Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Library Loot (4 November 2009)

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

I'm still making my way through the 1000+ page collection of J.G. Ballard's stories, so this library loot is a little light, with half of it being graphic novels. And, oh no! The main library's going to be closed for renovations at the end of the month - expected completion of the renovation is April 2010! There is another branch nearby, but it is quite a small building, so I'm not quite sure how the collection from the main branch will fit there. Stay tuned for updates!

Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil by Deborah Rodriguez
I think this might fit the Women Unbound Challenge (although it's not on my initial list).
Soon after the fall of the Taliban, in 2001, Deborah Rodriguez went to Afghanistan as part of a group offering humanitarian aid to this war-torn nation. Surrounded by men and women whose skills–as doctors, nurses, and therapists–seemed eminently more practical than her own, Rodriguez, a hairdresser and mother of two from Michigan, despaired of being of any real use. Yet she soon found she had a gift for befriending Afghans, and once her profession became known she was eagerly sought out by Westerners desperate for a good haircut and by Afghan women, who have a long and proud tradition of running their own beauty salons. Thus an idea was born.
With the help of corporate and international sponsors, the Kabul Beauty School welcomed its first class in 2003. Well meaning but sometimes brazen, Rodriguez stumbled through language barriers, overstepped cultural customs, and constantly juggled the challenges of a postwar nation even as she learned how to empower her students to become their families’ breadwinners by learning the fundamentals of coloring techniques, haircutting, and makeup.
Yet within the small haven of the beauty school, the line between teacher and student quickly blurred as these vibrant women shared with Rodriguez their stories and their hearts: the newlywed who faked her virginity on her wedding night, the twelve-year-old bride sold into marriage to pay her family’s debts, the Taliban member’s wife who pursued her training despite her husband’s constant beatings. Through these and other stories, Rodriguez found the strength to leave her own unhealthy marriage and allow herself to love again, Afghan style.
With warmth and humor, Rodriguez details the lushness of a seemingly desolate region and reveals the magnificence behind the burqa. Kabul Beauty School is a remarkable tale of an extraordinary community of women who come together and learn the arts of perms, friendship, and freedom.

Stitches: A Memoir by David Small
One day David Small awoke from a supposedly harmless operation to discover that he had been transformed into a virtual mute. A vocal cord removed, his throat slashed and stitched together like a bloody boot, the fourteen-year-old boy had not been told that he had throat cancer and was expected to die. Small, a prize-winning children’s author, re-creates a life story that might have been imagined by Kafka. Readers will be riveted by his journey from speechless victim, subjected to X-rays by his radiologist father and scolded by his withholding and tormented mother, to his decision to flee his home at sixteen with nothing more than dreams of becoming an artist. Recalling Running with Scissors with its ability to evoke the trauma of a childhood lost, Stitches will transform adolescent and adult readers alike with its deeply liberating vision.

The Scent of the Gods by Fiona Cheong
For the Women Unbound Challenge - a fiction pick.
This moving and at times highly lyrical first novel presents life in Singapore at its historical juncture of nationhood through the maturing of its protagonist, 11-year-old Su Yen, also known as Esha. An orphan who grew up with the extended family residing in what she calls her "Great-Grandfather's house," Su Yen emerges through personal loss and playful exploration a young woman still curious and sometimes bewildered by racial politics, ideological differences, sexual infatuation, familial/governmental control, and personal choice and freedom. The first book to represent life in Singapore in its full spectrum, it is highly recommended for any library with an interest in international or juvenile literature. - From Library Journal

Unmanned (Y: The Last Man, Vol. 1) by Brian K Vaughan
The husband got a text message recommending this to me. So here it is!
In the summer of 2002, a plague of unknown origin destroyed every last sperm, fetus, and fully developed mammal with a Y chromosome--with the apparent exception of one young man and his male pet. This "gendercide" instantaneously exterminated 48% of the global population, or approximately 2.9 billion men.
Now, aided by the mysterious Agent 355, the last human male Yorick Brown must contend with dangerous extremists, a hoped-for reunion with a girlfriend on the other side of the globe, and the search for exactly why he's the only man to survive.

