86. Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy
The sad story of Lucy Grealy’s diagnosis of cancer in her jaw that led to many years of cancer treatments that destroyed her jaw and left her face disfigured followed by many more years and operations to try and reconfigure her face to some degree. I can’t even imagine going through everything she went through starting at the age of 10. An excellent book. I give it a 9 out of 10.
85. The Sea by John Banville
This book was last year’s Man Booker Prize winner. For the most part I’ve really enjoyed all of the other winners that I have read, which is why I decided to pick up this book. I wish that I hadn’t. I’m not sure what kind of crack the judges were smoking last year, but this book did not even come close to living up to the other Man Booker Prize winners I’ve read. It was is kind of rambling and intermittently takes place at three points in the protagonists life: as a child making friends with the family renting a large house at his beach nearby his own for the summer, during the death of his wife, and then interacting with his daughter some months after the death of his wife. It was rather hard to follow at times because it wasn’t always clear when he switched into another time period. There story didn’t make much sense, and I really didn’t care about any of it. I give it a 2 out of 10.
84. Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Bill Bryson
Part of the Eminent Lives series in which famous authors write biographies of famous people. Bryson examines the life of Shakespeare and what we actually know about him. It’s not a lot. He provides the historical evidence that exists about Shakespeare as well as provides the context of what life during Shakespeare’s time would have been like. He also debunks the various myths that exist about Shakespeare not really having written his plays. It was an interesting read even though I’m not sure that I learned a whole lot that I didn’t know. Bryson has an excellent way of turning even dry material into compelling reading. I give it an 8 out of 10.
83. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver
Written mainly by Barbara Kingsolver with contributions by her husband and eldest daughter, the book chronicles a year in their life. They move to an old family owned farm in Virginia and attempt to eat mainly food grown by themselves or in the local community. I found it to be a very interesting book, and it really made me want to be more conscious about the food I’m buying and where it’s coming from. I really should take better advantage of the farmers markets around here. Especially the Waverly market, which is open year round. I just get lazy about going there especially when it’s cold. I give the book an 8 out of 10.
82. Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz
The story of two sisters around World War I. The story goes forward and back in time to weave the tale of how the one sister wound up raising the other’s child after she drowns. I didn’t find the story very interesting and felt like the ending was a bit anti-climactic. I give it a 6 out of 10.
81. If I am Missing or Dead: A Sister’s Story of Love, Murder, and Liberation by Janine Latus
The true story of a woman facing her own demons in an abusive marriage while detailing the story of her sister’s own bad relationship that leads to her murder. A sad, but compelling story. I give it an 8 out of 10.
80. Anil’s Ghost by Michael Ondaatje
The story of a forensic archaeologist who returns to her native Sri Lanka to examine old remains as part of some international peace effort. The government is against her and the story is convoluted and really didn’t make much sense to me. I didn’t care for any of the characters and there really wasn’t much of a plot. Luckily it was a quick read because it kind of sucked. I give it a 4 out of 10.
79. Songs Without Words by Ann Packer
The story of two friends who grew up across the street from each other and became like sisters when the mother of one of the girls commits suicide and the girl goes to live with her friend’s family. The story mainly occurs many years in the future when they were both grown, one a free-spirited single woman and the other the mother of two teenagers. Their friendship becomes tested by the differences in their lives and the challenges they face. I give it a 7 out of 10.
78. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide by Henry Jenkins
The author discusses how the internet has changed the way that people consume entertainment as well as how entertainment companies attempt to reach their consumers. From fan sites that attempt to find out as much information on reality contestants and challenges to Harry Potter fans writing continuing stories for the characters, Jenkins addresses how entertainment companies attempt to draw in and create new fans through new media while attempting to hold onto their intellectual property. It was a pretty interesting book, although I probably would have found it a bit more interesting if I actually watched any of the things that he focused on such as Survivor, American Idol, and the Matrix. I give it a 7 out of 10.