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41. Truth & Beauty : A Friendship
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42. I, Rigoberta Menchu: An Indian
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43. Mistress Bradstreet : The Untold
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44. Fat Girl : A True Story
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45. The Language of Baklava : A Memoir
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60. Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life

41. Truth & Beauty : A Friendship
by Ann Patchett
list price: $23.95
our price: $16.76
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060572140
Catlog: Book (2004-05-01)
Publisher: HarperCollins
Sales Rank: 2189
Average Customer Review: 4.13 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

What happens when the person who is your family is someone you aren't bound to by blood? What happens when the person you promise to love and to honor for the rest of your life is not your lover, but your best friend? In Truth & Beauty, her frank and startlingly intimate first work of nonfiction, Ann Patchett shines a fresh, revealing light on the world of women's friendships and shows us what it means to stand together.

Ann Patchett and Lucy Grealy met in college in 1981, and, after enrolling in the Iowa Writers' Workshop, began a friendship that would be as defining to both of their lives as their work was. In her critically acclaimed and hugely successful memoir, Autobiography of a Face, Lucy Grealy wrote about losing part of her jaw to childhood cancer, the years of chemotherapy and radiation, and then the endless reconstructive surgeries. In Truth & Beauty, the story isn't Lucy's life or Ann's life, but the parts of their lives they shared. This is a portrait of unwavering commitment that spans twenty years, from the long, cold winters of the Midwest, to surgical wards, to book parties in New York. Through love, fame, drugs, and despair, this book shows us what it means to be part of two lives that are intertwined.

This is a tender, brutal book about loving a person we cannot save. It is about loyalty, and about being lifted up by the sheer effervescence of someone who knew how to live life to the fullest.

... Read more

Reviews (31)

If you've read Lucy Grealy's book AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FACE, you must read Ann Patchett's book TRUTH & BEAUTY. Ann was Lucy's best friend and tells the story of their loving and literary friendship. Ann's book is filled with Lucy's letters. The book tells of how Lucy was taunted by kids and adults because of her facial cancer. Readers get to see into Lucy's heart and how because of her "ugly" face she thought no one would ever love her. yet she beds every man who says something nice to her out of a need to connect and feel "love.". this book is a fantastic look into the heart and mind of someone with a visible disability. it is about someone with a brilliant mind. and it's filled with triumph and tragedy. And if you haven't read AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FACE, I recommend that too. In both books you'll see the life of a driven woman hoping her genius and writing abilities will save her from what she thinks is the tragedy of her disability and make someone love her and she will live happily ever after. Sadly Lucy died of a drug overdose a few years ago. was it an accident or suicide?? she was heartbroken. she never thought she would find love. but so many of her friends loved her.

4-0 out of 5 stars Patchett's Frank and Tender First Work of Nonfiction
Female friendships are one of the most complex human relationships, regardless of age. And in TRUTH & BEAUTY, author Ann Patchett does nothing to dispel the mystery of girlfriends. If anything, she adds to it.

Although this book is nonfiction, it reads like fiction. Readers will dive into the story, greedily gathering information about the two main subjects --- Patchett and her friend, Lucy Grealy --- like characters in a novel. They were two young and ambitious women who go directly from Sarah Lawrence to the Iowa's Writers Workshop, the most coveted graduate school for writers. They develop a friendship that straddles the lines of intimacy, and they find literary fame. Along the way they form a bond that is difficult to describe. It spans continents, weathers illnesses both physical and mental, and seems to survive even death. But this is not a work of fiction, and so the eloquent writing of this well-known author packs even more of a punch. These are real people; this is Patchett's life, her beloved friend who lives, metaphorically speaking, just beyond her reach.

Patchett recreates her life with Grealy by interspersing their history with letters she received from Grealy over the years, postmarked from Scotland, New York, Providence, Connecticut, and all of the other places she traveled, taught and lived. They are letters that reveal a literary voice filled with love and admiration for a woman to whom she referred as "Pet." She was a competitive woman who was known to jump into Patchett's lap and ask repeatedly, "Am I your favorite? Do you love me the most?" And inevitably the answer was yes.

"Dearest Anvil, she would write to me six years later, dearest deposed president of some now defunct but lovingly remembered country, dearest to me, I can find no suitable words of affection for you, words that will contain the whole of your wonderfulness to me. You will have to make due with being my favorite bagel, my favorite blue awning above some great little café where the coffee is strong but milky and had real texture to it."

Narrated by Patchett, TRUTH & BEAUTY could be described as an analysis of Grealy, a woman who fights an uphill battle to recover physically from a cancer that robbed her of her outward beauty as a child, though it amplified an inner beauty. Grealy, as Patchett tells us, had a kind of animal magnetism that drew the best of people to her. She underwent at least 35 surgeries to rebuild a jaw decimated by radiation and lived her life subsisting on mashed fruits, ice cream and the occasional milkshake. Despite the staggering number of surgeries, the procedures never quite worked and much of Grealy's life was spent lamenting what she believed were her physical inadequacies. Yet TRUTH & BEAUTY is not a sad story. In fact, it features the gifts of Grealy's best features: her wit, gaiety and zest for life.

And while it focuses on Grealy and Patchett's friendship, TRUTH & BEAUTY may be better described as a study of human nature. Patchett writes about the intricacies of the human heart in THE MAGICIAN'S ASSISTANT, THE PATRON SAINT OF LIARS and BEL CANTO, and she tackles the subject once again in TRUTH & BEAUTY. The constant search for a love that seems to be right in front of a person's eyes is a recurring theme for Patchett, who weaves a beautiful if not frustrating story of a friendship that she worked diligently to maintain.

In life many people struggle to find reciprocal friendships in men and women. And, frequently, outsiders perceive even the best of friendships to be one-sided. This may also be the case here. Readers will complete TRUTH & BEAUTY with a keen appreciation for the love that exists between women, the unwavering loyalty that friends can maintain through years of turmoil and emotional trials. And while loyalty (as we see in this 257-page story) may falter occasionally, it can withstand the test of time. And perhaps even beyond.

--- Reviewed by Heather Grimshaw

4-0 out of 5 stars Not recommended for tender sensitivities
Well written, strangely powerful and often horrifying. I can't quite recommend it. It's a special sort of pathology that many of us have encountered.

4-0 out of 5 stars Painful and Questionable
I read this book directly after reading Autobiography of a Face. Lucy seemed to have a huge black hole in her soul that she constantly looked to others to fill up. Obviously she never learned to love herself, so her friends were her mirrors to her soul. She searched endlessly for love on the outside but her greatest quest was her search for the ability to love herself with all her physical flaws.
I saw Lucy's repeated surgeries simply a way to stay connected with something she knew and a place where she felt comfortable and accepted. The surgeries were physically painful but they gave her an opportunity to have everyone care for her openly and with such extraordinary allegiance, a true sign of love. Lucy could never quite embrace it and assimilate that love into her psyche.
Was it guilt that drove Ann to write this book wondering if there wasn't something she could have done to make the ending different? I felt a sense of relief when Lucy's life was finally over. What quality did she ever have in her existence? I think Ann went above and beyond the realm of friendship. One has to wonder why she hung in there through everything for a one-way friendship? Why was Ann so possessed by Lucy? It's a question we will never know but one that the book continually asks.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful tribute
Patchett's book is a beautifully written tribute to an exceptionally intense friendship. The author takes you through her relationship with Lucy Grealy although side-stepping prolonged analysis of why their bond was so tight. The reader can draw his or her own conclusion; close attention should be paid to the excerpts from Grealy's letters, which reveal her intellect, her delight in words and her charisma. One thing that astonished me, despite having read Autobiography of a Face when it was first published, was how much physical discomfort Grealy constantly dealt with. Her problem was far more than just an aesthetic problem -- she had only six teeth left, couldn't chew food normally and was constantly in danger of choking because she couldn't close her lips. It amazes me that she was able to be as productive as she was despite to this condition, even before factoring in the multiple surgeries. Grealy clearly had the heart of a lion and it's no surprise that people were drawn to her inner strength, even when it was clouded by her understandable depression and feelings of isolation and want. ... Read more

42. I, Rigoberta Menchu: An Indian Woman in Guatemala
by Rigoberta Menchu, E. Burgos-Debray, Ann Wright, Elisabeth Burgos-Debray
list price: $20.00
our price: $20.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0860917886
Catlog: Book (1987-06-01)
Publisher: Verso
Sales Rank: 16775
Average Customer Review: 3.71 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (35)

2-0 out of 5 stars Slow-moving, tedious (& fallacious) tale of Guat. struggle
I am sure that anyone familiar with Rigoberta Menchu is also familiar with David Stoll and his book "I, Rigoberta Menchu and the Story of All Poor Guatemalans" The well-known facts of Menchu's exaggerations aside, the book is certainly no literary masterpiece as it was edited by feminist ethnographer Burgos-Debray from tape-recorded conversations with the title character into Spanish, for neither of whom was it their first language. The flow is stilted and tedious, with long idealized accounts of the "noble savage" Indian community life and the ferocious fair-skinned oppressors; and while the nasty war in Guatemala has claimed many thousands of lives Menchu melodramatically idealizes the conflict as a purely right-wing government vs. oppressed Maya struggle.

As the idea of a somewhat accurate account, or "testimonial," as many academics prefer, the book is at times strong with its image of a young girl of a miserably oppressed class speaking in recently learned, fairly simple Spanish quite frankly of horrendous atrocities and massacres, as well as the extreme discrimination faced by Indians even by mixed blood "ladinos" in similar conditions. Even these wretchedly poor ladinos found solace in the fact that at least they were not Indians. But what is the difference, really, Menchu demands. Also interesting is the author's intertwinement of Biblical ideas from the local helpful Catholic Action (Menchu in reality went to a Catholic boarding school) with her people's native beliefs, drawing particularly heavily upon Exodus. Although the reading was slow, at least some of these themes were interesting; I, however, was greatly insulted upon learning of Menchu's exaggerations and falsities. The book, to me, at least, already had very little going for it, and then I find that much of it was distorted (the central theme of an Maya-rich landowner land struggle was actually a dispute between Menchu's father and his in-laws!) to gain greater appeal from academia in the US and Europe to Guatemala.

Menchu's story still deserves that second star, nonetheless, as it is a colossal example of the unfortunate state of modern academia and its "facts don't matter" approach to such romantic issues as the oppressed native Indian in contrast to the cruel white man. Guatemala's social history has certainly been nasty, but this is certainly not a good account (literarily nor factually) of that country in its idealized portrait of the Indian masses and their noble resistance to savage oppressors.

4-0 out of 5 stars I, Rigoberta de Menchu
"I, Rigoberta de Menchú"
Edited by Elisabeth Burgos-Debray

This is an awesome book. I recommend this book for everybody who wants to know the truth about the suffering of the Indians in Guatemala. This book talks about the customs of her community and also talks about all the injustices and discrimination that the white people had against the Indians.

Rigoberta belongs to the Quiché people in Guatemala. The customs of the Quiché people are very different from our customs. The Quiché people are very closed to the nature and they respect and give an enormous value to the animals and to the plants. This book make you realize the importance of the nature that we normally forget when we became more "civilize". This book shows all the suffering that the Quiche people had to life with it and the story of Rigoberta and her community shake you and force you to see that how superficial our society became. We worry for materialistic things, for example, I want expensive furniture or I'm not happy with the old T.V that I bought a year ago. Now I want the new plasma T.V. We worry for ephemeral things and most of the time we are wondering what kind of food are we going to eat instead of what we are going to do now if our children are asking for food and we don't have any food to provide them.

