Monday, May 9, 2011

Monday Memories ~ the "ten-tens"

Some books are more memorable than others.  You know, the kind that stick with you, long after you've closed the book.  I looked over the books I've written about during the four years I've been blogging (I have links on my Bonnie Reviews Books blog) and picked my most memorable 10/10 books, those that I rated 10 out of 10.  These books I've chosen are ones I highly recommend for each category, as labeled.  And of course, I've linked each one back to my original review of the book.  (The eagle-eyed among you may notice a slight discrepancy:  there seems to be a tie in one category.  Blame Kiki.)

10/10 middle grade fiction

The Breadwinner ~ by Deborah Ellis, 2001, YA fiction (Afghanistan), 10/10

How would a family survive under the Taliban if the son is gone and the father has been taken away by men who invaded their home?  Eleven-year-old Parvana knows how to sell items on the streets, because she often went with her father when he did it.  But girls and women are not allowed out of the house alone.  Someone must pose as a boy, and her sister is too old to get by with that.  So Parvana's hair is cut short and she has to dress in her brother's old clothes to become their breadwinner.

10/10 children's picture book

Miss Rumphius ~ by Barbara Cooney, 1982, children's, 10/10

This beautiful book, which won the American Book Sellers National Book Award, passes along the wisdom of a grandfather's philosophy of life.  He told Alice Rumphius that she should not only travel the world and come home to live by the sea, but also to do something in her life to make the world more beautiful.  Little Alice grew up, traveled, and settled by the sea, and what she did to make the world more beautiful was to plant lupines all over the place.  See photos and links to more photos in my review.

10/10 children's picture book

My Cat: The Silliest Cat in the World ~ by Gilles Bachelet, 2004, children's, 10/10

I won't belabor this one, having written about it only a week ago.  I mean, Kiki wrote about it a week ago Caturday.  The guy has a cat, but it isn't.  It's a big gray thing with a trunk.  Kiki thinks it's hilarious.  I love it, too, but not quite as much as I love Miss Rumphius (see above).

10/10 young adult fiction

Mind's Eye ~ by Paul Fleischman, 1999, YA fiction, 10/10

Sixteen-year-old Courtney thinks her life is over when she ends up totally incapacitated and in a room at a nursing home with eighty-eight-year-old Elva and a woman named May, who has dementia.  Elva, however, uses her imagination to take them on a trip to Italy, having Courtney read from a travel book. The two of them even dreamed up men to "go along" with them on their adventure.  Elva's memories of her sister Rose fits right in with my theme of Monday Memories:
Dear Rose.  She was an ideal older sister.  Life was quite inconceivable without her.  Now that she's gone, I find the memories of her coming up unexpectedly, like daffodils you'd forgotten you'd planted. . . . A marvelous memory garden to stroll through. . . .Do you remember the book I gave you yesterday?  It was Rose who invented the sort of journey I'm proposing that you and I take.
10/10 adult fiction

The Art of Racing in the Rain ~ by Garth Stein, 2008, fiction, 10/10

Enzo is a great dog, who happens to be a darned good philosopher.  Okay, that sounds silly, but this feel-good book has a lot more in it than I had expected.  It sounded too cutesy, so I put off getting it, over and over.  Of the 86 books I've read so far this year, this is my favorite.  I sobbed at the end, and Helen tells me (in the comments) that she also sobbed.  What can I say?  Just read it, okay?

10/10 religion

The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions ~ by Karen Armstrong, 2006, religion, 10/10

I was surprised to see that the major world religions emerged more or less around the same time.  The world was a violent place full of hatred, rather like today, and people felt a need for compassion to oppose it.  China produced Confucianism and Daoism (most books spell it Taoism), India produced Hinduism and Buddhism, and Israel was the source of the monotheisms that became Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  The philosophers in Greece came up with philosophical rationalism, which is usually left out of books on religions of the world.  I hope to teach a series of classes based on this book, starting in a few weeks.

10/10 history

Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883 ~ by Simon Winchester, 2003, history, 10/10

My grandmother, born in December 1880, was a toddler when this Indonesian volcano blew up in 1883.  It was one of the most catastrophic ever witnessed in recorded history, with some of the tremendous explosions from the island of Krakatoa being heard 2,200 miles (3,540 kilometers) away in Australia.  Fumes, ashes, and the resulting tsunami killed more than 40,000 people.  When I first heard of the eruption as a youngster, I was fascinated by the image of darkened skies all around the world, making everything red for years.

10/10 women's studies

When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present ~ by Gail Collins, 2009, women's studies, 10/10

I was a newly minted adult in the 1960s, so I remember those days.  One example from my book review will suffice here:
It was 1973 when I was divorced after fourteen years and three children. That's when I learned that HE got "our" good credit rating, while I had NO credit worthiness. I wasn't the only one.
"In 1974 Kathryn Kirshbaum, the mayor of Davenport, Iowa, was told she could not have a BankAmerica card unless she got her husband's signature. Billie Jean King was the winner of three Wimbledon titles in a single year and was supporting her household with the money she made from tennis. But she could not get a credit card unless it was in the name of her husband, a law student with no income" (p. 250).
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Helen's Book Blog said...

As you know, I also loved Breadwinner and the Art of Racing in the Rain. I have When Everything Changed on my Shelf and will get to it someday (this summer?)

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Even though you are too young to remember the early days (the 1960s) in the book, your love of history will make it interesting to you.