bunch of other books, so I thought I'd share this list, which has the titles and then also quotes from King Dork that refer to those books.

Music plays a big role in the book, too, and here's a list of the albums and bands to which he refers.


Books for Fall


I am eager to get going on a new book, too. I don't care if it is funny, sad, scary, or romantic. Let's just choose one for September and get going!
Let's all throw out ideas.
King Dork sounds like a good one to me. Or The Sisters. I have not read either of them yet.

Sometimes cravings


I constantly crave reading. The escape into a story. I sometimes crave writing. The process. The putting together of words. The release.

In Nov, an author< Mark Spragg, is visiting KS for a workshop and I get to be his chauffeur. I have not read his work, but plan to, of course, before his visit. His most well-known work is An Unfinished Life. It was made into a film (his wife wrote the screenplay) starring Robert Redford and Morgan Freeman.

I found an interview w/him and I liked this paragraph:
"I was awfully fond of Hemingway when I was a boy, no doubt for obvious reasons, but when I found Faulkner it changed my whole sense of the possibilities of language. I suppose everything I've tried to write since then has been an experiment in how best to structure a convincing narrative suspended between those two poles. I read, and reread, Welty, O'Connor, Lee, Capote, Steinbeck, a little later, Gide, Kazantzakis, Garcia Marquez, Hesse, Rilke, Miller. In short, I read every damn thing I could get my hands on. I do remember being greatly influenced by Lawrence Durrell. Also, from the time my brother and I were nine until we were in our mid-teens, my father required that we read a book a month of his choosing, and that at the end of the month we give an oral and written report of that book. My dad read largely for argument–and so his reading list included Darwin and Kant, Kierkegaard. Rousseau, Machiavelli, Spinoza, Emerson, Franklin, Plato, Marcus Aurelius. There were many others. There was a lot of chest-pounding and foot-stomping in our discussions. He told us that there were only two great themes. Our deaths, that is, our concerns about a possible afterlife, and our couplings in the face of that inevitability. I once asked him–it was when I was solidly a teenager–whether a truly great writer shouldn't concentrate his efforts on necrophilia. He didn't laugh. He suggested I reread Kierkegaard."

You read a lot about the writing process, but not so much about the reading process. Perhaps because it seems like it is natural and just happens. I disagree with that, however. I think people make conscious choices about how they want (or don't want) reading and books to be a part of their lives. And that relationship between what you read and what you write... there's a connection.

A Sad Stack


Hello friends who are also family.

Here's an interesting post from Metaxucafe. It's a list of what the poster considers the saddest books.

I would agree with Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton (uff-da), haven't read The Awkward Age by Henry James or The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford or To The North by Elizabeth Bowen. I would probably agree with The End of the Affair by Graham Greene, too.

He mentions making space for Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude and Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin and I gotta agree there, too. That Marquez is a beautiful writer - gets to you at a gut level with his vivid descriptions.

Does sad seem more real than happy? If a book is too happy, it feels like fantasy or fluff. Know what I mean? Or am I just morbid or at least pessimistic?

Is our book club in a summer hibernation? Can we start tickling it awake?

Books about the middle east


Hi home skilletz!

I have cable TV now so may never read again. How can I turn away from the excellence the boob tube offers (VH1 'top 40 rock girlfriends of all time') -- and the winner is? Pamela Lee, of course!

I am actually still reading The Book Thief. It's a good one and I'll loan this copy out to any and all (it's the librarian's way). It's a book that Gretchen gave me for my birthday.

Since we kind of started all of this on a reading about the middle east theme, I thought I would share this link w/you... a list of recommended books to help us understand (or at least have more information about) things in the middle east. Mickey recommended Joe Sacco's Palestine to me a while back (it's a graphic novel). I do love the idea of reading a graphic novel together. Maybe not this one now, but another at some time....

The Witch's Boy


The Witch's Boy was listed in the link BCK recently posted. I have read one chapter. It seems good, fun, and easy. Why don't we all try to read it in August?

Japanese LIterature


I am almost finished with Plum Wine. Like Kafka on the Shore, it is set in Japan. They are both great fun; they make me want to visit Japan and/or have some Japanese friends.
I love the puzzles, the secrets, the riddles. I am normally a binge reader, but find myself taking these books just a chapter or two per sitting. Between chapters, I think about the characters and am excited to find out what happens next.



Kafka on the Shore is fascinating, but may be a bit long and slow for summer. Blankets is quick and fun.
I haven't had a chance to read Candy Freak yet, but will keep everyone posted.
King Dork sounds good to me.
I read Catcher when I was nineteen and didn't like it very much. Read it again last year and appreciated it more, but still wasn't crazy about it. It reminded me of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but Perks is one of my favorite books. I realize that Catcher is an "important" book and I am willing to read it again.

Hey you guys!!


Let's get this party started (again) :)

So... Overachieving Annie has already read Blankets and Kafka on the Shore. Annie - what do you think? Should the rest of us read those? Would they provide good discussion fodder? Annie, I think you are also reading Candyfreak? Should we read that? Or Mickey showed me a new book by the author of Candyfreak I like the title - it's Which Brings Me to You. He is really enjoying it.

We also talked about Catcher in the Rye, which is such a short and easy read. So... everyone around the world, what's your pleasure?

When I'm home in July, could we sit down and have a face-to-face meeting and plot our reading schedule for the rest of the year? And then I could order two copies of each of the books (one for MN and one for KS)?

