Sunday, August 31, 2008

Good books, August 2008

Books I've liked this month:

Red, White, Blue, and Uncle Who?: The Stories Behind Some of America's Patriotic Symbols by Teresa Bateman, ill. John O'Brien, 2003, 64 pages.
An interesting book for upper-elementary kids, with a lot of facts I didn't know.

Truman's Aunt Farm by Jama Kim Rattigan, ill. G. Brian Karas, 1996, 32 pages.
A very cute picture book about a boy who sends away for an ant farm and gets something slightly different. It has a great message about how awesome aunts can be.

Can You Find It, Too? by Judith Cressy, 2004, 40 pages.
The subtitle is "Search and Discover More Than 150 Details in 20 Works of Art." The art is from various museums and each piece of art has various things listed for kids (and grownups) to look for. Some are easy and some are fairly hard. There are other books in the same series with slightly varying titles.

Across America on an Emigrant Train by Jim Murphy, 2003, 168 pages.
I don't know why I never realized that Robert Louis Stevenson lived in the United States for a while, but he did. Jim Murphy has taken excerpts from Stevenson's diary and added details from other writings of the time to re-create Stevenson's trip from Scotland to California in 1879. Pretty interesting.

Dickens's England: Life in Victorian Times, ed. R. E. Pritchard, 2003, 288 pages.
When I picked up this book, I thought it would be a textbooklike description of Victorian England. I was happily surprised to find that it's a collection of writings from that time period describing everyday life from many perspectives. It's fascinating to compare the different viewpoints.

Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us) by Tom Vanderbilt, 2008, 416 pages.
Very, very interesting sociologically and practically. I find myself not only driving more carefully, but noticing things about driving and roads and traffic that I would never have paid attention to before.

Mage-Guard of Hamor by L. E. Modesitt, Jr., 2008, 624 pages.
I like Modesitt's Recluce series because it explores issues of right and wrong, strengths and weaknesses, and learning, all in a very detailed science fiction/fantasy world. (No, I can't decide whether it's science fiction or fantasy. Is there really any difference these days?) This is the 15th book in the series and I hope he writes more.

From the End of Heaven by Chris Stewart, 2008, 336 pages.
I had heard about this series (called "The Great and Terrible," about the events leading up to the Savior's second coming, from a Latter-day Saint perspective) and never thought I would like it, but a few months ago I was persuaded to try the first one. I quickly read them all up to this one, the fifth, and now I have to wait for the rest of the series to be written. It's all speculative and fictional, of course, but the author has a military background and is very knowledgeable about the kinds of conflicts that could happen.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer, 2008, 624 pages.
This science fiction book by the author of the Twilight series (and I won't go into my opinions on that series) is actually very thought-provoking and interesting. An alien species has conquered Earth and taken over most humans' bodies. The story is told from the perspective of one of those aliens.

And one movie:

King of Texas, Turner Home Entertainment, 2002, not rated.
When I saw this movie at the library I was so intrigued I had to check it out. It's based on King Lear, and it's a Western, and Patrick Stewart plays Lear. (And Colm Meaney is in it too.) It turns out that it's a creative but basically faithful adaptation of the play. In fact, I got out our big Shakespeare book to follow along and see what they were doing with the characters, and some of the dialogue even reflected the original lines. Lear is a cattle baron who divides his ranch between the two daughters who say how much they love him, and banishes the daughter who refuses to play the game. The sisters' treachery, Lear's madness, and Cordelia's death are all there. Warning: There is a fair amount of profanity (though not worse than you would see on TV) and we fast-forwarded the scene where Gloucester (named Henry here) has his eyes put out, so I don't know how gruesome they made it. (We saw someone holding a red-hot poker and we knew we didn't want to watch.) But what a concept! It brings the story to life in a completely new way.

1 comment:

Harmony said...

My husband and I have been reading Modesitt out loud to each other for years (mostly while on road trips or while doing dishes). We're reading his Corean Chronicles series at the moment. I like it just as well as the Recluse novels.