This book make you realize that Indians are being exploited and so many products that you consume are thanks to them. This book shows how the landlords exploited them on the fincas (The fincas are places where the coffee and the cotton are cultivated). This is a very emotional and sad part of the book and breaks you heart to believe that can exist people so mean who take any advantages of these hard workers. The conditions in which they work are unacceptable. They are exploited in every way possible. They work very hard and the pay is miserable.

When the Indians try to rebel the army took actions and what they did was to torture the people who try to change all this injustices. They try to suppress them with these awful tortures. We can see how the Indians accepted the catholic religion and how they interpreted the bible. The bible help them to see things more clear and they used it to claim their own rights as human been.

I recommend this book because after you read it all you are going to have a better understanding of the Indian culture and also you are going to be thankful for all the tiny things you have in life. People who don't appreciate life should read this book. People who waste food should read this book. People who don't appreciate nature should read this book. This book is going to make you be thankful and to be less superficial.

3-0 out of 5 stars The world is changing: a review on the mayans
There are times in your live when you realize that all the complications and "suffering" that you have to endure is something miniscule. That your whining about how the grass isn't growing pretty in the lawn or about how your life [is hard] because you are only getting paid $10, $12 dollars an hour and that is not enough to pay the $40,000 dollar car and the house and all those thing you need for your "simple" life are a testament of how God is not fair to you. But then, when you read something like I, Rigoberta de Menchu you come to realize that maybe, just maybe all the tragedy in your life is not so tragic. That is the beauty of this book. The realization that there are so many things out there in the world that we not even acknowledge as something real and with substance is what this book reminds you of. We live in a cynical, cynical world that focuses on money, [adult relations], and entertainment and most of the times the problems concerning other parts of the world are irrelevant until one of our own is involve. This is reality, but there is the other realities of people who really suffer and have to face adversity everyday and we, the privilege, don't even care.
(...) I, Rigoberta de Menchu, is an eye opener. It is cruel, sad, gross, devastating, and uplifting book all at the same time. It has value, morals and character something that our community, our entire nation sometimes lacks and that reminds you how little we know about the problems that the human race faces in general. Nevertheless, the narration is extremely moving and compassionate and brought to ink very vividly. I have to admit that there are segments of the book, which are really hard to digest and absorb. There are images that stick to your mind and your spirit like sun to the ground, they might leave you for a while but you know that once inserted they will always comeback to hunt you and will never leave you, not really.
(...)The book reveals the treatment that Mayas, and Indians in general have had to endure for so many years. Seclusion, rejection, discrimination, assassination, and many, many worse things that make your heart shatter. While reading this book you can help but think how humans are capable of doing so many atrocities to fellow members of their species without discriminating if they are men, women or children. It is something barbaric that in a nation like the U.S. seems to be like a Mel Gibson film, something unreal that during our lifetime should not be happening but, that unfortunately it is and with more frequency that it should ever be. Rigoberta accomplishes to tell the reader about the importance of community and respect towards any person. She establishes importance of unity that should be contemplated as something precious among human beings because that is the only way were are going to survive in this world that becomes smaller every day.

Personally, it was hard to read this book because I have fellow countrymen that are Mayan and it is really sad to acknowledge the problems they face are also happening in Mexico. Also, because I spend years studding about how magnificent and powerful their civilization used to be and how modernization is finishing with all the values and practices that made their culture one of a kind in the history of the world. I'll be the first to tell you that modernization is essential for the development of the world, without it we could not survive in this fast growing world, but it is truly a shame that we have to take advantage of people that all they desire is to maintain an style of life that doesn't require technology to be self-sufficient. This is what I am against of, taking advantage of people because we can.

This world needs more compassion and understanding. Until the day we realize that we are doomed to keep making mistake like creating conflicts with people we believe to be "uncivilized" when perhaps they are the rational side of the story. In my point of view, Rigoberta's message is that of -life and freedom for all- I think that is all she wants for her fellow Mayan brothers and sisters to be allowed to live a simple life where their custom will be protected and where their freedom will be left alone with nature. It seems to me that all they ask for is to be allowed to unite with nature in the future like they did in the past. Now, is that too much to ask?

4-0 out of 5 stars a story of survival
Take a whole community of people, stick them in the middle of nowhere and take away almost everything that they've been using to survive for the past hundred years. Take away their land and their way of life. Separate them and divide them against each other. Make them suffer to keep themselves and their family from dying. Will they make it? Some will, and the rest do not have a million dollar prize waiting for them when they've died trying to survive. This is not a reality show; this is simply reality, Rigoberta Menchú's reality.
If there was ever a story that needed to be told, this is it. I, Rigoberta Menchú will declare most of our modern problems, whether it is with our family or friends, bosses or co-workers or anyone and anything else that is complicating our lives, null and void. This novel gives new meaning to the word survival.
This book should affect everyone who reads it because it is not a recollection of history that happened a long time ago. This book was written in the nineteen eighties, not the eighteen eighties. The atrocities that took place all happened in most of our generation. It is real, and though it isn't happening in our home. It's close enough.

Rigoberta Menchú told her story when she was twenty-three years old. She starts off by explaining the traditions of her people, the Mayan Indians. She explains all their rituals, and the significance of each and every one of them. The background given was important to understanding why holding on to their culture was such an important part of life for them. There was not one ritual that I can remember that did not have an explanation. The bottom line was that her people based their lives on those who were before them. They strived to live the way their ancestors did, and when the Spaniards took over Guatemala, everything changed, and holding on to their way of life became a struggle. Even when Spain was done with Guatemala, their presence had a lasting effect on the Indian people. Their land was taken away, and they were forced to work for ghastly wages under inhumane conditions. They could no longer live as a community because all of a sudden they had to pay for things that the community used to provide, but could no longer afford to. Some of the Indian people turned their backs on their community to join the remaining Spaniards and others who were in control. These conditions caused a lot of death and trauma to the Indian communities and this story tells the world about all the atrocities that were committed, and how Rigoberta and her family helped her community, and eventually others, fight for their right to live.
It is inspirational to read about all the risks that were taken, with no regard to their own lives, in order to change the conditions they were living in. Rigoberta Menchú and her family saved peoples lives. They educated Indians on how to defend themselves, and keep from getting killed. They say that when the going gets tough, the tough get going, Rigoberta Menchú got entire communities going in the right direction to make changes that would better their lives.
There is no way that I could relate to her situation. No one I know could have been strong enough to live under the conditions that they did. They knew they were destined to work hard and get nothing in return from the day they were born. They did not sit and complain and ask the government for help, because it wasn't there. They sucked it up and worked their hardest every single day they were alive. Admirable is not strong enough a word to describe their survival.
I cannot end this review without mentioning that there has been some controversy about this novel and I will not say what it is. If you really want to know, you can find out for yourself. And when you do, put yourself in Rigoberta's shoes and see if you are a strong enough person to do what she did. I know that I am not, so I cannot point any fingers, can you?

5-0 out of 5 stars Powerful*
I, Rigoberta Menchu is a powerful depiction of the life Rigoberta has faced in Guatemala. Part of its strength comes from the way it is written. The basis for the book comes from a series of interviews conducted by anthropologist Elisabeth Burgos-Debray. These interviews were taped, transcribed, and organized. Consequently, the book reads as if Rigoberta Menchu is talking directly to the audience. The book also contains several explanations and examples of her culture. For that reason alone it is a good book, but there is so much more to it. In addition, we see how the Indians in Guatemala were oppressed, but more importantly, Rigoberta Menchu offers the "Why?" For example, Indians are discriminated against because they sleep in the same clothes they work in. However, she points out how there is no choice in the matter. Everyone has to wake up before sunrise and work into the night just to earn the little they are paid. Just as she had to break through the barriers to unite the different tribes of Guatemala, so does the book fight to break down stereotypes and misconceptions.
This book will definitely trigger some kind of response. Perhaps the hardships and oppression her family faced will evoke sympathy or pain or disbelief. For example, when the workers were able to get their wages increased, the landowners turn around and increase penalties, some monetary, for unsatisfactory work, which more than exceed the raise allotted to them. The book gives a voice and a rare look at the world through the eyes of the oppressed.
However, the book does have its controversies. That is why I included the asterisk in the review title. The accusation is that portions of the book, or maybe even the whole, have been fabricated. However, there must be some truth to the story. All biographies or autobiographies contain some embellishments. Therefore, the disconnect between the events in the story and evidence in real life should not destroy quality of the book. Rigoberta Menchu did not win the Nobel Prize for Literature, but her ideals and actions more than warrant recognition as a fighter for peace and justice.
As stated before, there must be some truth to the book. There was a repression in Guatemala and several of her family members, including her parents, are dead directly or indirectly because of it. ... Read more

43. Mistress Bradstreet : The Untold Life of America's First Poet
by Charlotte Gordon
list price: $27.95
our price: $19.01
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0316169048
Catlog: Book (2005-03-23)
Publisher: Little, Brown
Sales Rank: 10937
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

DESCRIPTION: An illuminating biography of Anne Bradstreet, the first writer--and the first bestseller--to emerge from the wilderness of the New World. Puritan Anne Bradstreet arrived in Massachusetts in 1630, 18 years old and newly married to Simon Bradstreet, the son of a minister. She was accompanied by her imperious father, Thomas Dudley, and a powerful clutch of Protestant dissenters whose descendants would become the founding fathers of the country. Bradstreetís story is a rich one, filled with drama and surprises, among them a passionate marriage, intellectual ferment, religious schisms, mortal illness, and Indian massacres. This is the story of a young woman and poet of great feeling struggling to unearth a language to describe the country in which she finds herself. And it also offers a rich and complex portrait of early America, the Puritans, and their trials and values; a legacy that continues to shape our country to the present day. ... Read more

Reviews (4)

4-0 out of 5 stars Thank you Charlotte Gordon!
I first discovered Anne Bradstreet as an undergraduate in the 1970's and fell in love with her work.Over the years I have researched her personal history in depth.Why is so little written about her, I wondered.Doesn't anyone else get it? Well, Charlotte Gordon gets it.
I read this book hungrily, delighted to have found a kindred spirit in Ms. Gordon.Her understanding of the spirit and times of this passionate Puritan are compelling.This is a must read for anyone seeking a better understanding of our Puritan ancestors. I disagree with the author on some details, mainly dates, but she paints the big picture skillfully.This one is definately worth your time.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Lovely & Timely Biography!
Anne Bradstreet is virtually unknown--but not after this engrossing and well-researched biography!The author has carefully crafted a beautiful book about the life of this great woman of the early American days.A wonderful book!

