Sunday, January 2, 2011

Reading Log for December, 2010

Good reading month - one of the best books I've read in a loooonnnng time - Extraordinary, Ordinary People by Condoleezza Rice. 
 This was truly a great book.  She told the story of her family - ordinary people, many of them teachers or pastors, middle-class folks.  She was born and lived the first part of her life (until high school) in Birmingham, Alabama.  She was there during segregation, and recounts the effects.  I will be honest, since that was before I was born, and let's face it, I'm not black, I have never really thought about it on a personal level.  Condi tells about how she was brought up in a protected environment, her family and neighbors segregated themselves as well, and taught their children to excel - that they had to do everything twice as good, just to be acceptable.  It is mindboggling to think of the Secretary of State not being allowed to use certain restrooms or eat a hamburger in a city in the United States.  This book really changed how I look at things like affirmative action.  Can you imagine that Bull Conner closed all the public swimming pools in Birmingham, instead of allowing African-Americans to use them?  Condi simply tells the story of how they lived, how her parents sacrificed so much for her to be educated and have opportunities.  The book goes up to December, 2000, when her father died (her mother had died several years before).  At first I thought that was a shame, because I wanted to read about her time in the Bush administration, but that is probably a different book.  This is about her parents and her family - extraordinary people.
And, for the rest of the list:

197. An Expert In Murder: A Josephine Tey Mystery – 3.5 – Nicola Upson – no where near as good as I was expecting – so much detail about the various characters’ lives, and way too much coincidence for me.

98. The Relaxed Home Schooler – 4– Mary Hood, Ph.D. – a nice, short book, extolling the virtues of relaxed homeschooling, and unschooling. Made me feel better.

99. Decision Points – 4.5 – George W. Bush – very good, much better than I expected. I felt like I really got to know him. He discussed his decions that had to be made, starting with his decision to marry Laura and to quit drinking. He did not go into huge detail about his extended family (I hate autobiographies that start 4 generations back in the Old Country) but discussed his parents and how he was raised. You could really feel the love and admiration he has for his parents. The book was fairly fast-paced. He explained how he made all his major decisions as President, where he got his information and what were deciding factors for him. He noted where he made mistakes and his regrets, yet did not blame anyone else. Definitely not a critical, tell-all book. If you are looking for dishes of dirt on Washington, this is NOT the book for you.

100. Death of a Glutton – 4.5 – M.C. Beaton – more fun with Hamish. A pretty good one.

101. Death of a Travelling Man – 4.75 – M.C. Beaton – one of the better Hamish mysteries.

102. The Wolves of Andover – 4 – Kathleen Kent – I originally gave this a 5, as it was fast-paced and a real page turner. But then I thought about it some more. The book was not as good as The Heretic’s Daughter. What made it so fascinating? I hate to admit it – the book was full of vulgar characters, and gruesome details of death and torture. So, if I were to take out all the “lurid” details, would the story still stand? Not really. The background story (Thomas Carrier is Thomas Morgan, the man who is rumored to be the executioner of King Charles I) is still interesting, but the characters were never really fleshed out in my mind – just their darker sides. So, I have to take it off the list of favorites of the year. Because of the violence and crudeness, I probably would not recommend it to most of my friends.

103. Queen of the Castle: 52 weeks of encouragement for the uninspired, domestically challenged or just plain tired homemaker – 4.5 – Lynn Bowen Walker – a weekly devotional, covering topics like housework, schedules, holidays, family vacations, etc. I tried to read it every Sunday morning. Lots of encouragement, some chocolate recipes, done from a Christian perspective. I am going to read it again this year, too.

104. Extraordinary, Ordinary People – 5 – Condoleezza Rice - see review above

And that is it!  I don't have any real reading goals, other than to try to read a good mix, not waste my time on anything I am not enjoying, and I do try to hit 100.

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