I'm reading right along on the six books I chose to read this January. Here are my thoughts on the three I've recently completed.
Barbara Bush's Memoir is the second memoir/autobiography of a First Lady that I've read. (The first was Laura Bush's Spoken from the Heart, which I reviewed here.) This book chronicles Barbara Bush's life from birth through 1993, the year after President George H. W. Bush's last year in office. It's truly a fascinating story and incorporates so much history. George H. W. Bush served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, then spent several years in college and business during the early years of the Bush's marriage. He began serving in the House of Representatives in the mid-1960s, then went on to serve in the Nixon administration (as Ambassador to the United Nations), the Ford administration (as Chief of the US Liaison Office in the People's Republic of China & Director of Central Intelligence), and the Reagan administration (as Vice-President of the United States). He was elected as the 41st President of the United States and served from 1989 -1992. Barbara Bush was by his side through it all and was fortunate to travel around the world, meet many individuals from all walks of life, and enjoy what she calls "a life of privilege and happiness." Mrs. Bush wrote this memoir herself and it's like sitting down to listen to her tell the stories of her life. She claims practically everyone as a "dear friend" and always mentions what an honor it is to be invited into someone's home. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, however they had so many experiences over the years that it almost became redundant - another trip overseas, more dinners with heads of state, another reception or ball, more literacy events, another graduation speech, more games of tennis. The only time her comments took on a negative tone was when someone unjustly criticized her husband and when she mentions the numerous times that the press distorted stories. She ends the book with this thought - "...the things that matter are faith, family, and friends. We have been inordinately blessed, and we know that."
Texas Stories by Craig Savoye when our local bookstore was going out of business last year. I originally thought it might be a good candidate for Pass the Book: Year Two, however it got lost in the To-Read pile and just resurfaced as I was pulling books to read this month. This non-fiction book is a collection of stories about cowboys, ranchers, and other assorted characters in Texas. It actually reads like a book of tall tales as the author relates the stories in cowboy vernacular. The author interviewed numerous people for the stories in this book, so this is considered non-fiction as everyone related their stories (or stories about their friends & acquaintances) as they remembered (and possible embellished) them. His goal was to preserve the stories for future generations. I enjoyed the stories, however by the end of the book I was getting a little tired. While each chapter was a unique story, there were similarities among them and I tired of the families "with a long history in Texas" and another cowpuncher who was the best at what he did. I would recommend this as a book to read one chapter at a time, now and then, rather than a straight read-through.
Little Bee by Chris Cleave was one of the books considered for the library book club that I attended for five years, however it was never one of the books chosen for our monthly discussions. I wasn't really sure what to expect as I had not read any reviews about this book; I had simply picked up a copy somewhere and added it to my To-Read pile. I was pleasantly surprised that this was a can't-put-it-down type of story. This book is fiction and relates the story of two women - Little Bee, a Nigerian refuge, and Sarah, a mother/wife/magazine editor living in the suburbs of London. The two women have a chance meeting on a beach in Nigerian, a meeting that lasts maybe 30 minutes or less but has life-changing results. The story revolves around their meeting again two years later. There were a few "negative" elements to the book, like Sarah's extramarital affair and the rather risque articles published by the magazine Sarah edits, however overall it is definitely a book worth reading. I had hoped for a happier ending, but the ending as written was really much more realistic. The overall theme is one of survival, and I love this quote from the book: A scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived. (This book was originally published in the UK as The Other Hand.)
I've started on the last book on my list for this month and hope to have a review of it for you before the end of the month along with my list for February. How are you doing on your reading for the year? Have you read any of the books I reviewed today?