Friday, May 17, 2013
One of my favorite books last year also had an orphan train, so I was interested to read more. I need to read some non-fiction on the subject next.
Orphan Train is alternating narrator, alternating time periods. One storyline runs 1920s-40s while the other is present day. It is done really well. Hokey-ness and predictability is at a minimum.
If you're looking for something not too light, but not too tedious, Orphan Train might be the book for you.
Monday, May 13, 2013
I'm slow to criticize because this book must have been a bear to write. I had a hard time keeping track of the main characters. There easily could have been volumes written focusing on a dozen different angles:
-The female scientists who discovered fission in the 30s, who were regarded as assistants and never given their due (including Nobel Prizes).
-The women working in such segmented roles they were stumped as to their purpose; were they making paint? Something with urine? Doing nothing, but on a big scale, to fake out our enemies?
-The social and dating lives of these young women who found independence and a mission.
-The moral and emotional ramifications of discovering you created such a WMD unknowingly. And the healing, forgiveness that has occurred between these women and the people of Japan in the decades since.
-The German scientists who were detained even after VE day because we were concerned about their knowledge getting in the wrong hands.
-Or what about the community of scientists who appealed to President Eisenhower to not use the bomb, but too late.
If you've read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, you'll find The Girls to be very similar. It's science heavy. Like, brain hurting from trying to remember sophomore Chemistry, science heavy. There is also a storyline about workers who were unknowingly exposed to dangerous levels of radiation. Much of which stayed under wraps until President Clinton declassified it.
I tend to romanticize the 1940s. The full midi skirts, the pin curls, the scads of daper, uniformed young men who want to dance the night away. The Girls played in to a bit of that while balancing the realities of the era. Rations, families separated, death. This book was a great example of American enterprise during war time. I'd say a secret like this will never be accomplished again.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
But, the execution was all wrong. The writing was too juvenile or too familiar or too annoying. I still left with many questions, too. And, the ten years was bogus. Not only was it not ever just ten years, but she tells you the whole middle and the conclusion is an afterthought.
Overall, the people profiled were fascinating. Heavy on inspiration, but lacking in execution Hoda-woman.
It's a heavily researched anthropological look at nature and modern children. Exposure, interaction and quality. I'm not as tree huggy as I should be, but I found the premise that children more connected to nature grow to be better stewards of nature interesting.
Beyond that, health and outdoor time are absolutely linked. Obviously. It was a good, in depth look at the reality that screen time and A/C aren't necessarily our friends.
Perhaps my best take-aways were about the importance of unstructured play time in unstructured environments. Turns out, for brain development/creativity/health, not all outside time is created equal. Time off the playground and off the walking path is essential.
I consider myself a fairly laid back mom. Dirt isn't necessarily dirty. Exploring is encouraged. Very few things and places are off limits. This book was a great encouragment and persective on kids, nature and play.
Monday, April 22, 2013
Victoria read it last month and is rightly obsessed; Me too. Rosenstrach is a blogger, but this book stands on its own as a go to cookbook and charming memoir of sorts. Don't read while hungry. Or, do, but be prepared for a fantastic meal. I have already made four things from the book and each one is better than the last.
She divides the book by the different stages of her dinner table adult-hood. Newlyweds, new parenthood and family dinner. I love the ritual of eating dinner around the table and setting the stage for family meals with more than baby talk. However in the cookbook of my life the newlywed section would have featured a lot more cream cheese. Now that we're in new parenthood, Graham is a fantastic eater (or we're just in a sweet spot). He never ate baby food (baby-led weaning-ish) and will happily sit at the table for thirty minutes at meals. Prep time is a different story, but now that tax season is over nearly everything in the book is something I'd try and attempt to master.
I'm over the one and done pinterest cooking. I've probably tried 30 new meals in the last year and there are two that regularly show up in rotation still. They are forgettable. I put a meal (that didn't come to me through a window or from my mom's kitchen) on the table 6.5 times a week- it is about time I start making them better than average and boring, right?
I also didn't expect Dinner to fit in well with a lot of the discussions about Lean In and similar pieces lately. This cookbook really has it all.
Saturday, April 13, 2013
The Dinner was oversold as the European Gone Girl. It is very Gone Girl in that by the end of the book you'll hate every character and lose all faith in mankind. That's about where the comparison end. I enjoyed the whodunit-ness of Gone Girl; The Dinner is more "get to the stinkin' point." Which is probably why I finished it so quickly.
While the plot involves episodes over years, the book itself takes place during one dinner. Adult brothers and their wives discussing (or more accurately, not discussing) something their sons did and what to do about it. It reminded me a lot of Defending Jacob.
A few things I don't understand, that I can share without giving away the book:
-So, if you are a history teacher, well traveled, living in the Netherlands, very interested in WWs I &II, why have you never travelled to Berlin? That just seems so strange to me.
-How do you write a book about brothers, including one seriously disturbed one, without going into any backstory that involves their upbringing or childhood? It's as if the first forty years of their life didn't exist.
-Why did Serge need to be a political candidate? The dilemma would still exist and it was such an unneeded distraction.
-What do main characters Paul and Claire do to make money? Please, someone really tell me.
Regardless of my feelings about this book (blech) I am looking forward to a good nature v. nurture debate at Book Club. Maybe a few "What would you do?" moral dilemmas too. If anyone agrees with the diners, I need a new Book Club.
Friday, April 5, 2013
This week I finally got to read the book. I'm wowed, inspired. Radiating like a Stone is a series of essays and poems about the feminist movement in Wichita in the 1970s. The fight for women to establish their own credit and equal pay, their conflicts working outside of the home and raising enlightened children, the fight for female sports funding and so much more. I learned things that surprised me, like how Wichita was a pilot community for iniatives from national women's groups and that the Women's Studies program at Wichita State (of which I'm a "minor" product) was groundbreaking.
This book will make you proud to be a woman. Also, other feelings too: frustration, disbelief, wonder.
It also makes me proud to be a Wichitan, but that's nothing new. Have a happy, happy Shocker weekend!
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About the Reader
- ginny ellis
- Twenty-something who is blessed beyond measure. I live with my husband, our son Graham and two precocious, but lovable mutts. I like starting a book I know nothing about; sweet discovery. I dislike knowing that I'll never ever be able to finish my 'must read' list. Oh, and I love book recs!