Thursday, January 7, 2010

January 2010 Book List

This will be a different type of entry since I will keep adding to it as I read more books this month. I'm an avid reader, but I have no idea how many books I read each year. This year I'd like to keep up with not only how many I read, but also which ones I read and a little blurb about what I thought of it.

1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling

I remember one of my students, Christine, was so absorbed in these books when they first came out. They were surrounded by controversy, and I didn't want to jump into the mix because I didn't know the content and wasn't interested in reading it. As the Harry Potter craze continued through the years, I became curious, but I never made the time to read the first one until now. Caleb is reading more advanced books and might decide to read this series. I wanted to know what it's about before he jumped in.

Meet Harry Potter. He has lived with his relatives, the Dursleys, since he was one year old. They hate him because he's from a wizarding family and lie to him that his parents were killed in an accident, the one that left a distinct lightning-bolt-shaped scar on his forehead. But on Harry's 11th birthday, he finds out the truth from Hagrid, a grounds keeper at Hogwarts, a school for witches and wizards. The Dursleys are unable to stand in the way of Harry's wizarding education, so they reluctantly let him go. At school, he befriends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger - and makes enemies of Draco Malfoy and his goons. He also experiences a lot of grief at the hands of one of his professors, Severus Snape. As the school year progresses, many things are revealed about Harry, his past, and his destiny.

It's a very well-written story. Good plot, good characters. Many may object to the subject matter (wizardry and such), but it's enjoyable fiction. I enjoy a good story, though some people may think some of the things I've read in the past have been of a questionable nature.

I finished the book in just a few days and have already checked the second one out from the library.

2. Stones into Schools by Greg Mortenson

I kept seeing the book Three Cups of Tea everywhere - the library, bookstores, Costco. My friend Ursula mentioned that she had read it for a book club she belongs to and told me it was really good. It took me longer to read it than normal, but I enjoyed it. It's about a man who worked to build schools in Pakistan for village girls who had nothing more to hope for. He struggled to get his first school built, then things blossomed. Even after the terrorist attacks on 9/11 made that area more volatile for Americans, he continued to go into that area and help the people there, convinced that education is the key to conquering terrorism. The respect shown him and Americans in general is inspiring.

On New Year's Day, Ursula was telling me she was starting to read his second book, Stones into Schools, which chronicles his continued school-building in Afghanistan.

Wow! I love these books! They're really eye-opening about the plight of people in the outer reaches of Afghanistan, how hungry they are for education - especially for girls - despite the orders of the Taliban. The relationships that Mortenson builds with village leaders and the "Dirty Dozen" on his team in Pakistan and Afghanistan are heart-warming. His passion for the education of the people there is contagious.

3. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling

The book begins with Harry Potter spending the summer after his first year at Hogwarts with his unloving relatives, the Dursleys. Because of their fear of his wizardry, they make things slightly better for him, but just barely. Harry can't wait to get back to Hogwarts for his second year, but once he's on his way, problems start arising. As things continue, other students in the school start pointing fingers at Harry as the culprit. Things come to a head when he is compelled to save the life of Ron's younger sister, Ginny - nearly costing Ron's and Hermione's lives in the process.

The writing continues to be great in this second book. The plot is intriguing, and I found myself having a hard time putting the book down. I can't wait to get into the third book, but I have some other books checked out from the library that I need to read first. Maybe the urge to get on with the next Harry Potter book will make me read those faster...

4. Don't Make a Black Woman Take Off Her Earrings by Tyler Perry

I love Madea in the movies, but the book just wasn't that funny. There were parts that were humorous, but nothing really made me laugh. The book was also pretty crude, but that's Madea, too. I can't say I'd recommend this book, but if you want to read it, get it from the library. Don't waste good money on it.

5. How Then Should We Choose? Three Views on God's Will and Decision Making edited by Douglas S. Huffman

Our home group is reading this for discussion. Every two weeks, we read a portion, then discuss it at our meetings. It's been divided up so our study will last through 10 meetings (about 20 weeks). I'm not sure what I think about it yet, though we've been reading it for about a month.

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