What We're Reading in July, 2016
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Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canadians and fellow book-lovers everywhere.
Betty is one of my favorite authors and she wrote so few books that I re-read this one about her life with her daughters and second husband on Vashon Island in Washington state at the end of WWII. She is funny and smart and has the same problems we have with our children even in different time periods. My favorite book of hers was The Plague and I and talked about her time with TB. She is best known for her book The Egg and I which was made into a film and covered her first marriage while living on a farm. And how can I forget her children's series about Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle which I loved as a child.
For non-fiction print (actually a library ebook download), I'm reading The White Road (link issue) by Edmund de Waal, story of porcelain through the ages. The travel narrative and manufacturing aspects are fine, but I'm getting bogged down and skimming through the historical details. (ended up bailing on it)
by Carla Birnberg and Roni Noone
This book deals with healthy living, watching what you eat and exercising without giving up after a few days. They have lots of suggestions and there is even an online community to help you keep up your healthy objectives on your own terms. I thought the ideas of what to do were great and the small changes are easy for anyone to do.
by Alison Bechdel
Cartoonist Alison Bechdel who chronicled her relationship with her father, takes on her relationship with her mother in this graphic novel. Bechdel has a tumultuous relationship with both parents but her father had died before she wrote Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. However, as we find in this book her mother is still alive and her dread in showing this book to her mother is a big part of this book along with her relationships with her lovers and therapists. As Bechdel deals with her psychological issues with her mother, she also writes about the history of the psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott who she is studying to get a grip on her issues. Not an easy read. Uncomfortable subject matter but interesting. I liked Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic better because the story line flowed better for me. This has a lot of psychological discussion and the story line breaks when she discusses Winnicott which is somewhat distracting but this is an amazing and brave book and kudos to her for writing it.
Doughty has had a fascination and dread of death since an early age, witnessing another child's death by falling. Not happy with the funeral industry she works in, she gives a nuts and bolts view of the processes and dreams of changing it. Her reflections on our society allowing strangers to take over those final rituals and substitute others are thoughtful. I plan to check out her Order of the Good Death death acceptance collective.
Robert Graysmith writes an intriguing true life story that centers around the movie Psycho, especially Marli Renfro, the body double for Janet Leigh in Psycho, Sonny Busch, the killer of elderly women in California in the 1960's and the changing morality of the country at that time including the rise of Playboy, the sex industry and gambling. This was hard to put down and my only complaint was that times he was a bit wordy but it was still worth reading.
Much Laughter, a Few Tears: Memoirs of a Woman's Friendship With Betty Macdonald and Her Family
by Blanche Caffiere
I love Betty MacDonald, author of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and The Egg and I and have read a lot of her books years ago but now with the internet I have been able to find more books about her and this book was about her and her friendship with the author. I thought this book would be just so-so but I really enjoyed this book, it was well written and a fast read. This is not just about MacDonald, Caffiere talks about her life, her family and life in Washington State. It was also a peek to what life was like during and after the depression and before TVs and computers. This book was not readily available at a lot of libraries but thank goodness for inter-library loan-I got this from a state 1400 miles away but it is also available to buy online.
Almost finished with Walking Through Walls, which is largely a biography of the author's fascinating dad, told from the son's point of view.
I just finished The Lost Tribe of Coney Island and it was quite an eye-opener. This American doctor decides to import some Filipino natives and exhibit them at the fair! It was bizarre and fascinating.