Year 2, Book 47

47. Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy by Barbara Ehrenreich
The book follows the history of carnival/festive/native dancing. What purposes it served, how and why it was pushed out of regular life throughout history and the ways it has resurged in history and in modern life. It was not something I was highly intrigued by while I was reading it, but now that I’m completely done with the book it seems more interesting in retrospect. I give it a 5 out of 10.

Year 2, Book 46

46. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
The book follows the lives of 2 different women whose lives intertwine in Afghanistan prior to the Russian invasion up through present day. I don’t think it was as good as the Kite Runner, but it’s still a good book. I give it an 8 out of 10.

Year 2, Book 45

45. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
I hated this book. I never would have picked it up if I had known what it was about. It has won a million awards and is Oprah’s current book pick. I knew all that, but somehow I failed to ever hear what exactly the book was about. Turns out it is some post-apocalyptic book, and I hate post-apocalyptic stuff. And that isn’t even the entire reason I hated it. First of all I really don’t understand why it is winning all this praise because I don’t think it is that well written or that creative. It doesn’t bring anything to the post-apocalyptic genre that hasn’t been done before. I felt like several of the scenes were complete rip-offs from Jose Saramago’s Blindness. At least half of the book is conversations between pretty much the only two characters an unnamed father and son, which I also found annoying. At least give the characters names. The conversations were nothing that creative and seriously repeated with the son not wanting to go into some place because he was scared and the father saying they had to because they were out of food and were going to die if they didn’t go investigate and find some. Plus you never even find out what actually wound up killing most of the people on Earth. Just a really bad book in my opinion. The only reason I finished it was because it was a super-quick read. I finished it in less than 3 hours. I seriously don’t understand why everyone thinks this book is so great. I give it a 3 out of 10.

Year 2, Book 44

44. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Yes it’s a kids book, but I loved it when I was a little kid. For some reason they were giving out free copies of the book at the Examiner booth at HonFest the other weekend, so I grabbed one. I kind of wanted to reread it before I watch the movie adaptation they made of it recently. So I figured this was a great opportunity. I remembered less about it than I thought. I can see why I liked it as a kid, but reading as an adult I felt like it was lacking somehow. Probably because it’s written for kids and not adults and not filled out in as much detail as an adult book would be.

Year 2, Book 43

43. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon
I became intrigued by this book after reading a couple of reviews of it. Turns out that Michael Chabon grew up in Columbia during the time when it was just being created and was still very much the planned city of Rouse’s vision. His experiences supposedly influenced his idea behind a city in Alaska where a bunch of Jews were sent to live after WWII, although I didn’t really see much connection. At any rate the story takes place in this town, which has been it’s own separate entity since the war, but is now to revert back to the United States and for some reason there is a limit placed on how many Jews are actually allowed to remain in the town. So basically most of the people are going to have to leave in a matter of weeks. Against this backdrop the main character Meyer Landsman begins investigating a murder that occurs at the hotel he is living in, which leads him into much deeper conspiracies. I must say that I really didn’t care for this book at all. The plot didn’t make much sense to me, and I often found the writing hard to follow because Chabon uses a ton of Yiddish throughout the book and not always within a context that makes it entirely clear what the word means. After reading stellar reviews on this book and his earlier hit The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Clay and not really liking either of them, I think I’m done with Michael Chabon. I’ll leave him to the critics who seem to love him. I give this book a 5 out of 10.

Year 2, Book 42

42. The Freedom Writers Diary : How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them by the Freedom Writers

Paul and I watched the Freedom Writers movie last weekend. I hadn’t realized there was actually a book that it was based on until I watched the movie. After I found I decided I would read it. The movie is pretty closely based on what is written in the book. The book is basically just a bunch of diary entries written by the kids in Erin Gruwell’s classes over a period of 4 years. For privacy purposes none of the writers aside from the teacher are named. Each entry is given a number, so it’s hard to tell if there are multiple entries by students or if they are each written by a different student. Even so it was a good story and interesting to read. The movie did a decent job of capturing the book. It pulled the kids stories right from the book, although it probably combined information from multiple kids (although again hard to tell based on the numbered entries). The movie also took place over only 2 years instead of 4 and they did combine some events and leave out others. But nothing in the movie was really made up aside from possibly the personal life of the teacher. She did work the multiple jobs mentioned in the movie, but the book makes no mention of a husband so I have no idea how much of that story was made up. I give it an 8 out of 10.

Year 2, Book 41

41. The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs
I wanted to read this book because it was the common text at Loyola for the past year. I couldn’t get my hands on it until the end of the year though because all our copies were either checked out or on reserve until the end of the spring semester. It was pretty interesting. It’s considered the seminal book on city planning, and I can definitely tell why because although it is almost 50 years old most of what she said still seems entirely relevant today. Sometimes I would forget that I was reading something that was that old. Although if you’re not interested in city planning or sociological studies the book would probably be pretty boring. I give it a 7 out of 10.