Friday, September 30, 2011

End of September? Reading List, Part One

Where on earth has this year gone?  We're already well into fall, and I feel like I haven't been able to catch up with where I want to be from a blogging perspective.

I had a health scare this month when I tested high for the first round of gestational diabetes testing, but that proved to be a fluke since the 3 hour glucose tolerance test was not even borderline.  It freaked me out a lot.  When I get freaked out these days, I obsess in my head, but don't write about it much.  I think I need to work on this.

I've been reading a lot.  I would like to write some reviews of a few of the books I've been devouring lately, but I don't think I'll ever get around to writing seperate reviews of each, so here's some (we'll call it Part One) of my top summer reads (in no particular order, except perhaps vaguely in the order I read/can recall them):

1.  Apologize, Apologize by Elizabeth Kelly--I got this at one of the Border's closing sales to read on Martha's Vineyard since the story takes place there.  It was surprisingly tragic (the description makes it sound like a coming-of-age comedy).  A fascinating character study of truly bizarre people.  And the main character even has a brief stint as a suicide hotline counselor...

2.  Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua--A book that was all over the media because it claimed that Asian parenting was somehow superior to Western parenting.  I feel like this may have been what even Chua herself believed she was trying to write, but I think her editors did her a disservice in promoting the book this way.  The tale that unfolds in the narrative is one that is much more humble and honest than the way it came off in the news articles.  First of all, she is trying to recreate in her (incredibly priveledged) upper-middle class American daughters the character building lessons she learned as the daughter of working-class Chinese immigrants by being absolutely nuts about music education.  I don't think it accomplished what she thinks it did.

It ends, as all parenting narratives really should, in uncertainty and doubt.  Ultimately, the reason Chua's parenting works is because she cares so very much about her girls and they know that, not because of any particular techniques she claims. 

3.  Little Bee by Chris Cleave--This is the second book from the highly acclaimed British author.  It's unusual and powerful because it is written in two voices--that of an African refugee nicknamed Little Bee and a British woman whose life becomes inextricably entwined with Little Bee's under the worst of circumstances.  It is exquisite.  It's the most humanizing and heartwrenching tale of what globalization means that I have ever read.

I don't know what else I can say about this book except this:  Read it. be continued.


  1. Do you read all of your material on the Kindle now? I've been using mine since I've been in Korea, but I miss holding a paperback. Also, the second book, do you think it's a worthy read? It's a bit hard to tell what exactly you think of it. Thanks. :)

  2. Glad to hear the test was negative. I have a book I think you'd like. Remind me to loan it to you.

  3. s4h--I am still in the process of decluttering my shelves by reading all the unread books I own in print before delving into the world of kindle. I'm actually making remarkable progress. I own fewer adult books by the week. However, I seem to be replacing them with children's books (mostly gifts), which I am loathe to part with since I want to share my love of reading with my child.

    Eli-Indeed I will. We should Busboys & Poets soon. I will call you.



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