5-0 out of 5 stars Inspirational Modern Messages in an Important Historic Story
I LOVED this book and couldn't put it down - It traces the life and work of Anne Bradstreet, America's first poet, whose story carries a very modern message. "Mistress Bradstreet" is vital reading TODAY for several reasons: 1) it inspires any present-day American who is bent on holding on to their passion, voice, faith and family in times of great upheaval and change, and 2) It fills in missing chapters of history of those women leaders, creative thinkers, and pioneers who continue to shape the world. 3) Finally, Gordon's writing is gorgeous, combining the best of storytelling, biography and history.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Compelling Adventure in Early America
This wonderful literary biography is an important contribution to the history of American literature and thought.Anne Bradstreet, a poet whose work I was only slightly familiar with, emerges as a vital, passionate, brave, and yet very human woman in this lively and well written biography.The biography reads like a novel as the author,Charlote Gordon,includes vivid images of early American life including hostile Indians, drunken sybarites, and scathingly judgemental Pilgrims.The reader learns about religious history, the Puritan movement, Anne's life events, the trials and tribulations she faced as a powerfully faithful and spiritual woman in England, the struggles and joys she faced as a wife and mother raising a family in primitive conditions in some of the first settlements in the New World.The biography is constructed with superb and lively scholarship. Perhaps the most interesting part of the book is that Gordon, a poet herself, discovers Miss Bradstreet's inner feelings and thoughts by interpreting Anne's poetry.The reader gets to follow Anne's private world though Gordon's inciteful commentary.A must read for anyone interested in poetry, early American history, and adventure. ... Read more

44. Fat Girl : A True Story
by JudithMoore
list price: $21.95
our price: $14.93
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1594630097
Catlog: Book (2005-03-03)
Publisher: Hudson Street Press
Sales Rank: 1127
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A nonfiction She's Come Undone, Fat Girl is a powerfully honest and compulsively readable memoir of obsession with food, and with one's body, penned by a Guggenheim and NEA award-winning writer.

For any woman who has ever had a love/hate relationship with food and with how she looks; for anyone who has knowingly or unconsciously used food to try to fill the hole in his heart or soothe the craggy edges of his psyche, Fat Girl is a brilliantly rendered, angst-filled coming-of-age story of gain and loss. From the lush descriptions of food that call to mind the writings of M. F. K. Fisher at her finest, to the heartbreaking accounts of Moore's deep longing for a family and a sense of belonging and love, Fat Girl stuns and shocks, saddens and tickles.
... Read more

Reviews (42)

5-0 out of 5 stars Most Impressive
What is most impressive about "FAT GIRL" is that it takes strong stands. The author takes risks with confidence. As with other books in the same league of impact and merit ala "YOU REMIND ME OF ME," "THE GLASS CASTLE", "NIGHTMARES ECHO," "MY FRACTURED LIFE," or "NEVER LET ME GO," "FAT GIRL" is a book that will either amaze you or offend you. The author presents a finely crafted story it is. Judged on impact and merit, this is a story that is in the same league as "MY FRACTURED LIFE", "THE LOVELY BONES", "MIDDLESEX", and "RUNNING WITH SCISSORS."

2-0 out of 5 stars Most pointless book of self-hate I've ever read
Like mosquitoes drawn to lights, I couldn't stop reading this blessedly short vilification of overweight people.208 pages could hardly contain the mounds of self-hatred Judith Moore exhibits here.I have to admit she writes well.When she describes a meal, she not only seduces the reader into craving, she makes her smell and taste it. Unfortunately, the same can be said about her depictions of fat people; I kept feeling she wanted me to shower and put on deodorant several times while reading.

I looked at the author's photo on the back flyleaf and could not figure out just why she described herself in the beginning of the book as looking so horrendous and disgusting, with rolls of abdominal fat hanging over her thighs and each bubbling buttock sluicing against the other.She looked fine to me, very normal.Moreover, she admitted to being, at most, only 40 pounds overweight, weight she continually lost and regained over the years.I have been more than 40 pounds overweight and I never looked anything like the woman she so vividly describes, nor do other people I know with even more excess poundage.Ms. Moore is evoking someone morbidly obese, someone begging for a heart attack or stroke.She described her father as repulsive at over 6 feet and more than 200 pounds.Yet, most men over 6 feet tall are at a healthy weight when near 200 pounds.Then I realized that her outrageously abusive childhood had obviously warped her perception of herself (and other overweight people).As she said "Even when I was slender, I was fat".

But I have read Ms. Moore's earlier book, Never Eat Your Heart Out, where her autobiographical sketches are of, as another reviewer wrote, a "relatively ordinary life" with little hint of the horrendous existence she portrays and blames in Fat Girl.Yes, her parents divorced when she was very young, yes, her father disappeared from her life and her grandmother and mother were vicious shrews, her school life was friendless and full of teasing.Hey, that's the story of hordes of people who have nonetheless gone on to lead fulfilling lives free of excessive vitriol focused on a past they cannot get beyond.Ms. Moore is now in her sixties and the mother of two grown daughters.She must realize that a lousy childhood and nasty relatives should not be given permission to control her perceptions and self-worth into late adulthood. My advice to Ms. Moore - get over it.Do good deeds for others less fortunate (yes, there are people with worse lives), smile, and act like the attractive and well-adjusted person you want to be; it will quickly become self-fulfilling. Or get thee to a good therapist posthaste.

For those who might read this book, save yourselves the agony and have something to eat instead.

3-0 out of 5 stars motive unclear
I'm not quite sure what to say about this book. The writer doesn't mince words or make excuses, she lays out her life, her pain, and her fat. She doesn't cut a sympathetic figure, and she isn't trying to be one. I had difficulty finding a context for the novel. Why write it? Was it for self exploration? To explain something to people she knows? To chew the fat? I couldn't figure it out, and couldn't decide if reading it was enlightening or vouyerism.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Truth Hurts
I read this book in one day, alternately weeping and laughing out loud.The author is so brave, honest and unsparing in her description of inner pain.Self-medicating with food does not work but it is easy to fall into. Her descriptions of food are seductive and sensual. I wanted to call her when I finished reading the book and just say I am sorry you suffered that way, you are a delightful human being, and I just want to put my arms around you.I will never judge an overweight person, myself included, again.We cannot know another's inner pain or early experiences.I thank Ms. Moore for sharing hers so brilliantly.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Story That Had To Be Told
FAT GIRL is an abrupt and blatantly rude title. It's one that is silly in a way that is funny only to bullies. That's the point. That sense of feeling is exactly what FAT GIRL captures. It is the biography of being fat, being made fun of, being the outsider. My sister was a "fat girl" and I know first hand how she came home crying from the way she was treated. She wasn't any less intelligent than me or any less kind or less polite, yet she was treated so differently - all because of her weight. FAT GIRL is an excellent book in the same league as THE GLASS CASTLE, MY FRACTURED LIFE, SECRET LIFE OF BEES, and THE TRUE AND OUTSTANDING ADVENTURES OF THE HUNT SISTERS. ... Read more

45. The Language of Baklava : A Memoir
list price: $23.00
our price: $16.10
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375423044
Catlog: Book (2005-03-15)
Publisher: Pantheon
Sales Rank: 174609
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46. The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of The Oxford English Dictionary
by Simon Winchester
list price: $13.95
our price: $10.46
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 006099486X
Catlog: Book (1999-08)
Publisher: Perennial
Sales Rank: 1568
Average Customer Review: 3.81 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The Professor and the Madman, masterfully researched and eloquently written, is an extraordinary tale of madness, genius, and the incredible obsessions of two remarkable men that led to the making of the Oxford English Dictionary--and literary history. The compilation of the OED, begun in 1857, was one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken. As definitions were collected, the overseeing committee, led by Professor James Murray, discovered that one man, Dr. W C. Minor, had submitted more than ten thousand. When the committee insisted on honoring him, a shocking truth came to light: Dr. Minor, an American Civil War veteran, was also an inmate at an asylum for the criminally insane.


... Read more

Reviews (344)

3-0 out of 5 stars Too little story, too much padding...
The title of this book, "The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary" is far more intriguing than the book itself. Once you get the main idea, that one of the most important contributors to the Oxford English Dictionary was an American living in a mad-house, there's not much more to tell. And yet, Simon Winchester goes on to tell it for another 200 or so pages.

The problem is that what sounds like a fascinating story really isn't. I mean, nothing much happens. Dr. W. C. Minor is delusional, murders a man, and is placed in a mental institution. Dr. Murray begins work on the Oxford Dictionary and makes a public request for volunteers to read through books and find examples of words. Dr. Minor responds to the advertisement from his cell, and is of great help.

Time passes. Eventually, both men die of old age.

End of story.

Simon Winchester tries to fill pages with baseless supposition, along the lines of "Perhaps it was this early experience of watching young maidens bathing in the river that would eventually lead Dr. Minor to the confused mental state that would, ultimately, land him in a mental hospital." After a while, though, one can't help thinking, it would have been nice if this book had an actual story behind it. "Perhaps Dr. Minor had an affair with the widow of the man he murdered. Although there is no evidence to suggest that anything of the kind ever occurred..."

What was interesting was seeing some of the early definitions of the words themselves, but that was a very small part of the book. Ultimately, "The Professor and the Madman" is a bit of fluff. There's enough information to make for a fascinating 5-page article, but it's extended and padded to fill a book.

Only for the very bored...

4-0 out of 5 stars interesting story
This is a marvelous book about the Professor, James Murray, the primary editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, and the Madman, Dr. William C. Minor, one of the Dictionary's most prolific contributors, despite his incarceration in an asylum for the criminally insane after committing a senseless murder provoked by his delusions. The book tells the stories of each of these protagonists as well as the making of the OED itself, and nicely wraps up all of the connections, even to the point of showing what happened to the murdered man's family (whose widow visited Minor regularly
for months).

3-0 out of 5 stars Quick read for philologists, historians, and others.
I like reading the occasional historical fact (rather than historical fiction) "novelette," and The Professor and the Madman was definitely easy to get through. One can learn much from books like this, particularly the way normal people lived their day-to-day lives in a certain time and place.

A few things I liked about this book:

1. One will assuredly learn a thing or two about the English language, in reading it. You will learn some obsolete words, the origin of some words, and just get a refresher of other, more common words. Each chapter begins with a dictionary entry of a particular word, some very normal words, some more exotic words.

2. The parallel lives of the two main characters are interesting to follow. One feels real emotions for both. There are a few shocking moments in the book, which stand out quite a bit in front of the otherwise fairly tame narrative.

3. I grew up with the Oxford English Dictionary, and I always wondered how they compiled all the words. It was great learning about how they did that.

4. The book covers an array of themes and topics, and a fairly diverse geography. Mental illness, civil war, sexual propriety, crime and punishment, one can learn a little bit about a lot of issues in the reading of Simon Winchester's book.

I wouldn't recommend the book to just anyone, though. It can be kind of slow, and sometimes one simply grows tired of bouncing back and forth between the two main characters. It is also fairly short; one sort of wishes for more detail on certain events. In some places, the book reads like a crime/detective novel from the 19th century, in others it is more like a biography. It sort of skips around from one style to the next, almost as if different parts were written at very different times by an author in very different states of mind. Overall, though, this book is a nice, quick read, a good plot, and you will learn a thing or two from it.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Footnote to History
Simon Winchester has written a very unusual book about a very strange series of events during the last century and the dawn of this one. First, we have various literary authorities in England deciding to compile and edit a massive dictionary (eventually it became the Oxford English Dictionary), which took 70 years to finish and filled multiple volumes. Then we have the editor of the project for most of its life discovering that one of his most valuable contributors was in a lunatic asylum because he murdered someone. The story goes from there.

Winchester is a good writer, and he milks this story for everything it's worth. He spends a good deal of time talking about side issues, as is common with this sort of slice-of-life thing. He does a very good job with them, as far as I can tell. I'm pretty knowledgeable with regards to the American Civil War; the author must tell you of the Battle of the Wilderness to explain how the murderer went mad, and he does so skilfully. The writing of the OED and its contents are intelligently discussed and dissected, and the history of dictionaries themselves was fascinating. The other characters, namely the editor of the dictionary itself, James Murray, are interesting and well-drawn.

I enjoyed this book a great deal. It is short, but it's fascinating, and I would recommend it pretty much universally.

