March 23, 2015

Recent Reads

25. The Housekeeper and the Professor
I loved the premise of this story: A math Professor has suffered a traumatic brain injury and and cannot remember anything later than 1975. He does have short term memory, but only in 80 minute loops. The tape erases and starts over every 80 minutes. The Housekeeper, who is the narrator of the story, is hired to take care of him, and she has a ten year old son.

This slim Japanese novel is less than 200 pages long, and I really liked how the story explores "what it means to live in the present, and about the curious equations that can create a family". I enjoyed the math, glossed over the baseball, and really liked that the relationships that develop in this story are not the kinds that poems or songs are written about. But I wanted more. The writing is so sparse as to not really allow me to connect deeply with the characters, and while there is some wonderful imagery, and the writing is lovely, I did not love it. This was my book club selection this month, and the themes explored in this novel make it a good choice for discussion. Rating: 3 stars.

26. Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir
As a girl who disliked dresses and often had shorts on underneath (who wants everyone to see your underwear when you do a cartwheel or hang upside down, am I right?), actively disliked anything pink, was not into dolls, and was your classic tomboy (oh how I hate that word), I would have loved this book as a kid. I so wanted to be a boy, and it took me many years to realize that what I really wanted was not to change genders, but to change gender roles and expectations. Yes, we've come a long way baby - after all, we do have Skirts With Benefits (read built in shorts) available these days, but I still have nieces who are so angry that they are girls. "It's so not fair!", is a refrain that comes up often when I talk to them about the roles/rules/dress code that applies to girls as opposed to boys. I'm sure my Mom heard that same thing more times than she cares to remember.

This graphic memoir is targeted at a teen/YA audience, and the author is honest and unflinching on her trip down memory lane. This would be a wonderful gift for all the little, and not so little tomboys in your life. And while you are at it, have the boys read it too. Rating: 4 stars.

27. The Clothes They Stood Up In
Book blurb: When the sedate Ransomes return from the opera to find their Notting Hill flat stripped absolutely bare—down to the toilet paper off the roll, they face a dilemma: Who are they without the things they've spent a lifetime accumulating? Suddenly the world is full of unlimited and frightening possibility.

The physical book is a delight to hold - so tiny that it could fit into your pocket - it reminded me of books for little hands. It is hard not to be drawn in by the premise of this story, and then to find yourself quite in like with Mrs. Ransome. A charming, humorous story with some surprising depth, this is a quick, one sitting read. Rating: 3 stars.

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