Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Being Anti-Social by Leigh K Cunningham

I received an announcement that review copies of this book were being distributed. I loved the title but was skeptical about the genre – chick lit. The announcement didn’t contain an image of the cover so I went ahead and read the synopsis. And oh my gosh, I felt like this book was written for me! So I requested the free copy.

After surmising that this book would be relatable for me, I realized quickly thereafter that me and the main character (Mace) are the same person, only with different lives. Mace has a life coach, Oscar Wilde, who imparts tidbits of wisdom that apply to the situations that Mace finds herself in. I found many of his insights to be quite clever.

After a most amusing glimpse into the life of a 38 year old, anti-social divorcee, I was somewhat disappointed with the diminution of the initial prose into a quite somber ending. I would have much preferred a final laugh.

Although Mace is labeled as antisocial, her personality is indicative of an introvert. Whether being anti-social and being an introvert are one in the same, I don’t know. What I do know is that the book was hilarious. However, it seems to me that if you don’t consider yourself anti-social or introverted, you may not find this book enjoyable.

One last note, you all know I’m a cover person. Had the cover come in the announcement, I’m sure I would’ve passed. I don’t think the cover does the book  justice.

“What is the good of friendship if one cannot say exactly what one means?” Being Anti-Social

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

This book…..I don’t know. I bought it a couple of years ago at an author pavilion. I had not been compelled to read it until it was selected as the book club choice for January. It was an easy read and took very little time to finish. If it wasn’t for that, I would not have finished it.

I never start reading any book with the intention of challenging the author. But there are several points Burrell makes that I just flat out disagree with. As Burrell “connects the dots” back to slavery, which he concludes is the basis for our (African Americans) actions today, several of the claims seem to be a stretch. Or, maybe some concepts were just oversimplified.

In addition to connecting the dots back to slavery, short term benefits and long term costs of accepting certain behaviors are also outlined. It is obvious that a lot of thought went into the writing as well as a lot of research. But Brainwashed touches several topics on a surface level and many times left me wanting to know more. This book makes reference to many other books, but I do not feel that justifies the skirting of several talking points that were mentioned.

If there’s a stereotype about our community, you will find it in Brainwashed. So as far as airing our dirty laundry, yes, he did that. But I’ll admit it was in a tough love kind of way. One thing this book will do is make you look at things with a more critical eye. So in that regard, I suppose the book accomplished its mission.

“Black people are not dark skinned white people.” Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority

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Monday, December 10, 2012

The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna

Back in October, I finished my current read on a departure flight. Since the return trip was 16 hours, it was a no brainer that I had to buy one for the flight back. It took me a while to settle on this one but once I read the first sentence I didn’t want to put it down. So I bought it.

From the back cover
Freetown, Sierra Leone, 1969. On a hot January evening that he will remember for decades, Elias Cole first catches sight of Saffia Kamara, the wife of a charismatic colleague. He is transfixed. Thirty years later, lying in the capital’s hospital, he recalls the desire that drove him to acts of betrayal he has tried to justify ever since.

Elsewhere in the hospital, Kai, a gifted young surgeon, is desperately trying to forget the pain of a lost love that torments him as much as the mental scars he still bears from the civil war that has left an entire people with terrible secrets to keep. It falls to British psychologist, Adrian Lockheart, to help the two survivors, but when he too falls in love, past and present collide with devastating consequences. “The Memory of Love” is a heartbreaking story of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.

This book has been described as intricate and that might be an understatement. But even with so many moving parts, the author is able to bring them all together beautifully. This story illustrates how it can become impossible to distinguish between love, obsession, and infatuation.

Intertwined between the romantic love story are illustrations of love's many other facets. An uncle and a nephew, a physically deformed man and the pain he endures in hopes of finding a wife, the widow, the mistress, best friends..... and the ability of Forna to capture it all in this book, brilliant.

As the anticipation builds page after page, finally events start to unfold, a twist always waiting somewhere in the pages that follow, chapter after chapter, it was almost too much. It was comparable to getting to the top of a roller coaster ride, that brief pause before going down, and then hoping you can catch your breath before the next turn.

There are some books that make me hesitate to start something new due to residual relishing. This was one of those books.

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