4-0 out of 5 stars Fun and Accessible
Being a dictionary enthusiast, especially of the OED, I was excited to come across this book. It reads quickly, and has a wealth of factual information and also some fun speculation. The author uses lots of words which are themselves fun to look up, but also has OED references printed right in. I suggest that any fan of the OED read this book. ... Read more

47. Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year
by Anne Lamott
list price: $12.95
our price: $9.71
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 044990928X
Catlog: Book (1994-04-12)
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Sales Rank: 3765
Average Customer Review: 4.57 out of 5 stars
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The most honest, wildly enjoyable book written about motherhood is surely Anne Lamott's account of her son Sam's first year. A gifted writer and teacher, Lamott (Crooked Little Heart) is a single mother and ex-alcoholic with a pleasingly warped social circle and a remarkably tolerant religion to lean on. She responds to the changes, exhaustion, and love Sam brings with aplomb or outright insanity. The book rocks from hilarious to unbearably poignant when Sam's burgeoning life is played out against a very close friend's illness. No saccharine paean to becoming a parent, this touches on the rage and befuddlement that dog sweeter emotions during this sea change in one's life. ... Read more

Reviews (110)

5-0 out of 5 stars A beautiful book!
My partner bought this book for me just days before our son was born. I read it during the idyllic yet anxious days following his birth. I admit that although I had heard of Anne Lamott, I had never read any of her work. I soon found that I'd been missing out! I am totally in awe of her writing ability and her unflinching honesty about the joys and difficulties of being a new parent. Another reviewer called her writing "self absorbed," but I would strongly disagree with that judgment. I believe it is a gift to know yourself as well as Anne Lamott obviously knows herself. It takes a great deal of courage to bare your soul to the world without fear or embarrassment as Ms. Lamott does in this book. If more people approached life with this kind of self-knowledge and honesty, I think we would all be a lot happier with each other and ourselves. This is a beautiful book, not just for new parents but for all parents. I highly recommend it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Better than all my girlfriends put together
My mother and my best friend each gave me a copy of this book a week after my daughter was born. I read it as I nursed, savoring each section and not wanting it to end. Since none of my girlfriends were mothers, I felt entirely alone in the world except for Anne Lamott; I depended on her to voice my rage, joy, fear, and love. I wished to God that I'd had a support system like she had. I'll never forget driving to the store a week after my daughter was born; in about 20 minutes, the "jungle drums" that Anne wrote about began pounding in my brain -- gotta get home!!! It was so fresh and real and clear, and helped get me through the most difficult period of my life. Thank you, Anne, from the bottom of my heart.

5-0 out of 5 stars Well written -- a fun quick read
I enjoyed this book much more than the "Girlfriend's Guide". It's funnier and more intelligently written. The book is a journal of the author's first year as a single parent. The book focuses on the insanity and joy of that year and includes some of the best descriptions ever.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Five Star Mother
I absolutely loved this book!! It was so sweet, and yet so honest that you almost felt like you were going through the first year of motherhood with the author. Sam is a lucky little boy to have Anne for a mommy.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Must Read For New Moms
A friend sent me this book when I was pregnant, but I didn't get around to reading it until after my son was born. I have savored each and every little bit of reading I've been able to fit in between feedings and sleeping. I am sad that I've finished it, so I've started reading it again! Like most new moms, it's nice to get reassurance that you're not the only one feeling like you're losing your marbles. It's also nice to know we are having the same thoughts. I pray every night that the universe takes care of my son. I'm frightened to death some stupid teenager is going to run him over, I'm frightened of all of the things I have no control over. Anne has a way of taking all of the fears and spinning them with such wit and humor, I found myself laughing at the absurdity of it all! This book has helped me cope with those dark fears. ... Read more

48. Standing Next to History : An Agent's Life Inside the Secret Service
by Joseph Petro, Jeffrey Robinson
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312332211
Catlog: Book (2005-01-01)
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Sales Rank: 64631
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Book Description

Joseph Petro served for 23 years as a special agent in the United States Secret Service; eleven of them with presidents and vice presidents. For four of those years he stood by the side of Ronald Reagan.

Following his career as a Navy Lieutenant, during which he patrolled the rivers and canals along the Vietnamese-Cambodian border, he worked his way up through the Secret Service to become one of the key men in charge of protecting the President. That journey through the Secret Service provides an individual look inside the most discreet law enforcement agency in the world, and a uniquely intimate account of the Reagan presidency.

Engagingly, Joseph Petro tells "first hand" stories of: riding horses with the Reagans; eluding the press and sneaking the President and Mrs. Reagan out of the White House; rehearsing assassination attempts and working, then re-working every detail of the president's trips around the world; negotiating the president's protection with the KGB; diverting a 26 car presidential motorcade in downtown Tokyo; protecting Vice-President Dan Quayle at Rajiv Gandhi's funeral where he was surrounded by Yassir Arafat's heavily armed bodyguards; taking charge of the single largest protective effort in the history of the Secret Service-Pope John Paul II's 1987 visit to the United States; and being only one of three witnesses at the private meeting between President Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev that ushered in the end of the Cold War.

Joseph Petro provides an original and fascinating perspective of the Secret Service, the inner workings of the White House and a little seen view of world leaders, as a man who stood next to history.
... Read more

49. Between a Rock and a Hard Place
by Aron Ralston
list price: $26.00
our price: $15.60
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743492811
Catlog: Book (2004-09)
Publisher: Atria
Sales Rank: 192
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Book Description

One of the most extraordinary survival stories ever told -- Aron Ralston's searing account of his six days trapped in one of the most remote spots in America, and how one inspired act of bravery brought him home.

It started out as a simple hike in the Utah canyonlands on a warm Saturday afternoon. For Aron Ralston, a twenty-seven-year-old mountaineer and outdoorsman, a walk into the remote Blue John Canyon was a chance to get a break from a winter of solo climbing Colorado's highest and toughest peaks. He'd earned this weekend vacation, and though he met two charming women along the way, by early afternoon he finally found himself in his element: alone, with just the beauty of the natural world all around him.

It was 2:41 P.M. Eight miles from his truck, in a deep and narrow slot canyon, Aron was climbing down off a wedged boulder when the rock suddenly, and terrifyingly, came loose. Before he could get out of the way, the falling stone pinned his right hand and wrist against the canyon wall.

And so began six days of hell for Aron Ralston. With scant water and little food, no jacket for the painfully cold nights, and the terrible knowledge that he'd told no one where he was headed, he found himself facing a lingering death -- trapped by an 800-pound boulder 100 feet down in the bottom of a canyon. As he eliminated his escape options one by one through the days, Aron faced the full horror of his predicament: By the time any possible search and rescue effort would begin, he'd most probably have died of dehydration, if a flash flood didn't drown him before that.

What does one do in the face of almost certain death? Using the video camera from his pack, Aron began recording his grateful good-byes to his family and friends all over the country, thinking back over a life filled with adventure, and documenting a last will and testament with the hope that someone would find it. (For their part, his family and friends had instigated a major search for Aron, the amazing details of which are also documented here for the first time.) The knowledge of their love kept Aron Ralston alive, until a divine inspiration on Thursday morning solved the riddle of the boulder. Aron then committed the most extreme act imaginable to save himself.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place -- a brilliantly written, funny, honest, inspiring, and downright astonishing report from the line where death meets life -- will surely take its place in the annals of classic adventure stories. ... Read more

50. It's Not Where You Start, It's Where You Finish! : The Success Secrets of a Top Member of the Mary Kay Independent Sales Force
by GillianHennessy-Ortega
list price: $21.95
our price: $14.93
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0471709743
Catlog: Book (2005-04-22)
Publisher: Wiley
Sales Rank: 2782
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Book Description

PRAISE FOR It's Not Where You Start, It's Where You Finish!

"Along her journey, [Hennessy-Ortega] has inspired, motivated, and encouraged thousands of women to believe they too can turn their dreams and goals into realities. You will love this book; it will produce incredible results in your life."
—Rena Tarbet, Independent Senior National Sales Director Mary Kay Inc.

"With a refreshing style all her own, Gillian Hennessy-Ortega uses her down-to-earth wit and wisdom to ignite your belief in what's possible, raise your level of expectation for your future, recognize your potential, and empower you to take a step ahead of the crowd and into a lifetime of success. A must-read for anyone committed to living their dreams!"
—Lisa Diane, author, When You Can Walk on Water Why Take the Boat?

"Gillian inspired me to reach for the level of excellence I had dreamt of. This book will encourage you, at all levels of your life, to reach for your highest accomplishments. You won't be able to put this book down. Inspiring!"
—Albert Pujols, First Baseman, St. Louis Cardinals 2001 National League Rookie of the Year

"In It's Not Where You Start, It's Where You Finish!, Gillian shares the nuggets of truth that ensure both starting and finishing with results and excellence. As someone who uniquely knows what it means to live the American Dream, she has made herself a master of life and business. Now, as master teacher, she is passing it on to you."
—Pamela Waldrop Shaw, author, Design Your Life 90-Day Planner Independent National Sales Director, Mary Kay Inc.

"Gillian inspires people to reach farther and stretch beyond the comfort zone and into greatness. She has practical, straightforward ideas and tools to help any organization or individual move to the next level of success. I would recommend this book to anyone who desires success in their life."
—Guy F. Hulen, Director of Human Resources Hong Kong Shanghai Banc Corp. (HSBC) ... Read more

51. The Sixteenth Round: From Number 1 Contender To #45472
by Rubin Carter
list price: $15.00
our price: $14.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140149295
Catlog: Book (1999-12-01)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Sales Rank: 15651
Average Customer Review: 4.53 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

On May 26, 1967, the spiraling career of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, then the top contender for the world middleweight boxing crown, came to a shuddering and tragic halt: he and a young fan were found guilty of murder of three white people in a New Jersey bar.The nightmare knew no bounds as Carter traded his superstar status for a prison number and the concrete walls of some of America's most horrific institutions.Originally published as an attempt by Carter to set the record straight and force a new trial, The Sixteenth Round is timeless.It is an eye-opening portrait of growing up black in America, a scathing indictment of the prison system Carter grew up in and out of, and a mesmerizing re-creation of his furious battles in the ring and in the courtroom set against the backdrop of the turbulent sixties.The liveliness of Carter's street language, its power and ironic humor, makes this an eloquent, soul-stirring account of a remarkable life not soon to be forgotten. ... Read more

Reviews (43)

5-0 out of 5 stars What a book
I'm not an avid reader of books. I think that in my life I've read about 6 books from start to finish. This book is one of them. His life is an amazing/tragic yet inspiring one. The feeling I got after reading this book is that it teaches alot about the human sprit and what it can accomplish when you set your mind to it.

His writing style pulls no stops, He's direct and to the point.

The writing style he adopts gives you a real look at the Rubin Carter, in a way the Movie or other books about him can't.

Want to Know the real Rubin Carter! - Read this book

5-0 out of 5 stars Hurricane:A political injustice
I heard of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter from the inspirational film "the hurricane" starring Denzel Washington. After seeing the film I became enthralled in the story of a man framed for murders he did not commit and locked away in a cell for 20 years. I decided to get the autobiography of the hurricane entitled the 16th round. The book starts by exposing the life of a child sentenced to a state home for boys from the brutality of the kids and gaurds to the racism and segregation of the prison system in America. Rubin was in prison for most of his early life filling him with hate and rage from the gaurds and other inmates. So he started boxing. His pure power and skill made him an unstoppable talent. That is until he shared his thoughts on the racist Police forces that patrolled the american ghettoes. From then on the police set out to destroy his life. Rubin was pulled over after the murder of 3 white customers of a patterson bar.After 3 witnesses claimed he wasn't the murderer he was released. Five months later He was about to take on Dick Tiger for the middle weight title.But it was not to be and he was arrested and sentenced to three times life after the admitted liars Bello and Bradley said that he was the murderer. And so Rubin entered the familiar walls of Trenton state prison once again for a crime he did not commit. This story of injustice is exellently written. It is an inspirational book that will fill you with love and compassion for the amazing fighter of battles in the ring and battles of political injustice,Rubin "Hurricane" Carter. By Owen Clark.

