Saturday, March 22, 2008

Miracle on the 17th Green

I must admit that even James Patterson can't make me like golf and the fact that this book has a golf theme made it a scary one to start and jump into. I must also forewarn you to learn what the following terms mean:
Par, Eagle, Birdie, Bogey, Double Bogey. You can find them all here in the WikiPedia Golf Glossary.

As much as I resisted, because of the golf theme, the story kept me in there and by the time it was all through I was hooked. The story's main character, Travis McKinley, takes us deep into his mid-life crisis including the near meltdown of his marriage, his losing a job, and taking a stab at a dream. The end result is a beautiful story about possibilities and believing in yourself.

At 149 pages, not having enough time is no excuse so grab a copy, a steaming cup of licorice spice tea and a cozy throw and find your favorite easy chair. Enjoy.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

My Sister's Keeper

"Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood."

This was the first book I’ve read by Jodi Picoult and I have to say, the story line totally pulled me in. It was fascinating, heartbreaking and hopeful wrapped in suspense. She managed to write this story in the voices of all the main characters, which only enhanced the story because the reader is able to look at the plot from different angles … a sort of placing oneself in the shoes of everyone involved.

There are 7 main characters (7 voices) that are involved in this story. Anna and Kate (the sisters), Jesse (their brother), Sara and Brian (their parents), Campbell (Anna’s lawyer) and Julia (Anna’s guardian at litem).

When Kate was 2 years old, she was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia. Her only chance of prolonging her life was if she could find a donor. Because this alone could take years (and she didn’t have years), her parents decided to fashion her a sister who would be a genetically perfect match through in vitro fertilization. A year later, Anna was born and made her first contribution at attempting to restore her sister’s life, by donating the blood from her umbilical cord. This was supposed to be her only contribution, however when Kate’s leukemia returned, Anna donated blood and bone marrow. Fast forward to Kate being 16 years old and Anna being 13. Kate’s kidneys are failing and Anna is expected to donate one of hers to save her sister’s life. Instead of going through with this, Anna does something that is unthinkable. She retains a lawyer (Campbell) to be medically emancipated from her parents and gain the right to make the decision herself.

Throughout the novel, we hear the voice of Anna who goes through with this for what the reader might think are selfish reasons (but the truth comes out at the end why she even initiated this lawsuit in the first place), the voice of her father, Brian, who loves both of his children and can understand Anna’s point of view, but still would do anything to save Kate, the voice of her mother, Sara, who is beside herself when the lawsuit comes to be and can’t understand why Anna would do such a thing, the voice of Jesse, the kid who in the midst of his sister’s illness has been cast aside by his parents, deemed the lost cause. We also hear the voice of Campbell and Julia, who happened to be past loves, and in their fight for a just cause, find their way back to eachother.

This book was so well written and had me hooked from the start. The twist at the end was so devastating and so unexpected (but I won’t give that away), but it also served to save that family and pull them back together. It was a fantastic read and one I would definitely recommend.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The No Asshole Rule

This book is so important, so relevant, that I am even going to show you the back cover in this post. Written by a Stanford University professor, this book serves multiple purposes: asshole detection (in oneself and others), how to deal with assholes (we all must deal with them regularly), and how to not be an asshole (dare I say we've all had our moments, I have for sure).

The title, clearly controversial, really puts the content into perspective but I suspect there will be those who stray away thinking that this is just some kind of a joke or tongue-in-cheek (that sounds gross related to this title) quip containing nothing of serious value. The reality is a wonderful guide and should be offered free to all if not all as they climb the management ladder as a reminder that the people you are an asshole to while climbing are the same people who just may treat you like the asshole you are on your way back down.

While entertaining, the grim realities this book observes cover situations we all find ourselves in and offers real methods of coping. For even more assistance with the chronic asshole or to determine whether or not you are one, the author's blog offers an Asshole Rating Self-Exam (ARSE); I scored a 5 (not an asshole). This book is an enjoyable (though frightening considering the truths it makes reference to) read, I also listened to the unabridged audio version which was a special treat hearing a professional sounding guy say asshole a bunch and once again, dare I say, a must read?