Book 7: Velocity

Dean Koontz is about the only horror author that I read. Although his books are utterly terrifying, they are not cynical or devoid of human goodness and beauty. In Velocity, Koontz’s protagonist is put in the harrowing position of having to make choices about who lives and who dies. Throughout this trial, he is simultaneously caring for and trying to protect his financee, who has been in a coma for several years.

The last line is a perfect example of Koontz’s ultimate idealism and hope: “What will happen will happen. There is time for miracles until there is no more time, but time has no end.”

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Book 6: One for the Money

I read One for the Money because I know a lot of people really love Janet Evanovich, and I’m so far behind in my reading goal that I needed some quick reads. To be honest, I wasn’t that enthralled. I found the main character annoying, a lot of really icky characters and situations, and the whole scenario (ex-lingerie-shop-girl turns tough-as-nails bounty hunter) completely implausible. It’s not that reading Dickens and Austen has turned me into a complete book snob — I do love some twaddle. I just greatly prefer my nice coffeehouse mysteries.

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Book 5: The Invisible Man

I read The Invisible Man aloud to my 14-year-old, and we both loved it. The story is chilling, especially as we experience the rages of the invisible man — things flying through the air, grass parting as he chases down his quarry. What causes these rages? The invisibility that he thinks will give him such an advantage proves to be impossible to handle, and this drives him mad. But it seems he may have been close to madness before. He was an albino man, and may have already been somewhat cut off from society. Perhaps his appearance is what made him seek out invisibility in the first place.

This was a thrilling book that also offered lots to talk about with my teenager about invisibility in our society, and what drives people to commit the acts they do.

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Book 4: Parents, Teens, and Boundaries

I haven’t found very many books on parenting teens, but Parents, Teens, and Boundaries by Jane Bluestein may be the only one I’ll ever need. This book really meshes well with the attachment parenting/gentle parenting I embraced when my kids were young. I’ve been a little bit lost trying to figure out how that philosophy should play out with older kids, but this book, while not calling it by those names, describes what I see as being respectful, gentle parenting. It talks about letting go of your kids, not letting their problems become your problems, being a guide and mentor while allowing our kids to make mistakes. Above all, it’s about building up your relationship with your kids without tearing them down. Very easy to read with short chapters and questions at the end of each to help you think about ways you can put the excellent advice into practice at home.

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Bleak House read-along

I am unofficially joining this read-along at Unputdownables. I’m reading Dickens this year, and this is definitely on my list. I don’t want to sign up officially, because I’m not sure how great I’ll be at blogging weekly. But I would like to read what other people have to say, and I like having weekly goals.

At the moment I’m reading the e-book at Project Gutenberg. I am really grateful for this site, as it makes books available at a moment’s notice, and when I decided I wanted to participate in this read-along, I didn’t want to wait for the library to open tomorrow to get started. However, I am going to try and pick up a copy at the library so I can have one to drag along with me wherever I go. I really need to get a Kindle or a Nook.

Ah, I changed my mind. I think I am going to officially sign up. We’ll see how I do!

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Book 3: What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures

What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures is a compilation of essays that Malcolm Gladwell wrote for The New Yorker. Gladwell is full of fascinating facts, but along with that he is a wonderful storyteller. In this book, he explores such questions as why there are many different varieties of mustard but really only one ketchup, the history of hair dye and the womens’ movement, and why mammography may not be as reliable as we want to think it is. His chapter on Cesar Millan’s work with dogs had fascinating information about body language and inspired my husband and me to start watching The Dog Whisperer. It has become one of our favorite shows. The chapter on birth control and how we think about it was very enlightening.

If for no other reason, I’m glad I picked up this book for the chapter on “late bloomers.” Being in my 40s and just now realizing that I have more potential than I ever dreamed, it was encouraging and inspiring to read about other people who didn’t find success until their 50s or even 60s. I’ve always been interested in writing, and especially in music, and yet I’ve never felt like I’m good enough to really do anything with it. Reading about artist Cezanne and how he never felt good enough until he was much older made me think that my success could still be ahead of me. Maybe I wasn’t good enough in my 20s, but that doesn’t mean I’ll never be good enough. As Gladwell puts it, “The Cezannes of the world bloom late not as a result of some defect in character, or distraction, or lack of ambition, but because the kind of creativity that proceeds through trial and error necessarily takes a long time to come to fruition.”

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Cannery Row and Understood Betsy.

I have finally finished some books for 2012! I have others in progress, and many that I’ve started and given up. I don’t know what my problem is this year!

Book #1 isCannery Row, by John Steinbeck. It is really a series of stories about a community of people whose lives intertwine. These are people who who struggle with loneliness, vices, and poverty but who are never in despair. The situations and characters are humorous and very, very human. In spite of the poverty and issues such as alcoholism and prostitution, this book is not nearly as bleak as some of Steinbeck’s other works.

Book #2 is Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher. I read this to my daughter, who is the same age as Betsy was in the story. Betsy is a wonderful role model, who at the beginning of the story is unsure of herself and is never allowed to do anything by her nervous aunts but by the end has figured out that she can do more than she ever dreamed. Betsy is strong, resourceful, courageous and kind. A wonderful read-aloud for a 9- or 10-year-old girl.

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