4-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and Touching
Obviously no one can write his story better than Rubin himself. This story is both and inspiring story of a man who has never stopped fighting and a terrifying reality check into the American judicial system. This book is filled with an anger that is only kept in check by the author's own love and compassion.

The reader whould of course keep in mind this is an autobiography and therefore is skewed to the writer's point of view and emotional state.

2-0 out of 5 stars The rounds go on and on...
I purchased this book, after viewing the much celebrated movie, "The Hurricane." The book is mediocre. I found it difficult to believe much of the writer's exaggerated boasting regarding his many talents. I had erroneously gathered from the movie, that this was a self-effacing, self-made man, not so. The reader is ever searching for the "real meat" of the story, however, the bulk of the story is about the author as a "ghetto-bad boy." The last few chapters of the book are short and quickly race you through the actual murder and trial. Overall it is not well written and disappointing.

5-0 out of 5 stars A touching story inspires child.
This story reached out and touched the lives of many people. It also made people realize not to be racist. I know that I used to be racist and this turned my life around. The fact that rubin was in jail for a crime he didnt commit just because he wasnt white isnt at all fair. His story inspired me not to be racist and to get others not to hate the non-white. It has touched many lives and i like that. I am one of Rubin's biggest fans. ... Read more

52. Riding the Bus With My Sister: A True Life Journey
by Rachel Simon
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0452284554
Catlog: Book (2003-09-01)
Publisher: Plume Books
Sales Rank: 4690
Average Customer Review: 4.48 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Beth is a spirited woman with mental retardation, who spends nearly every day riding the buses in Philadelphia. The drivers, a lively group, are her mentors; her fellow passengers are her community. When Beth asks her sister Rachel to accompany her on the buses for one year, they take a transcendent journey together that changes Rachel's life in incredible ways and leads her to accept her sister at long last-teaching her to slow down and enjoy the ride.

Full of life lessons from which any reader will profit, Riding the Bus with My Sister is "a heartwarming, life-affirming journey through both the present and the past...[that] might just change your life" (Boston Herald).
... Read more

Reviews (29)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Special Journey
Many things in this book amazed me, not the least of which was the support system of bus drivers who were such an integral part of Beth Simon's life as she rode the city buses, day after da,y in an unnamed Pennsylvania city.

Rachel, spending part of the year accompanying her mildly retarded sister on her daily rounds of bus rides, intricately depicts these drivers and their(mostly) caring attitudes toward Beth. It was amazing to her that Beth actually had a better support system than she did in her so-called "normal" life.

Interspered in the monthly entries are vignettes about the past shared by these two sisters and their siblings. Their total abandonment by their mother when she decided to marry an abusive convict was heart-wrenching. But this book was never whiny- rather, it showed the resilience of this family.

I learned a lot about the social services, within a community, that are provided to disabled people like Beth. Her "team" seemed very caring and involved with her life.

I felt Rachel's frustration as she tried to convince Beth to eat better, take better medical and dental care of herself, and to get some kind of a job. Beth's stubbornmess and willfulness were also a challenge to her sister, as was her demanding attitude.

This book is perceptive, enlightening, painfully honest....and memorable. I am so glad that I read it and that Rachel Simon allowed me into her world.

5-0 out of 5 stars This book will appeal to anyone!
Do you know someone with a disability? Chances are, you do, and regardless of the disability, mental retardation, autism, blindness....there is much to learn and relate to in Rachel Simon's true life story entitled "Riding the Bus With My Sister". I have two sisters with mental retardation, similar to Rachel's sister, Beth. Reading this book gave me new insight into my relationship with my own sisters, and I see them and their lives with new understanding. In addition, the book was very informative of the systems in place to support the disabled within a community. This book has had a profound effect on me and I find Rachel Simon quite courageous and brave to share such a personal story. Anyone will enjoy reading this book, the messages of acceptance, enjoying life as it is and connecting with others are universal.

4-0 out of 5 stars Finding Myself
Rachel Simon is a woman in her late 30's to early 40's, living alone. She is unhappy with herself and lifestyle, which consists of writing and teaching all day long in Philadelphia. Beth, her sister with mental retardation, invites Rachel to attend her "Plan of Care" meeting, just after Rachel writes an article about riding the bus with sister, Beth. Just after this scheduled meeting, Beth challenges Rachel to ride the bus with her for a year, but they agree to two times a week for a year. This also meant sleeping over at Beth's apartment on sofa cushions that were set up on the floor. On these bus rides, Rachel learns little "facts of life" lessons from each of the bus drivers that Beth shares her rides with. Rachel is soon to realize and accepts just who her sister and herself truly is. She understands and learns to be content, to work at her faults to make them better, and not to be afraid of what leads her to happiness.
A few things I didn't like about this book was that it was slow at times. The book's progress in dialog could have been hindered by my lack of understanding at the beginning of the book and because it was confusing. Another possibility could be because I was confused by one of the extra books changing of tense from present to past childhood memories. I didn't like the fact that Rachel was shallow at times. Rachel also had a hard time accepting her sister for who she was and was too afraid of everyone else's thoughts.
There are much more positives, than I had dislikes about. This book ends with a happy note and Rachel changes. Rachel learns how to be happy, and camas's to find out that she wasn't the only one with siblings that have mental disabilities. Beth Also changes, she learns that she words can hurt more than she thinks they will. Beth sees how being difficult and stubborn pushes her family away. In conclusion, I liked this book a lot and would recommend it to family with a disabled person.

2-0 out of 5 stars Of a Boy
Of a Boy by Sonya Hartnett (A Penguin Book; $24.95)
ISBN 0-14-014622-9
Set in 1997 Australia after the disappearance of the Metford children (based on the true story of the Beaumont children). Adrian a boy of nine, lives with his Grandmother and depressed uncle Rory. Adrian feels lonely and disconnected, this feeling is increased as adults fail him. Adrian's life is full of fear he is scared of self-combustion, quicksand and shopping centers. His greatest fear is to become an outcast like the crazy children from the shelter at his school. Adrian is intrigued by the Metford's disappearance and imagines what may have happened to them. Adrian just longs for love and acceptance, he thinks by finding the Metford children he will achieve the attention he desires. Adrian along with his mixed matched out of control, friend, Nicole, pursue the Metford's case to receive acknowledgment. The gentleness and twisted perceptions of childhood are partly responsible for the rash decisions made.

The novel is written in a clear lucid style. It is not a light or humorous read, but a compelling one. Themes throughout the novel are dark, sad and heavy. This style in third person is suited to its purpose, expressing the thoughts inside a sad young boy's head. Towards the end of the novel the style becomes mysterious and suggestive as the disappearance of the Metford children unfolds. However, the dark themes within the mystery are still continued.

The reader of this novel was forced to like the sad, lost and confused boy Adrian. Adrian is so mixed up that the reader cannot help feeling sympathetic towards him. Nicole is portrayed as un-likable, she is misunderstood and totally out of control; her tone is rude and sharp. However, at the end of the novel the reader feels more sympathetic through the extremes she went to, to have people pay attention. Adrian's Grandmother was also portrayed as an un-likable character; the reader believes that she could have made more of an effort with Adrian. Through her thoughts you can see her reomorse and the self-confliction she expiriences. Uncle Rory tries to give help to Adrian but cannot give advice with the sate he is in himself.

The novel is slow going and the ending was disappointingly predictable, the reader just does not know how this ending would eventuate. The emotion in the novel was conveyed through to the reader successfully. Being from a childs' point of view powerlessness and loss loom larger from their perspective. The characters were all very individual allowing the reader to visualise them. The themes throughout the novel were contemporary and the issues explored relevant. This novel is suitable for young adults.

5-0 out of 5 stars not a Polyanna, not a cynic
I was sickened that someone who "knows" a real-life character in a book would come on line to publically slam her. That alone should make her review worthless in everyones' eyes. As for the educator who was in special education but changed majors - thank goodness for students with special needs! These two reviews showed the polar opposite of the kind of grace and kindness this world needs, and that this wonderful book illustrates! ... Read more

53. Leap of Faith : Memoirs of an Unexpected Life
by Queen Noor
list price: $13.95
our price: $10.46
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1401359485
Catlog: Book (2005-03-09)
Publisher: Miramax Books
Sales Rank: 2715
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Leap of Faith is the dramatic and inspiring story of an American woman's remarkable journey into the heart of a man and his nation.

Born into a distinguished Arab-American family and raised amid privilege, Lisa Halaby joined the first freshman class at Princeton to accept women, graduating in 1974 with a degree in architecture and urban planning. Two years later, while visiting her father in Jordan, she was casually introduced on the airport runway to King Hussein. Widely admired in the Arab world as a voice of moderation, and for his direct lineage to the prophet Muhammad, Hussein would soon become the world's most eligible bachelor after the tragic death of his wife. The next time they met, Hussein would fall headlong in love with the athletic, outspoken daughter of his longtime friend. After a whirlwind, secret courtship Lisa Halaby became Noor Al Hussein, Queen of Jordan.

With eloquence and candor, Queen Noor speaks of the obstacles she faced as a naive young bride in the royal court, of rebelling against the smothering embrace of security guards and palace life, and of her own successful struggle to create a working role as a humanitarian activist In a court that simply expected Noor to keep her husband happy. As she gradually took on the mantle of a queen, Noor's joys and challenges grew. After a heartbreaking miscarriage, she gave birth to four children. Meshing the demands of motherhood with the commitments of her position often proved difficult, but she tried to keep her young children by her side, even while flying the world with her husband in his relentless quest for peace. This mission would reap satisfying rewards, including greater Arab unity and a peace treaty with Israel, and suffer such terrible setbacks as the Gulf War and the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin.

Leap of Faith is a remarkable document. It is the story of a young American woman who became wife and partner to an Arab monarch. It provides a compelling portrait of the late King Hussein and his lifelong effort to bring peace to his wartorn region, and an insider's view of the growing gulf between the United States and the Arab nations. It is also the refreshingly candid story of a mother coming to terms with the demands the king's role as a world statesman placed on her family's private life. But most of all it is a love story—the intimate account of a woman who lost her heart to a king, and to his people. ... Read more

Reviews (196)

4-0 out of 5 stars An Intriguing Glimpse into the Arab World
I thoroughly enjoyed this book!It was fascinating to read about the Middle East conflict from an American woman turned Arab's perspective. It is intriguing how an independent, well-educated, well-connected American woman can move to an Arab country, covert to Islam and live in a society where women are second-class citizens. Having said that, I am very impressed at the role Noor ultimately created, e.g., the programs she developed to help the women in Jordan earn a living through their traditional handicrafts and her speaking engagements in the United States to help raise awareness of the Arab culture.Her background in Urban Planning and architecture also allowed her to play an important role in managing the growth in Jordan effectively.She is an intelligent, articulate and graceful woman who served the King and Jordan admirably.