Read Read Read


Hey sisters. I say we try the graphic novel as well... Blankets. I think it sounds interesting.
I am still working on Kissing the Rain and am going to go read more now. I can't seem to stay awake past 5 pages or so. I'm just soooo tired :0)
I would then like to read something romantic. Could we re-read Sandra Brown's Lucky?
Just kidding really. I wouldn't mind reading a classic that isn't terribly long.... The Catcher in the Rye? I've actually never read it. (Loser?) maybe.
Peace out.

What should we read next?


My coworker Mickey suggests this book: Kafka on the Shore

What are other ideas?

A Handful of Books


Pray for Salvation!
Greetings lovely sisters! I apologize for my delinquency. Though Bookseller isn't fresh in my mind as it were a couple months ago when i should have posted, the overall theme and some vivid images remain intact. I definately enjoyed the read and found the writing smooth and rather soothing given the simply agonizing content. To fathom the world she entered exists not in ancient times, but simultaneous to our own current experience is utterly devestating to my own personal concept of freedom and independence. I found myself urging characters to push beyond their give circumstances, for the women to scratch, scream, or somehow slay the demons which possessed them. It seemed they should want to Escape the miserable submissive existence they apparently accepted. But to where?... Kite Runner also allowed us readers to delve into the rampant ugliness and despair of Afghanistan. While the latter book did not focus much on the female experience in particular, both of them were very effective devices for dispelling any myths of paradise in the Middle East. The beasts who hold the reigns of control seem destined to an inevitable doom. And the common people have nothing save their sense of religious worth and familial ties. There is a sense of excitement actually with both stories- because the situations seem to be so sordid and horrific, nothing short of complete genocide could make life any worse. So an impending revolution simmers. Deep from the hearts of those who have survived without blood on their hands must surface a strength and strategy to right the wrong. May peace and positive change come to those people who have suffered so so much. What more can one expect from a book than to have it absorbed into the bloodstream of everyone who reads it. And from both of these comes the knowledge of horror and the pulsing dream of redemtion and perhaps someday- Justice.

Wandering brain


I thought Kissing the Rain would be right up my alley, being it is a teen read. But, I have to say the writing style of Kevin Brooks is not one that I am overly fond of. On the first page, the writing made me literally nauseous:
Bad= good.
Good= bad.
I know I have morsel of ADD built in, and that a good chunk of my students experience these symptoms and this style aggravated my already wandering mind.

As far as characters... Moo is one of my students. He is real. I was not teased in school--- I always had a friend or two, but I can see him from my own days as a teen and in my classroom each year. Brooks put emotion into him and I love that.

But, I swear this has already been a Lifetime Movie...



A little late, I know...
I finished The Bookseller of Kabul a while ago, and am very glad I did. I am known to be a little on the naive side, but have tried, as an adult, to educate myself on the world outside of my delusional view. Although this book was painful at times (in similar ways to the Kite Runner), it was wonderfully written. It was a good story, but pushed me beyond my own comfort level... I take for granted the power of women, but who can blame me, look at my family. I cant say that I often pick up non-fiction novels for a 'good read'; my shelves are mostly lined with teen issues novels, but I think it was worth the investment of time (and dreams).

Kissing the Rain


I am excited to re-read Kissing the Rain. It is one of my favorite books ever. I did not feel sick while reading it. In fact, I laughed out loud many times. The kid is hilarious. I related to him. I've never had his problem (obesity) but I get the same kind of stares. And the way he interpreted the looks was right on and cracked my shit up.

March-ing On


Two of the five sisters have posted -- V, J, and P -- where are you? Right now, we're not a handful; we're just a peace sign!

We talked about reading Kissing the Rain in Feb, but it looks like that may become our March read instead. I read it on the plane today and think it's going to spark some interesting discussions. Annie loves it and she's no slouch, but I have to admit I felt a little ill the entire time I was reading it. Was it the story or was it my overindulgence the night before? Hmm...

While we're waiting for some interesting Kissing the Rain chatter to begin, I thought I would blog about favorite book titles. Here are a few of mine; what are yours?
-- Unbearable lightness of being
-- I cannot get you close enough
-- Light can be both wave and particle
-- In the land of dreamy dreams
-- Falling through space
-- Drunk with love

Bookseller of Kabul vs. The Kite Runner


We chose to read Bookseller of Kabul because we read The Kite Runner last year and enjoyed it a lot. Annie found Bookseller of Kabul to be far inferior. I enjoyed the contrast though....

The Kite Runner is essentially the story of men. It is the story of secrets and the huge influence they can have.

Bookseller of Kabul is about women. Although the bookseller, Sultan, is the sun around which the story and the characters orbit, it's really the tales of the women that are the core of this book.

Disgruntled Reader


A Handful of Books
Just finished The Bookseller of Kabul. I'm not sorry that I read it, but I did not like the book. It felt like I was reading a thesis, on a topic that overwhelms and confuses me.
I enjoyed all of the dialogue. And I really liked the youngest daughter, the grandma, and the interpreter.

Bookseller of Kabul


I loved The Kite Runner. It gave me an insider's look at life in a very foreign land, and allowed me to see that people there are not all that "foreign." The end disappointed me, but that was my only complaint.
So I was excited about The Bookseller of Kabul and started it with high expectations. It's been about a month now, and I still haven't finished the book. There are too many characters! The feminist angle irritates me. I wish that she had focused on one or two people, the youngest daughter, perhaps.
I will finish the book, then write more. Maybe by then it will all come together.