Thursday, May 1, 2008

Project 40: March/April

I only finished one book in March because I didn't really feel like reading, so the last two months are combined.

“Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew” by Ellen Notbohm
This is kind of a primer to get you started or remind you of things that are useful when interacting or living with or raising a child with autism. And they are good reminders. The downfall of this book is that it was written by the mother of a child with autism who, instead of writing a full story about her child, threw in tidbits of how her wonderful son overcame the challenges of autism to do this perfectly normal thing and that amazing thing in the middle of general tips to all parents and teachers. It kind of rubbed me the wrong way because it felt like “Ten Things Ellen Notbohm’s Child Wishes You Knew” at times. C+
“Catch 22” by Joseph Heller
It took me a long time to get into this book, which is unfortunate for me, because it’s a long book. I know that getting frustrated with the characters was probably the whole point of the story, and in that way, Heller accomplished his goal, but it still took me a lot time to actually want to pick up the book and read it. There are a lot of storylines that stop before the punchline and start several chapters later, stop again, and are resolved somewhere unexpected. It takes some getting used to, but it’s not a bad book. A book about despair, futility, bureaucracy, death, war and prostitutes can’t be all that bad. B

“Our Day to End Poverty: 24 Ways You Can Make a Difference” by Shannon Daley-Harris and Jeffrey Keenan

Like “The Green Book,” this gives lists of suggestions to play a small or large part in ending world poverty. The approach is based on the UN Millennium Development Goals I felt that it had a good mix of domestic and international focus, and kept a positive, yet realistic perspective on the prospect of meeting the Millennium Development Goals. The authors clearly believe that people of faith can, should, and do play a big part in addressing poverty, and give many suggestions that are specific to faith communities. The way the topics were split up made it a simple and quick read. B+

“Look Me In The Eye: My Life With Asperger’s” by John Elder Robison
This is an excellent memoir of a man with Asperger’s Syndrome, an Autism Spectrum disorder. What I liked most about it was that he had a mostly nonchalant attitude about totally awesome things that happened in his life, like inventing flaming and exploding guitars for KISS as a technician and designing games for Milton Bradley. He keeps this up for the whole book, except when he talks about his son and his second wife. Then his tone changes into a child-like language, like a kid pretending to be an animal, and it’s a little weird. Some readers might have heard about John Elder Robison before. He’s the older brother of Augusten Burroughs, author of “Running With Scissors.” A-

“Songs of the Gorilla Nation” by Dawn Prince-Hughes
This is a not really excellent memoir of a woman with Asperger’s Syndrome. I read on the book jacket that Prince-Hughes worked with Jane Goodall, of whom I’ve been a big fan since I was little, and I was excited to read about a scientist who was as obsessed with gorillas as I had once been. Her writing language disappointed me. It was SO over the top, I almost wanted to stop reading. When she described root beer as “the dark liquid, like some ancient sea,” I threw up in my mouth a little. Apparently, everything she experienced as a child was SO AMAZING that it required extra similes and metaphors. It got a little better when she dropped out of school and her wild and crazy life took over the story. Then it got worse when she started romanticizing about the gorillas she worked with. Meh. C

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