Sunday, February 03, 2008

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen...and more

I've been reading, just not getting around to posting about it. :-) Our book club pick for January was Water for Elephants. I was glad to be pushed into reading this one. I have been meaning to get around to it for months now and just needed a little incentive. All I really knew about it was that it was the story about a man being in the circus.

It's actually a very well-written tale of a man's life in the circus circa 1930. As a young man, Jacob Jankowski leaves his studies at Cornell after losing his parents in a car accident. He runs away and hops the rails which turns out to be a train for a fledgling circus. The book alternates between present day with Jacob as a very old man and his past days in the circus. The flow is pretty smooth and the characters, including the animals exceptionally well developed. A love story emerges that leaves you hoping the characters end up together.

As I've said before, I enjoy learning about new things while reading fiction. There was an author interview in the back of my book revealing the in depth research the author did on the history of the circus in America. And many of the animal characters and things that happen at the fictional circus were taken from actual events. The elephant in the book is a combination of two elephants Gruen read about. It makes the story that much more interesting to know these things really happened (including an elephant sneaking off and drinking the whole supply of lemonade). A word to any animal activist readers: there are several scenes of animal cruelty in this book. While I wouldn't say you shouldn't read it, you might want to prepare yourself for that part of the story.

I definitely recommend this one. And everyone I've talked to who has read it, loved it, including everyone in my book club who read it.

I've finished the second Percy Jackson book, Sea of Monsters. This was a very good sequel, almost better than the first because it concentrates a little less on character development and more on the story. In this story, Percy must battle a Cyclops in order to return the Golden Fleece to Camp Half-Blood. Another fun update of Greek mythology. And I'm looking forward to continuing the series.

I received The Intellectual Devotional by David S. Kidder and Noah D. Oppenheim for Christmas. I am really enjoying this book! It has a different tidbit of knowledge for each day of the year. Each day of the week has a particular subject (Monday=History, Tuesday=Literature, etc. The book starts with ancient history and works its way toward more modern trivia as the year progresses. Each day covers a particular topic such as Plato, Alexander the Great, Venus de Milo, The Harlem Renaissance, etc. The section defines the topic, puts it into the context of its time period and at the end gives fun facts about the topic. I've found it very interesting and a nice review of things I learned about in school. Or I'm learning about things I should have learned about in school. ;-)

I also finished a really great book about sensory processing issues called Sensational Kids by Lucy Jane Miller. The book discusses Sensory Processing Dysfunction (SPD). It explains the different types of sensory processing disorders, and then goes into a-day-in-the-life story of a child with each type. Very fascinating and educational. I have read a few books on the subject to educate myself in the wake of learning my daughter Ella has sensory issues. I found this one to be most informative and very well-written for a parent's understanding.

Okay, I think that has me all caught up. I've been listening to Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer on audiobook. I'm about 2/3rds through it and enjoying it. I only listen to it every now and then so it'll take me a while to finish it. But I'm finding this book much easier to listen to than The Accidental (I was one of the only people on the planet to not like this one).

Now, I'm in the position of deciding what book to read next... :-)

1 comment:

allisonmariecat said...

Oh, lots of good reviews! I loved the Percy Jackson sequels. I hope you like #3.

I read Safran Foer's first book and wasn't that into it, but I might have to try Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.