The great thing about having friends that share your love for books is that my bookshelf queue is NEVER empty! Here are some great books that were suggested by friends that I just added to the queue of books to read. I don’t really do book reviews unless one just captures my attention. Since I don’t do reviews, how about a preview? If you’re looking for a book to read, these came highly recommended by my friends—so much so that I actually bought some of them and they are ready to be read! I’m really excited to get to each of them . . . in due time.
1. THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS
Henrietta Lacks was a mother of five in Baltimore, a poor African American migrant from the tobacco farms of Virginia, who died from a cruelly aggressive cancer at the age of 30 in 1951. A sample of her cancerous tissue, taken without her knowledge or consent, as was the custom then, turned out to provide one of the holy grails of mid-century biology: human cells that could survive–even thrive–in the lab. Known as HeLa cells, their stunning potency gave scientists a building block for countless breakthroughs, beginning with the cure for polio. Meanwhile, Henrietta’s family continued to live in poverty and frequently poor health, and their discovery decades later of her unknowing contribution–and her cells’ strange survival–left them full of pride, anger, and suspicion. For a decade, Skloot doggedly but compassionately gathered the threads of these stories, slowly gaining the trust of the family while helping them learn the truth about Henrietta, and with their aid she tells a rich and haunting story that asks the questions, Who owns our bodies? And who carries our memories? —Tom Nissley
My friend, who studies science at the UT Dallas recommended this one to me. She knows I’m not really into science, but thought I might appreciate the story of justice and the research that the author shares in the book. I downloaded it to my Kindle over the weekend and I just started this one. So far I’m just getting to the basic science behind it all and discovering the background of Henrietta and her family, but I already feel connected to them!
2: THE TRUTH ABOUT DATING, LOVE, AND JUST BEING FRIENDS
and how not to be miserable as a teenager because life is short, and seriously, things don’t magically get better after high school and lots of other important stuff, but we’ll get to that later . . .
Chad shines some much-needed light on these major issues for teens. Rather than let their feelings navigate them blindly through their tumultuous adolescence, Chad offers clarity, some surprising revelations, and answers to some of their biggest questions: How do I know who to date? When should I start dating? How should I start dating? Is this really love? And, Why do guys I like just want to be friends?
Packed with humor that adds to the sound advice, this book will help teens make better decisions, have healthier relationships, and be more prepared for their futures. Just a few things girls will learn include: Five things you need to know about love; Eight dumb dating things even smart people do; Ten reasons why teens are unhappy; and Ten things happy teens do.
I first saw Chad speak last year when I took our youth group girls to the Revolve Tour. My friend and her husband are close friends with Chad and gave us the opportunity to go backstage to hang out with Chad and some of the bands at the event and we also got to have dinner with him. He is a great speaker and provides a lot of insight that isn’t just Christianese jargon. Recently, I had the opportunity to go over to my friends’ house to join them and some other friends for lunch with him and I found out he had this new book out. I saw it and read some of it and knew I had to add it to my queue. In just the little bit that I read, it proved to be a great resource for me to share with the students I teach each week!
THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE WICKED WITCH OF THE WEST
Elphaba, the future Wicked Witch of the West, has gotten a bum rap. Her mother is embarrassed and repulsed by her bright-green baby with shark’s teeth and an aversion to water. At college, the coed experiences disapproval and rejection by her roommate, Glinda, a silly girl interested only in clothes, money, and popularity. Elphaba is a serious and inquisitive student. When she learns that the Wizard of Oz is politically corrupt and causing economic ruin, Elphaba finds a sense of purpose to her life to stop him and to restore harmony and prosperity to the land. A Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow, and an unknown species called a “Dorothy” appear in very small roles… The story presents Elphaba in a sympathetic and empathetic manner-readers will want her to triumph! The book has both idealism and cynicism in its discussion of social, religious, educational, and political issues present in Oz, and, more pointedly, present in our day and time.
I must admit, I’m completely late to the game on this one. I heard the Broadway Soundtrack near the beginning of last year and fell in love with it. Yet, I’m just NOW getting around to reading it! Shame on me! I’ve seen pieces of the performance of Wicked that Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth were in and now that I have a face to associate with some of the characters, I’m sure this will be an easy, lazy day read.
4. GIRLS TO THE FRONT:
THE TRUE STORY OF THE RIOT GRRL REVOLUTION
Marcus’ compelling history covers a specific time period, 1989–1994, and a particular type of music that turned into a larger social movement. The riot grrrl movement was a potent form of female empowerment as well as a post-feminist reaction to sexism and the rising number of sexual assaults against women when expectations for equality were high. A writer and musician, Marcus describes some of the major players on the scene, including individuals (Kathleen Hanna, Tobi Vail) and bands (Bikini Kill, Heavens to Betsy)—all set against the backdrop of the so-called post-feminist period. She tells colorful anecdotes (such as the origin of the title of Nirvana’s breakthrough single “Smells like Teen Spirit”). She describes the music scene in such important riot grrrl locations as the Pacific Northwest and Washington, D.C., and chronicles the rise of riot grrrl zines and riot grrrl conventions. In all, Marcus has done a commendable job of telling the little-known history of an important social and cultural movement. –June Sawyers
I really am not much of a fiction reader. I can get into certain books from time to time, but most of the time, I prefer to stick my nose in books that deal with business, art, psychology, and cultural studies. One of my favorite singers, Hayley Williams (from Paramore), posted this on her blog and it caught my attention. I think it’ll be eye-opening to learn more about this topic!
5. CONFESSIONS OF AN UGLY STEPSISTER
Gregory Maguire’s chilling, wonderful retelling of Cinderella is a study in contrasts. Love and hate, beauty and ugliness, cruelty and charity–each idea is stripped of its ethical trappings, smashed up against its opposite number, and laid bare for our examination. Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister begins in 17th-century Holland, where the two Fisher sisters and their mother have fled to escape a hostile England. Maguire’s characters are at once more human and more fanciful than their fairy-tale originals.
Yes, I know, I totally just told you I don’t read a ton of fiction. The same friend who recommended WICKED to me also said I should give this one a try too. I put it at number 5 with a cultural study book before it so that I’d be able to take a break between the fiction. I really do enjoy stories where it re-approaches a classic tale, so that’s a plus!