65. Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World by Tracy Kidder
In some respects this book reminded me of Three Cups of Tea because Paul Farmer and Greg Mortensen as they are both very driven in their pursuits to make a difference in the world to detriment of everything else in their lives. In the end though I came away with a much more favorable view of Paul Farmer for whatever reason. He is a Harvard doctor who made his life’s work providing health care in Haiti and attempting to eradicate diseases such as TB and malaria. His involvement in Haiti also led him to get involved in other areas of the world including Brazil and Russia. It’s a very interesting look at how one man has caused great change. I give it 7 out of 10.
64. Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture by Ellen Ruppel Shell
This book got a lot of press when it was released so I was surprised at horrible editing in it, but we’ll get to that in a minute. First I have to say that the book wasn’t really what I was anticipating for the first 2/3. The last 1/3 was more what I was expecting in that it addressed the effect buying cheap goods has on society, which you would expect based on the title. The first 2/3 though was more psychologically based on why we are attracted to certain prices even if they don’t make sense and how and why prices are actually set and things like that. I have a psychology background, so I’m not saying I didn’t find it interesting because I did, it’s just not what I was expecting. But back to the bad editing. Based on the references in the book to lots of studies and conversations with experts it appears that this book was fairly well researched, but I had a hard time putting a lot of credence in anything being said based on all the typos and misspellings in the book, not to mention calling Bernie Madoff, Michael Madoff. I’ve never read a published book that had so many errors in it. It was kind of embarrassing. So in the end my psychological perception of this book was probably altered by a bad editor and thus I can’t really recommend it like I thought I might prior to reading it. I give it a 5 out of 10.
63. That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo
If you’ve been reading these book review for any length of time you’ll know that I am a huge fan of Richard Russo’s works. This book is a little bit of a departure from his earlier works, although not completely in that it revolves around academic life, which is a frequent theme of his, but does not contain the working class past it’s prime mill town setting that is found in so many of his novels. The story is mainly about Jack Griffen a former Hollywood screenwriter turned English professor following in the footsteps of professor parents. It begins during a trip to Cape Cod for his daughter’s long-time friend’s wedding on Cape Code. He is at an apparent crossroads in his marriage and his life and throughout the book we get flashbacks of the past in particular his relationship with his parents and how it has affected where he is in his present and where he will wind up in the future. Not Russo’s best work by far in my opinion, but still an enjoyable enough read. I give it 6 out of 10.
62. Little Pink House: A True Story of Defiance and Courage by Jeff Benedict
This book shares the story of behind the Supreme Court case Kelo vs. City of New London. Most of the book is centered on everything that leads up to the case and what happens after, there is relatively little space dedicated to the trying of the case in the actual Supreme Court. I think reading this book made me angrier than I have ever been reading a book. I knew going in what the result was, which I always disagreed with, but getting all the background story and the details, which I wasn’t really aware of when this case was being tried just made me even madder. I’ve read a lot of books that have made me mad regarding injustices I feel that are occurring, but I think what was different about this one was that it very easily could have turned out different unlike in most of the books that make me mad where the injustice is so much ingrained in society that there is no easy fix. There were so many points in this story where the New London Development Corporation and various other people associated with it and the city could have backed down and reconfigured their development plans to include the final houses remaining, but they refused over and over again out pride, stubbornness, the feeling of superiority over lower-class people I don’t know. I really enjoyed this book even though I was angry the whole time I was reading it. I give it 8 out of 10.