Autobiographical comics about Gregory's travels, from road trips through Oregon to weeks in Spain and Portugal as the guest of an arts festival.
Why I picked it up: Gregory was a legend in underground comix and she is still going strong. She's embracing new publishing technology, too: this book was printed and bound by the Espresso Book Machine at Third Place Books!
Why I finished it: Her chapter on her trips on Amtrak perfectly captured everything I loved about my first long-distance train trip last winter: amazing scenery, hundreds of towns flitting by your window, great food, and the relaxed arrival. I think I'll be showing people her drawings to explain how roomettes work!
I'd give it to: Jean, because she visits European cities with huge comics festivals, comics archives, and great comic shops and book stores between amazing scenery and mouth-watering meals. It's better than any tour guide!
The delightful third book in the multimillion-copy internationally bestselling series.
First he tackled happiness. Then he took on love. And now Hector, our endearing young French psychiatrist, confronts the persistent march of time. As time flies, so does Hector in his latest adventure, traveling around the world and charming us with his inimitable blend of open-minded inquiry and subtle wit as he journeys to understand the past, the future, and how best to enjoy the present.
Acclaim for Hector and the Search for Happiness:
“Utterly charming....Fans of Eat, Pray, Love and The Elegance of the Hedgehog won’t want to miss this gem of a book.” — BookPage
Christian Hosoi was Tony Hawk’s biggest rival. His was known for his flair and style, while Hawk was a master of technical precision and inventive tricks. Hosoi’s unorthodox father was the manager of the famous Marina Del Rey skate park and Hosoi quit school at an early age. He practiced with a vengeance and was soon pictured in Transworld SKATEboarding and Thrasher, sometimes performing his signature move, Christ Air.
His drug use caused many of his friends to worry about him. Hosoi graduated from marijuana to heavier drugs and sometimes stayed up using for days at a time. He considered himself functional. He was finally arrested at the Honolulu airport for transporting drugs, earning a ten-year incarceration. In jail, Hosoi became a Christian and dramatically changed his life.
He is now a pastor for skate punks in California.
Why I picked it up: Christian Hosoi was the man when I was a teenager.
Why I finished it: I almost didn’t. Hosoi comes across as very arrogant and conceited in the beginning of the book, talking about how he never had to pay for food at restaurants, how he partied every night, was on the VIP list at every hotspot, and won skate contests despite his drug use. But then it became clear that he was showing how he felt at that time, not how he feels about it looking back. The last quarter of the book covers his fall from grace when his addictions finally overtook him.
I'd give it to: Greg, my friend from high school, who would like the quotes from contemporaries of Christian Hosoi that pepper the book, often contrasting Hosoi’s memory of a special occasion. Christian was helping skater Jeff Grosso. After giving him advice on how to overcome his addictions, Grosso replied, "Look, you're a junkie just like me, only on a different drug."
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Unlikely Friendships is a phenomenon. It’s a runaway New York Times bestseller with more than 260,000 copies in print in less than half a year; a book with its compelling message of hope and friendship and differences overcome. Temple Grandin called it “. . . amazing. It shows the power of friendship.”
Now Unlikely Friendships is rewritten for younger readers: Unlikely Friendships for Kids, a series of hardcover chapter books for children, ages seven and up. Here are three collections each with five of the clearest, most interesting stories from the original book, like the monkey and the dove or the leopard and the cow. Chapter books give young readers a strong sense of accomplishment, and these heartwarming animal stories, with their incredible photographs and inexplicable mysteries of attraction, their focus on friendship, love, and the ways that creatures of all different species can find common bonds of affection, will keep kids turning the pages to find out about the unusual ways animals help each other and discover the love of new friends.
Each is a perfect gift for young animal lovers, and a lovely subject to help kids get reading.
House lived in Saudi Arabia for over thirty-five years as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal. In that time, she gained quite an understanding of and appreciation for the Saudi people. As the events of the Arab Spring play out, many are wondering whether the al Saud family, which has been ruling Saudi Arabia for over 100 years, can hang on to power.
The al Saud method of retaining leadership is to partner with the religious establishment to quell religious and social unrest, as well as papering over any discontent with reams of oil money. So far it has worked, but House suggests that the group of sickly seventy-year-old princes who are in line to rule do not have the ability to radically remake Saudi society and solve the problems (youth unemployment, corruption, stultifying social and religious rules) which are causing anger among the young.
Why I picked it up: There is always lots of news coming out of Saudi Arabia about religious extremism, Mecca, and oil, yet I knew very little about the country and the al Saud family.
Why I finished it: There are over 7,000 princes in the country, most of whom have government sinecures. House traces the history of the al Saud family beginning with its founding hundreds of years ago. The key member is Abdul Aziz, who, in 1902, conquered his enemies and set himself up as ruler of Saudi Arabia thirty years before oil was found. He literally used to carry all his wealth around with him in a banded treasure chest, from which he would pass out gifts to his followers. He lived simply and followed the dictates of Islam about equality for all and caring for the poor. But his descendants, drowning in oil money, have palaces which take up entire city blocks.
I'd give it to: Stan, who would enjoy the parallels drawn between the Saudi regime's kowtowing to religious extremists and the Republican party bowing to the religious right.
"Larson is a marvelous writer...superb at creating characters with a few short strokes."-New York Times Book Review
Erik Larson has been widely acclaimed as a master of narrative non-fiction, and in his new book, the bestselling author of Devil in the White City turns his hand to a remarkable story set during Hitler's rise to power.
