Big Girl by Kelsey Miller

This memoir is written by a young woman, a millenial born in the 1980s. Ms. Miller chronicles her relationship with food and the many diets she has tried over the years.  She has been all different sizes over the years. . . her closet is full of clothes, most of which don’t fit in the opening of this book.  She either exercises and diets like crazy, or has no urge to do anything and overeats.  It seems to be all one or the other.   Ultimately, the author decides not to follow any given diet at all anymore, and see how things go.

I enjoyed this book.  Miller is good and engaging writer.  It drew me in.  I wanted to keep reading.   As someone who is actually been all over the place weight-wise (in the last 15 years I have been between 139 and 208 lbs . . . and that’s not counting my two full-terms pregnancies – the highest I got was around 200 lbs with my first pregnancy, which means I gained just over 50 lbs during that pregnancy – a little much),  this book was definitely of personal interest.

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.      

Candy Bomber by Michael O. Tunnell

Title: Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berline Airlift’s “Chocolate Pilot”

Author: Michael O. Tunnell
Original Publication Date: 2010
Date I First Read: 2010
Basic Category:  Juvenile Nonfiction. 

Basic Summary:  This is the story of Gail S. Halvorson, the Chocolate Pilot.   One day, while landed to deliver supplies to Berlin in the late 1940s, Lt. Halvorson was inspired to give a group of children there at the landing strip two pieces of gum to share.  After that, he wondered how he could deliver more treats to the children of Berlin.   His fellow pilots donated some of their own candy rations, and from the plan, he would drop the candy by attaching little parachutes made of handkerchiefs.   

What, from this book, has stayed in my mind:   Some of the children who received chocolate have stayed in contact with Gail Halvorson over the years.  

Notes:   This is a good book for 4-6th Graders.   It is also a 2014 Caudill Award Nominee.   
Rating (1-5 stars):  4.5  

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 

Y is for Your Baby’s Best Shot

Title:  Your Baby’s Best Shot: Why Vaccines are Safe and Save Lives
Authors: Herlihy and Hagood
Original Publication Date: 2012
Date I First Read: February 2013
Basic Category: Nonfiction
Basic Summary:  This well-written book outlines well all of the reasons parents should give their babies vaccines (and addresses most arguments against.)  It includes an extensive reference bibliography. 
What I Remember About the Book:  I was really nervous about my son following the standard vaccination schedule after reading a different book about vaccines four years ago (one that took quite a different stance.)  However, he was fine, and I am so happy now that we did.  I remember that this book actually gave me the assurance that we made the right decision. 
What I Took Away From the Book:  Get the vaccines . . . and that I should make sure my vaccinations are up to date!
Rating (1-5 stars):  4

U is for The Undutchables

Title:  The Undutchables: An Observation of the Netherlands, Its Culture and Its Inhabitants
Author: Colin White and Laurie Bouke
Original Publication Date: 1991
Date I First Read: 2005
Basic Category: Nonfiction / Culture
Basic Summary: The author present inhabitants of the Netherlands, and how they live life.
What I Remember About the Book:
I read a used copy of this book, which I fell in love with.  The authors attempted to be humorous, and were successful part of the time.  I picked it up because some day I want to go there . . . half of my ancestors were originally the Netherlands.   I remember most the section on the Dutch being reluctant to pick up the phone when it was ringing.  It struck such a chord with me!  Maybe that’s way both my dad and me freak out about a ringing phone . . . and panic a little bit every time.  It’s inherited phone anxiety!
What I Took Away From the Book:  I still would like to visit the Netherlands someday. 
Rating (1-5 stars):  5