“Be careful about readi…

 

“Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.”
-Mark Twain

I almost laughed out loud when I read this quote! I think we could include WebMD to Twain’s health book quote. There are probably very few people who, at one time or another, took a look at a health book or website in an effort to diagnose themselves….and probably found an unsettling disease or virus as the culprit. While I would obviously never discourage someone from reading any sort of book, I do agree with Twain’s sentiment! If you’re very ill, please, please just go to the doctor 🙂

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The Hunger Games (Book 1 of 3)

As I began to read this book I must admit I wasn’t too thrilled. I immediately thought of a short story I had read years earlier entitled “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. Although I read it in high school, after some quick research I learned that “The Lottery” was first published in 1948 in The New Yorker. For those of you unfamiliar with this story, “The Lottery” describes one small town’s practice to ensure a good harvest – sacrificing one member of the community by stoning them to death. The story was also (of course) turned into a made-for-TV movie starring Keri Russell and Dan Cortese. Thankfully The Hunger Games had a bit more in store.

The first chapters of The Hunger Games had me worried that I was reading a technologically improved version of the same idea and thought about giving up on it. However, since I had heard such great reviews from friends and the media, I pushed myself to read on. And I must say, I’m so, so happy that I did. The Hunger Games turned out to be a major page-turner!!

While writing this review, I’ve struggled with whether I want to expose details that only those who finished the book would know. I’ve decided against that. I typically read a review to find a book to read – not to read about how the book turned out. But, I do want to encourage anyone considering reading these books to just read it! This book, as well as the trilogy has everything that most readers are looking for: action, romance, violence, friends and family.  And an adventurous, gritty, tough heroinne who serves as the main character.

Although I don’t want to get too far into the plot, I will say that the relationships the characters develop throughout the book were a big reason that I kept reading for so long. I could relate to the bonds that were made and I think that most readers could find at least one relationship they could relate to as well. Additionally, the technology that the author is able to write into the story is absolutely amazing! I know there are some readers who will find just that aspect fascinating.

I realize that keeping the plot secret seems like a strange way to recommend a book but I think it also adds mystery to an already wonderful book. Although I don’t have a lot of posts yet, I do know a good book when I read one – and this is it! Although this series is categorized in the young adult section, I think it should be reserved for the 18+ (or so) crowd. I don’t think it’s something appropriate for junior high students. The violent images seem a bit advanced for the younger group and I don’t think I would feel comfortable recommending it to 12 year olds. However, if you’re an adult looking for a great page-turner, pick up The Hunger Games. And soon, you’ll probably be picking up the sequels!

Until next time, enjoy and keep reading!

Cover of "The Hunger Games"

Cover of The Hunger Games

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“Let us read and let us…

“Let us read and let us dance – two amusements that will never do any harm to the world.”
-Voltaire

There are so many quotes out there about the value, the pleasure and the education that comes from reading. I chose to post this one because reading and dancing are two activities that I love (although I need a drink in my hand to do one)! I think it’s interesting that many of the quotes I found were written many, many years ago, but they still apply today; even in a world with Internet, cell phones and instant connection to the world. There will never be anything that will replace the value of a good book.

One for the Grown-Ups

My next review will cover the book entitled “Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity” written by the, in my opinion, great Katherine Boo.

Before I begin my actual review, I would like to start with a quick disclaimer. This book is not for the faint of heart nor for those who believe that all books should conclude with a happy ending tied up with a pretty little bow. If those are the things you’re seeking, you may want to skip this read. However, if you’re interested in the lives of those much, much difference and in many ways, worse than nearly everyone in America or those who have a general interest in different religions and lifestyles around the world, this could be the selection for you.

“Behind the Beautiful Forevers” is the account of journalist Katherine Boo as she spends three years living amongst the poorest in the world. Her work is based in the slums of Mumbai, India; more specifically Annawadi. Annawadi is a makeshift community where the families featured in the book build their homes. Strangely enough, Annawadi is set in the shadows of some of the most luxurious hotels of India and the airport, where the poor citizens watch as the wealthy leave the sadness of Annawadi behind.

As you can imagine, the densely populated slums do not offer much in the way of jobs, housing, food or education. While people living in the slums dream of such luxuries, acquiring them is another story. Unfortunately that story involves greed, corruption and crime. With so few opportunities for so, so many people, competition is fierce in the worse sense of the word. Fights, suicides and murder are common in these communities. As Boo witnessed some of these atrocities first-hand, she is well-educated and brutally honest regarding the horrors of living in Mumbai through her writing.

Boo follows the lives of a few different families during her time in Mumbai. Knowing that this extremely well-written author experienced real life in this rough lifestyle, her writing is all the more believable and frightening. As a writer for The New Yorker, Boo’s book is not for someone looking for a quick read. The book as well as the very real people in the book, deserve the reader’s undivided attention. And frankly without it, you will miss the subtleties that are crucial to trying to understand the complexities of a world most of us will never experience.

Personally, I would recommend this great read to those with an open mind, willing to let that mind go, sometimes, to dark places. If more people read and appreciated books like these, I’d like to believe we’d keep judgments to ourselves and realize that in essence, we are all striving for the same things.

“Behind the Beautiful Forevers” is a new favorite of this writer. I recommend it when friends are looking for something real and raw – a book that speaks of and to humanity. Like I said, don’t expect a happy ending. Instead, prepare for a gritty, honest, straight to the point writing that will leave you more knowledgeable and much, much more appreciative. If this book does not leave you feeling appreciative for what you have, nothing ever will. Embrace this treasure for all that it is.

Until next time, keep reading!

To review and purchase “Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity,” use the link below (Amazon.com):
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity

Welcome to Heather Reads!

Have you ever found yourself wondering if maybe the younger version of yourself just knew better? As if the person you left behind would have been braver, more daring, even fearless? I sometimes wonder if the girl I used to be is still waiting for me to make her dreams come true. I know I’ve accomplished a few of her goals – finding true love, traveling to Europe and visiting London, Paris and Rome, and living near the ocean – but the writer in me is pretty lonely.

To that end, this blog is a chance to let the writer have her turn in the spotlight (however larger or small that light becomes), to show a little creativity and to hopefully help others enjoy my passion – READING!!

Books, magazine articles, children’s literature and everything in between. I usually read a variety of novels, biographies, fashion mags, and re-read my favorite children’s books. As part of my writing, I would encourage and welcome requests to read books and give an honest review to post. I stand nothing to gain by offering a positive or negative review. Just my own opinion.

Or, if you work with children and need some book ideas for a unit, I would love to recommend a series of age-appropriate, subject specific materials. I have been an avid reader since about the age of 4 and I still enjoy roaming the children’s section is stores or online.

Thank you in advance for joining me on this journey! I welcome any and all opinios. However, please try to avoid the use of obscenities or inapporpriate language. I would like this to be a resource for as many people as possible. This includes younger children searching for books to take a look at.

With that said, welcome and enjoy!