Review Tuesday: Book Uncle and Me by Uma Krishnaswami

I don’t read (or review) many children’s books, however, Book Uncle and Me by Uma Krishnaswami grabbed me by the heart. It was just so lovely.

book-uncle-and-meFrom Goodreads:

Nine-year-old Yasmin intends to read a book a day for the rest of her life. Book Uncle, who runs a free lending library on the street corner, always has the perfect book for her. But when Book Uncle seems to be in trouble, Yasmin has to take her nose out of her book and do something. With the elections coming up and the grown-ups busy with their own affairs, what difference can Yasmin and her friends possibly make? Will they get help from Karate Samuel, the eccentric superstar who’s standing for Mayor? Yasmin gets to work, ideas begin to fly like feathers, and soon everything starts to spin out of control.

Yasmin is a wonderful character. She is bright, engaged with her friends and the people around her, and loves to read. She reads a book a day, and she gets her books, not from a library but from Book Uncle. Book Uncle runs the free lending library on the street corner and always has the perfect book not just for her, but for everyone. It is something that he takes pride in, and Yasmin is always excited to go and see him.

Then, of course, something terrible happens. Book Uncle does not have a permit to be on the street corner with his lending library and someone has complained about him. The worse news is that he cannot afford to get one. So he has no choice but to pack up his lending library and head on home. Yasmin, when she realizes that Book Uncle has gone, is firstly upset for herself. How is she suppose to read a book a day if Book Uncle isn’t there to supply the books? When she goes to see Book Uncle though, and sees how upset and depressed he is, she realizes that she has to save the lending library not just for herself, but for Book Uncle and the other people who use the library.

Thus begins Yasmin’s entry into civic responsibility. She gets her classmates and friends, and their friends to start writing letters to the mayoral candidates about weather they will be able to help Book Uncle, and when that does work as well as she hoped she comes up with a new plan, and then other.

This book is a wonderful read. It teaches children about civic responsibility, and that you’re never too young to help make change. It also teaches the value of friendship, making goals and achieving them, and of course the value of reading.

This is a fantastic story, with a great message. It’s definitely one that you’ll want to pick up!

The Lure of the Bookstore

Ever since I can remember I’ve loved books. I use to play library as a kid. I would have all of my stuffed animals set up for story time and then I would pretend that my bedroom walls were really bookshelves and I would walk around looking for the perfect book to read. Once I found the perfect one I would “pull” it from my wall, after which it would turn into a physical book – one that I had already preselected to read and of course my stuffed animals never knew the little magic trick. Or if they did they never let on that they knew – and with physical book in hand I would read to my little audience, even before I could read on my own.

At school, I was always the girl who was reading – I inhaled books. I definitely remember using the library as a kid, and being awed that I could check out so many books – it seemed, at the time, more books than I could ever want to check out. And my little library card got a great work out. But somewhere along the way, I started using the library less and less, and started using the bookstore more and more.

When I was kid, Beauty and the Beast was (and let’s be real, still is) my favourite Disney movie (hello that library?!). I loved Belle because I felt like her. She loved to read, and no one around her really did. And all she really wanted was what I wanted: “And for once it might be grand, to have someone, understand.” It’s hard for your head to be full of stories and for no one around you to have any in theirs.

Belle at the beginning of the movie sings a song as she walks to the village to visit the bookstore. The bookseller is the only one who gets her love of reading and readily lets her borrow books.

This scene was the scene that I acted out when I was kid. My parents would put the song on, or the movie on for me, and I would skip around our house with my little wicker basket and pretend that I was Belle going to the bookstore. When I “got there,” I had a hardcover book  that my parents used when they were kids and I put it in my basket and skip “home,” singing the song as I went.

Because of moments like that, and many many others where my parents would take me to bookstores and let me buy what I wanted, bookstores are my kryptonite.

The perfect gift that you can ever give me is to let me wander into a bookstore with no time limit on when I have to come out again. Some of my favourite afternoons are spent when my best friend/sister and I go to the bookstore and just wander. We can definitely spend at least an hour, though probably longer, browsing, shopping, and talking about books.

I started also using bookstores as a kind of therapy. Time stops for me when I enter a bookstore, and I relax. Walking through the shelves is wonderful because I meet old friends that I’ve either read before or have sitting on my own shelves back at home, and they introduce me to new friends. New adventures. New escapes. New ideas and thoughts and dreams.

