Archive for July, 2008

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

People of the Book is a novel about the Sarajevo Haggadah. Based on fact, the story alternates chapters about Hanna Heath, an Australian rare book conservator, and the history of the Book’s creation told in reverse chronology. We follow the manuscript backwards from Sarajevo in 1996 to Vienna 1894, from Venice in 1609 to Tarragona, Spain in 1492, and lastly to the creation of the illuminations in 1480 in Seville.
The amount of historical detail makes the characters and places come alive in this book. I wanted to learn more of the background surrounding this story so I also read the 2007 New Yorker article by Geraldine Brooks that was the basis for this novel. I would also recommend Brooks’ other fiction. Year of wonders is a book about the Plague, and March is about the father of Little Women. Both of these historic novels also have the ability to draw you into another time and place.

The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Surpreme Court by Jeffery Toobin

Monday, July 21st, 2008

Reviewed by Rita C.

Jeffery Toobin writes: Judges are appointed by presidents and presidents, in turn, rely on judges to support social movements. For the last twenty years, a court comprised largely of Republican appointees has disappointed the American conservative movement. Conservatives could elect presidents, but they could not change the court. The conservative agenda such as religion in the public sphere, greater executive power, the reversal of Roe v. Wade, and an end to affirmative power has not achieved the expected results. Toobin writes about the justices their habits, hobbies and personalitites and the influence of these factors, on the way they rule, providing insights into to the procedure of the court and also of the justices individual characters, from the pragmatic Sandra O’Connor “who has an uncanny ear for public opinion or at least for what the public will tolerate” and added salsa dancing to her work out, David Souter has the habits of a gentleman from another century and almost took early retirement following Bush v. Gore, Clarence Thomas refuses to ask questions during debate and nurtures grievances against his critics and the brilliant strategist Ruth Ginsburg who first defended the right of men as to achieve her goal to end discrimination for women joined by other justices kept the ruling mostly centrist for the past two decades. At this time of transition, as the justices retire from duty, the conservatives are only one vote away from total control.

This great book should be a reminder of how a change in the law will affect all of us and what is worth preserving.

Back on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

Back on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber is an unusually well written book that centers on a Yarn Shop nestled on a delightful small town street run by an admirable lady that battled cancer and won an unexpected life extension. She runs classes in knitting and a small, very varied group gets together to knit, crochet and help each other through some difficult life situations.

From the main character’s sister and niece who encounters a car-jacking that impacts her body and soul and that of her mother to a young girl battling wedding celebration woes, the author treats the reader to exciting, surprising and soul-satisfying solutions to the troubles of the characters in the story.

The threads of the stories intertwined in the book are further pulled together by delightful poetry relating to yarn and knitting at the beginning of each chapter.

I was very impressed by the author’s skill and expertise as well as the tales of the characters. It is a very enjoyable read for anyone.

Joan Badie

No Green Berries or Leaves by Paul Stankard

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

Paul Stankard does a much better job sharing his memoir than I could.  The author describes the book as a “labor of love.” Indeed this labor of love is a joy to read.  Paul’s personal story provides an inspiring look at how early roadblocks associated with learning disabilities can be surmounted through hard work, the help of others, and courage. 

No Green Berries or Leaves opened my eyes to the history of the artistic glass movement in America and provided a glimpse into career choices in the field.  I also learned a great deal about the actual process of flameworking!

It was rewarding to hear Paul Stankard share his book and personal story at the Literacy Volunteers of Gloucester County fundraiser last month.  Unfortunately, I did not win the Paul Stankard studio visit raffle prize – maybe next year.