Sunday, March 14, 2010

New crayons ~ and what's new on my bookshelves

When I was a kid, I loved getting a new box of crayons. Not only were they sharp instead of dull, but they also smelled so good! Following the lead of Susan at Color Online, here's a photo of my new crayons, along with what's new on my bookshelves this week.  Note:  Susan has in mind a weekly thing, where we are to report each week what books we've gotten from the library or a bookstore or on trade.  I intend to add "or borrowed or as gifts" to the list, and I don't promise a weekly accounting.  Books go in and out of my house on an almost daily basis, like the one I bought a couple of days ago while book shopping with my friend -- which I let her borrow that same day.

That book, which she is reading first, is The Wives of Henry Oades by Johanna Moran.  We both need to read it by April 12th for our book club meeting.  She was ready to start reading it, and I wasn't.  I'm looking forward to this one.  It's about a husband who takes his wife and children from England to New Zealand, even though she doesn't really want to go (he didn't ask her before he committed to a job there).  There's a Maori uprising, their house is burned, and a woman's body is found in the ruins.  He can't find his children, moves to the United States, eventually remarries -- and the first wife shows up with the children.  He is put on trial for bigamy, and the story is based on a real case.  It should be interesting.

The next three are from the library.

Wait for Me by An Na is about a girl of Korean-American parents working hard to give her a good education in the United States.  Mina has become the perfect daughter, who is a straight A student, president of the honor society, and on the fast track for Harvard.  It's the summer before her senior year, and she is working at her family's dry cleaners.  Oh, and she has a hearing-impaired younger sister.  Everything seems to be going right for her, but Mina knows that her life is a lie.  (I've already finished reading this one.)

Somebody's Daughter by Marie Myung-Ok Lee is about a girl born to a Korean mother, who is adopted by an American couple.  The daughter, now named Sarah, wants to go to Korea to try to find the birth mother she has always wondered about.  Sarah drops out of the University of Minnesota and decides to study in Korea.  The Korean mother, meanwhile, fell in love and was abandoned at a vulnerable moment.  She has wondered, ever since leaving her new baby, what became of her.  (This will be a re-read, which I want to review for the Women Unbound reading challenge.)

The Secret History of the Mongol Queens by Jack Weatherford is a NEW book, which the library allows me to keep only seven days, so I'm already halfway through this one.  This, as the title says, is a history book.  The subtitle is "How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire."  I can tell you already that his daughters were taught by their mother(s) to rule, while his sons were pretty useless and self-centered.  That pattern continued for generations.  I'm really, really enjoying this book.

Independent Dames by Laurie Halse Anderson is also from the library, but I finished it the first day I got it and let my friend borrow it, too.  It's subtitled "What You Never Knew about the Women and Girls of the American Revolution."  Yes, you guessed it.  This one -- and all the books in this post -- are among those I'll either read or add to my annotated bibliography for Women Unbound.  (One of these days I'll tell you more about what I'm doing, since I've already read the Suffragette level of eight by a multiple of about six -- in other words, I've read more than 48 books for the challenge so far.)

The next three are from my librarian.  Yes, the librarian, not the library.  She's been helping me find books related to the Women Unbound challenge, especially books that show children all the exciting things women and girls can do.  These are her own books that she brought to work one day so I could borrow them.  I have a great librarian, don't I?

Sista, Speak! by Sonja L. Lanehart is subtitled "Black Women Kinfolk Talk about Language and Literacy."  From the back cover:  "The demand of white, affluent society that all Americans should speak, read, and write 'proper' English causes many people who are not white and/or middle class to attempt to 'talk in a way that feel peculiar to [their] mind," as a character in Alice Walker's The Color Purple puts it.  In this book, Sonja Lanehart explores how this valorization of 'proper' English has affected the language, literacy, educational achievements, and self-image of five African American women -- her grandmother, mother, aunt, sister, and herself."  This one looks really good.

Weaving New Worlds by Sarah H. Hill is about "Southeastern Cherokee Women and Their Basketry."  In other words, the author examines changes in the patterns and materials of their baskets.  The back cover says:  "Over the course of three centuries, Cherokees developed four major basketry traditions, each based on a different material -- rivercane, white oak, honeysuckle, and maple.  Hill explores how the addition of each new material occurred in the context of lived experience, ecological processes, social conditions, economic circumstances, and historical eras. ... Even in the face of cultural assault and environmental loss, she argues, Cherokee women have continued to take what they have to make what they need, literally and metaphorically weaving new worlds from old."  There are lots of photos of the women and their baskets, good photos that show the patterns formed by the different colors.

Women, Art, and Society by Whitney Chadwick is a relatively small art book, but it is heavy! ... and filled with color photographs.  The chapters range from "Art History and the Woman Artist" through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance to modern and postmodern art.  It deals with gender, women's sphere ("separate but unequal"), and "Sex, Class, and Power in Victorian England."  Whew!  This one may be a little heavier than I want to tackle right now, but it may go in my bibliography.

And one more.  When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead was borrowed from my friend Donna, the one who has borrowed two from me, as I mentioned above -- correction, she has borrowed two this week, I mean.  We used to own a bookstore together and still share books constantly.  This one is the winner of the 2010 John Newbery Medal.  The summary given by my library says:  "As her mother prepares to be a contestant on the 1970s television game show, 'The $20,000 Pyramid,' a twelve-year-old New York City girl tries to make sense of a series of mysterious notes received from an anonymous source that seems to defy the laws of time and space."  This girl is also reading Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time all through this story, not because it is taking her a long time to read it, but because it's her favorite book which she dips into over and over and over.  She's read it so many times she practically has it memorized.  Now, the really interesting part is that -- get this! -- Madeleine L'Engle won the 1963 Newbery Medal for A Wrinkle in Time, which was a favorite book of this author when she was a girl.

Oh, wait!  There's one more.  I forgot that Donna and I also went shopping at the big used book store this week, where I managed to restrain myself and bring home only one book.  The Seasons of Women edited by Gloria Norris is an anthology with stories, articles, and snippets from the writings of 49 women.  The list includes Annie Dillard, Barbara Kingsolver, Anne Tyler, Tillie Olson, Amy Tan, Gloria Steinem, Abigail Thomas, May Sarton, and Gail Godwin.

What books did you get this week?

1 comment:

susan said...

Love your books, Bonnie. I've read A Step From Heaven by An Na. Can't wait to here what you think of your book.

Thanks for joining us. There are no hard rules. List what you borrow, buy, gift. :-)