Skip to main content

Books I

Let's start with literature. Lately, I've been re-reading some classic books from my childhood--just for shits and giggles, you know. See if they still hold up now. So many things don't, you know. So many things you like as a kid seem really stupid when you get older. However, I do have a couple books that stand up to the test of time:

1. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. This was my favorite book from first through fifth grades. I did a book report on it every year (and by "did a book report" I don't mean turned in the same book report five times. I wrote new and increasingly complex reports every year. The only reason my fifth grade teacher caught on was because she was looking at the book and noticed on the sign-out card that I was the only one to have ever signed it out, and I'd signed it out six times in five years.) It's a mystery, and I think the indicated reading level is about fourth or fifth grade, but it still holds up now, since as an adult, I can read into it motives and between-the-lines commentary that I would never have noticed as a child. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a quick, funny, interesting read. The movie, Get A Clue! is not so good, though is notable for an appearance by the very attractive Shane West as a blond, stuttering computer-genius in a wheelchair.

2. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. This book--about Milo, a boy who was always bored and never interested in anything--is a fantastic journey through the Lands of Wisdom. It's an allegory (at least I believe that's the world that I'm looking for) about being observant, taking joy in learning, and enjoying every day to its fullest. While probably best for a young audience, I know that reading it reminded me not to be so jaded and cynical. The animated film is pretty good, though tough to find.

3. Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli. This one doesn't stand up so well to the test of time. Aside from being totally unbelievable, the message (a good message, mind you, about not being prejudiced and about what makes a family and such) kind of whacks you over the head. I remember when I first read it, I thought of Maniac as some kind of romantic hero (I was, like, nine. What do you want from me?) but now he seems WAY too good to be true. There are still parts I enjoy (the house of two toasters and young Jeffrey's subsequent break-down, Cobble's Knot, the baby buffalo) but this one should probably be left to the younger set. There was some talk about making a film of this one, starring Elijah Wood, but it never came about.


Popular posts from this blog

CR3 # 17: Mount Misery by Samuel Shem

Mount Misery is the sequel to Samuel Shem's first book, House of God (review here). It follows Dr. Roy Basch as he leaves the House of God and moves to psychiatric hospital Mount Misery to begin his psychiatric residency. Unfortunately, it turns out that psychiatrists are just as crazy, confused, and often detrimental as medical doctors. As Dr. Basch cycles through the various sectors of the hospital (talk therapy, admissions, Freudian Analysis, drug therapy) he is horrified to discover that it seems everything he is being taught is not only wrong, but potentially dangerous. He begins to fall into terrible patterns of behavior, mirroring the problems his patients are having. Each area is worse than the last, with one doctor who thinks the best way to treat is to be aggressively hostile, one who cares only about insurance premiums and efficiency, one who treats with silence and "regression," and one who thinks the only viable treatment is to pump every patient full of exp…

CBR9 #5 Borgin Keep by Ron Ripley

I've read the entire Berkeley Street series, as well as the Haunted series, and I think this was definitely one of the better offerings. This time, former Marine Shane and his slowly growing band of willing (and unwilling) ghost hunting allies face their biggest challenge yet. While the ghosts of Borgin Keep are both very dangerous and very evil, Shane also must keep one step ahead of The Watchers, a ruthless and powerful organization who find him to be a threat to their shadowy goals.

As always, for me the best part are the characters. Shane and his ghost-hunting partner Frank (a former soldier/former monk) are joined once again by police detective Marie LaFontaine, who is a very tough woman determined to avenge a dead friend. I'm not as fond of Shane's girlfriend Courtney, but I understand her uses as far as character development.

The plot moves along quickly, and I found this book a little better fleshed out than a few of the previous ones in the series -- while I enjoye…

CBR9 #3: Missing Wives, Missing Lives by JJ Slate

There's a lot of discussion these days about things that are dangerous to women--is it heart disease? Is it stress? Car accidents? Drugs? Serial killers? Trans women in bathrooms?--but it seems like one of the biggest hazards to women are the men in their lives.

This book details the cases of thirty women who vanished. Stretching back to 1976, and with cases as recent as 2007, the women featured in this book seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth, never to be seen again. For some, the legal system was able to prove a case against the men in their lives, but for others, the search for justice may never be resolved.

The amazing thing to me was the stories that the husbands gave upon their wives' disappearances. "So, you had a fight, and she just left the house--at 3am. In her pajamas. Barefoot. Without her purse, or her glasses, or her car, or her TEETH? Leaving her small dependent children behind. And you decided to say nothing for three weeks? And while she was gon…