Posts Tagged ‘Non-fiction’

I have a dilemma. I’m reading Terror and Liberalism by Paul Berman and it’s a wonderfully intelligent book, but it’s a bit heavy. I’ve suddenly been struck by the urge to read the book on Waldorf Ed. that my mom gave me for Christmas (that’d be Waldorf Education: A family Guide, for those who are interested) but I do want to read this Berman book. I’m afraid if I stop now I won’t pick it back up, but by refusing to start reading another book without finishing it I find I’m simply not reading anything. What to do?

Also! Old Songs went wonderfully this past weekend. It’s a fabulous little festival, a really comfortable size, very family friendly and mellow. I felt safe and welcome the entire weekend! It rained a bit but we were ready for it and it was no problem! Up next is Grassroots in Trumansburg, NY, followed promptly (read: two days later) by Falcon Ridge in my hometown Hillsdale, NY. I hear fabulous things about Grassroots, and I know from experience that Falcon Ridge is the highlight of many people’s year, including my own! Y’all should come on by!


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Book: Knitting with Balls by Michael del Vecchio
Pages: 150
Entertainment Rating: 3/5
Snooty Rating: 4/5
Total Rating: 7/10
Books Read Total: 27/50
Pages Read Total: 4942/15,000

I got this book from the library in hopes of finding something to knit for my brother for Christmas (how forward thinking of me, right?) This book is wonderfully thorough! Much like the Stitch ‘n Bitch books this one has all the information you need from start to finish, but written in “man” language. Occasionally the wording is a little bit cheesy and over-the-top but it’s mostly endearing. I especially enjoyed the breakdown of different yarn weights, the tips and tricks (I never thought to use a card or post-it to mark my place in a chart!), the how to knit continental or english, and the bit in the back about altering patterns. The actual projects didn’t do much for me, but I did check them out, and they offer a great range from basic onward and cover a variety of techniques. This book would make a great gift to anyone (male or female) who’s looking to start knitting more. It’s also a good source for quick guy-gifts (unless that guy is my brother!)

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Book: Sugarcane Academy: How a New Orleans Teacher and His Storm-Struck Students Created a School to Remember by Michael Tisserand
Pages: 192
Entertainment Rating: 4.5/5
Snooty Rating: 5/5
Total Rating: 9.5/10
Books Read Total: 20/50
Pages Read Total: 3875/15,000

This book may be small, but it packs a punch. Riding on the wave of emotions from my recent trip down to NOLA this book could not have come at a time when I was more vulnerable. Frequently I found myself in tears over the hugeness of it all. The hugeness of the hurricane and the aftershocks, the hugeness of the indignities forced upon so many citizens, and the immeasurable outpouring of awareness on the part of those capable of giving something to the people who had nothing. In a society where education is so bound by rules and regulations, this small section of a community banded together to give families what they needed. This is education as it should be: active, responsive, aware. What these children needed was not a standardized test or even a normal classroom. They needed time and space to express their experiences, to learn about their relations to the world around them, and to make sense of all that they experienced in such a short time. Much was lost during Hurricane Katrina, but the disaster laid bare the strength, courage, determination and love that human beings are capable of giving.

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Book: A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah
Pages: Audiobook
Entertainment Rating: N/A
Snooty Rating: 5/5
Total Rating: 10/10
Books Read Total: 18/50
Pages Read Total: 3188/15,000

This book will blow your mind. It will probably give you nightmares, and if you have any soul at all it will make you cry. It will make your stomach turn, your heart ache, and your palms sweat. There will be times when you absolutely must put the book down and walk away, but I promise you it is worth it. I cannot describe this book to you in any way that will do it justice, but I beg you to read it.

From the website:
A gripping story of a child’s journey through hell and back.

There may be as many as 300,000 child soldiers, hopped-up on drugs and wielding AK-47s, in more than fifty conflicts around the world. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them. He is one of the first to tell his story in his own words.

In A LONG WAY GONE, Beah, now twenty-six years old, tells a riveting story. At the age of twelve, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen, he’d been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts. Eventually released by the army and sent to a UNICEF rehabilitation center, he struggled to regain his humanity and to reenter the world of civilians, who viewed him with fear and suspicion. This is, at last, a story of redemption and hope.

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For the What’s in a Name? challenge: A book with a place in its title

Book: Travels with Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck
Pages: 277
Entertainment Rating: 4.5/5
Snooty Rating: 4.5/5
Total Rating: 9/10
Books Read Total: 4/50
Pages Read Total: 1066/15,000

Steinbeck really does something for me. I didn’t like The Grapes of Wrath but I loved the sense of connection it gave me and the cultural references it informed. Neil Young songs took on a whole new meaning. Travels with Charley gave me the same feeling of awareness, though I didn’t go into the book feeling that way. If you want a taste of this country, read Steinbeck.

Travels was written with much more humor than Grapes but it is still a critical observation. Steinbeck and his dog, Charley, travel across the country in a pick-up with a camper top, “rediscovering” the country that has changed so much in their lifetime. The relationship between these two is comical and endearing. I think what makes Steinbeck exceptional is in his talent for humanizing. He conveys emotions, characters, and connections in an accessible and natural voice, and makes no effort to raise himself above basic human reactions and thoughts.

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