Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Catching up on my reading this year...

12. The Anubis Gates - Tim Powers

11. Return to Hawk's Hill - Allan W. Eckert

Book 11 - Return to Hawk's Hill by Allan W. Eckert, my second contribution to the February TIOLI red-spined book challenge. I didn't enjoy it quite so much as I recall enjoying the first in the set, Incident at Hawk's Hill, but they're written for a younger audience (probably middle school-ish) and I'm somewhat older now than I was in 1970 or so when I read the first one ;o)

The book provides an interesting look at family life on the Manitoba frontier in the 1870s, but even more, it provides a considered look at some of the issues of lifestyle and cultural differences between the frontier settlers, largely of white European extraction, and the local Metis population, who were descended from local indigenous peoples mixed with much earlier French fur-trapper influence. The biggest difference lay in the attitudes toward nature...whether to respect and honor the natural world, taking only what we need and fully utilizing what we take or whether to take whatever we want with a view to subjugating the natural world to our whim of the moment. An issue we're still grappling with today, and a worthwhile read for any young person interested in environmental issues. I'd definitely recommend reading the two books in order, though.

10. The Tao of Pooh - Benjamin Hoff

Book 10 - The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff. Read this one for the February Red-spined Book TIOLI Challenge. Not only that, but it came off my shelves, too! I feel like the tailor's apprentice with his "seven with one blow"!

9. New Hampshire Then and Now: Historical and Contemporary Photographs of the Granite State from 1840-2005 - Peter Randall

Book 9 - New Hampshire Then and Now: Historical and Contemporary Photographs of the Granite State from 1840 to 2005 by Peter E. Randall

This book was a fascinating photo-essay of our state and the changes (or in some cases, lack of changes) that have been recorded in photographs over a period of 165 years. The author/photographer has put together a collection of 80 photographs from the state historical archives and various local collections along with contemporary photographs of the same views.

Included are picture postcard views, homes of the famous and not-so-famous, mills, dams, scenic overlooks. Particularly striking to me were some of the less traditional and unexpected interior views - duck-decoy carvers' workshops, shoe shops, clothing shops - not the same shops but the same callings, and little changed in many ways.

8. One Hundred Demons - Lynda Barry

Book 8 - At last, a book again! This one's a graphic novel, One Hundred Demons by Lynda Barry.

The book's title is based on an Oriental painting exercise, which seems to involve exorcising one's personal demons by creating illustrations of their significance. The book is a collection of the author's own demons, though perhaps not quite as many as one hundred.

The book is biographical in many ways as the demons were all part of her past; but also fiction in many ways as each of us hold memories that are colored by our own perceptions and the distance from which we look back on them.

An entertaining and thought-provoking reflection on one woman's coming-of-age with hints of the adult she has since become.

Rated 4/5.

7. "History from 'The Bottom' Up: A Research Design for Participatory Archaeology in Hampden-Woodberry, Baltimore, Maryland."

More articles, another case study, same class.

6. New Philadelphia Archaeology: Race, Community and the Illinois Frontier, report on the 2004-06 excavations

A collection of case-study articles read for a class, Heritage Studies Foundations.

5. My Darling, My Hamburger, Paul Zindel

Book 5
My Darling, My Hamburger by Paul Zindel whose best known title might have been The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, which I have not yet read.

A quiet little book about four teenagers in their senior year in high school and the choices they make to get them through. It was surely true of its day; it was first published in 1969, I graduated from high school a year later. I found it very easy to identify and connect with the characters.

I wonder, though, if the book might seem a bit dated today, mainly as a result of advancing technology. Narrative sections are interspersed with notes written by one or another of the protagonists - but it seems more likely that most of those would be text messages in today's world. The situations faced by the characters are pretty universal, but American society is considerably changed from what it was then.

Worth reading, if only to find out the relevance of the title!

4. Researching the Old House, Greater Portland (ME) Landmarks, Inc.

Book 4
Researching the Old House, from Greater Portland (ME) Landmarks, Inc.

A very useful handbook that outlines the many possibilities for finding information to document the history of an old house.

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