Friday, March 21, 2008

Follow Your Bliss!

The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner

The author, an NPR correspondent, set off on a trip around the world searching for answers to what makes people happy and where they are the happiest. Armed with information compiled by serious researchers, he visited happy countries like Iceland (yes Iceland!) and unhappy ones like Moldova, where distrust and lack of hope have left people certifiably miserable. Interviewing and observing as he went, Eric discovered a world of different attitudes and perspectives but many common themes to achieving a blissful existence. This was an enjoyable and enlightening book; reading it was truly a happy experience!

Eric Weiner's website
Interview with Eric Weiner

Reviewed by Judie

Friday, March 14, 2008

Try these mysteries

Wife of Moon by Margaret Coel

Murders on the Arapaho reservation in Colorado stemming from a murder 100 yrs. before, solved by a lawyer and a priest. Exciting, with sympathetic characters.

Summer of the Big Bachi by Naomi Hirahara

Bachi: “when you snap…at your wife, and then trip…on a rock in the driveway.” Sins from 1945 in Hiroshima come back to haunt a group of Japanese living in L.A. With sympathetic and complex characters.

Slip of the Knife by Denise Mina

The ex-boyfriend of a Glaswegian journalist is murdered. It looks like an IRA execution, but is it? Confronting numerous roadblocks, Paddy Meehan investigates while trying to keep her son from danger. A complex and exciting read.


Saturday, March 1, 2008

First Lines

I love opening a book and finding a first sentence that startles me or makes me smile. The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff begins with this line: “The day I returned to Templeton steeped in disgrace, the fifty-foot corpse of a monster surfaced in Lake Glimmerglass.” Doesn’t that make you want to know who is speaking, why he or she has been disgraced and what happened to the monster? Templeton is modeled on Cooperstown, NY, the author’s home town. I’ve been to Cooperstown, which is on a lake - Otsego, not Glimmerglass, although the state park across the lake from Cooperstown is called Glimmerglass. There is a legend that a monster lurks in the depths!
Read this delightful interview with Lauren Groff.
Another favorite first line is this one from This is not Civilization by Robert Rosenberg: “The idea of using porn films to encourage the dairy cows to breed was a poor one.” The idea was the brainstorm of Anarbek Tashtanaliev, manager of a cheese factory that makes no cheese in a village in Kyrgyzstan. Anarbek is one of the most endearing fictional characters I have met. When Peace Corps worker Jeff Hartig is posted to Anarbek’s village, he is overwhelmed with hospitality. Jeff later moves on to work in Istanbul, where Anarbek travels there to ask a favor from the American. This is a sweet and melancholy novel about cultural alienation, responsibility, compassion and good intentions gone awry.

Do you have a favorite first line? Share it by writing a comment.