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The Color of Love

A while back I heard a segment on This American Life about Gene Cheek and his book The Color of Love: A Mother's Choice in the Jim Crow South. His is an amazing, sad, and tragic story. It caught my special attention because it occurred in Winston-Salem, NC where I grew up. I ordered the book and and read it during our vacation in the mountains of NC. I think the book would have been more powerful had I not already known the basic outline of the story from the radio show...I knew what was coming. So, if you're gonna read the book, I recommend not listening to the radio bit first. It was kind of a shock to me that in 1972, the year when I was born, inter-racial marriages were still illegal in NC and that Gene Cheek's story was happening in the previous decade. I'm so thankful that my parents raised me such that I wasn't taught any of the racism that was the norm when they were growing up and still wasn't nearly dead when I did.


Best Science Book Candidates 2006

From a story in the BBC News, the candidates for the Aventis Prize for popular science writing have been announced:

  • Electric Universe - How Electricity Switched on the Modern World, by David Bodanis (Little Brown)
  • Collapse - How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive, by Jared Diamond (Penguin Allen Lane)
  • The Elements of Murder - A History of Poison, John Emsley (Oxford University Press)
  • The Gecko's Foot - Bio-inspiration - Engineering New Materials from Nature, by Peter Forbes (Fourth Estate)
  • The Silicon Eye - How a Silicon Valley Company Aims to Make All Current Computers, Cameras, and Cell Phones Obsolete, by George Gilder (WW Norton)
  • Parallel Worlds - The Science of Alternative Universes and our Future in the Cosmos, by Michio Kaku (Penguin)
  • Power, Sex, Suicide - Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life, by Nick Lane (Oxford University Press)
  • Venomous Earth - How Arsenic Caused the World's Worst Mass Poisoning, by Andrew Meharg (Macmillan)
  • Empire of the Stars - Friendship, Obsession and Betrayal in the Quest for Black Holes, by Arthur I. Miller (Little Brown)
  • Seven Deadly Colours - The Genius of Nature's Palette and how it Eluded Darwin, by Andrew Parker (Simon & Schuster)
  • The Truth About Hormones - What's Going on when we're Tetchy, Spotty, Fearful, Tearful or Just Plain Awful, by Vivienne Parry (Atlantic Books)
  • Stalking the Riemann Hypothesis - The Quest to Find the Hidden Law of Prime Numbers, by Dan Rockmore (Jonathan Cape)
  • The Fruits of War - How War and Conflict have Driven Science, by Michael White (Simon & Schuster)

Aloha Magnum


Perhaps the complete antithesis of The Kite Runner, the other book I read over this past Christmas holidays was "Aloha Magnum: Larry Manetti's Magnum, P.I. Memories." I've always been a big fan of Magnum, and some day I'll visit Hawaii. I enjoyed the book, but it's definitely for fanboys only.

The Kite Runner


Over the holidays I finished reading "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini. It was loaned to me by a friend. My mother-in-law has read it too, so I guess it must be popular. It's the story of Amir, who grows up in Kabul, Afghanistan, as the son of a wealthy businessman, immigrates to the US with his father, and then eventually returns to his homeland to rescue the son of his childhood friend after the boy's parents are shot during the Taliban takeover. The story is quite dark and some of the plot twists are a bit too telegraphed, but all-in-all I enjoyed it. The book's name refers to the kite battles that kids have. They coat their kite strings with ground glass to make them razor sharp and then compete to have the last kite flying with its string still attached. A kite runner is the person who chases down a kite after it is liberated from it's string. Whoever runs it down gets to keep it.


Stan Berenstain

The Berenstain Bears series of books are some of the most popular in our house these days.  We picked up a big stack of them at the last Friends of the Library used book sale.  The books are written and illustrated by the husband and wife team of Stan and Jan Berenstain. Stan passed away this past Saturday at the age of 82 due to complications from cancer.  From an article in USA Today:

The real Berenstains collaborated on more than 200 books that featured the Bear family, from The Great Honey Hunt in 1962 to The Berenstain Bears and the Trouble with Chores, which was released this fall. Over the years, Papa and Mama Bear helped Brother and later Sister survive family vacations, messy rooms and a case of "the galloping greedy gimmies. It was a fantasy rooted in the realities of daily life and seasoned with gentle moral lessons. The Bear family tackled everything from stage fright to junk food to bullies. In 2002, Berenstain told the Associated Press that he liked to deal with the unchanging challenges of family life: "Kids still tell fibs and they mess up their rooms and they still throw tantrums in the supermarket." In Bear Country, "nobody gets shot. No violence. There are problems, but they're the kind of typical family problems everyone goes through. The Berenstain Bears became a daily animated cartoon series on public television and inspired two musicals. The latest, The Berenstain Bears Save Christmas, opened Thanksgiving Day. Stan continued to work on rewrites even as his health failed. Random House, which announced his death Tuesday, said the books would be continued by Jan and sons Michael and Leo.



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