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Walt does not do Facebook. But he would love to share a favorite book, meet you face to face, and "friend" you in person. He neither tweets nor twerks. But he is open to all suggestions for other new experiences... especially if they involve food or film. You will oftentimes find him in the Arts section of Changing Hands Phoenix.
I have always been intrigued by tales of obsession. Whether that obsession be orchids, postage stamps, or Britney Spears......how does what starts out as healthy interest devolve into the consumption of a person's life? In this book the obsession is exotic bird feathers and the obsessed are fish fly tiers. That's right. Fish fly tiers. (If you're like me, you didn't even know fly tying was a "thing") That fixation leads yet to another....the author's obsession with the theft of a trove of bird feathers from the British Museum. It's a fascinating story. A disturbing history. A bizarre true crime.
Do you have a budding artist in the family who is ready for something more creative and challenging than the ubiquitous coloring books of yesteryear? The variety of activities and materials found in this book should engage their imagination and encourage them to launch into projects of their own.
How many of us really know our family's history? I don't mean the recitation of places lived, spouses had, and children born. No. I mean the pivotal events that actually shaped and transformed the lives of our parents or grandparents. What made them the people they became....which in turn helped to determine the person we evolved into ourselves? I sadly know next to nothing about my own grandparents. Yet I am sure their stories resonate in some way in my life today. When Matt Santos inherits a painting taken from his family during the Holocaust, he begins an exploration which will make him reconsider what he knows of his faith, family, and his values. I liked the way this book intertwined the mystery of the painting's journey with the journey of the young man as he seeks out his own life's purpose.
It's 1869 and a grisly murder has been committed by a 17 year old boy. He has confessed to the crime. There is no mystery here. So what makes this story so compelling? It's his motivation. Is he insane, a troubled abused youth, a vindictive liar, or an avenging angel for his family? It had me guessing and puzzling right up to the final pages. Written as a series of historical documents, this book reads like a true crime memoir...complete with documentation and "expert" testimony. It's an absorbing, thought provoking narrative that evokes the sensationalism of "celebrity" trials today.
Mind reading! Astral Projection! Telekinesis! Spoonbenders! How could I not pick up this book when it came into the bookstore? It's funny, touching, well written, and completely original. I loved it. You're going to have a good time. I can see your future. Smiles guaranteed.
Do you remember the "agony and and the ecstasy" of your first infatuation? The time you met someone and were gobsmacked simply by being in their presence? (This awakening soon to be followed by them occupying every moment of your imagination both night and day.) You remember the times you vacillated between praying they would notice you and then being terrified by the prospect that they would? Restless nights? Embarrassing conversations? Overanalyzing EVERYTHING? The tension and let's be candid....the lust? Yeah, you remember. This book will bring it all back to you in utterly beautiful prose and heartbreaking detail.
Don’t assume you know Stephen Florida. Because just when you think you do.....he proves you wrong. From the time I picked up this book until I turned the final page...it contradicted all the assumptions I was making. Looking at the cover, I thought...sci-fi fantasy. But nope, it is about a fiercely competitive college wrestler. Was Stephen’s story going to be the heartwarming tale of a challenged young man overcoming obstacles in his life? Well, yes. Until ten pages later when I would find his actions unconscionable. And so it went throughout the book. You are going to be thinking about this character and how you feel about him long after you put the book aside. A complex compelling story with no easy or expected solutions.
In her highly readable memoir, Susan Southard compassionately explores the lives of five Nagasaki youth before, during and after the Atomic Bomb. It is a riveting and disturbing history, and should be required reading for any world leader with a finger on the nuclear button. (And if there is a world leader out there who doesn't read books....then somebody needs to provide him/her with the audio CD.) We should all be familiar with this story. The cost of not knowing is far too dear.
The North Water is part creepy horror story, part stirring adventure tale, and part gripping suspense yarn. ALL of them done very very well. Put a psychopath on a whaling boat with an unscrupulous crew of malcontents , then ship them miles away from the nearest outpost of succor and civilization. Hey, what could go wrong? More than you can possibly imagine, trust me. I cringed throughout but couldn't stop reading. A chilling experience in every sense of the word!
