Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Conch Bearer

A book for older children, The Conch Beareris a typical adventure story with a bit of spice, a little bit. It follows the formula of a young, unwilling hero getting chosen for a quest. A magical object, here a conch, accepts him and protects him. Like Dorothy's ruby slippers an corrupted character tries to get it and doesn't mind if the hero must die. The usual hardships and friendships ensue and eventually the hero learns and wins. The characters were fine, but the conch could be rather annoying. I should mention it can talk.

The story is spiced up because it's set in India, but once the boy, his wizard-like teacher and Nisha, a girl who tags along leave Kolkatta leave the city there are few reminders that this story takes place in India. The story's gotten several positive reviews, but I disagree that it's a page-turner that will make me want to stay up to read. I actually misplaced the book for a week and wasn't induced to exert much energy to finish it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Home Game

I heard about Michael Lewis' Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhoodon

I'm happy to say that the book was as engaging and funny as the interview. Lewis, who's written Liar's Poker and Money Ball, kept a journal of key points in his career as a father, a role that never came easily to him. He's refreshingly honest and witty. He muses over how he fits in now that his family's grown and shares great stories of raising a baby in France, navigating fatherhood in Berkeley and taking his girls to the horse races in New Orleans. It's a fun quick read. Do NOT skip the introduction.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Looks very interesting

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Christopher McDougall
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

I've got no time to read it before I leave for China, but it is on my list of books I plan to read.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Winning the Race

John McWhorter's Winning the Race: Beyond the Crisis in Black America follows his earlier book Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black Americawhich I read last year .

I picked up Winning the Race expecting McWhorter to offer solutions to the problems stated in his first book. While there are some implicit in the book, this book continues to identify and explain the problems McWhorter sees which hold African American's back. He's very logical and thorough as he picks apart ideas he doesn't agree with so the book's a good model for argumentation, and boy do people need that. He writes with intelligence and style, and that's always welcome. Yet I suppose I wanted more hope, say a program that will change things, but that's not here. I realize my hope was naive and that to a large degree change can come from people who read the book and decide to change themselves. Yet how many kids dropping out of high school, for example, will pick this up at the library?

This is an intelligent, novel book, but if you've read Losing the Race you probably don't need to read this book as well.

Renovation of the Heart

Dallas Willard's Renovation of the Heart: Putting On the Character of Christ
is a book for smart people interested in Christianity. Willard intelligently gets to the heart of spiritual formation. As a reviewer on writes he begins " an introduction to spiritual formation, he then outlines the avenues through which transformation takes place, including thoughts, feelings, choices, social context, the body, and the soul." I respect how he grounds his points in history, theology and scripture. He can concretely convey complex ideas.

Since many churches seem to aim to deliver a nice service with extracurriculars like bridge clubs and golf outings to spice things up, it seems that spiritual growth is really left up to each individual. This book helps one figure out how to do that and why. I got it at the library, but will buy it. It's a book you can refer back to as time goes by.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates came up in Baltimore, a middle son of a father who had seven children by four women. A Beautiful Struggle is the lyrical, poetic story of Coates’ parents’ struggle to imbue their children with the skills and education needed to master their often unfriendly environment.

Walter Moseley called Coates the James Joyce of the hip-hop generation and before starting the book, I questioned this assessment as perhaps overblown. As I read the book, however, I came to fully agree. Coates has an amazing facility with language, creating vivid visuals utilizing an interplay of rap inspired prose.

Having lived in DC and Maryland during the years Coates was growing up in Baltimore and aspiring to Howard University, I connected all the more with Coates’ memoir. But, even those readers not familiar with the world Coates inhabited will find The Beautiful Struggle a beautiful read. Sorry, I couldn’t resist . . .