The majority of the book is really a tribute to King Hussein and it goes into great detail about his politics and peace negotiations, which was very educational and compelling.Clearly, Noor loved and respected her husband deeply. However, I would have liked to have learned more about Queen Noor, her years as a young woman and her own work which she glosses over quite a bit.

Keep in mind this is a personal memoir and as such the politics presented are from the Queen's perspective, which I found to be self-serving, or, rather, King serving at times.Not that this is such a bad thing as it is important to try to learn and understandworld politics from other points of view in order to balance out the propaganda that our own government and media feed us.Read this book with an open mind and your view of the Arab world will never be quite the same.

3-0 out of 5 stars OK if you ignore the politics
It's a good book about her life, but it gets into indepth details about the politics and the religion of that area of the world. It can get very tedious, and I basically just skimmed most of the book. If you understand politics and all the goings-on of that area of the world, then this book is for you. It's sort of the other side of history as we in the U.S. know it, and it's very biased against the US and Israel. The pictures are great though, and I did cry at the end when the King died.

1-0 out of 5 stars Ghost-written pap
The story of Queen Noor's life reads like a romance novel- well, not the usual romance novel, because in this one, the ordinary girl marries the King of a nation created by Western powers in the wake of WWII who manages to survive amidst countries run by murdurous dictators by willingly bowing to the demands of whomever has the largest army at his door. A King whose country subsumed "Arab Palestine" and yet who can pretend to be a defender of the Palestinians.

Of course that's really of no interest to the readers of this book, who see Queen Noor with the same unjaundiced eye they cast towards the late Princess Diana, another fairy-tale princess- at least in the legend created by her hoarde of press agents and promoters.

But if a fairy tale is what you're looking for- you'll certainly find it here.

5-0 out of 5 stars I Loved This Book
I loved this book.I knew next to nothing about Jordan, Lisa Halaby, King Hussein, and the Middle East when I first read this book.I learned so much.I read it several times.

I particularly appreciated the perspective of an American woman, about my age, who adapted a ready-made family, a culture, a religion, and a country when she married her beloved husband.I think Queen Noor's perspective gives a balanced view of the Middle East and explains much about the differences and similarities in the world we all share.

I highly recommend this book both as a real life love story and as a mind-opening glimpse into a world very different than our own.

5-0 out of 5 stars an example to emulate
Queen Noor writes eloquently as she shares from the heart the solutions to unite humanity through peace, rather than weapons and war.
I found her courage and heartfelt intentions throughout the book to help raise awareness of the culture she married into, in order to bridge the gap between cultures in the Arab world, that is obviously wide and in dire need of peaceful resolution.

She is humble and gracious, highly educated and carries her mission to unite with her heart, rather than an ego gain for might and domineering power.
She is an example to emulate. Her book is an outstanding read.
... Read more

54. Lucky : A Memoir
by Alice Sebold
list price: $11.95
our price: $8.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0316096199
Catlog: Book (2002-09)
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Sales Rank: 1926
Average Customer Review: 4.49 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Enormously visceral, emotionally gripping, and imbued with the belief that justice is possible even after the most horrific of crimes, Alice Sebold's compelling memoir of her rape at the age of eighteen is a story that takes hold of you and won't let go.

Sebold fulfills a promise that she made to herself in the very tunnel where she was raped: someday she would write a book about her experience. With Lucky she delivers on that promise with mordant wit and an eye for life's absurdities, as she describes what she was like both as a young girl before the rape and how that rape changed but did not sink the woman she later became.

It is Alice's indomitable spirit that we come to know in these pages. The same young woman who sets her sights on becoming an Ethel Merman-style diva one day (despite her braces, bad complexion, and extra weight) encounters what is still thought of today as the crime from which no woman can ever really recover. In an account that is at once heartrending and hilarious, we see Alice's spirit prevail as she struggles to have a normal college experience in the aftermath of this harrowing, life-changing event.

No less gripping is the almost unbelievable role that coincidence plays in the unfolding of Sebold's narrative. Her case, placed in the inactive file, is miraculously opened again six months later when she sees her rapist on the street. This begins the long road to what dominates these pages: the struggle for triumph and understanding -- in the courtroom and outside in the world.

Lucky is, quite simply, a real-life thriller. In its literary style and narrative tension we never lose sight of why this life story is worth reading. At the end we are left standing in the wake of devastating violence, and, like the writer, we have come to know what it means to survive. ... Read more

Reviews (154)

5-0 out of 5 stars A TRIUMPH OVER TRAGEDY
Like her wonderful novel The Lovely Bones - which I've also reviewed and which you must read - Lucky is a harrowing, heart-wrenching book about the worst possible thing that can happen to a woman. Alice Sebold tells the raw story of her rape ordeal and her subsequent struggle for recovery with an honesty and warmth which is compelling. Lucky reads almost like a novel itself at times, with gripping moments of suspense, particularly during the court trial scenes.
Alice Sebold was the innocent victim of an unforgivable crime - but she doesn't ask for our sympathy or pity in these beautifully written pages. She earns our respect and admiration for the courageous way she tells how the traumatic events changed and shaped her life; how the naive college student would eventually become a hardened, determined aggressor herself in her brave fight for justice against her attacker. Sadly, this natural reaction to her personal violation came with a price - destructive behavioural damage that brought a later downward spiral into drugs. What the author didn't know at the time is that she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder; an anxiety syndrome that emerges following a psychologically distressing traumatic event such as rape, which she battles to overcome.
Can someone really, truly, get over something so savage and brutal as rape is the numbing thought you're left with long after you put the book aside? The past can never be forgotten, but Alice Sebold has managed to crawl from the wreckage and move on with her life to a happier future that has brought her international fame and acclaim. That says something about the human spirit - and everything about this remarkable woman.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Story of Survival - Incredible.
In this thought-provoking, chilling memoir, Alice Sebold recounts the events of her rape and the aftermath of that tragedy. While strong enough to go through with the trial and conviction of her attacker, Sebold's emotional state was deeply affected for many years after. Her memoir follows the events that occurred after her rape and the things she attempted in order to escape her pain.

Sebold captures this period in her life with great intensity and literary skill. Not only does the reader become informed of the actual events of the rape and the events following it, but we get a look into Sebold's home life and her personality before the night that would change everything.

This story isn't just about a college girl's rape and her survival story. It's a story about her life: her family, her friends, her childhood. Sebold explains how when she was younger all she wanted was to be hugged by her parents, but she would settle for something as simple as a touch because she was offered nothing more (and sometimes not even that luxury). It's about growing up in a dysfunctional family and getting through it. It's about surviving not only bad experiences in life, but surviving and coping with continuing bad situations.

A great read - highly recommended to anyone.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Must Read!
A must read for clinical psychologists and students interested in the sexual abuse topic.

3-0 out of 5 stars Yet again I'm left disappointed ...
I was a bit underwhelmed with 'The Lovely Bones' - started out great, lost me entirely by the end - but I expected great things of 'Lucky'. Yet again it starts out well, the opening chapter is horrifying, moving and completely unputdownable - but as we move away from the actual rape and its immediate aftermath all Alice Sebold's faults as a writer surface again. She seems unable to select material which will be of interest to the reader and fills pages and pages with irrelevant detail of her family life and unnecessary background detail. The book comes alive again when she spots her rapist in the street but in between I found myself losing interest. We all know the argument about real-life not being as tidy as fiction - but in this case it WAS tidy - the rapist was identified by Alice, caught and punished (a much more satisfactory ending than that of 'The Lovely Bones', ironically). I wish the book had been more scrupulously edited to focus on the essential elements of her story rather than filled up with padding. I felt cheated at the end of the book - at the beginning I felt that I would be with Alice throughout her every step of her journey to find justice and recover from the trauma she suffered but somehow this connection was lost and by the middle of the book I had no idea what she - or indeed anyone else involved was thinking or feeling. What a shame as this could have been a truly great book and an inspiration to rape survivors everywhere ...

5-0 out of 5 stars A real tale, full of sound and fury
This book is so many things, but the one that comes first to mind is "brave." For Seabold to have written this is amazing--the courage it must have taken. But that aside, it is well-written. I read "Lovely Bones" first, and then this one. While the premise of "Lovely" was great, I found "Lucky" to be a better book. Don't get me wrong, I like both of them, but "Lucky" was by far the more "real" tale. Try them both and then decide for yourself.

Also recommended: McCrae's Bark of the Dogwood, A Boy Called It ... Read more

55. First They Killed My Father : A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers
by Loung Ung
list price: $13.00
our price: $9.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060931388
Catlog: Book (2001-01-01)
Publisher: Perennial
Sales Rank: 34614
Average Customer Review: 4.52 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Until the age of five, Loung Ung lived in Phnom Penh, one of seven children of a high-ranking government official. She was a precocious child who loved the open city markets, fried crickets, chicken fights, and sassing her parents. When Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge army stormed into Phnom Penh in April 1975, Ung's family was forced to flee their home and hide their previous life of privilege. Eventually, they dispersed in order to survive. Loung was trained as a child soldier in a work camp for orphans while her other siblings were sent to labor camps. Only after the Vietnamese destroyed the Khmer Rouge were Loung and her surviving siblings slowly reunited.

Bolstered by the shocking bravery of one brother and sustained by her sister's gentle kindness amid brutality, Loung forged ahead to create a courageous new life. Harrowing yet hopeful, insightful and compelling, this family's story is truly unforgettable.

... Read more

Reviews (110)

4-0 out of 5 stars First They Killed My Father
Book Review

"First They Killed My Father: A Daughter Of Cambodia Remembers" by Ms. Loung Ung. January 2000. HarperCollins Publishers, 256 pages.

Reviewed by Ronnie Yimsut Special to the Asian Reporter

Do you remember when you were just a child? What kind a childhood did you have? Do you still remember what kind of dream you have? What was it like for you when you were growing up?

These are some of the questions one should ponder before he or she is about to read a recently published book by Ms. Loung Ung. For Loung, a genocide survivor, her answer to these questions might have been simply as, "I never really have a childhood, with the exception of the brief happy moment I have with my family." Loung's childhood, like that of many other children in Cambodia-including this reviewer, was taken away completely by war and the Khmer Rouge's Killing Fields regime. Only loneliness, suffering, extreme hunger (starvation), and sadness seemed to accompany Loung's early childhood in Cambodia.

Forced to live and work as slave labors in a virtual "prison without a wall," Loung and her family endured every basic human rights abuse by a genocidal regime, following a long and agonizing forced march across Cambodia. Overworked, sickness, and starvation soon followed as her constant companions. One by one, her family members were dying. Her family unity was slowly and agonizingly breaking up piece-by-piece by the so called, "Angkar," the Khmer Rouge secretive or phantom organization. An older sister was the first to die of illness, as a direct result of overwork and starvation, in a primitive Communist hospital. Her father, a former government official, was the first to be taken away and subsequently executed. Her mother and the youngest sister survived long enough to endure more torture before the Khmer Rouge young and eager executioners also killed them. No one immune from the mass killing by the Khmer Rouge, including some of the loyal Khmer Rouge cadres and soldiers themselves.

Orphaned by age eight years old, young Loung managed to overcome the Khmer Rouge brain washing sessions and training to be a child soldier. They trained her to be just another obedient killer for Angkar, like so many others before her. But they failed miserably. She survived only by her wit and her own family members' love for one another, and the numerous sacrifices that were made. It was the formula needed to fence against a genocidal regime bent on destroying family unity and a civil society. Loung refused to give up. In the end, Loung strong will have triumphant against all odds.

