I began keeping a reading journal several years before I began blogging. I find it interesting to sift through my thoughts of books that I read back then. My reviews were often brief and contained little substance, but I thought it'd be fun to document them here on my blog as well as share them with you. Here are some of my reviews from 2006:
Nonfiction; 343 pgs
In April of 1960, there were approximately 190 people on death row in the U.S.A. In January of 2006, that number has risen to about 3,700. Mr. Capote’s book, In Cold Blood, is considered one of the most riveting true crime novels ever written. It is the story of two men who brutally murdered a family in the family’s Holcomb, Kansas farmhouse in November of 1959, the investigation and the trial, which eventually led to their deaths by hanging in 1965. Based on interviews with the two murderers and careful research, Mr. Capote’s rendition of the events that took place in the two men’s lives was gripping and heartbreaking. Despite my wanting to see justice served for the nightmarish crimes the two men committed, I could not help but feel sorry for them on some level. Mr. Capote was able to produce empathy for them in the way he told their stories, although not taking away the desire for them to face the consequences of their actions. Mr. Capote’s vivid descriptions of time and place throughout the book brought the story into the here and now. It was well written and definitely worth reading. The book reads like a novel and is even more haunting because the events that took place are true.
Nonfiction/Memoir; 288 pgs
In The Glass Castle, the author, Jeannette Walls, decided to share the story of her childhood, a story she kept secret for many years. She was raised by loving and eccentric parents: an artist/teacher mother and an inventive and alcoholic father. The family constantly struggled with poverty, moving from town to town, avoiding bill collectors, and eventually settled in a small West Virginian town. Jeannette Walls and her siblings had a difficult childhood, scavenging for food, basically taking care of themselves, and fighting off bullies, including sexual predators. This is the story about the Walls’ family’s strength, endurance and love for each other as they struggled to survive, each in their own way. The Glass Castle was a touching memoir and Jeannette Walls is an example of how a “bad” childhood can lead to a good life.
Nonfiction; 263 pgs
I am constantly being asked if I have children, and, when I reply in the negative, the follow-up is generally the question of when. I am surrounded by people with children at work, both new parents and parents anxious to get that last child out of the roost. For most of them, despite the struggle parenthood offers, they say it is worth it—a must have experience for any person. And then there are the couple of people I know who are steadfast in their decision not to have children. In my view, there is nothing wrong with either choice. It’s a very personal one—and certainly not an easy one to make in many instances.
Maybe Baby is a compilation of essays by 28 writers who “tell the truth about skepticism, infertility, baby lust, childlessness, ambivalence, and how they made the biggest decision of their lives.” This book appealed to me because of the subject matter. In a society where more and more women and men are choosing not to have children, there is still a stigma against those who make that choice. And for those who have children, the balancing act of maintaining relationships, juggling a job and finances, and trying to be a good parent create a big challenge and is life changing. One aspect that I found quite interesting was the difference of parenting in other countries and cultures. It makes one wonder if perhaps the American culture itself doesn’t add to the stressors of being a parent today.
I found Maybe Baby to be engrossing, entertaining and thought provoking even despite it not being my typical read. I am still not sure where I stand in regards to whether I want to have a child, but I do know that whatever decision I make will be the right one for me. [As you may know, my husband and I did finally decide we wanted to have a child, and it was the right choice for us. I still stand by my belief that whether to have children or not--and how many--is a personal choice.]
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