Season of Mists (Sandman, Book 4) by Neil Gaiman
In many ways, Season of Mists is the pinnacle of the Sandman experience. After a brief intermission of four short stories (collected as Dream Country) Gaiman continued the story of the Dream King that he began in the first two volumes. Here in volume 4, we find out about the rest of Dream's Endless family (Desire, Despair, Destiny, Delirium, Death, and a seventh missing sibling). We find out the story behind Nada, Dream's first love, whom we met only in passing during Dream's visit to hell in the first book. When Dream goes back to hell to resolve unfinished business with Nada, he finds her missing along with all of the other dead souls. The answer to this mystery lies in Lucifer's most uncharacteristic decision--a delicious surprise.
There is something grandiose about this story, in which each chapter ends with such suspense and drive to read the next. This book is best summed up by a toast taken from the second chapter: "To absent friends, lost loves, old gods, and the season of mists; and may each and every one of us always give the devil his due." --Jim Pascoe

The Stone Gods by Jeannette Winterson
I'm going to add this to my SciFi challenge list.
On the airwaves, all the talk is of the new blue planet – pristine and habitable, like our own was 65 million years ago, before we took it to the edge of destruction. Off the air, Billie Crusoe and the renegade robo-sapian Spike are falling in love. Along with Captain Handsome and Pink, they’re assigned to colonize the new blue planet. But when a technical maneuver intended to make it inhabitable backfires, Billie and Spike’s flight to the future becomes a surprising return to the distant past –- "Everything is imprinted forever with what it once was." What will happen when their story combines with the world’s story? Will they –- and we –- ever find a safe landing place?

Playful, passionate, polemical, and frequently very funny, The Stone Gods will change forever the stories we tell about the earth, about love, and about stories themselves.

Food and Loathing: A Life Measured Out in Calories by Betsy Lerner
I've been following Lerner's blog and was quite pleased to see this book and realize that it fits into the Women Unbound Challenge too.
With warmth, wit, and not a trace of self-pity" (Entertainment Weekly), Betsy Lerner details her twenty-year struggle with depression and compulsive eating in Food and Loathing, a book that dares to expose the insidious nature of women's secret life with food.
"Alternating between hilarious and heartbreaking" (People), Food and Loathing gives voice to one of the last taboo subjects and greatest stigmas of our time: being overweight. Lerner's revelations on the cult of thinness -- from the dreaded weigh-in at junior high gym class to the effects of inhaling Pepperidge Farm Goldfish at Olympic speeds -- are universally resonant, as is her belief that this is one battle no one should fight alone.
Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?

See more Library Loot here.


Linda said...

Kabul Beauty School has long been on my list of books to read! I look forward to hearing your review.
Y: The Last Man is one of my favorite graphic novels. Enjoy!
I'll be interested to hear what you think of Stone Gods.
Great loot.

Anonymous said...

Wow - you have some great non-fiction. I've taken a look at the Jeanette Winterston but not brought it home yet, so I'll be interested to know how you get on with that one too.

Care said...

All of these look fascinating. Except the Gaiman - only because I need to start with something else of his, I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

Wow, so many books to add to my TBR list. I've always thought Kabul Beauty School was interesting when I saw it in the bookstore, and The Scent of the Gods sounds really interesting. Happy reading!

olduvai said...

Linda - I just finished Y and it's pretty good! I'm going to have to pick up the rest of the series.

Fleur fisher - I'm actually not too familiar with Jeanette Winterson, having only read The Passion. So I am looking forward to this!

Care - Sandman starts with Preludes and Nocturnes. It's a little bit hard to get into but the series is a pretty good read. My favourite so far is Vol 3 (Dream Country).

legxleg - Thanks for stopping by! I've been meaning to read Kabul Beauty School for a while now, so was really glad to chance upon it at my library!

Vasilly said...

Your stack looks great. Kabul Beauty School definitely fits for the Women Unbound Challenge. Happy reading!

Marg said...

I haven't read any of those. The Winterson looks interesting, and it is definitely about time I read more Gaiman!

Enjoy your loot.

olduvai said...

Vasilly - Thanks for the comment! I'm looking forward to reading it for the challenge!

Marg - Read more Gaiman! I am especially enjoying his Sandman series, as you can guess.