Decca Aitkenhead’s second book is the account of her partner Tony Wilkinson’s death, and its illuminating aftermath. While the impetus for All At Sea was his death (and her loss), Aitkenhead delves into every aspect of her life that was affected by her tragedy, and allows herself to explore the scope of it. Nothing about the book was overly dramatic or emotional, but she still allowed herself to explore her grief, in a self-aware way. The prologue also helped set the tone by explaining what it’s like to be a victim of random tragedy, and how sudden loss and freak accidents “happen to other people,” until they happen to you. I think the two main things that elevated this story from the expected “woe is me” tale were her unique love story with Tony, and the fact that Aitkenhead’s own mother died of cancer when she was a child. Her unconventional approach to the situation subconsciously shaped Aitkenhead’s own understanding of death, loss, and grief.
The Boiling River is a book based on a TED talk by Andres Ruzo. I’ve heard of TED talks and have since watched quite a few of them online. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design. They cover a very wide range of topics and typically focus on interesting new discoveries and understanding about the world around us.
The Boiling River is about a river that is close to boiling, bubbling away in the Amazon. The river is particularly special because no one knew about this amazing place and people living in the area denied its existence. And even more impressive was the sheer volume of water that was flowing at this temperature.
Body image problems are not new. I’m sure that bulimia and anorexia existed when I was a teenager, but in those years, any kind of addiction was never brought out into the sunlight for a closer examination and possible treatment. I’ve lived with body image difficulties all my life, having inherited my height from my very tall father, and thus towering over my petite mother, who always seemed confused by my size. I’ve finally adjusted to being who I am, but in the years since I was a girl, these two horrendous diseases have become insidious and ever-present social nemesis.
Because our society allows for such a pressure-filled ‘demand’ to be made of those who may have a weak area, it is all too easy to be tweaked into a seriously addictive life-style. Shannon Kopp presents her struggles with bulimia in an open and forthright manner, making this book an invaluable resource for every young person anywhere.
It is a truth universal that one cannot judge a book by its cover. Or should not, in any case. Sometimes, even if you do take the time to read samples and other reviews you really still cannot predict a wonderful book. You’re as likely to pick one that says absolutely nothing to you.
I did mostly feel that way about Dear Mr. You, except for one sentence on page 60. “Time should weep for having spent me without you.” I cannot get it out of my head–it just runs around in there like a hamster on a spinning wheel.
It is absolutely true that as you grow older, you begin to pay attention to growing older, probably hoping to continue growing older yet. I discovered a few years ago that I was very interested in reading of the exploits of other elders – recreating yourself in your 60s or 70s or even beyond. Some of these stories are just incredible, others not so much.
So, when I read the description of Sixty by Ian Brown, a renowned journalist in Canada, I knew I had to read it. I’m pretty sure that I’d never previously heard of Mr. Brown, who is well known, both as a writer and for his TV appearances. (I’ve not had a TV for 13 or more years, which could explain a bit of that gap.) Based on this book, he is a very good writer. He is able to discern truths where others might only see or hear a muddle of sound.
Some people are very fortunate – they discover what it is they want to do fairly early on in life and find a straight path to that goal. Others of us are not so certain that we’re headed in the right direction. Or we may think we are, but then a newly-discovered pathway leads us in a different direction. Maybe it’s only a temporary detour, but still–we’ve lost our way in the meantime.
After trying several different career paths without the satisfaction that he’d hoped to find, twenty-something Tyler Williams changed his direction. He planned on the next step, and through the good fortune that we all hope for, plus the discipline that we all have (if we care to use it) he made important changes to his life plan.
I’m Not a Terrorist, But I’ve Played One On TV is a humorous tale of one man’s trials growing up an Iranian American. Maz Jobrani and his family came to the U.S. when he was a small boy because of the change in government, and stayed, because of that same government.
The memoir mostly highlighted important milestones in his life and Jobrani generally has a very amusing way of telling his story. Of course, his biggest problems had to do with his parents–a fairly common issue for children of immigrants. Most parents embarrass their children. Children of immigrants have the added issue of parents who are different from American parents and do and say ‘weird’ things.
This feel good memoir by Vicki Lesage is not the typical “American Girl in Paris” read. Instead, Lesage presents her vulnerabilities, her hopes and all of her successes in a conversational fashion, while also including details on her favorite haunts to catch a drink and her frequent mishaps with having too much to drink. Confessions of a Paris Party Girl does not read as a story of a drunken party girl as the title would leave a casual reader to believe and instead is a very real tale of a woman trying to find her footing abroad, while also trying to discover important facts about herself.
Tara’s Halls is a delightfully written memoir chronicling Tom Gallagher’s life in Ireland during the 1950s and 60s. He tells of his childhood in a large family–how the family loved, laughed, survived and sometimes barely managed. Gallagher traversed his childhood like a blind lamb and a brave bull at the same time. He lets readers into the inner circle of his life right away, revealing intimate details and showing them what it’s truly like to be Irish. The back of the book offers some regional word definitions, and there are black-and-white photos of the author and his family throughout the book.
There are 24 chapters in the book; these start rightly at the beginning of the author’s life and move easily through his upbringing. Gallagher lived on a farm, was sent to school for a time, had a first attempt at love,
Raif Badawai, The Voice of Freedom is a beautifully written memoir that tells the story of how the author, Ensaf Haidar, and her husband, Raif, met and came to be married, and of their subsequent struggles to preserve their family and their lives. Despite strict opposition from their families, Ensaf and Raif were determined to be together and refused to give up. After eighteen months of harassment, Ensaf’s family allowed her to sign the marriage contract.
The newlywed couple was able to settle into the traditional marriage arrangement quickly. In Saudi Arabia, men felt it was their duty to make all the decisions and to ensure the material well-being of the family. At first, Raif rarely consulted Ensaf with anything. Making new friends and reading more progressive books, Raif soon started an internet forum for Saudi liberals. As a result, he started granting Ensaf more