Thursday, February 22, 2007


The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

It took me a long while to read this book. Like the Life of Pi, it is heady. Many of the other books I’ve read recently have been so as well. Comparitively, the Janet Evanovich novels are fun and soap opera-ish. I much preferred to read those. In fact, I read the second and third installments of the Stephanie Plum novels in the middle of The Namesake. I can’t say if my hesitance to read this book was because of timing or because the book didn’t hold my interest. I’m not sure that I’ll ever be able to tell.

The Namesake is the story of an American born Bangladeshi. Due to a letter from India that was lost in the mail, his parents named him Gogol, after one of the father’s favorite Russian writers. Over time, Gogol grows up and begins to despise his name. He has it legally changed. This change and his attempts to free himself from his parent’s culture are futile. He cannot be happy for long immersed in his American-Indian life or in a more fully American life.

There is a great deal of detail about his parents early marriage and about three of Gogol’s romances. The ending, by comparison, was glossed over and encapsulated in his mother’s final Christmas Eve party for the Bangladeshi family she created for herself in the United States. It seems as though Gogol’s mother and sister finally come to terms with their lives and how their cultural identity helps to form their journeys. Gogol finds a book of his namesake’s writing in his room. The book was given to him by his father. He rescues it from being donated and begins to read the book. Does he begin his journey toward acceptance of his life and what he cannot control? That is the impression given. I’m mostly glad that I’ve not been invited to take that journey with him.

Saturday, February 10, 2007


The Curious Incident of the Dog at Night-Time by Mark Haddon

This book is incredible. It is the story of a high functioning autistic teenage boy who decides to write a book about his attempt to detect who really killed his neighbors dog. The entire book was written from Christopher's perspective. His narration is poignant and is the perfect way to put you in the mind of an autistic person. Christopher does not like to be touched. To show that they love each other, they open their hands like palming a basketball and touch fingertips. When I think of all the time I spend cuddling my children, I can't fathom how big a hole parents must feel in their hearts when they can't be physically affectionate.

It is also interesting to read what non-autistic behavior is interpreted by Christopher. He goes into explanations of white lies and other commonalities of life that will first crack you up and then make you think about what you are subconsciously telling other people.

Christopher gives you full and entirely factual accounts throughout the book. His level of honesty is refreshing and heartbreaking, especially when he is talking about a subject that would tear another child up inside. He just doesn't understand. Is that good? It definitely has an impact on how Christopher looks at the world.

This book is funny, realistic, and thoroughly enjoyable. I did read quickly through the math equations he worked on to calm himself down in uncomfortable situations. Still, it was interesting that there are people for whom working out such problems makes them feel better. I wish that I knew exactly what I needed to do to relax the way that Christopher does. This book should definitely be on your "to read" list if you haven't already done so.
** You can buy my copy of this book. Click on the My Offerings link at the top of the page to access my inventory. **

Wednesday, February 7, 2007


One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

A co-worker of mine asked me if I’ve ever read any of Janet Evanovich’s books. I told her that I hadn’t. She went on and on about how hilarious her books were. The next day, she dropped a huge Barnes & Noble’s bag full of Janet Evanovich’s books at my desk. I really had no intention of reading those books.

This all happened before I started reading Life of Pi. As wonderful as that book was, I didn’t feel like jumping back into anything heavy. “What the heck,” I thought, “It wouldn’t kill me to give it a try.” I don’t typically read detective/mystery books, but after skimming through a few pages I decided that at worst it would be a quick read. I can honestly say that I’m glad that I did.

Stephanie Plum begins working as a bounty hunter because she had been out of work for six months and didn’t have enough left to hawk to make her bills. Stephanie is a sum of Dog the Bounty Hunter and Charles Chaplin. She constantly bumbles but manages to get the guy every time. I was ready to pick up the second book in the series the second I finished.

This book is not insightful or thought provoking. It’s just damn fun. I got interested in the main characters and couldn’t pull myself away from the last few chapters. Still, I don’t feel that these books are books that I have to physically read (if that makes any sense). This book was like a paper equivalent to Guiding Light. A new “guilty” pleasure. One that I can easily enjoy listening to in mp3 format while I’m at work or in the car.

Monday, February 5, 2007


Life of Pi by Yann Martel

I had been excited about reading this book for quite some time. I was worth the wait. I did find the middle two thirds of this book to be slow and boring. Upon finishing it, I’m could be convinced that this was intentional. How slow and boring would it feel to spend 225 days as a castaway in a lifeboat? It is a brilliant book.

Pi’s family is a secular family. Pi himself, on the other hand, is a Hindu, Muslim, Christian. He has incorporated many of the rituals from each tradition. It’s not so much that he is creating his own faith. He actively participates in all three. It feels perfectly natural for him to find God as He reveals Himself to other people. His views on faith, religion, and God are interesting and thought provoking.

I don’t feel that I can really say much about this book without it spoiling it for other readers. This is the story of Pi, a teenaged Indian boy, who is the son of a zookeeper. In order to make a new life for themselves, the family sells off the animals to North American zoos. They travel together with these animals on a boat that has set sail for Canada. There would begin their new life. Unfortunately, the ship sinks quickly. Only, Pi and three of the zoo animals make it on the lifeboat. The remainder of the story details how Pi survived his ordeal. As the book is told in an interview type of style, we was get glimpses of Pi’s life after reaching shore in Mexico.

After completing this book, I know that I will have to read it again at some point. I want to go back and pick up pieces that I missed or misinterpreted. It is a book that I could learn something from with each read.