This memoir is, at its heart, a romance. Billy Hayes moves to New York City and soon falls in love with its people, its neighborhoods, and its heartbeat. Lucky you....you get to join him as that romance unfolds. Along the way, Hayes unexpectedly finds love of another sort when he makes the acquaintance of the brilliant scientist and humanitarian, Oliver Sacks. This book traces his developing relationship with both. It is a lovely tale of discovery and an examination of the joy that can be found in life if you are just willing to open your heart and take a risk. Need a reminder that it is never to late to find love and inspiration?....(Or maybe you just need a kick in the butt to get on that plane and head to NYC again?) This is your book.
This book is not what I was expecting. I was expecting an academic, footnoted, socio political treatise on Appalachia... a book that might help explain the results of the recent election. What I got instead was a heartfelt memoir of one young man's upbringing in the rust belt of southern Ohio. So much the better! This book is every bit as entertaining as it is informative. And while his experiences and struggles do help explain recent politics, Vance does not serve up a singular portrait of his birthplace. I found the people both endearing and exasperating. Do I agree with all their choices? Not so much. But do I understand the people a bit better after reading this book? A definite yes. And understanding each other is something we all can use a bit more of in the coming year.
This powerful little novel is the heartbreaking tale of two men, each struggling with personal demons (and angels) in contemporary Iraq. I was intrigued by the small window opened to Iraqi home life, religion, and culture....subject matter seldom explored in Western media. More importantly, the book provides a stinging portrayal of the damage done in a closed society that preaches intolerance and refuses to recognize the validity and worth of all its people.
Ostensibly, this is a book about a group of 40-year-old men reenacting a 1985 football play. What it's really about is male brotherhood and ritual. Whether it's the urinal decision (which one to choose when two out of five are occupied), the joys of all-you-can-eat breakfast, or unspoken muscle envy....if you're a guy, you are going to recognize yourself (or someone you know) in these pages. And if you are a woman, this book may just provide a window into the unfathomable male mind...(or at least, help explain that glazed over look the next time you are at dinner). There is a lot of truth and heart here. A helpful hint....don't worry too much about all the different personalities. There are 22 men in a 200 page book. You will drive yourself crazy trying to remember all the names and miss out on the fun. Rather, just enjoy all the manliness and let the narrative unfold.
Please, please.....don't let the somewhat dry title dissuade you. This book charms from beginning to end. The "gentleman" is charismatic, and his supporting players are equally as beguiling. Beautifully written, the storyline surprised continually. And throughout, I was reminded of what it is to live a life fully...no matter what the circumstances. I have already passed this book on to friends as a "must read". Savor and enjoy!
Are you looking for a well written book that is not going to leave you emotionally distraught? A book that is neither apocalyptic nor dystopian? Are you ready for a novel that won't have you weeping, red-eyed, and groping for a box of tissues? Then this book should please. And it is far more than your proverbial summer "beach read". I am still amazed by how much I enjoyed this excellent book. You are going to be spending time with bitchy Truman Capote and his fabulous "Swans"...the beautiful, wealthy trophy wives of 1960's Manhattan. You've got gossip, melodrama, and good fun in this page turner. Page turner? Absolutely. I couldn't wait to find out how all the drama would be resolved. So put on your silk pajamas, pour yourself a glass of champagne, channel some Sinatra, and spend some time with Truman and his "ladies that lunch". (But be forewarned.....just watch your back.)
Hey there fellow city dwellers, if you live in Midtown Phoenix, you want a copy of this book. It is filled with great archival photos, and you can plot the changes in your neighborhood dating back to the 1800's. Did you know that there used to be a horse racing track at 7th Avenue and Osborn? Or that Brophy Prep predates St. Francis Xavier Church by thirty years? You're going to want to take a trip down Central after traveling the pages of this historical guide. (If you enjoy this edition...you might want to check out further volumes in this series in the Arizona section of the bookstore...Legend City!...and Encanto, among others.)
I am a big fan of Susan Cain's first book, Quiet. For me, her examination of what it means to be an "introvert" was both comforting and enlightening. Now Ms. Cain has given us a book for middle schoolers and adolescents which does for young people what her first book did for adults. It reassures them that being"quiet" is not a disability. Rather it is a strength to embrace. Practical advice is offered on how the quiet child can better navigate social situations, friendships, school, and even the family. This is a good, positive, highly readable resource not just for young people, but for the parents and teachers of quiet children, as well.
