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The Missionary Position

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Week 52 
The Missionary Position 
Christopher Hitchens


This short book detailing all the reasons Mother Theresa should not be eligible for sainthood has been called "mean," but if it seeks merely to make the case that the evidence begs be made...?

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Mar. 19th, 2012

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Week 51
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
J.K. Rowling


So much better than book 6! That was a relief--but oh the sadness of The End, even if "All was well." A very enjoyable read. Alas for Severus, vindicated at last.

Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife

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Week 50
Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife
Linda Berdoll


Less of a bodice-ripper than I thought it might be. Humorous and at times quite insightful, Berdoll probes into Darcy's past and character, making plausible connections of blood between Darcy and Wickham. I did not enjoy the partial transformation of the complex, spirited Elizabeth Bennett into a rather dull married lady, fretting over whether she will be able to produce an heir, and worrying about what the neighbors think.
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Week 49
19 Varieties of Gazelle
Naomi Shihab Nye


A collection by my favorite poet. Classified as a YA book at our library. Poems of home, family, and war. One in particular is burned into my memory:  of a beloved child carelessly mowing over a beloved flower garden in careless ignorance, followed by the poet's struggle for acceptance and reconciliation.

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Ten Poems to Last a Lifetime

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Week 48
Ten Poems to Last a Lifetime
Roger Housden


A collection that interested me in part because it contains a poem by Naomi Shihab Nye--one that was so important to Bill Moyers that he carried it with him everywhere after a brush with death. She writes about not wasting our time on earth. Writing this entry, weeks after reading the book, it is the poem that remains with me, more so than the autumnal poem of John Keats, which is the only other one I remember. I'm sure that I read the Nye poem before finding this collection, but it was good to read it again, with more attention and better comprehension this time. It's not just about remembering what "parties are really like," or doing only what you want to do.

The Kite Runner

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Week 47
The Kite Runner 
Khaled Hosseini


The story of two Afghani boys, one rich, one poor, one from the privileged Pashtun ethnic group, the other from the persecuted Hazaras. Amir betrays his friend Hassan, who is the son of his family's servant and also his half-brother. Eventually, he has a chance to return to Afghanistan and redeem himself by saving Hassan's son. A page turner, something seldom mentioned by the people who love this book for its sentimental appeal.

Does My Head Look Big In This?

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Week 46
Does My Head Look Big In This?
Randa Abdel-Fattah


A very readable YA novel about a Palestinian-Australian high school student who decides to wear the hijab full time. She must decide whether the grief she gets is worth feeling more in touch with God and her cultural heritage. (Shouldn't it be "Does This Thing Make My Head Look Big?")

Talk to the Snail

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Week 45
Talk to the Snail
Stephen Clarke

A funny book presenting the "commandments" of being French.  For example: "Thou Shalt Be Sick," title of the chapter on French hypochondira and the advantages and excesses of France's national healthcare system.  Recommended for Francophiles and all humor-loving armchair travelers.



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You and Yours

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Week 44
You and Yours
Naomi Shihab Nye

A good collection of poetry in Nye's particular, observational, emotional style.  Features poems about the Iraq war.  Recommended for all.

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Life on the Refrigerator Door

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Week 43
Life on the Refrigerator Door:  Notes Between a Mother and Daughter
Alice Kuipers

A new type of epistolary novel, intended for a teen audience.  This story of a troubled relationship between mother and daughter has some merit, but the format of short notes limits plot and character development.  Verdict:  an interesting idea that doesn't quite work.  Recommended for "reluctant readers," who, pulled in by the gimmick, will certainly not find themselves overburdened upon delving into this slight story.