Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Twilight (Stephanie Meyer)

There's been enough written about this book. It is exactly what one would expect from a book about teenage vampires. It's not bad, but it's not fabulous. It was an enjoyable read and I did think she did a great job of giving voice to her characters. I am looking forward to both the movie and the next book in the series. B

Are We Rome? (Cullen Murphy)

So this book took me a ridiculously long time - I don't know why. It's well written and fairly short... but I guess I've been distracted by fiction - I really have to force myself to read non-fiction, even engaging and light non-fiction like this.

Anyway, the author points out some interesting points of similarity between Rome and the U.S., including dire predictions of how the sky is falling. But, he's also careful to point out the similarities, and he does so in a pretty optimistic way. He points to America's continued ability to reinvent, our creative and perseverance and the progress we've already made with regard to race relations.

The big similarities that struck me had to do with the difficulties of managing an ever expanding empire and how the introduction of money into the political system corrupts. Additionally, while America has terrible levels of social inequality, we do at least seem to be concerned about it. Apparently, in Rome the inequality was even more dramatic, and people really didn't seem to care.

I also thought it was interesting that basically all of the documentation and history in Rome could fit in a 40 X 40 container, which is the same as what is required to store the documents created during three years of (I think) the Kennedy administration.

All in all, I enjoyed it. I'd say probably a B.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Wedding in December (Anita Shreve)

I liked this book. Not my favorite of her books (which is definitely Fortune's Rocks) but still good reading - especially for the plane.

It's about a group of high school friends, reuniting at the inn of one friend to celebrate the wedding of tow of their own who were high school sweethearts, reconnected at their 25 reunion.

This book tackles heavy themes - underage drinking, breast cancer, infidelity, artistic license, 9/11, etc... but it does so in a gentle way. Made me think a lot about my own life, especially when PB and I started dating in high school. Interesting characters and interesting take on what love really is.

Better than some, worse than some - overall a B.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Under Pressure - Carl Honore

Really one of the best parenting books I've read, probably because 1 ) it agrees with me - LOL and 2) it's not a how-to, at least not in the specific sense.

Honore basically contends that child hood has become too rigid, that, in our quest to make our kids successful, we've stopped allowing them to just be kids - kids who are programmed, on their own, without our meddling and intervention - to discover the environement and learn at their own pace.

I am especially taken by his arguments regarding schooling and what we should / shouldn't expect of 5-year olds. We are looking into a local Montessori school for this very reason, though it's not so clear that we can afford it. 

Anyway, well worth the read, especially for those of us who tend to be perfectionists and tend to what our kids to have the best shot at success. A