Anthony Marra masterfully intertwines the stories of his second book, The Tsar of Love and Techno. The stories are anchored in grim circumstance....Stalinist Soviet Union, Siberia, Chechnya. The time period spans from the 1940's to present day. Unhappy times in desolate places, but uplifting commonalities are found in all the stories. In each, the characters are able to find solace, kindness, and humor in the most desolate of situations. The readings could stand alone but one of the pleasures of this book is uncovering the references to prior stories. They interconnect and mesh unexpectedly. Wry humor is sprinkled throughout. One of my favorites..."Hipsterdom's a tightrope strung across the canyon of douche-baggery." Spot on! This book surprised in many and most excellent ways.
This book tore me up. There were times when I could only read a few pages, and then I had to put it aside. There were times when I couldn't return to it for days. So why am I suggesting that you take up such a challenging, and at times, devastating read? Because it deals so beautifully and thoughtfully with the matters of the heart. The inestimable value of friendship, how we learn to trust, our sometimes misguided efforts to understand each other. It's about debilitating messages learned in our youth, messages that we cling to with tenacity despite all the evidence of their untruth. It's about the ongoing process of trying to know ourselves. There is so much here, consummately written. I was blown away.
This is a book of love stories. There is the evident love and caring that the makers lavished on their creations, their attention to detail and choice of materials. But the love so generously given by the dolls' small owners is equally apparent....sometimes to the point of broken disrepair and near destruction. (Being destroyed by hugs would not be the worst of ways to go!) Each doll is unique in its construction and personality. I challenge you to not create stories as you page through this book. Impossible. Beautifully photographed, the book is also lovingly constructed. I was taken by the ragged stitch work left along the edges of the cover which compliments the character of the images inside.
It's been a while since I have read a novel inhabited by such a beguiling group of exotic and wonderfully decadent characters. The setting is 1930's Paris. Change is afoot in Europe. Hitler is stirring things up next door. But life in Paris continues to be a party for those wealthy, titled, or talented enough to be invited to attend. Prose deftly unfolds the biographies of her characters...and I found every one of the storylines mesmerizing. This is fascinating stuff. You can google the Brassai photograph that inspired the author..."Lesbian Couple at Le Monocle, 1932." Then start reading...things will just get more interesting from there. This was a hard one for me to put down.
I really wanted to avoid the standard cliches when describing this book..... "Page Turner", "Couldn't put it down", "Unpredictable", " But what can I say,....those cliches all apply so well here. Six college friends embark on what is to be a game, a series of dares. But things take a macabre twist as the "game" becomes more and more competitive, and the dares even downright malicious. Just think of the damage that could be done if your "friends" began to use all they know of your foibles and weaknesses against you. There lies the terror in this book....the violation of privacy and trust. We have all experienced that violation at some point in our lives, and perhaps that's what makes this story so unsettling.
Ai Weiwei is best known for being the designer of the iconic Birds Nest, the opening and closing venue of the 2008 Olympics. The Chinese artist/activist has been both lauded and imprisoned in his homeland. This book will help you to understand why. It is an excellent introduction to Weiwei. It includes not only samples of some of his better known artworks, but also a poignant conversation with the artist. My admiration for the man grew throughout this read, as he spoke of his philosophy, the reasons for his activism, and the creative process. It literally covers Weiwei A-Z. Pick it up and introduce yourself to a remarkable man and his artistic genius.
The health of your loved one has deteriorated and they can no longer care for themselves. An unexpected role reversal has occurred. At the age of 40, 50, or 60, you have become the parent, and the uncooperative child is your mother or father. What to do? The author of Bettyville leaves his big city life and returns to rural Missouri to care for his 90 year old mother. But both his mother and the town are much changed. Inevitably "going back" causes the author to reflect on his own life and ponder his own mortality. A heart-rending process. But Hodgman instills his memoir with such humor, humanity, and love that I found his narrative to be anything but depressing. I laughed out loud, and yes, got watery-eyed....but that is exactly what families make you do.