Books, quiet and a hot cup of tea... what could be better?
"Min Jin Lee is a kind soul" was the thought I had while listening to her, answering the audience's questions in one of her
readings after the publication of this book. How else can you tell such a magnificent story about hard lives - with all the hostility between the Japanese and the Korean immigrant minority and the ensuing discrimination, corruption, and poverty - with so much fairness and compassion towards all parties involved? And to do so without resorting to violent or graphic scenes, and with interspersing enough moments of hope, acts of resilience, and small triumphs for the downtrodden to make readers want to keep reading and not putting the book down, knowing that they are well cared for and in the good hands of a great writer.
It delights me endlessly whenever I read a book with characters so different from me in place, time and life circumstances, and yet I somehow relate to them. It feels as if the author has been able to reach and touch the humanity in all of us, despite the outwardly differences. This is a novella about Robert Grainier's life, an American railroad worker turned hermit after the loss of his wife and daughter in a wild fire in the early to mid 1900's. As a bonus - when I was about half way through, enjoying the book- I had to pause and ask myself "wait a minute, are these elements of magical realism so masterfully woven into the plot?" So good... We lost Denis Johnson all too soon.
Poet Elizabeth Alexander wrote this memoir after the sudden loss of her loving and beloved husband, Ficre, at the age of 50. The book is about a great loss which inevitably gives it a sad theme, and yet it's full of the joy of living. As she remembers, rejoices and mourns, we get to witness glimpses of their lives. It's so uplifting and heartwarming to see that such beautiful lives could be lived - caring, loving, and filled with friendship, hospitality, community, art and creativity. To show the spirit of the book, it's enough to quote "Lizzy" from one of the last chapters when she asks her teenage sons "How can we be so happy when we have been through so much, the forest is not denuded. The trees are standing tall."
Told through personal and work-related stories, mostly from the time Lynne worked as a global activist and fundraiser to end world hunger at Hunger Project, she highlights the main concepts of sufficiency and abundance and how they could replace scarcity mindset and the relentless need for more. Her incredible stories include a life-changing meeting with Mother Teresa at her orphanage in India, the story of women finding an underground lake in a patriarchal community in the dry and hot Sahel Desert in Senegal, the impoverished Bangladeshi villagers who became successful farmers, the story of Lynne's mom in her final weeks of life, and the story of Gertrude in a Harlem church and her powerful lesson: "money is like a river". After reading many books on money over the years, this was like a breath of fresh crisp morning air.
With author's sharp observations, each story in this collection seizes a passing, seemingly ordinary moment of life of the characters- a moment that would've been lost forever in the sea of moments that came before and after it-and tells an elaborate, compelling story of how it came to be. It's a great read, one of those books that make you ponder about the story behind everything and the significance of every "minute" feeling and thought in one's life.
Have you ever wished to embark on a journey of hundreds of miles that would, through its ups and downs, make you stronger so you could, eventually, face the confusion, heartbreak, fear or the trauma you've been running away from for decades? And better yet, what if you could find yourself effortlessly on such a path when you thought you were just going to the corner mailbox to post a letter? No time for second guessing, no long time preparations and no laborious planning not even to choose the best pair of walking shoes or the most appropriate travel jacket. You'd just go.
If you have- well, even if you haven't- this novel is your chance to vicariously revel in Harold's journey.
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This is the story of Queenie, the other main character in The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.
Queenie has sent a letter to Harold to inform him that she's dying. She expects no answers, but soon the news of Harold's walk toward the hospice reaches her and Queenie, afraid she may die before his arrival, starts writing him another letter to tell her side of the story, of all that happened years and years ago. It's a heartbreaking, poignant tale that dives deep into humans' regrets and despairs as well as hopes and resilience. And, it's a consolation to see Queenie finally being able to "write it all down" and get to the peace she'd long longed for.
Keiko works at a convenience store in Tokyo, a job she started when she was eighteen and has kept for eighteen years. She's happy and satisfied with her work and is very good at it. She knows the rules and fits in, something she's never felt anywhere else. But, the judgments from her friends and family and the pressure to find a "real" job and get married are constant and although for a long time she seems to be impervious to them, she reaches a tipping point and decides to conform to society's norms.
It's a short book that manages to pose a powerful question that could occupy the mind long after the book is finished.
