Saturday, September 05, 2009

itty bitty book babble

It's hopeless. I'm never going to get around to writing individual posts about the books I read on vacation. But since I'm counting most of them for challenges, I feel like I should say something. Even if it's just to say, "Read this book!!!"...because that's definitely how I felt about a few of them. Hadn't realized I went so heavy on the non-fiction. Anyway, in the order I read them:

College-Prep Homeschooling: Your Complete Guide to Homeschooling through High School by David P. Byers, Ph.D. and Chandra Byers.

Since there are nearly as many reasons for homeschooling as there are homeschoolers, no book about homeschooling is going to be perfect in every way for every person. While the authors try not to inject their personal philosophy into this book, it's still there in subtle ways. And their reasons for homeschooling definitely don't align completely with ours. But that's okay. It did mean that certain parts of this book were not as relevant to us as they may be to others. I do think this book has a lot to offer. Both to people who are not sure if homeschooling through the high school years is something they want to attempt and to those who have already made the decision. There are sections on learning styles, on teaching methods, on creating a high school curriculum, and more. Personally, the section that I found most helpful (and honestly, the reason I bought the book to start with) was about preparing for the end. It included things such as keeping transcripts, what to include in a portfolio, and writing course descriptions. Bottom line, while much of the book was about things we already know or things that don't particularly apply to us, I think I got my money's worth from the book, and I will definitely be referring to it from time to time over the next few years.

Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences by Kitty Burns Florey.

You know, this is a case where the title pretty much sums up the book. Jean lent me this book a long time ago, and I decided it was about time I got it read and returned to her. Thanks again, Jean! This really was a fun read. Kitty Burns Florey is quite an engaging writer, and she had me chuckling on many an occasion. However, if you don't know what diagramming sentences really is, if you didn't have to do it in those middle school years, I'm not sure if it would be nearly as entertaining. (Of course, I could be wrong she definitely talks a lot about grammar, and writing in general, as well.) I guess it says something that she has me wanting to relearn some of the intricacies of sentence diagramming and pass it along to the kids, huh?

The Body of Christopher Creed by Carol Plum-Ucci.

Okay, this is one of those books that I really want to say, "Just read it!" This book first came to my attention because of Becky's review. And then when I mentioned I bought it, Renay threatened me with bodily harm if I didn't read it strongly urged me to read it. I glad I took her advice! I actually read this one aloud to Rich while we were traveling. And yes, he loved it as much as I did. In fact, at one point he said, "Damn. I really need to be reading more YA!" :D I'm really struggling here to try to find the words to describe this book. There's mystery. There's family problems. And friend problems. There's stereotypical characters...yeah, to be honest, they really were stereotypical...but dammit, I loved them anyway, probably because they reminded me so much of me and my friends in high school (Torey, our main character, privilege personified, who does a lot of growing; Ali, the cheerleader turned school slut; Bo, the thug with the heart-of-gold he keeps hidden from the general public). I know I've seen people claim that their high school was not clique-ish, and it's not that I don't believe them. But mine was. And this school very much had the feel of my high school (yes, I really can remember back that far ;) ). And though it may sound contradictory, I found the story to be both unique and still a bit predictable. Yes, predictable...but dammit, I still loved it! :D

Death: At Death's Door by Jill Thompson.

This is sort of an offshoot of the book Season of Mists, the fourth book in Neil Gaiman's The Sandman series. In Season of Mists, the Endless come together for a meeting, and then we follow Dream through the events that follow. In this book, Thompson takes a look at what Dream's sister Death, as well as siblings Delirium and Despair, are doing during this time. To be perfectly honest, I had sort of mixed feelings about this. It's not that I didn't enjoy it...I really did. It just doesn't come close to the love I had for Season of Mists. At Death's Door has a much lighter, humorous tone. It was playful and simply didn't have the depth of Season of Mists. But then, it was wasn't meant to. Even as I was reading it, I was trying to figure out how much someone would understand if they hadn't read Season of Mists. I'm not sure I came up with a real answer. I think having read Seasons of Mists would give one a lot more insights. But then again, not having read it would free one from the constant comparing that I couldn't seem to avoid. Oh whatever. I do want to say that the art in this manga-style book totally charmed me!

Normal: Transexual CEOs, Crossdressing Cops, and Hermaphrodites With Attitude by Amy Bloom.

Another one of those books that I just want to scream, "Read this!" I just want everyone to read it, and not just because it is so good, but because I think nearly everyone could learn something from it. I found myself constantly talking with Rich about it as I read. At one point while I was reading the last section, he said, "Yeah, male/female is simply a false dichotomy." But yet it's still such a prevalent notion. We just had to wonder if the intolerance and the hatred could finally be eradicated if people just learn that gender is a continuum. What can I say...I can't stop hoping... Anyway, it's a wonderfully written book, and it's fascinating that it nearly killed me to put it down. Okay, I know this is a total cop-out, but I'm going to direct you to Eva's wonderful review, which is what led me to pick up this book in the first place, because I pretty much think I agreed with her on everything she said. :D

A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge by Josh Neufeld.

