Friday, December 19, 2008

Holidays on Ice

by David Sedaris

Quickie Recap: Christmas in some families is a time of tradition and warmth and celebration. But if you've got a family half of crazy as mine, if you veer toward the untraditional, then you'll have an appreciation for these stories.

Quickie Review: You may have already heard Sedaris read his Santa Land Diaries and you can be glad to read them here again. If not, you're in for a treat because Sedaris working as an elf in a Macy's department store = pure comedy gold. He's also included some other holiday gems, some of them never before published, so yay!

Quickie Recommendation: I laughed out loud, what more do you want?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Tales From Outer Suburbia

Quickie Recap: I have no earthly idea how to describe this book! It looks like a children's tale if you judge it by the cover, but please don't. Although it does contain what may be called tales inside its pages, this is no ordinary book, it has a darker edge and a more sophisticated feel.

Quickie Review: To be honest, I had to read this a few times before I could get to the place where I might say I liked it. But now I really like it. I've felt the same way about really dark indie films too: it's such a departure from the norm that your first response is confusion, but a couple of days later you're still thinking about. So you see it again, and you're blown away by how good it is, and how different. I'm a big fan of different, and I think I can safely say that I am a big fan of Tan.

Quickie Recommendation: Oh yeah.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Fifteen Days

Stories of Bravery, Friendship, Life and Death From Inside the New Canadian Army, by Christie Blatchford.

Quickie Recap: Fifteen "important" days are highlighted from among Blatchford's trips to Afghanistan to spend time with the Canadian army. Unfortunately, "important" in this case means that shots were fired, lives were lost. Blatchford uses the tragedies to underscore the closeness of the army in ways that we don't normally hear from the media.

Quickie Review: Army books are a bit of a hard sell with me, but this book wasn't what I was expecting. It's not political, not remotely. It's about the people who are serving their country, and what that really means. Blatchford reports respectfully but she's not detached. These are real people she's writing about, and she lets us know it. I think that's why it resonates in the reader so strongly.

Quickie Recommendation: Despite the tightness in my chest, yes.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Geography of Hope

A Tour of the World We Need, by Chris Turner.

Quickie Recap: When it comes to the environment, that is to say, the health and the fate of the planet we call home, we are very near the tipping point, the point of no return. Humanity needs to be cultivating a new sustainable lifestyle and this book offers exactly that.

Quickie Review: HOPE is the key word to this book. Lots of green books get overexcited by the topic and doom us all but Turner instills hope by showing what can be done, in fact, what is being done in small doses right this very minute, and how it's working and could be working on a much larger scale if only we could get everyone on board. At various times in reading this book, I was ready to sell up and live in a mud hut, and then an eco-village, and god knows what else. The power of this book is that it makes it all feel possible, and that's not always something that environmentalists are good at. Parts of this book were more readable than others and Turner cares more for telling cool stories than for sticking to the topic but that's okay because he's got some important words here that I think deserve to be read.

Quickie Recommendation: Yup. What makes this book different, and my opinion good is that it's not about technology. We already have the technology. It's our consciousness that needs to change, and I think this book not only defines the problem but helps contribute to the solution. Wow, eh? Buy it here.