Year 5, Book 52

52. WAR by Sebastian Junger
I quite honestly have no interest in books about war. The only reason I even considered reading this book was because it was written by Sebastian Junger of whom I am a big fan. WAR chronicles his time spent with one Army platoon at several points during their 15 month deployment in Afghanistan. I felt very much the same way about reading this book as I did watching Generation Kill. I was interested in the people and the psychology and group dynamics of being at war and in the military, but I was entirely bored and easily distracted when reading about the actual battles. If you like books about war you’ll probably enjoy this, otherwise I would give it a pass. I feel like it’s a well written book, but it just wasn’t something I could get all that into based on the subject matter. I give it a 5 out of 10.

Year 5, Book 51

51. Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert
I was on the fence about reading this book after reading Eat, Pray, Love and the middling reviews it came out to didn’t much entice me. However, it was available to check out as an ebook from my library so I went ahead and placed a hold on it figuring I might download and read it when my turn came up. Well it so happens that my turn came up the day after I saw the movie adaptation of Eat, Pray, Love which kind of sparked my interest in actually reading it. The story pretty much picks up where Eat, Pray, Love leaves off with Ms. Gilbert and her Brazilian lover Felipe together and happily unmarried that is until Homeland Security has it’s say. Their verdict get married or Felipe will never set foot in the United States again. As a result two people who have no interest in being married, although they are in a committed relationship wind up being forced into marriage. The book covers their time together traveling outside the US while awaiting all Felipe’s papers to be in order so they can actually wed up until the actual wedding. During this time Gilbert attempts to reconcile her views on marriage by doing some research: some on the history of marriage, some by talking to the people in the countries she is vising about their perspective on marriage, and some by talking to her own family members about their marriages. For as bad as the reviews were about this book I didn’t hate it. I found much of the marriage information interesting especially in light of the recent struggle over gay marriage. I found their actual relationship less interesting. I wouldn’t say that you need to rush right out and read this book, but you could do worse if you’re looking for something to read and this is available. I give it a 5 out of 10.

Year 5, Book 50

50. Outcasts United: A Refugee Team, an American Town by Warren St. John
One of my book clubs chose to read this book because it is this year’s One Maryland, One Book selection. This book was totally right up alley. It’s the true story of a soccer team(s) in Clarkston, Georgia composed of players whose families are refugees from other countries. Their coach is a woman who emigrated to the United States from Saudi Arabia. The story is a human interest story of the coach and some of the players and their families, but it is much more than that as well. It addresses the situations in some of the countries that caused the families to become refugees. There is also a lot of information about how Clarkston became a resettlement location for so many refugee families and the strain it has caused in the town, but also the positive things that have resulted from the mixing of so many cultures. I am very much looking forward to hearing the author speak about the book at the end of September. I give it an 8 out of 10.

Year 5, Book 49

49. This Book Is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson
This book is pretty much one big long love letter to librarians, and as a librarian I thoroughly enjoyed it. Johnson decided to write the book after having some really good experiences with librarians while researching her previous book on obituaries. I pretty much knew everything she wrote about as I keep up with all the goings on in libraryland. It did make me feel really good about my profession though and what we do and stand for. I don’t know how many non-librarians will actually wind up reading the book, but hopefully a decent number of people will so they can get a better idea of what is that librarians actually do. Hint: the answer is not they shelve books or sit around and read all day. And if you don’t know what it is we might possibly be doing instead I suggest you read this book. As an aside Marilyn Johnson will be the banquet speaker at the Maryland Library Association conference in May, and I am looking forward to hearing her speak. I give it a 7 out of 10.

Year 5, Book 48

48. Someone Will Be With You Shortly by Lisa Kogan
I picked this book up randomly at the library. It was a nice quick read, that was fairly amusing. It’s a sort of humoristic, real life essay book written by Kogan. It’s one of those books where the author looks at fairly ordinary happenings in life and writes about them in an amusing way. It is somewhat punctuated by the fact that the author has an interesting relationship. Ultimately it’s not that exciting, but it is just generally different than the norm, which makes it notable. Late in life she became virtually a single mother. She is still involved with her 9 year old daughter’s father and has been for 17 years, but they have never been married and he lives in Switzerland with his son from his first marriage while she and her daughter live in New York. So that situation is reference frequently in her musings. The book is nothing special, but it provided me with some decent entertainment for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon. I give it a 6 out of 10.

Year 5, Book 47

47. Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
I actually got a free pdf copy of this book ages ago, but never read it because I never felt like sitting down and reading it on my computer screen. However, having bought a Nook a few months ago I downloaded the book to that and was finally able to read it.

The book takes place mostly in 1974 surrounding the tight rope walk by Philippe Petit on a high wire strung between the Twin Towers. As an aside if you haven’t seen the movie Man On Wire, which chronicles this feat you really should.

There are several threads going throughout the book and you don’t really find out how all the characters connect until the end. The story begins with two brothers who emigrated to New York from Ireland. The one brother, Corrigan has been over several years and is a priest of sorts. He lives in tenement housing and spends his life trying to help out and fight on behalf of prostitutes in the area. Some of the prostitutes have their story told, as well as a couple who are involved in an accident with the priest and some of these prostitutes. There is also a judge and his wife who lost their son in the Vietnam war who figure into the novel as well as the support group of other women who lost their sons that the judge’s wife meets with. Petit’s walk becomes the background for the story and in some ways touches off the events that lead them to all be connected in the end.

I really enjoyed the book at the beginning, but found myself langering somewhat in the middle because I couldn’t figure out where it was going or how all the characters that were being thrown at me were related. I was satisfied at the end though, and felt like McCann brought it together well in the end.

I give it a 6 out of 10.

Year 5, Book 46

46. Heat Wave by Richard Castle
I am almost ashamed to say I read this book. I love the television show Castle, and this book was a promotional tie-in done by ABC for the show. The main character on the show Richard Castle, is a murder mystery writer. On the show he wrote a book called Heat Wave, and so ABC actually hired someone to ghostwrite the book on behalf of the character and published it. The only reason I actually read it is because I was looking for something light for some beach reading to download to my Nook and this book was available. I figured it doesn’t get much lighter than a murder mystery book based on a TV show and written by an author that doesn’t really exist.

This by far is not my usual genre of choice and even if it were this book would not rate very highly. It was mostly interesting to read the book in relation to the TV characters. The mystery itself was not that compelling. I’d probably only bother reading the book if you’re really into Castle.

I give it a 4 out of 10.