Friday, March 7, 2008

Books of the Week

Since I've been doing such a spectacular job of keeping up with my week in books, I've decided to give myself a break and just pick back up with this and ignore the huge backlog of undocumented weeks. It just wasn't going to happen. And I'm giving up on attaching images of the books; with my computer it was just taking forever and making me dread the whole idea of posting about books. So I'll just limit myself to Amazon links. Go there if you want to see the covers.

One of my favorite recently-finished books were Rick Beyer's The Greatest Presidential Stories Never Told: 100 Tales from History to Astonish, Bewilder, and Stupefy. This was a great lunch-time read - short little snippets of interesting facts that I could set down easily when (note: not if) my lunch break was interrupted by my boss needing something, and I could still easily pick back up where I left off and not struggle to get back involved in the text.

I have definitely learned that some books are not suited for lunchtime reading. It's too noisy, with too many interruptions to read anything requiring much deep thought or brainpower. This book was perfect - two pages to each topic and most of the bits of trivia were new to me. I think I may look for the others of that sort.

My other recent favorite book was Kirby Larson's Hattie Big Sky. The local library system classifies it as a juvenile book, but I think it's more of a young adult work, just without a lot of the swearing, drinking, s*x, etc. of so many contemporary ya books. I sound like a cranky old person, and I don't think I am, but I don't think that a lack of those things automatically makes a book geared for a younger audience. Hattie Big Sky had some difficult themes and a teenaged protagonist, so a teenaged audience doesn't seem unreasonable to me. My ex-librarian-self is coming out I think.

Back to the book itself, it's about a 16-year old orphan (don't get me started on orphans in childrens & young adult fiction) who inherits her uncle's homestead and travels to Eastern Montana to try and prove up on the claim herself. It's set in 1918, and so the homefront during WWI is a theme as is the influenza epidemic. What I found most fascinating is that the author based the story on her own family history; her great grandmother really did homestead alone as a teenager. What an amazing story.

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