January 19, 2015

Recent Reads

193. Unterzakhn
Once upon a time there were six year old twin sisters, Esther and Fanya. The sisters lived among the hustle and bustle of New York's Lower East Side circa 1910, a place where immigrants struggled to get their piece of the "golden land". 

This historical graphic novel explores the coming of age of these sisters - their interests, the choices they make, the different lives they end up living. The bold sketchy black and white art really worked for this story, and I liked the juxtaposition of their young innocence against the hard earned wisdom of their later years. 

The title of the book Unterzakhn (Yiddish for "Underthings") is wonderfully apt for the lives of women. This feminist text asks the tough questions - what does it mean to be a girl/woman? Who gets to decide? What are the repercussions of not living a life that is expected /proscribed for you? 

While on the surface the twins live very different lives, they are similar in that they make choices that are right for them. I grew quite fond of these sisters, and their insistence on living a life of their choosing. Rating: 4 stars.

194. Aviary Wonders Inc. Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual
Birds have been extinct since 2031, but fear not, Aviary Wonders Inc. can fulfill your aviary needs. This is their 32 page Spring Catalog, in which you can browse through bird parts - feathers, beaks, legs, etc - and make your very own custom bird. The catalog includes instructions for feeding and care of the new arrival, home assembly, teaching your bird to fly and sing, and an important trouble shooting guide. Sold? There is an order form at the end you can use to get one of your very own.

What a fabulous and scary premise! This is a picture book for elementary/middle school age readers, and is an informative and colorful introduction to birds, environmental adaptations, and extinct and endangered species.  Rating: 4 stars.

195. Gun Guys: A Road Trip
A holiday road trip to the Mid-West was the perfect time to listen to this audiobook, which is strangely, yet wonderfully, narrated by Richard Kind.

Guns. Abortion. Gays. Religion. What do they have in common? Ideological hysteria from all sides. What has happened to us as a nation, that we cannot have civilized, respectful, well informed debates over important issues? 

This book is a travelogue that could help start moving the conversation in the right direction, at least on the gun front. Can you be a liberal and love guns? The author, who is a Jewish Democrat and a lifelong gun guy, takes to the road to understand America's love affair with guns. He introduces us to a sampling of the 40% of Americans who own guns for a myriad reasons: hunters, sport shooters, collectors, people who simply love the machinery, and yes criminals. 

I found this nonfiction book to be insightful, educational, and surprisingly humorous. You might not agree with everything the author has to say, but read this book to get a better understanding of the gun culture before you get on your soap box with statements like "Guns bad!" Highly recommended.  Rating: 5 stars.

This marks the end of the books read in 2014.

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