The bookstore closest to me has just closed recently. It’s been there for a very long time, and in fact I use to work there a couple of years ago. (I might as well have asked them to just pay me in the books, the amount of books I bought while working there was ridiculous). There’s another one opening in the mall across the street, but it isn’t open yet.

I didn’t realize just how often I depended on that bookstore until it was closed. A couple of days ago I needed to get out of the house, and destress. I was halfway out of the house before I remembered that there isn’t a nice big bookstore to walk around in anymore. At least not until the new one opens. Instead of going to the bookstore I read instead, which was good, but not what I really wanted at that moment in time.

Bookstores are definitely one of my happy places. I can’t resist going into one, and when I travel I’m always popping into bookstores to check them out. And the funny thing is no matter where I am in the world, if I’m in a bookstore I relax and I feel like I’m home.

 

 

Review Tuesday: The Last Colony

The Last Colony by John Scalzi is book three in the Old Man’s War series, and this series is awesome. I don’t read a lot of science fiction but I love this series.

last colonyFrom Goodreads:

Retired from his fighting days, John Perry is now village ombudsman for a human colony on distant Huckleberry. With his wife, former Special Forces warrior Jane Sagan, he farms several acres, adjudicates local disputes, and enjoys watching his adopted daughter grow up.

That is, until his and Jane’s past reaches out to bring them back into the game–as leaders of a new human colony, to be peopled by settlers from all the major human worlds, for a deep political purpose that will put Perry and Sagan back in the thick of interstellar politics, betrayal, and war.

In this book we run across John and Jane again. Jane was in book two, but more as a secondary character, and John wasn’t in it at all. This book brings the two of them back and a bunch of time has past since book two.

They are put in charge of a new human colony that of course it not what it seems, and they and their teenage daughter Zoe move there. Cue, the intergalactical politics (and you thought earth politics was ridiculous at times).

The book was very well paced, and I just about flew through it. You see some character development from book one to book three, but these are mostly plot drive books, and the plot can definitely hold your attention.

The book ends on a surprising note for me. I was definitely not expecting it, and I’m very intrigued to see how book four unfolds. A book I will be picking up very soon.

Review Tuesday: Fahrenheit 451

I somehow managed to get out of high school without having to read Fahrenheit 451 though I have no idea how. It is a classic book however, and I thought that I should read it, so I added it to my list of 10 books that I am determined to read this year.

451I will say that the premise of the book is interesting. What happens when the world no longer reads? Or thinks for themselves? Or questions what they hear or what they are told? What happens to empathy then? Our humanity? Our compassion? What happens to the world?

It’s a powerful premise, and a powerful thought. And that’s what I loved about this book. That original gem of a premise.

What I couldn’t stand about this book is the main character Guy. He is so damn irritating and frustrating. I spent the majority of the book wanting to smack him across the back of the head. I do understand that he’s suppose to come across as overwhelmed and questioning everything, but I just couldn’t get past how irritating he was. I almost didn’t finish the book because of it. I am so eternally glad that I didn’t read this book in high school because while the premise is amazing, the delivery of it is enough to put anyone off reading for awhile. I cannot imagine many students ever finishing it.

The only other thing I liked about this book other than the premise is this quote:

“Books were only one type of receptacle where we stored a lot of things we were afraid we might forget. There is nothing magical in them at all. The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.”

While it’s true that books are simply words consisting of a variance of 26 letters, paper, ink and glue, it is also true that their essence is magic. There is something about them that allows us to relate to the world. And I for one would be completely lost without them.

 

 

Review Tuesday – My To-Read Pile

This is my To-Read Pile – well it’s my physical one. There might also be a virtual one that exists on my Kobo. Needless to say I have a lot of books to read.

My To-Read Pile

Books for me, are an escape, a journey, an adventure. You experience so much as you read. You fall in love with characters, and completely despise others. You want to live in the worlds that authors create. There’s just nothing else like it.

I also have the habit of completely forgetting where I am when I read, so when I yell or gasp or start talking to the characters (doesn’t everyone do that?) I could be sitting on my couch or on the subway…sometimes it gets awkward.

Currently, I’m reading Beautiful Beloved, which is a novella, so I’m trying to decide what other book I’m going to bring on the subway with me tomorrow just in case I finish it on my commute. A girl must be prepared.

What do you like most about reading? What does your to-read pile look like?