Station Eleven

Reading this book was forgetting where you were sitting reading it.  Everything dropped away.

It was an official book selection for a local library’s One Book, One Town.  That’s how I found it.

This is a reminder of how we are all connected and don’t remind it.  This is a reminder of how fragile society can be, yet rebuild at the same time if given the will of people to survive.

 

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All About the Quetzal

The book is by the late journalist and author Jonathan Evan Maslow and it is titled Bird of Life, Bird of Death.

Mr. Maslow documents his travels for a month through Guatemala during the 1980’s.  I’m surprised I haven’t heard more about this book as Mr. Maslow talks about Guatemala’s past, present up to the 1980’s, and history as well and how all of these relate to the quetzal.

I’ve seen pictures of the quetzal and the quetzal is endangered.  They are beautiful birds and symbols of Guatemala’s past and a symbol for freedom because they cannot live in captivity.  Guatemala also has a very fascinating past as a country.

This book can be for a variety of people and interests.

Hidden Figures

This book is written by Margot Lee Shetterly.

Ms. Shetterly writes a book not only about women but local and national history combined together: how if it weren’t for the geography and history the women she writes about in the book may have never landed where they landed.  Ms. Shetterly writes about four women and their journeys as “human computers” for both NASA’s predecessor and then NASA itself.

All four women had to overcome racial and sexist bias as well as their own personal struggles.  The woman who computed John Glenn’s orbit was referred to as “the girl”.  Her name is Dorothy Vaughn and she helped to keep him alive.

Their strength and determination comes through in the pages and they serve as role models for all young women and women reading their biographies.

This book also gives a lot of “hidden” and unknown US history for those interested,

 

All the Single Ladies (The Extra Woman)

Before picking up this book, I had never heard the name Marjorie Willis and after reading the book, I understood why.  Ms. Hillis is one of those “hidden” historical people that unless you study a particular area and era inside and out, you will never hear of.

I’ve read plenty about the Roaring 20s and the pre-World War II era.  Plenty.  This era of American history fascinates me and in some ways our society today is a lot like it as much as things have changed.  For example, Prohibition is still here except now it is with items such as marijuana and not alcohol.  The effects are similar and at the same time but farther reaching.  This is for another time.  Another example is Wall Street and society was shaken to it’s core again in 2008.  Yet sometimes the question bed, did we really learn?  How much of what we have is still only on paper?

Marjorie Hillis wrote several books, her best known at that time being Live Alone and Like It. Ms. Hillis wrote for the single woman of the 1920’s and managed to sell products, known today as cross-promotion, for major retailers at the same time.  Ms. Hillis managed to ride out the Great Depression and continued writing for many years, even after she married at an older age for the first time.  The author, Joanna Scutts, paraphrases the book and goes into the historical context surrounding Ms. Hillis and her works.

10/10 for helping your mind to bloom.  A must for feminists, Women’s Studies, Jazz Age enthusiasts, and history buffs.

From Here to Eternity

I read Ms. Doughty’s first book Smoke Gets in Your Eyes while on a bus trip three years ago and after a death in the immediate family.  I finished reading From Here to Eternity the same day another immediate family member had been placed in hospice.

I applaud Ms. Doughty for doing what she does and bringing a very tough topic to the forefront with honesty and humor.  Death is part of the life cycle and so is grieving and not enough is given to the ritual of death and grieving.  Ms. Doughty traveled the world to see how other cultures deal with death and it is very different from what we know in the United States.  And then how the United States is influencing other cultures.

A must read.

Review: The City of Brass

Nahri and Ali take us through this magical journey that feels so real you can picture being part of it while reading it.  This is an adult fairy tale and adds dimension to stories from the Middle East.  Hang onto your seat because it also ends like an adult fairy tale, not as you would expect.

I’m glad I found an extra copy.  A must.

Review: The Provincials

This is a book I had been saving for years for the right time to read it and this summer offered the right time.

One curse of English literature and following that track through higher education is that sometimes courses overlap and you never get a chance to read a good variation of what is out there.  You tend to come across a lot of the same works in different contexts.  I read a lot of Faulkner and thereby have helped many clients work through his poetic language and writings. Faulkner becomes synonymous with the American South.

Eli Evans, who wrote this book, came to a local university years ago.  I actually bought a copy of the book, something I rarely do as I rely on the local library for new books, I was so enthralled to meet someone who didn’t mention Faulkner.

Mr. Evans writes about his childhood and growing up in Durham, North Carolina.  There is a brutal honesty in his writing and there is no glossing over.  Mr. Evans intertwines his personal family history with the history of Durham and with the American South.  There aren’t too many books that have their first chapter titled “Tobacco Town Jews” and where the history of cigarettes and cigarette rolling can actually be quite interesting.

10/10 for making your mind bloom.  I wish I had read this sooner.