Friday, March 29, 2013

Following Josh

In Dave Norman's travel memoir, Dave describes his trek across Eurasia, starting in Korea and then to China and Russia and Belarus and Poland as "following" Josh, his high school friend who has been abroad for years. He meets up with Josh as Josh is winding his way back to the States through Eurasia. Dave hasn't done much traveling before this trip and is venturing out of his comfort zone into international travel.


Densely packed with details of sights and sounds and tastes (which I liked) as well as a lot of history of areas he visited (which I also liked but it got pretty dense), FOLLOWING JOSHicon describes Dave's trip. Even though Dave met up with his friend and had some ruminations about friendships and how they change as well as how each of them had changed over the years, the book seemed less about following someone else than discovering his own interests, insights and enjoying his own trek. Which he seemed to very much. (enjoy the trek)

Dave is nothing if not a thorough observer. He immersed himself in his experiences, no matter how unfamiliar they were to him, sometimes leaving his comfort zone far behind!

I liked reading about Dave and Josh's adventures...and it sounds as though Dave caught the travel bug, there are hints that he has a new travel book coming out. Keep your eyes peeled!

Clicking on the book cover will take you to Amazon's web page for the book. Clicking on the underlined book title may take you to Barnes and Noble's web page for the book. Purchasing through these links helps support the blog...and the author! Thanks for stopping by, and happy reading!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March 2013 (Free!) Book Giveaway!

It's time for the March Book Giveaway contest!

Like in January and February, you get to choose which book you'd like to receive! The only requirement is that the book you choose has to have been mentioned at some point on this blog (I did receive one entry where the person wanted to receive a book that was not mentioned on the blog. That entry was disqualified.)

To enter the giveaway:
1. Look through the blog and find a book that you'd like to receive.
(Hint: the blog started in January 2010. At the end of each year, or beginning of a year, I list all the books I read that year. Scanning one of the annual lists to find a book you'd like might be easier than reading through each blog post, as illuminating and fascinating as that might be!)

2. Add a comment here on the blog that includes your name and the title of the book you've chosen. Entries will not be received through the blog's facebook page.

3. Enter by the end of the day, Saturday March 30, 2013.
        That's it!

I will number the comments and randomly pick a number with a random number generator. I will send messages to the winner and that winner will have five days to respond. If that person doesn't respond, I’ll pick another number. Once I have a confirmed winner, I will get their shipping addresses via email or private message and send them the book they've chosen!*

*Note: I don't want you to put your personal contact information in the blog's comment space. This is protect you. However, you will need to enable your preferences so you see additional comments on the blog, or be sure to check back on the blog or the facebook page to see if you've won!

Entries for the giveaway need to be comments to this blog post. If you'd like to send a private message that is not an entry, do so via email: 2of3Rs(AT)gmail(DOT)com, or through a private message through the blog's facebook page, NOT The New York Times Book Review.

Thanks and good luck!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Mathilda Savitch, Again!

I wrote about this book three years ago, when it first came out. MATHILDA SAVITCHicon is again being prominently featured in the bookstore where I work, which is great!

Mathilda Savitch: A Novel

Why do we read books? To be entertained, to learn about other people and places, to learn about ourselves, to be shocked or scared or thrilled or... delighted.

MATHILDA SAVITCHicon was a delight. Reading this reminded me of reading Mark Haddon's Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime and Garth Stein's The Art of Racing in the Rain. I loved Christopher and Enzo, the main characters and narrators in both of those books, as well as how each of those characters interacted with their world. I loved Mathilda too.

As Christopher and Enzo did in their respective books, Mathilda narrates in her own unique voice. Mathilda is a preteen (-ish, we don't really know) whose sister was killed after being pushed in front of a train. She is trying to make sense of her life after the tragedy, wondering how she fits into her family now that her sister is dead, how could Helene actually be GONE, as she also searches for the man who killed her. Her parents are emotionally absent, wrapped up in their own grief. That all sounds rather grim, but Mathilda comes up with her own, often very un-grim ways of sorting things out and thinking about things. Her observations are often spot on, sometimes poignant, sometimes hilarious, sometimes both at the same time.

She goes into a Catholic church on a weekday and meets a nun...

