Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Instructions for a Heat Wave by Maggie O'Farrell

Maggie O'Farrell is the author of After You'd Gone, My Lovers Lover, The Distance Between Us, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox and The Hand That First Held Mine, all of which have won literary awards.
Instructions for a Heat Wave is the first book of O'Farrell's that I have read....won't be the last. This is
the type of book you can't put down once you have started it.
In 1976, London is suffering a terrible heat wave and drought. Gretta Riordon a married woman, mother of three grown children, grandmother to two sees her husband off to the "news agent" one hot morning not unlike any other morning since he retired. Expecting him back after he picks up his morning papers, she continues with her usual morning routine. Except this morning is quite different from years of other mornings... her husband Robert, does not return.
As her three kids make their way back home to search for their father, one from America(Aiofe), one from the country (Monica)and one from down the road (Michael),  the search for the missing father almost takes a backseat to all the unfinished business between parents and siblings.
Now I know I have mentioned that one of my pet peeves is when a writer will use a name that is not easily pronounced, or one that I stumble over every time I read it. So when I came across the name Aiofe, I said why oh why Maggie, did you throw in a curve ball? As the story progressed I was very interested to see that the pronunciation of that name was woven into the story. I have yet to truly figure out what the meaning of this was (other than her character was the story's most memorable, to me) , but eventually I could read the name with out a hitch:)
This is a story of growing up and how great and how difficult it can be, especially when there are secrets that shadow all the members of a family.
Loved her style of writing, loved the flow of the book...thank you author O'Farrell for this GREAT summer read :)
This book will be on the book shelves next month!!

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli

When I saw this title on my Harper/Collins book list, of course I jumped right on it. Who does not want to think clearer? And it is an interesting book... I love informational books with short chapters:)
This book points out to all that read it the errors of our judgement.
The little synopsis on the back of the book asks these questions:

paid too much for an item on EBay?
continued to do something that you knew was wrong for you?
backed the wrong horse?

Well, that piqued my interest for sure. What I found inside  were chapters based on these very types of life's questions. Chapter One( Why You Should Visit Cemetaries) tells us why we consistently over estimate our chances. We read/hear all the time about success stories. So, we think that if we have some similarities with the winner, we have a good chance at being successful ourselves. This is called survivorship bias. People systematically overestimate their chances of success. You can guard against this by visiting the graveyard of UN successful ventures, to get a reality check.

Just a sample of the types of wisdom you will find in this book. I am now treating it like the handbook of life, a good reference:) Look for author Dobelli's book , out this month.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Anyone Who Had a Heart by Burt Bacharach

Burt Bacharach has had seventy top 40 hits, won three Academy Awards, eight Grammy's, and an Emmy. He was awarded the Library of Congress Gershwin prize for Popular Song...there isn't a day goes by that if you listen to the radio or are in an elevator someplace, that you haven't heard a tune by Bacharach. And  now he has a memoir, using the title of one of his most beloved songs.
As I started to get into a few chapters of the book, I was immediately thrown off by the style of writing. I almost set it aside and just chalked it up to a badly written book. But I kept going..I haven't quite given myself permission to stop reading all books that I don't like. But in the book when he starts mentioning names of famous people that I do like, I kept going. Probably not the best reason to continue. The book is kind of choppy in it's chronology. Bacharach may be telling a story of the fifties, jump to something in the sixties and then back to his original story. Not my preferred way to read. But once I accepted that was the way is was going to be, I became interested in his marriages, children and famous friends. His collaborations with Hal David were the songs of legend. The sheer volume of songs written and number of artists that recorded them are mind boggling. So, if music interests you, it is a book that you really should read. If not, you could probably skip it and still lead a full and happy life :)