In graphic novel form, A.D. tells the story of seven New Orleans residents in the days leading up to, during, and after Hurricane Katrina. Josh Neufeld went to MS after to Katrina to help. I imagine it was impossible to not be changed in some way by that experience. And he was ultimately compelled to bring some of the stories to the world. The people who so graciously shared their stories with Josh Neufeld came from different walks of life, lived in different parts of the city, and chose (or were forced) into different actions in the advent of the hurricane.
While each of these people survived (obviously), most of them experienced a great deal of loss. It rips your heart out to read. And of course, it's overwhelming to think that there are thousands upon thousands upon thousands upon thousands of personal stories that we haven't heard. I bought this book while I was in New Orleans, and Chris bought a copy, too. I imagine our reading experiences will be drastically different. For I will never know, can never know, what it was truly like to be there. To live this. But that is why I think books like this are important. And I think all the people who suffered, in New Orleans and in Biloxi and in Gulfport and in countless other places, all deserve to have someone listen to their stories.

Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic by John De Graaf, David Wann, and Thomas N. Naylor.

Another "Please read this book!" book. The reason I happened to pick it up right now was because I was hoping it would be a good supplemental read during our population and consumption unit for environmental science this coming school year. Well, not only is it perfect for school, it was just a damn good read. My only complaint: while it wasn't actually repetitive, it did at times feel repetitive (if that makes any sense at all). But it was still so very worth the time it took to read it. It's a somewhat humorous look at a very serious subject...our passion for acquisition. It compares our overwhelming consumerism with a disease...discussing symptoms, causes, and treatments. And its approach was one of common sense. It was powerful, but I didn't find it to be preachy. And I do have to say it was motivating...while we're not terribly materialistic people to start with, this book has had me looking for ways to minimize our consumerism. But you can guess where that's leading, huh? Yep...I'm be announcing my new book buying (my biggest weakness!) "sort of" ban tomorrow...and I'm hoping you'll all help keep me in line.

Read more:
C.B. James of Ready When You Are, C.B. (Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog)
Rebecca Reid of Rebecca Reads (Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog)
Becky of Becky's Book Reviews (The Body of Christopher Creed)
Renay of YA Fabulous! (The Body of Christopher Creed)
Amy of My Friend Amy (The Body of Christopher Creed)
Bibliovore of Confessions of a Bibliovore (The Body of Christopher Creed)
Nymeth of Things Mean A Lot (Death: At Death's Door)
Fyrefly of Fyrefly's Book Blog (Death: At Death's Door)
Megan of Working Title (Death: At Death's Door)
Diana Dang at Stop, Drop & Read (Death: At Death's Door)
Eva of A Striped Armchair (Normal)
C.B. James of Ready When You Are, C.B. (Normal)
Kathrin of Secret Dreamworld of a Bookaholic (Affluenza)

--I apologize for any reviews I may have missed. If you've reviewed one of these books, please feel free to leave a link in the comments and I'll add it. Thanks.


christina said...

Normal looks so good. Its been on my radar for quite some time. Oh and the New Orleans GN looks awesome. Can't wait to hear both your review and Chris's!

Staci said...

You reviewed so many good books!!! A friend gave me Christopher Creed so now I feel this urge to get it out and start reading it now!! Normal sounds fascinating. Have you ever read Trans-Sister Radio by Chris Bohjalian? that one is great! New Orleans is one that I must read!!! Great reviews Dear!!!

Renay said...



...or at least let me spam you with mine? >>

Eva said...

I loved this! Too tired to say more than that, lol.

Chris said...

LOL...I don't know who Chris/Torey is yet, but you should definitely write fic with Renay :p

Ok, so I'm going to go down the line here!

Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog: Yuck! LOL...I've always HATED grammar. As you can probably tell by my posts :p Literally, the word "grammar" makes me nauseated. It was just one of those subjects that I had a strong aversion to in school. Hated it! So I probably won't be reading that...but that's ok because I want to read everything else you reviewed Debi!!

Christopher Creed sounds SO GOOD! And I have it here! And I know I should read it, but seriously, do you know how many books I have that I have to read? :/

I can't wait to read Death thanks to you :)

Normal...I need to read that like NOW! I seriously might go pick it up tomorrow because I need to go to the bookstore anyway :p They should have it. I've actually been wanting to read it since Eva's review, but I think it's your thoughts that are going to get the point.

And Affluenza sounds great! Sounds like a book I could use ;) Speaking of, I think I may join you and Nymeth in your bans soon...I really need to do something!!

Chris said...

OMG, I'm sorry for writing a comment as long as your post, LOL.

Vivienne said...

The New Orleans one looks like one I should read. Christopher Creed has my attention now, off to find it on Amazon.

Nymeth said...

I agree with you about Death. Good book, but nowhere near as good as the actual Sandman.

And now I want to read all the others :P

Nymeth said...

Also, Chris' hate for grammar makes me sad :( Poor grammar *hugs it*

I'm not sure if I know what sentence diagramming is, but if it's anything like syntax trees, I'm all over that :D Those are so much fun!

Kailana said...

You read a lot of good stuff!

Chris said...

I'm sorry Nymeth...didn't mean to make you sad :p I swear, I have such an aversion to the word itself that I really think something traumatic must have happened to me as a child. Like I was beaten by big bad grammar or something..seriously...

Bybee said...

Affluenza has been on my to-buy and to-read lists for about 5 or 6 years now.