     I ask her if she knows any prayers. Which makes her laugh for some reason.
     "Oh yes," she says. She says she knows quite a few. She walks over to one of the rows and picks up a red book in a little book-holder built right into the bench. She opens the red book to a particular page and points to something. "This is a good one," she says.
     I move a little closer to her. She hands me the book, but I'm not about to audition for her.
     "Do you ever say something that's not from the book?" I ask her.
     "Like what?" she says.
     "Just something you made up,", I say. "Your own thing. Like stories."
     "No," she says. "What kind of stories?"
     "I don't know," I say. "About whatever's bothering you."
     "If you say the words of the prayer," she says, "things won't bother you so much. That's why you say them."
     "But they're not my words," I say.
     "Yes, they are," she says, "they're everyone's words."
     She was a lunatic, I decided. You'd almost have to be in her profession.

She talks about mothers...

"Ma's not even here and still she's everywhere. Mothers are like that. When it comes to biology, mothers are a real problem. They stick to you because you have a lot of their cells and everything. It's worse than a monster movie."

Mathilda is a character to remember. Check it out!

Clicking on the book cover will take you to Amazon's web page for this book. Clicking on the underlined book title may take you to Barnes and Noble's web page for the book. Purchasing through these links helps support the blog. Thanks for stopping by, and happy reading!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Customers 37

A woman came up to the register at the bookstore where I work. She was with her daughter. The woman, maybe early 30's, brown hair pulled back in a ponytail, wearing a brown jacket and checked scarf, told me they were there to pick up a book they had ordered. She told me the last name and I pulled it off the hold shelf and handed it to them.

"Is this your book?" I asked.

The book was MY BOOK ABOUT MEicon by Dr. Seuss, a book where children can use the pages to write or draw about themselves.


She nodded to me and then asked her daughter, "Is this the book you wanted?"

The girl, about three or four years old, with blond curly hair and wearing a pink raincoat, nodded and smiled.

The mom looked at me and explained, "She found mine, the one I'd filled in when I was little."

"Oh, that's great!" I said. Turning to the girl I asked, "Did you find out things about your mom?"

She nodded again and said, "Yes. I saw how big her hand was and her foots too."

"Was her hand in the book bigger or smaller than your hand?" I asked.

The girl looked at her mom. "I'm not sure she compared them," the mom said.

I looked at the girl again, "Now you get to do your own!" I said.

"Yes," she said, and then she added, "and maybe I will give it to someoone!"

"Or maybe someday you will have a little girl who will find it and get to find out about you!" I said.

Her eyes got big and her mouth opened. Her head tilted back, as though the idea was just too incredible. "Well then I'm deffnittly not giving it away to someone!"

Her mom and I both cracked up.

"Have fun with your book!", I said as they were leaving.


Another woman and daughter came up to the counter with a stack of books and a Hunger Games tote back to buy.

I asked if they were part of our store's Kid's Club program, and the woman gestured over to her daughter and said, "I don't think so, she turns 13 tomorrow, and we're getting a few books for her for her birthday!

"Yes," I said, "that's too old for the Kid's Club, but I think books are a great birthday gift!"

"I do too," the mom said. "A few years ago we decided that for birthdays and Christmas, we'd give the kids something they need, something to read, something they want, and something to wear."

"Oh, I like that," I said. "It kind of narrows it down and helps it all not be so overwhelming."

"I know. I wish I could say I came up with the idea, but I didn't," she said.

"Where did you get the idea?" I asked.

"A friend of ours was out of work. He and his wife sat down with their family and said that they couldn't afford to do gift-giving like they had in the past, so this is how they were going to do it. The kids could tell them what they wanted, but the items had to fit in those parameters," she explained.

"That's great. What a good idea. What were the four things again?", I asked as I got a piece of paper to write them down.

"Something they need, something to read, something they want, and something to wear."

"Thanks! And happy birthday!", I said to the girl, who had been standing quietly by the register, eying the books eagerly.

Thanks for reading! You can "like" us on our facebook page, NOT The New York Times Book Review. You can also send us email: 2of3Rs(AT)gmail(DOT)com. Clicking on the book cover will take you to Amazon's web page for the book. Clicking on the underlined book cover may take you to Barnes and Noble's web page for the book. Purchasing through these links helps support the blog.