Characters, characters, characters... Ethan Hawk plays well here into one of his impressive strengths: creating well-rounded characters. You may not like many of them at first - or any of them for that matter- as they all seem so messed up and hopeless on the surface, but then, gradually, as the intriguing plot unfolds, you'll enjoy discovering their individual quirks and idiosyncrasies, unexpected nuggets of wisdom each shares, as well as their fears, self-knowledge and longings, and perhaps you'll be surprised to find yourself liking them, sometimes a bit too much:) It's one of the joys of reading... And the ending is so good too.
A colossally dysfunctional family...and don't they make for the best novels?
Things happened a couple of years ago that shook all members of the family - mother, father, grown children and their families- but not enough to propel them into a real transformation. They just did enough to create a lousy patch-up work to cover up the stink so everyone could go about their lives as if not much had happened until now. Now, something huge happens and almost everyone finds themselves at life-altering cross-points that are impossible to ignore...
I still mourn the loss of Oliver Sacks, the beloved neurologist, physician and writer. His wisdom, knowledge and kindness toward his fellow humans are greatly missed. The honesty and vulnerability he shows throughout this book combined with his great sense of gratitude for life make it an unforgettable memoir of a long life well lived.
Written by the 2002 Nobel Prize winner in Economic Sciences, the book describes two brain systems, fast (intuitive) and slow (logical), and the heuristics and biases humans use to make decisions. It also covers how our minds are not evolved to grasp statistical concepts and what could be done to improve our understanding of statistics. At the end, it talks about the distinctions between experiencing and remembering selves. This is a highly influential, informative and potentially life-changing book.
A memoir of the time when Novella and her partner moved to a run-down neighborhood in Oakland and created a community garden in the abandoned, squatted lot next door. Through Novella's intelligence, enthusiasm and sense of humor, the book gives an intimate look at the adventures, triumphs, defeats and struggles of creating a community garden and raising animals- goats, rabbits, chickens, geese, ducks, turkeys, pigs and bees- in their small backyard or on their balcony. The book is also the story of people: Lana, the neighbor who runs a speakeasy at her place, Bobby, who lives in abandoned cars across the street, the monks who live in the neighborhood monastery, the Vietnamese neighbors with their memories and special farming tools from their country, among many others.
What a great title and what a story. A story of normal people in which the decency, kindness, dignity, and sense of self-worth of one touch and transform the other in a subtle yet profound way. As I was reading it, I started finding myself dreading the ending, as bad endings have ruined many an otherwise good novel for me. I didn't need to worry, the beautiful bitter-sweet ending indelibly imprinted the characters and their story on my mind.
I wasn't convinced that one could tell the story of their life well by recounting the times they almost died and then, aren't seventeen brushes with death - for a person in their forties- too many anyway? I wasn't too far into the book when I got the answers to my doubts and questions: yes it's possible, and no, apparently not too many. I came to truly enjoy this creative way of writing a memoir, the brilliant writing of Maggie O'Farrell and the smart way the stories are laid out- NOT chronologically; When there were burning questions like why she was so restless in her youth or why anyone would volunteer to become a target for a knife-throwing show at a fair with at least one knife landing too close, you'll get "sort of an answer" in some brushes with death in her childhood told later in the book. Not that anything is said directly by the author about these links... some dot-connecting and psychological speculation are needed on the part of the reader which always add to the pleasure of reading and discovery.
This is a book I had no idea I'd love to read. A book about octopuses? But Sy Montgomery makes it such a riveting subject that I quickly finished the book and as quickly moved up the octopus to (almost) the top of my favorite animals list. Read about their intelligence, playfulness and their consciousness, be amazed and then head to the Cabrillo National Monument during low tide hours right here in San Diego and if you are observant and if you are lucky, you'll get to see one under a rock (or more likely an arm or two poking out).
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Email or call for price.
Email or call for price.
Norman the porcupine is VERY jealous. His best friend Mildred the tree has found another friend. What could he do?
Mistakes are made, but they could be fixed. Attitudes could be changed, and sometimes everyone could win.
When I first read this, my reaction was to go back and count the words. In less than 350 words (and with the help of beautiful illustrations) this book had shown the art of listening, consoling and helping a sad friend far better than much wordier books for adults on the subject.