Saturday, January 2, 2010

Project 50: December

The year ended with a total of 56 books read. I could increase my goal to 60, but honestly, I think trying to read more than a book a week would make reading less enjoyable, and that's why I read, so I'm sticking with 50 books a year.
“Adopting on Your Own: The Complete Guide to Adoption for Single Parents” by Lee Varon
I thought that this book was really balanced and thorough. It’s written by a woman who adopted internationally, a toddler from Guatemala in her 30s and a 4 year old from Russia 14 years later. She really encourages singles considering adoption to examine themselves and their reasons for adopting, their abilities to support a child, what age and sex of child they want to adopt and why, whether they want to adopt internationally, domestically, through a private agency, through a state agency. She freely admits that adoption is not for everyone, not even for some couples, and prints testimonies from singles who had success in their adoption, trials, or who finally decided not to go through with it. It gave me a lot to think about. A

“The Skull of Truth” by Bruce Coville

Bruce Coville was one of my favorite authors as a kid. This book is in a serious of Magic Shop Books that includes “Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher” and “Jennifer Murdley’s Toad.” Charlie “accidentally” steals a skull from a mysterious magic shop which talks to him in his head and causes Charlie, a compulsive liar, to always tell the truth. Hijinx ensue. There are a couple of parts that are fairly typical for Coville, in which children have a lot more influence over adults than they would have in real life. It works for children’s literature, but might not appeal to all adults. I think that the origin story that Coville invents for the skull is particularly clever (hint: the skull’s name is Yorick), and could encourage kids to branch out into more advanced literature. B+

“Watching the English” by Kate Fox

This book is a sociological study of English behavior, written by a native Englishwoman who spent part of her childhood in France and America. I don’t know that it’s fair for a native to examine her own people, and I don’t think that she gives enough of a big picture for the causes of what she calls “social dis-ease.” It’s interesting enough, and kind of comical to read her describe things like awkward English greetings where no one knows whether to shake hands, kiss French style, or just give a nod of the head. However, it gets really repetitive and when she does not want to admit that not everyone adheres to the social rules she prescribes, she just says that they are the exception that proves the rule. Kind of a cop-out, I think. B-

“Rite of Passage: Tales of Backpacking ‘Round Europe” edited by Lisa Johnson
There were a real diversity of stories in here. Stories of love, stories of getting ripped off, stories of the kind you just have to tell when it comes up. I thought that some of the stories could have used a little more editing and some were really inconsequential, but it was an all right collection. B-