Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Nevermore: Overstory, Longevity Paradox, Wild Swans, Blowout, Beekeeper of Aleppo, In a Sunburned Country, Pursuit, None of the Above, The Dog I Loved

Reported by Laura 

Nevermore read a wide variety of books this week; some were enjoyed, some were not. The first was The Overstory by Richard Price. Each chapter is a new story about a different tree and the character’s unique experiences with them.  This book won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize, but the reviewer was not impressed. She found the stories a little weird for her taste.

          Our next book has been read by several members. Most did not like it. The Longevity Paradox by Steven R. Gundry outlines a nutrition and lifestyle plan that he says will support gut health and help people to live, not only longer, but well. Our reviewer felt it wasn’t scientifically sound and didn’t find it very helpful. There was no new useful information and the book could do with some editing. One food item (lentils) was on two lists: What to eat and what to avoid. Definitely not recommended.

          The Wild Swans by Jung Chang was a book that was recommended! This nonfiction book spans a century covering three generations of a Chinese family. The author tells the biographies of her grandmother and mother and then her own autobiography. The reviewer enjoyed the book and said she learned a lot about China and the Japanese invasion. The grandmother was a concubine with bound feet and the mother was strong in the Communist party, though fair. The family suffered a lot and Ms. Chang relates how the only time she ever saw her father cry was when he was forced to burn his books.

          Another nonfiction book read this week was Rachel Maddow’s Blowout. The reviewer found it to be a slow, dreary read and couldn’t finish it. She said it covered anything you might need to know about big oil and gas taking over the world and Rex Tillerson illegalities. If you are interested in those topics, give it a try.

          The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri is a fiction book based on the author’s experiences over two summers in Athens at a refugee center. It deals with the flight of refugees from Aleppo to Europe during the Syrian Civil War. Nuri, a beekeeper, and his artist wife, Afra, are faced with leaving everything they love behind as they embark on a journey to Britain where Nuri’s cousin and business partner has started an apiary to teach beekeeping to fellow refugees. The reviewer found it thought-provoking and a good read.

          In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson was deemed laugh out loud funny and highly recommended. In his usual style, he takes readers off the beaten path as he explores Australia and gives information not found in ordinary travel books. With all that is going on in the area at present, it was somewhat bittersweet to read about, but all in all, an excellent book.

          Our next book was a suspenseful offering by Joyce Carol Oates. Pursuit is told in flashbacks, alternating between present day and the terrifying childhood of the main character. Abby marries one day and is in a horrible accident the next. In and out of consciousness, she shares horrifying details of her past and her husband is faced with wondering what his new wife hasn’t told him. The reviewer enjoyed the book, but figured everything out halfway through.

          None of the Above by I. W. Gregorio is a YA fiction book that was sad, but very informative. The book centers around a young girl who is a popular high school student. She is an athlete and elected homecoming queen, but when she decides to lose her virginity, she finds it unbearably painful. A trip to the doctor reveals that she was born intersex, having both male and female parts. After she confides in her best friend, the secret is leaked to the entire school, the bullying begins in earnest, and her life is changed forever.

          The Dog I Loved by Susan Wilson was a beautifully written book that focuses on two different women and the dogs who saved them. Rose was a woman caught in the trap of a controlling boyfriend who ends up serving time in jail for a crime she didn’t intend to commit. While in prison, she becomes part of a program training service dogs. Meghan is a young woman severely damaged in the war and searching for a way to regain her freedom. A service dog may be the key to fulfilling her dreams. This book is a testament to the human (and canine) spirit.

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