The time is 1933, the place, Berlin, when William E. Dodd becomes America's first ambassador to Hitler's Germany in a year that proved to be a turning point in history.
A mild-mannered professor from Chicago, Dodd brings along his wife, son, and flamboyant daughter, Martha. At first Martha is entranced by the parties and pomp, and the handsome young men of the Third Reich with their infectious enthusiasm for restoring Germany to a position of world prominence. Enamored of the "New Germany," she has one affair after another, including with the suprisingly honorable first chief of the Gestapo, Rudolf Diels. But as evidence of Jewish persecution mounts, confirmed by chilling first-person testimony, her father telegraphs his concerns to a largely indifferent State Department back home. Dodd watches with alarm as Jews are attacked, the press is censored, and drafts of frightening new laws begin to circulate. As that first year unfolds and the shadows deepen, the Dodds experience days full of excitement, intrigue, romance-and ultimately, horror, when a climactic spasm of violence and murder reveals Hitler's true character and ruthless ambition.
Suffused with the tense atmosphere of the period, and with unforgettable portraits of the bizarre and the expectedly charming-yet wholly sinister-Goebbels, In the Garden of Beasts lends a stunning, eyewitness perspective on events as they unfold in real time, revealing an era of surprising nuance and complexity. The result is a dazzling, addictively readable work that speaks volumes about why the world did not recognize the grave threat posed by Hitler until Berlin, and Europe, were awash in blood and terror.
After an incident involving walking on hot coals, Alex finds himself on a slightly different cruise than the one he started on. Some things are very similar, some are quite different. The strangest is that everyone seems to recognize him but calls him by a different last name. And just as he's getting used to the upsides -- Margrethe the stewardess is very friendly -- the world changes on him again. And then again.
Why I picked it up: I love a good alternate universe novel, and Heinlein is one of my all-time favorites. This book came out just when I was getting tired of his Future History series.
Why I finished it: I love it when a story full of big ideas focuses on the day-to-day. Alex and Margrethe keep finding themselves in new worlds, each different from the rest, but we only get tantalizing glimpses because their main goal is finding a place to sleep and a new job. That's commendably lazy writing that really serves the story. It stands in contrast to The Number of The Beast, Heinlein's other world-hopping novel, by keeping the focus on the characters and their sweet relationship, rather than the technology and the physics and the sex.
I'd give it to: Kelly, my physical therapist. We often talk religion while she’s helping me repair whatever damage I've done to myself. She's as fascinated by my atheism as I am by her Christianity, and it would be fun to explore the religious themes that emerge as Alex and Margrethe start to question why they are being put through so many trials.
It’s 1934, a sunny mid-summer day in Chicago where the second annual East-West Negro League All-Star Game is about to begin. The game’s play-by-play is recreated in witty, flowing verse and gorgeous pencil artwork. Commercials and fan banter are included.
Why I picked it up: Gene brought me a box of books, and this one jumped out at me. I am a huge fan of the history of baseball. I did a report in junior high on the negro leagues, so this is right up my alley.
Why I finished it: I got to see all the stars, including Satchel Paige and Cool Papa Bell, play their most important game, pitch-by-pitch. Radio commercials and fan conversations provided a revealing glimpse into the social history of the era. This is a historical book every baseball fan should experience. You can smell the hot dogs and the grass.
I'd give it to: Josh, baseball star and fanatic. He probably has no idea there were stars like Josh Gibson, catcher for the Pittsburgh Crawfords, who was known as the “Black Babe Ruth.” Gibson hit sixty-nine home runs in one year and batted over .500 multiple times. I think this will open a new window in his baseball world.
Geoffry Canada and his three brothers were raised in poor, inner-city neighborhoods by their dedicated, hard-working mother. He grew up surrounded by violence and the threat of violence. On his block, Canada had to fight his way into the pecking order, and was even forced to take on friends if older boys ordered it. This toughened him up to survive at school and around New York as the level of violence on the streets escalated.
Why I picked it up: I recognized Canada from this Fresh Air interview.
Why I finished it: I fought a few times when I was a kid, but Canada’s childhood, with the nearly constant threat of violence, made me feel like my few fights were almost school-sanctioned sporting events. As he started carrying weapons and stopped avoiding conflicts, I became very worried about what was going to happen to him.
I'd give it to: Vicki, who wants to turn from school administrator to community activist in the next few years. She’s tough, but she grew up in a very sheltered environment, and she needs the insights this book provides into kids as well as the work Canada is now doing with the Harlem Children’s Zone.
Fisher is a middle school scientific genius who is often harassed by a gang of boys. He makes a clone of himself so that he'll have time to work on his experiments. The clone turns out to be less timid than he is, and becomes one of the most popular kids in school. He even fights back against the gang.
Why I picked it up: I was bored during my dad's guitar lesson, and this was all there was to read.
Why I finished it: Things get exciting when Fisher's clone is captured by Dr. Xander, who is trying to copy the cloning process.
I'd give it to: My mom, who would really enjoy Fisher's cute flying pig (his mom made it).
Picture book about a rabbit who can only say one thing, “Poo bum.”
Why I picked it up: I read this article.
Why I finished it: The rabbit is extremely goofy looking, wide-eyed with a huge space between his teeth. The drawings are very simple, but have a lot of texture.
I'd give it to: Sophie, who would like that the green wolf takes on the rabbit’s verbal habit after making a meal of him.