How to Be a Heroine by Samantha Ellis

How to Be a Heroine by Samantha Ellis
This book is a memoir of the author. . .  her reading throughout growing up and how they affected and changed her life.   Ms. Ellis is British with Iraqi Jewish family/ancestry.  In fact, there is a very interesting section of the book in which she tells the story that when she was a teen, her first serious boyfriend was also Jewish, but as their relationship progressed, he became increasing Orthodox, and wanted her to join him in that.  It was because of the some of the books she had been reading that made her think more about whether that was something that she really wanted for herself.  Ultimately, it wasn’t.  I found this very moving actually.

What I liked the most was the chapter when Ms. Ellis describes reading some of my favorite books as a girl and how they affected her – A Little Princess by Frances Hodgeson Burnett and Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery.  I agree that Anne is a better orphan than Sara Crewe, among other points of interest and observation.

I could write so much more about this book, and I will try to edit/add more in the near future.  I just wanted to get this review up today!

(Summer Reading 2015, Book 6 of 30)

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On My Own Two Feet by Amy Purdy

On My Own Two Feet: From Losing My Legs to Learning the Dance of Life by Amy Purdy with Michelle Burford (2014)

Amy Purdy lost her feet and part of her legs after meningitis at the age of 19.   However, she started snowboarding as a teen in the years prior to this life-changing experience.  This story is about how she continues to “write” her life and living it to the fullest.

I will admit that I like memoirs, and I like them best when they seem to be written by the subject themselves.  This one was obviously not completely self-written.  Ms. Purdy is quite an interesting person, and I did enjoy this book.  It just was not the kind of more literary memoir that I tend to prefer, but it was a good, quick read.

[Summer Reading Online – Book 2]

El Deafo by Cece Bell

El Deafo by Cece Bell (2014)

This graphic memoir is beautifully written and illustrated, and is really great for readers of all ages.  (I read this book just after Christmas and before New Year’s after being on hold for it at my local public library.)  Cece is growing up in the 1970s and 80s and has a hearing impairment after an illness as a preschooler.  She also believes that she is a super hero.  This is really a powerful story about navigating the world of school and friends with a hearing impairment.

Currently Reading: I Am Malala by by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb (Contributor)

I am currently reading I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai (2013).

I am a little over halfway finished with it.  I have been fascinated with learning more about the history of the region Malala was born and grew up in.   The first hand account of what happened to lead up to her being shot is interesting, although at times it has been a little dry.   Sometimes I have wanted to know more about her feelings in certain situations.  I have just gotten to the chapter about the actual shooting, so I will have to update my review as I finish reading this book.

Moving Miss Peggy by Robert Benson

Moving Miss Peggy: A Story of Dementia, Courage and Consolation
by Robert Benson

I read this little book early this past Sunday morning.   The copy of it was acquired on Saturday afternoon at ALA 2013.  Mr. Benson was there in person to sign copies of it.  I had never read any of his works before.  I may send him an email now that I have read the book.

This is a very well-written and poignant story.  It is written in the third person for the most part.  It is not written from the point of view of the author, although he is obviously a character in the story.  Sometimes it is addressed as “we” (the four siblings who must decide what to do with their mother), and then each sibling or spouse is named when necessary.  

Miss Peggy, as she is most often called, married young and gave birth to five children over the next 16 years.  After her husband passed away fairly young (their youngest child was still just 16 years old), she led a rather independent life working and enjoying living.   However, in the last couple of years, some things haven’t been quite right with her, and her living children gather to decide what must be done for her, and who will do what things for Miss Peggy.

She is experiencing dementia, and it is getting worse.  She is not quite the self she used to be.   She has already had to give up driving.  It is finally decided that she must be moved into an assisted living facility, and her large townhouse must be sold   The siblings set out to find just the perfect location for their mother.  In the meantime, they are trying to carefully dissolve their mother’s household and belongings.  Various pieces of furniture goes to various grandchildren who are moving out on their own, for instance.

It is a beautiful story, and it really resonated with me.   I have experienced some of these things recently with my grandpa recently moving into assisted living.  I inherited some very special furniture. . .  and this past Sunday, my grandpa was able to share again the story of how he and grandma acquired that furniture more than sixty years ago (they were moving, and many of their possessions were lost in a flood.  This was some of the new furniture that they were able to get at cost.)  Grandma died seven years ago now, but she was experiencing dementia at the time.

I highly recommend this book.      

Annie’s Ghosts by Steve Luxenberg

Title: Annie’s Ghosts
Author: Steven Luxenberg
Original Publication Date: 2009
Date I First Read: 2013
Basic Category: Nonfiction / Memoir / Genealogy

Basic Summary:  The author was surprised after his mother’s death that he had an aunt.  His mother always claimed that she was an only child.   After her death, the family received a letter from the cemetery where their grandparents were buried asking if they wanted to plant flowers for them, and for a woman named Annie Cohen.   Mr. Luxenberg investigates, and interviews over a hundred people in an attempt to learn the whole story behind Annie, and why his mother kept Annie a secret.    Much of their unknown family history is also discovered (along with changes of surnames upon arrival in America.)   

What, from this book, has stayed in my mind:   I just finished reading this book a week ago . . . It is amazing that they wanted to hide their second daughter.   At the time her physical and mental disabilities were considered shameful, at least in their family, and in the area Annie’s parents were originally from.   It made me feel very sad for them all.  

Data, A Love Story by Amy Webb

Data, A Love Story: How I Gamed Online Dating to Meet my Match by Amy Webb
Original Publication Date:  2013
Date I First Read: 2013
Category:  Nonfiction/Memoir

Summary:  Ms. Webb thought she would meet her future significant other while on international journalism assignments.  After some rather bad relationships, she decided to try online dating.   That wasn’t working out so well, either, until she signed up as a man, and tried to see what men liked in the most popular profiles of women.

What I Liked About the Book:  I picked up this book because I, too, decided to joined an online dating site and create a profile.  And I found my eventual spouse quite quickly!  In fact, Ms. Webb got into online dating at the same time I did.   When she started mentioning instant messaging, I dated it as 2005, and I was correct.  I enjoyed getting another perspective on it . . .  it rather validated the idea that we did the right thing.  We aren’t the only ones!

Rating (1-5 Stars): 5 Stars