Friday, June 19, 2009

I have been reading, honest!

What happened? More than 2 weeks without writing. Here's the problem. I've been reading everyone else's blogs. In trying to figure out how to get my blog out there to more readers I've been looking at others and evaluating what they do that I don't. For one thing, most book blogs are much more colorful. They fill the page with cover art, pictures and links but, dare I say it? They aren't always that interesting. Sometimes they all seem to be saying the same thing about the same books and then I throw in the towel. It's just my style but I like a little personality thrown in with the books reviews. How what's going on in my life affects my choices and vice-versa is important to me.

I guess that's why I was so surprised to find that there's a minor controversy going on at Library Journal right how about the new format for reviews. I have not been given a written instruction as to the new format but read about it online after having noticed it in the June 1st issue. The basic plot of the book is set out for the reader and then there's a section marked "Verdict" where the reviewer gets to be a bit more out there in terms of raves or pans. It looked a bit funky at first but the further I read, the more I liked it. The reviewers sounded more human, as if they were actually talking to real people - much more blog like. I think it will fit my writing style so I made a comment on the forum encouraging people to give it a try.

I just wrote an article on summer reads for the Bonita Banner. I doubt anyone reads it but, for the few who do, I'm happy that the library is still in print. Worries abound here abound with all the budget whoo-ha.

One of the books that I can't stop raving about is The Help. I'm just blown away to think that this is a debut novel. The plot is so unlike the "same-old, same old" that seems to get published these days. Author Kathryn Stockett set her book in Jackson, Mississippi, in the early ‘60’s, where the civil rights movement had yet to gain steam. Budding journalist Skeeter Phelan, hoping to catch the imagination of an editor in New York, clandestinely meets with the black servants of the city’s most prominent families. Skeeter’s consciousness is raised as she records the sometimes funny, often heartbreaking stories of these invisible women who cook the meals, clean the clothes, and love the children of the privileged. Stockett ratchets up the tension by deftly weaving in the historical facts of Medgar Evers’ slaying and Martin Luther King Jr.’s march on Washington as Dylan sings of changing times.

Listening to the downloadable version was especially rewarding as the various readers really brought the characters of Abeline and Minny to life. One gets a sense of the courage that it took for these two women to tell their stories of slave labor and abuse to a white woman, not to mention the fear they felt for their jobs and lives when and if the published volume hit the streets. I can't recommend this book enough. Great fodder for discussion.

At the risk of being too wordy I'll just say that I have three other books that I've just finished or am almost done with and I want to tell you about all of them. Plus I just began listening to Renegade, Richard Wolffe's behind the scenes look at "the making of the president," not to be confused with but getting lots of comparisons to the penultimate political book by Theodore White about JFK. More tomorrow if the U.S. Open gets rained out.

1 comment:

Infobabe said...

I'm about to start my first LJ review using the new format. I hope it goes smoothly. After so many years of the other style, I hope I can swing the transition easily.