Monday, April 24, 2017

So You've Been Publically Shamed

So You've Been Publically Shamed is by Jon Ronson. Wow, what a timely book. Ronson looks at individuals whose careers and lives have been devastated by social media. Some people lost their jobs and families, others committed suicide, and others managed to come out relatively unscathed. Ronson asks the very legitimate question, should we engage in public shaming on social media without having all the facts and with no concern for the ramifications of what we are doing once we hit send? Ronson also looks at the revenge wrought on those who "shamed" someone, as well as the person against whom the original post was directed. While a little dry at times, the book asks questions that need to be addressed. I will certainly think three or four times before posting anything online - and I'm not all that active on social media. This book does not encourage me to change that practice.

Ratings: Adult - 8 out of 10 - P (Profanity) - AC (mature thematic content).

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Bear Went Over the Mountain

The Bear Went Over the Mountain is by William Kotzwinkle. Arthur Bramhall is a professor at the University of Maine, and he's just written a novel called Destiny and Desire which he hopes will be a bestseller. Because his first copy of the novel was destroyed in a fire, he hides it under a tree near his cabin while he goes to town to buy a bottle of champagne to celebrate. Hal Jam is a bear; he steals Arthur's novel and heads to New York where the book does indeed become a best-seller and Hal is vaulted to super stardom. This book is a hilarious farce about a bear who becomes a man and a man who becomes a bear. If you enjoyed Forrest Gump, Hal Jam will delight you. A thoroughly entertaining read.

Ratings: 11th grade - 8 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content).

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Lesser Blessed

The Lesser Blessed is by Richard Van Camp. Larry is a Dogrib teenager living on a reservation in Canada. He was in a terrible accident and lost much of his memory. This book follows his experiences with his mother, her boyfriend, and other teenagers in his community. The novel is full of the horrors of drugs, abuse, and violence that seem to be found on many reservations. Nevertheless, this is a wonderful, but painful ,story of coming of age. As we glimpse Larry's past in snippets throughout the story, we can't help but hurt with and for him. An excellent book!

Ratings: 8 out of 10 - Adult - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content) - V (violence).

Indian Killer

Indian Killer is by Sherman Alexie. A creepy, yet mesmerizing, tale of murder, prejudice, and hatred. John Smith is an Indian who was adopted by white parents as an infant. As he grows up he can't seem to find his place in the white world; his mental illness doesn't help. John, and a variety of beautifully written characters, become involved in the hunt for a serial killer in Seattle who is killing and scalping white people. Dubbed the "Indian Killer" by the police, he/she has created a firestorm of violence that sweeps through the city and engulfs every character in a unique way. A masterfully written book, Alexie does a great job of making you step inside a dark and brooding world.

Ratings: 9 out of 10 - Adult - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content) - V (violence).

Friday, April 7, 2017

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores is by Jen Campbell. An incredibly amusing recitation of just how dumb and inane people can be. Many of these vignettes are alternately laugh-out-loud funny and bury-your-head-in-your-hands embarrassing. Book lovers will thoroughly enjoy this book; it is a fun quick read. It will also make you look around more closely at other people on your next trip to the bookstore.

Ratings: 9th grade - 8 out of 10.

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World

The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World is by Michal Pollan. This fantastic little nonfiction book is about four different plants and how they relate to four of man’s greatest desires: sweetness – the apple; beauty – the tulip; intoxication – marijuana; and control – the potato. Pollan discusses the history of each of these plants and how they have affected human history. He wonders in the book if plants “use” humans to spread their own species and evolve in a way that will assure their own existence. This book is easy to read and thoroughly enjoyable. Pollan makes you stop and think about nature in a completely new and different way.

Ratings: 10th grade - 9 out of 10 - AC (Some mature thematic content).

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Sáanii Dahataał: The Women Are Singing: Poems and Stories

Sáanii Dahataał: The Women Are Singing: Poems and Stories is by Luci Tapahonso. A wonderful book of poems and stories about Tapahonso's life and family in Shiprock, New Mexico. She beautifully intertwines life and death, and aspects of Navajo family, culture, and beliefs. The writings are about simple everyday subjects: raising children, death, family pets, or family interactions; yet they are all beautifully written using both English and the Navajo language. A wonderful book!

Ratings: 10th grade - 9 out of 10.