Loung's memoir represents the story of countless other children in Cambodia who did not survive to tell of their fate, of their immense suffering before their untimely death. In telling her own story, Loung is in fact telling many other untold stories of the suffering and death of her fellow children in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge reign of terrors. She is the voice for many others who are no longer have a voice. As Loung often said, "By telling my own story of suffering to others who would listen, I am worthy of being alive."

Thank you for your courage and determination, Loung!

5-0 out of 5 stars A deeply moving story of courage and survival
In the beginning pages of "First They Killed My Father", the book is dedicated in memory of the two million people that were killed by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. The vastness of that number is hard to understand and comprehend, but by writing her book Loung Ung helps us to understand. By telling her story she speaks not only for herself; but for all of those other voices that will never again be heard. The story that she tells is especially heartbreaking, because it is a story of horror and brutality seen through the eyes of a child. Loung Ung was only 5 years old when the Khmer Rouge took control of Cambodia in 1975. Loung and her family; along with hundreds of thousands of other families from the capital city of Phnom Penh; were forced to leave their homes and to flee into the countryside. They witnessed the deliberate destruction of an entire society by the Khmer Rouge. Day to day life in Cambodia became a living nightmare. I felt a very deep sense of grief and sadness reading about the death of so many of the Cambodian people; and of the terrible suffering endured by Loung and her family. But beyond those feelings of sadness, there is much more within this book. There are many poignant moments in the book, that reaffirm the ultimate value of every human life. As you read Loung's story, every member of her family will be vividly brought to life before your eyes. The love, sacrifice, courage and kindness of Loung's family helped to give her the strength to survive. Loung's courageous heart has helped others to live too. This is a book that was written from the heart, and it is a story that you will always remember.

5-0 out of 5 stars My new favorite book
This is an absolutely wonderful book. I wish that I hadn't read it yet so I could go back and read it again for the first time. It is a haunting recount of the transition of Cambodia's government by Pol Pot and the Khmer rouge and an amazing story of the people who were able to survive it. Fantastic writing that keeps you glued to every page. THis book really makes you realize the lack our hardship in your own life.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Essential Reading
Forget Britney....And do you tend to complain of your life's miseries because you are not Britney? This is the kind of literature that makes you a different person, if you read it. You won't be the same, I promise. You'd appreciate the simplest of things in life...a drop of water, a grain of rice, a grain of sugar...and love and support from the family. It should be on a reading list for every students.

5-0 out of 5 stars Moved me so much on the human spirit
As I'm now travelling in the Southeast Asia I would want to read some books about this area. I found Ms Luong Ung's book in a bookstore in Nha Trang of Vietnam (original copy!). Once I started to read it I had to stop for some time to get some fresh air before I could finish it. The book was so greatly written but the story was so horrible, it's impossible to be unmoved by the knowledge that this is not a fiction but a real life story that happened at the time of my generation. I felt the sorrow when Ms Luong's father, and later her mother, were taken away by the Khmer Rough, I felt the happiness when she finally started a new life in America. I was born in Aug 1977 and it's somehow quite difficult to imagine that when I was well brought up in a peaceful place (in Hong Kong), then a girl and other children of my generation living very near to me would force to serve for the children army and suffer from great miseries and unspeakable carnage. This book definitely tells us how lucky we are, how precious a life can be, and how one politician's stupid idea would ruin so many lives and families. Thanks Ms Loung for writing such a great book to share her experience with all of us, it must have taken you great courage to tell us your story, which moved me so much on the human spirit. ... Read more

56. The Secret Language of Girlfriends: Talking Loudly, Laughing Wildly, and Making the Most of Our Most Important Friendships
by Karen Neuburger, Nadine Schiff
list price: $16.95
our price: $11.53
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1401301630
Catlog: Book (2005-04)
Publisher: Hyperion
Sales Rank: 12955
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"For better or worse, for richer or poorer, your girlfriends are yours for life." --Karen Neuburger

A joyful celebration of female friendship in all its wild, poignant, and inspirational glory.

Karen has spent the past ten years collecting stories of love, laughter, and inspiration between girlfriends from the thousands of women she comes in contact with through her work as the founder of an immensely popular lifestyle company. Often funny, sometimes sad, but always enlightening and uplifting, these testimonials show that in a world where women are constantly being pulled in several directions, they can always rely on their girlfriends to be there for them.

Celebrating these rare and unique bonds between women, The Secret Language of Girlfriends shows how restorative friendship can be and how setting aside time to be around other women can have a transforming effect. Whether it's getting over a breakup, struggling with family frustrations, dealing with illness and loss, or simply just shopping 'til you drop and sharing a bottle of wine over dinner, being around your girlfriends can make all the difference in the world.

The Secret Language of Girlfriends is Karen Neuburger's personal prescription for more happiness and fulfillment in life -- a healthy dose of girlfriendship! As the perfect gift from one girlfriend to another, it's sure to find a place on every woman's bookshelf. ... Read more

Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars I now know what this girlfriend thing is all about
I expected one of those easy, fun, skim-the-surface reads when THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF GIRLFRIENDS arrived in my mailbox recently. Before even opening the envelope, I was already imagining something along the lines of those tacky TV "chick shows" about the pitfalls of Internet romance, the miracle of cosmetic makeovers, breathless tell-all forums on perfect love-making, how to shop for shoes, etc. etc.

In other words, I was expecting style, self-absorption and perhaps some cynical wit. But substance? Soul-stirring inspiration? Genuine cosmic insight? After all, we're talking girlfriends here --- you know, the kind of relationships formed in high school washrooms, in shopping malls, over interminable phone calls that drove our parents mad.

But now it's confession and celebration time. I was wrong --- and I was never happier to be wrong.

You see, I couldn't actually reach the mailbox to get Karen Neuberger's wonderful revelation about female friendship. Thanks to some rogue bacterium, a minor leg injury went terribly wrong, leaving me miserably chair-bound, very sore, frustrated at my doctor's orders to choke down those antibiotics, and not a little worried about the long-term effects on my mobility.

It was a visiting girlfriend who cleared my mailbox, made coffee, did my dishes, even fed the cat, and then sat down and kept me company all evening with some of the best conversation I'd had in ages. And of course she told all the other girlfriends. I had become a team project!

A few days later, as I was deeply immersed in the anecdotes and insight of THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF GIRLFRIENDS, another brought over dark chocolate, flowers, and an unfinished knitting project. She insisted on doing my laundry while I sorted out her dropped stitches. Then we shared the chocolate, talked, watched a favorite Britcom, talked, laughed ourselves silly, talked.... Several others joined the relay in the following days, knowing exactly what to do, when to do it, and how much.

Finally, I realized that this is what it's all about, the girlfriend thing. We were living what Neuberger has packed so brilliantly --- and substantially --- into every page. I also realized that who we are as befriending and tending women has got to be genetic, uniquely hardwired into every healthy feminine psyche from the dawn of creation.

And so a week-from-hell that had begun with a fearful six-hour ordeal in the local hospital ER, ended in happy tears, gales of laughter, and above all, the indescribable grace of knowing I would never be alone when some dumb luck crisis suddenly strikes. As one of my long-distance "broad squad" members reminded me during a two-hour phone call across three time-zones, it just happened to be my turn to "get the treatment" --- to be spoiled, reassured, affirmed, propped up, accepted unconditionally in my worst moods, and loved into healing.

I'm still spending a lot of time with the inconvenient leg propped up, but I'm beating the blues now by reading my favorite bits of THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF GIRLFRIENDS aloud, sometimes for the second or third time, to this wonderful, extravagant herd of women, whose collective power to release healing endorphins never fails to astonish me.

Neuberger may not have invented the "secret" of our intuitive language, but few writers communicate its vocabulary and grammar with such authentic experience and delightful skill. This is one "chick book" that belongs on every mature woman's bookshelf --- if you can actually keep it there.

Be firm, be strong: tell the girlfriends to go buy their own copies.

--- Reviewed by Pauline Finch

5-0 out of 5 stars Best Gift!
A great read! I thoroughly enjoyed every page. In fact, I thought it was so much fun I purchased a book for each of my girlfriends and plan on giving the book as gifts on our annual summer road trip to the coast. It brought up so many memories of my own experiences...I loved it! Cherish your girlfriends...Thank you Karen.

1-0 out of 5 stars Secret marketing ploys and celebrity suck up .......
At first glance this book looked like a really fun read.Cute cover and catchy concepts it seemed like it would something right up my alley.I was very wrong.The book talks all about the sort of girlfriends that one may want to have or hope to have over the course of her lifetime.That's all fine and dandy (not to mention obvious) but does anyone really need to read 200+ pages of the author's fond memories of her friends? Is it necessary to suck up to Oprah right in the dedication and then barely mention her in those 200+ pages? I also did not appreciate the cheap marketing ploy that involved the author plugging her stupid pajama line.I don't think that the author imparts any true words of wisdom and I seriously doubt there is much for anyone to gain by reading this book.You could do better things with your time like perhaps watching Thelma & Louise, A League of their Own, Beaches, Steel Magnolias, etc.... Don't waste your time or money on this.Don't even waste a trip to the library - grab a girlfriend and go shopping instead!!!!

4-0 out of 5 stars A gentle Read
I have read half of the book in just two days. It is a great read. I felt like I could relate to a lot of what was being said. The tales are of everyday women in everyday situations. It is comfortable to know that others out there feel as you do during any stage of your life. ... Read more

57. White House Nannies: True Tales from the Other Department of Homeland Security
by BarbaraKline
list price: $23.95
our price: $16.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1585424102
Catlog: Book (2005-05-05)
Publisher: Tarcher
Sales Rank: 1694
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The Nanny Diaries meets Primary Colors in this hilarious tell-all from the president and owner of White House Nannies, a nanny placement agency that caters to a host of influential people in our nation's capital.

Ah, to experience parenthood as the rich and powerful who have only to call in their Mary Poppinsesque nannies to pick up the pieces. But it's not all smooth ailing for those precious few either-and Barbara Kline should know. In the twenty years since she founded White House Nannies, Kline has handpicked and delivered nannies to elected officials, cabinet members, advisers to the President, and the media who report on their every move. White House Nannies is her laugh-out-loud account of what happens when these powerful parents find themselves at the mercy of tiny tyrants-and the nannies who offer their only hope of salvation.

From finding the "perfect nanny" to firing the "perfect nanny," from refereeing Mommy-nanny disputes to keeping mum about family secrets, Barbara Kline has seen it all. In this hilarious page-turner she takes readers on a delightful ride through the bottle-and-bib-strewn beltway.
... Read more

Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars Client
Well, after hearing all of the buzz surrounding Barbara's book I knew I needed to go read it; and it certainly did not disappoint. Even as a client Kline alludes to, I could not stop laughing throughout the entire book. I will continue to recommend White House Nannies (Book or Agency) highly!

5-0 out of 5 stars An all-too-true look at today's power parenthood.
I laughed my way through this book. I also cringed more than once, seeing myself and the women around me all too clearly in Kline's clients. You don't have to be a D.C. power player to relate to the comedy-- and, oh yes, the tragedy-- of trying to keep your brilliant career going while raising a kid or kids. This book is a fun read, but I also came away from WHITE HOUSE NANNIES committed to making some much-needed cuts to my work schedule. Would that my own life may never serve as fodder for the likes of this brilliantly engaging book!

1-0 out of 5 stars Doesn't live up to its promise
For people who want dish--such as those of us who devoured Lynne Cheney's "Sisters"--this book will not satisfy.For people who must rush to pick up their children from daycare by 6 p.m. or risk a fine, do not read this book.It will kite your blood pressure.

