A Fresh Start for June

May is ending with disappointment. The caboose of the story (instead of the whole train) is that due to work obligations Kisa & I were not able to make it to Maine for a long weekend over the holiday. As a result I had to burn two vacation days at home. June will be a better month. But, to be fair – May wasn’t so shabby for books:

  • Brilliant Orange by David Winner
  • Bold Spirit by Linda Hunt
  • Jordan by E. Borgia
  • One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandre Solzhenitsyn
  • Coroner’s Lunch by Colin Cotterill
  • The Chosen by Chaim Potok
  • Map of Another Town by MFK Fisher
  • All the Rage by Martin Moran (ER)


  • Arab and Jew by David Shipler
  • Perks of Being a Wallflower by¬† David Chbosky


  • Master of the Senate by Robert Caro

For JUNE, here are the books & why:

  1. Yocandra in the Paradise of Nada by Zoe Valdes in honor of Caribbean Heritage Month
  2. Thirty-Three Teeth by Colin Cotterill to continue the series started in May
  3. Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich in honor of her birth month
  4. The Millstone by Margaret Drabble in honor of family month
  5. A Bridge Too Far by Cornelius Ryan in honor of World War II (D-Day)

June is National Short Story Month:

  • from Birds of America by Lorrie Moore:
    • Four Calling Birds, Three French Hens
    • People Like That are the Only People Here: Canonical Babbling in Peed Onk
  • from Lucky Girls by Nell Freudenberger:
    • The Orphan
    • Outside the Eastern Gate
  • from Nine Stories by JD Salinger:
    • A Perfect Day for a Bananafish
    • For Esme: with Love & Squalor

Arab and Jew

Shipler, David K. Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land. Read by Robert Blumenfeld. New York: Blackstone Audio, 2003.

Reason read: May is the most beautiful time of the year to visit the middle east…or so I have heard.

This is the history of the relationship between Arab and Jew. Shipler painstakingly traces the prejudice back to its origin and examines the cultural, religious, and socioeconomic divide that has existed ever since. Shipler’s reporting is exemplary. He is unbiased but obviously very concerned about the everyday ordinary people just trying to survive in this land of unrest. Shipler’s voice is at once delicate and forthright in his descriptions and details involving terrorism, nationalism, and political conflict. He refers frequently to information he has collected from textbooks of various grade levels to demonstrate the education & “miseducation” of middle eastern children.

Probably the most disturbing section (for me) was about sexual attitudes, especially those surrounding rape.

Quotes that caught my attention, “Battle has its thrills as well as its regrets” and “Too much hope seems doused in blood.” Because I am listening to this on (22!) CDs I have no idea what actual page these quotes are on.

Book trivia: I listened to an unabridged and revised edition of Arab and Jew. This was also made into a movie in 1989.

Author fact: Shipler won a Pulitzer for Arab and Jew in 1987.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the vague chapter called “The Middle East” (p 154).

Working Poor

Shipler, David K. The Working Poor: Invisible in America. New York: Vintage Books, 2005.

You could either pick up The Working Poor and feel really good about your own situation (if you are employed and are living well within your means) or you could read it and feel absolutely terrible for a myriad of reasons; you feel guilty about your well-off situation or you, yourself are feeling the stress of mounting debt and the growing impossibility of making ends meet. Shipler takes an unflinching look at the men and women trying to stay afloat financially as well as emotionally when they are mired in a variety of debts. He interviews men and women from all walks of life; the good, the bad, and the ugly. You have no choice but to feel something for these people. The myriad of emotions range from pity to disgust and everything in between.

Interesting lines (food for thought), “For practically every family, then, the ingredients of poverty are part financial and part psychological, part personal and part societal, part past and part present” (p 11), “She could not afford to put her own two children in the daycare center where she worked” (p 39), and “Everyone’s life had a price” (p 98).

Reason read: America’s birthday…although this book isn’t about America’s finest hour.

Author fact: Shipler won a Pulitzer for Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land which is also on my Lust List.

Book trivia: Working Poor was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Guilt Inducing Books” (p 111). Here’s the thing. Reading this book didn’t necessarily make me feel guilty about my personal situation. I am a first generation college kid and I worked hard hard to get where I am today. However, what this book made me feel more than anything was frustration. Obviously, our system doesn’t work.