Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Summer Reading

Thanks cousin Molly for the book reviews (and the idea to do book reviews)!

Here are some books that I've read so far this summer:

The Clue of the Tapping Heels by Carolyn Keene.
I always liked Nancy Drew better than the Hardy Boys mysteries.  One thing I've noticed about Nancy is that she has such great friends.  They're always willing to get into scrapes with her.  I am constantly feeling sorry for her housekeeper though - that poor woman gets so worried whenever Nancy is kidnapped or falls into a hole or when her car breaks down and she wanders up to strange houses to ask for help.  On one hand Nancy seems to have so much common sense, but on the other hand, there is always a point in the story when you're thinking, "Okay Nancy, this is a TERRIBLE idea, do NOT investigate that hidden passageway!!"

Anyway, this story involves Morse code and tapdancing (great combo in my opinion), stray cats, a recluse, weird tapping sounds emanating from an unknown location in an old house, and a trip to New York City.  Unfortunately, I will never know what that tapping sound was because my book became overdue and I had to hot foot it to the library to return it.  Mystery remains unsolved.

Seriously...I'm Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres
This is the third book by actor-comedian-talk show host Ellen, but the first that I've read.  The book was a super-easy read, with really really short chapters.  She writes just like she talks, so you can definitely hear her voice.  I liked it because it was light and easy reading, perfect for between innings at James' baseball games, and several parts made me laugh.  I did wonder if any of her other books were a little more serious or biographical -- I'm kind of interested in her life growing up.  Other than that, I think it's a fun little book that I finished in one game!

You Don't Look Like Anyone I Know by Heather Sellers
This is by far the most interesting book I've read this summer.  Heather writes about face-blindness, a real condition that she (and many other people) suffer from.  She cannot recognize a person by their faces.  Even people in her own family.  In order to recognize a person, she uses context clues - distinctive ears or hair, voice, location and dress (but it's bad if you're wearing a hat one minute and then take it off the next time she glances at you).  It was fascinating to read about her upbringing (a very bizarre family situation that she believed was normal until later in life).  Heather did not become diagnosed until middle age, and so up until that point people were always getting upset with her for not recognizing them.  She was starting to wonder if she had some type of mental illness.

I really liked this book, one reason being that she lives and works in my state -- at least at the time of publication she was a professor at Hope College in Michigan.  Her story is so compelling even without the face-blindness.  Her mom was probably schizophrenic and her dad was an alcoholic -- and yet she emerged from all of that difficulty as a successful teacher and writer.  The face-blindness may or may not have been a result of some of the things that happened in her childhood, but the combination of all that going on in her life was just an amazing thing to survive.  This is my favorite book of the summer so far.

The Pursuit of Happyness by Quincy Troupe/Chris Gardner
I checked this book out because I saw the movie a while back.  Will Smith was very good as Chris Gardner - and the story was just heart-breaking and wonderful at the same time.  I haven't finished the book yet, but I'm sticking with it.  So far, almost the whole first half is about his childhood - it hasn't even gotten to the part that the movie depicts (as a young father).  His upbringing is by all sorts of random family members because his mother gets sent to prison and his stepfather is incredibly abusive and awful.  I'm starting to get to the point where I want it to move on, because I know the story is about his struggle to remain a father to his son in the very worst circumstances, and how he never gives up.  There is some harsh language in the book and a couple of "scenes" that wouldn't make it suitable for children to read (or me to read either but I'm "glossing" as well as I can).  My review is...well I can't really recommend it yet.  It's very very interesting, but so far it's a LOT of background information.  Maybe it's because I watched the movie first that I keep anticipating when the book is really going to begin.

Anybody want to recommend a book for me to read this summer?  I just sent All Over But the Shoutin' to my dad on his Kindle for Father's Day.  It's a great story!  And of course, if you haven't read Bloom by New York Times Best Selling Author (and my cousin) Kelle Hampton, then you're missing out!  It's such a great book!! :-)

I don't have a Kindle, but I have a library card!  Tell me your favorite book!



Brian Miller said...

morse code and tap dancing...why did i not think of that...smiles....

mrc-w said...

Yay! Book reviews! :)
That book about face-blindness sounds so interesting!

Okay, for book suggestions...where do I start? Haha, well here are a couple that I have read over and over:

-The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
-Otherwise Known as Sally the Great by Judy Blume
-The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

I know they're all "kid" books, but they're still good!

Kulio said...

Oh yeah, thanks! Kid books are kind of my favorite :-)

I read The Little Prince in French in college, but I was kind of horrible at French at the time so I don't think I really got it, ha. I'm writing these down, maybe I'll take them to camp!