The true playground-and-playgroup book about Washington has yet to be written.The most satisfying book in this canon remains "You'll Never Nanny in This Town Again," by a small-town girl who went to Los Angeles to become a nanny.Suzanne Hansen, I believe her name was, is precisely the sort of warm-hearted girl that Kline treats only as a commodity in this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great advice and a fun read.
A very well written book.

I loved this book.It was such a easy read I could not put it down.I laughed out loud so many times and at other times just stared at the pages with my mouth open. Flipping through the pages I could certainly relate to the plight of the working parent.With all the reality shows on tv about nannies, this book had a different twist on the whole parenting working family scenario, I highly recommend this book to anyone even if you are not a parent.

5-0 out of 5 stars This is a truly fun read!
This book is an intelligent and very funny look at the often wild world of child care. It's not only for the Washington crowd to guess who the players are, but every parent can recognize him or herself somewhere in this book. After reading this book you should feel much more comfortable with your own lot! It's an easy read that will make you laugh out loud.
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58. Chyna Black
by Keisha Ervin
list price: $15.00
our price: $12.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0976234912
Catlog: Book (2004-10)
Publisher: Triple Crown Publications
Sales Rank: 8963
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

There was a time when I didn’t care about anybody, not even myself. Oh, and who am I? I’m Chyna, Chyna Danea Black to be more exact. I’m here to tell you my story, but for you to fully understand me, you have to understand my past. You see, I’m every black girl growing up in the hood, and like most, I got caught up in the life. Some things I didn’t see coming. Other things were self-inflicted. I don’t regret my path in life but I could have taken a different one. So, for all the young girls growing up in the hood, let me take you back to how I grew up.

Here is the Life & Times of me, Chyna Black. ... Read more

Reviews (22)

5-0 out of 5 stars This Book Is On Fire!!!!!!
Ms. Keisha Ervin, just do your thing girl!I think that Chyna Black was a very good read.Even though I liked Ms. Ervin's debut novel, you can tell that she has improved with this book.We may as well give her the crown on these urban relationship stories.

Chyna Black's characters are well developed with dialogue and action that is entertaining to read.I like the fact that Ms. Ervin's books point out that in many cases the reason a lot of women end up in drama filled relationships is because of absentee fathers.Many young women don't have the example of how a relationship is supposed to work.The main character Chyna was on the right track at one point.She got into some things but nothing too bad.She went to school and kept her grades up.But Chyna's father was not in the picture and when she starts to have major problems with her mother she feels she has no choice but to move in with her boyfriend Tyreik.Tyreik draws her in with money, a false sense of independence, and so called love.Chyna loses her sense of self, drops out of school, and thinks that shopping is what life is about.Little does she know that because something looks good to you it may not be good for you.The drama begins and you will not want to put this book down.

I could have done without the last few chapters.I liked how Chyna's situation turned out for the best after all that happens to her, I just could have done without Ms. Ervin's semi-autobiographical references and shout outs of books by other TCP authors.Just a bit much.Despite that this book is a hit.I recommend you read it and have your friends read it too.I'm ready for the next one!!

5-0 out of 5 stars The best book I have read in years
This was an excellent book. I read it twice back to back. The book was so real I could really relate to Chyna in all she had to go throuugh in her young life. I hope there will be a sequel. I am waiting patiently for it. If you have not read this book and you enjoy urban fiction this is a must have

5-0 out of 5 stars The Bomb
Ms Ervin you did th dang on thang with this book. It was off the chain from the beginning to the end. This book is a must read. I dont read books twice but I may have to go through this story again. Keep up the good work.You will be in to look for list of authors.

5-0 out of 5 stars hmmm....
This is the story of too many girls across the nation... This book was a page turner, and a classic in urban fiction. Although to too many this is sort of like a biography of girls growing up around the way.

4-0 out of 5 stars Another Hot One!
Ms. Ervin, you have hit the nail on the head once again. Me and My Boyfriend was hot, but you did the damn thing with this one. You told the story of so many young girls, and it was so on point. I loved how you developed the story, and it felt like you were talking about someone close to the heart. Good Job! ... Read more

59. Born to Rule : Five Reigning Consorts, Granddaughters of Queen Victoria
by Julia P. Gelardi
list price: $29.95
our price: $19.77
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312324235
Catlog: Book (2005-03-19)
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Sales Rank: 533495
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60. Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life
by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
list price: $23.00
our price: $15.64
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1400080452
Catlog: Book (2005-01-25)
Publisher: Crown
Sales Rank: 6457
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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"I have not survived against all odds. I have not lived to tell. I have not witnessed the extraordinary. This is my story."

Amy Krouse Rosenthal, one-time Might magazine columnist and self-confessed hater of the segue has written a snappy, random, remarkable memoir--the first of its kind to give readers an honest flaws-n-all perspective of what it's like to be...ordinary. Initially inspired by the "bizarre, haphazard arrangement" of The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, Rosenthal has collected a lifetime of thoughts, observations, and decisions, and created an alphabetized personal encyclopedia, complete with cross-referenced entries and illustrations. Rosenthal reveals the minutiae of her life, from pumping gas ("Every. Single. Solitary. Time I go to get gas I have to lean out the window to see which side the tank is on"), towitnessing her son's accident ("I saw with front-row-seat clarity, just how quickly, randomly, and mercilessly your child can be taken away"), and in turns both playful and poignant, engages the reader in effortless and stimulating conversation.

Whether you are laughing aloud or nodding along, reading Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life is like being introduced to a new friend--one that you automatically connect with and feel compelled to share. Fans of Dave Eggers, David Sedaris, and shows like Arrested Development and Scrubs will appreciate Rosenthal's quirky, conversational humor and dead-on observations. Writers will see the book as a contemporary portrait of the fledgling artist, and should enjoy her aptly named, "Evolution of this Moment"--a timeline tracking her growth as a writer from her first word ("more") to publication of her fourth book.

Modesty prevents Rosenthal from acknowledging herself as anything other than ordinary--that, and the fact that she has not "survived against all odds"--but that certainly does not mean she has nothing to say, or to share. Her delightful memoir is a reminder that life is not always anadventure, but it can be full of sad, silly, and important moments that make it worth living. Witness the generosity of an author who is willing to reveal so much of herself, not just as a writer, but also as a person--share this delightfully quirky, utterly enjoyable book with family and friends with a note, "Here is someone I think you should meet." --Daphne Durham Exclusive Content

The Lost and Found Project
Between January 25th and February 1st, hundreds of copies of Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life were intentionally left in random places (taxis, public bathrooms, laundromats) in Chicago, New York, and San Francisco. Each book was inscribed with a note from the author, and the finder was encouraged to report back to Rosenthal's website ( when and where the book was discovered.

Watch the "Lost and Found" video directed by filmmaker Steve Delahoyde, documenting Rosenthal's test run and featuring her theme song, "This is My Story."
Listen to the theme song written by Tony Rogers.

Ordinary Life from A to Z
How do you interview a smart, creative, clever author like Amy Krouse Rosenthal? You agree to let her start with the questions, and hang on for the ride. Find out more about Amy and sneak a peek behind-the-scenes at with this decidedly ordinary email correspondence between Ms. Rosenthal and senior editor Daphne Durham.

Read our unusual interview with author Amy Krouse Rosenthal.

Extra Ordinary Excerpts





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Reviews (24)

4-0 out of 5 stars Engaging Catalog of an American Life lived 1965 to present
Amy Krouse Rosenthal describes her "Orientation Almanac" that begins her "Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life" as an attempt to provide "plain facts about American life at the beginning of the twenty-first century, the backdrop against which this book was written."Her "Alphabetized Existence" continues that theme to a large extent, but also presents personal (but at the same time universal) reflections that are engaging and delightful. Her encyclopedia of her life is more topical than a novel or linear prose, but it's :) very easy to pick up & compulsively read.
I'm about a decade younger than the author, so some, but not all, of the American pop-culture details resonate.It would be interesting to see how this catalog reads in twenty years."Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life" is a self-affirming, funny, sometimes tragicomic, read that is a good way to spend the afternoon.
I really enjoyed reading about Scholastic book orders (p. 89) which I haven't thought of in probably twenty years.The instant I read the phrase, a picture of those order forms came strongly to mind.When I was in school, I used to fight with my parents to get them to order as many books as possible, so I could add to my Scholastic book stash. :)Never mind the other chances with the RIF program & book fairs.Thanks for the memories, Ms. Rosenthal-- the minutiae and detritus of your life are my nostalgia (see Red Gingham Tablecloth p. 171). Although, I disagree that one can give too many landmarks when giving directions.On most entries I've been nodding, but when it comes to giving or getting directions, too much is better than too little.Unless brief directions are given with the director's phone number.

4-0 out of 5 stars Contains Brilliant Insights, With a Few Slow Points
This highly original book succeeds brilliantly in conveying the day-to-day thoughts and actions of an "ordinary life." Amy Krouse Rosenthal has written down the small events and thoughts that often go unnoticed and are never, ever, expressed aloud.I couldn't read the table of "sounds that are loud, though quiet" without nodding with recognition at every single entry.Just look at the entry under "dishwasher," and see if you've never experienced the same disorienting feeling when someone loads a dishwasher the "wrong" way. And I shamefacedly had to admit to doing the same thing as the author whenever I come across a "stupid, slow driver."Going through the encyclopedia, I wondered what the author would do for the letter "X."The entry "XX," where Rosenthal explains why she enjoys being a girl, does not disappoint.

The book gets tiresome, however, when it becomes a little too self-reflective.I don't care about the author's "childhood memories." The "evolution of this moment" is flat-out boring.The fact that it comes right up front, however, should not deter you from looking at the rest of the book, which has insights that are remarkable.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Clever Little Book
I bought and read this book on the same day and loved it.It's clever, insightful, and fun and I found myself wanting to buy a copy for friends and family.I read it from cover to cover, but it's the type of book you can set on your coffee table and open to any page for interesting insight on any number of things.

5-0 out of 5 stars a cult favorite
A fun book to pick up and put down at any time... although I had a hard time putting it down.Indeed the format is refreshing, the thoughts and insights as simple and ordinary as the title implies.Once in a while, between reading intense mystery or history, it is nice (and even healthy!) to pick up something lighter, to discover the joy of reading a work of reality and humor.Do not expect to be knocked over by this book unless you can laugh at yourself and everyday life.It is light, fun and worth the read.If you take yourself too seriously you may think you have wasted your time; in fact you missed the point entirely.

5-0 out of 5 stars This book is a kindred spirit
I rarely pick up a book that ends up delighting me from cover to cover as thoroughly as this book has. I knew from the instant I encountered the back cover's description of "Book, standing in the bookstore(well, library for me) holding a" and read the exact procedure I had just gone through, that I and this book were destined for each other.
I could name off a hundred things that I admire about the Encyclopedia, from the orientation almanac to the cross-section; however, that would perhaps be over-zealous. I will say that any book that incorporates the wit and humor of the entire book into the copyright page has earned my eternal devotion, and such a "Reader's Agreement" as the author includes should be incorporated into...well, everything!
Though I identify with almost every aspect of the encyclopedia, there is one entry I would add my slight alteration to. On "Rainy Day" I would add that while the return to radiant reality may be slightly overwhelming, somehow, the smell of the sun as it caresses the newly-washed grass make it all worthwhile. At least, that's how it is for me.
I must admit that as a child I also read the encyclopedias; I cannot begin to say how much I appreciate this contribution to my library. It has brightened my day and is sure to remain a favorite on my shelf for years to come. ... Read more

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