Saturday, February 24, 2007

This hysterically funny book is the story of Bryson – a writer from the mid-west who has just moved back to the United States from 20 or so years in England. He decides a great way to reconnect with his country is to walk the Apalachian Trail. The Trail runs 2,100 miles from Georgia to Maine. He brings his childhood friend the out of shape, cranky and somewhat recovering addict Stephen Katz. It is an epic journey – kind of like the Oddessy, but interesting.
I like a good travel book. Tim Cahill has written some very funny ones my favorites being PECKED TO DEATH BY DUCKS and ROAD FEVER: A HIGH SPEED TRAVELOGUE. Bryson has also written some good travel books. NOTES ON A SMALL ISLAND is his walking tour of England and IN A SUNBURNED COUNTRY describes his travels in Australia. I also quite enjoyed his A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING. My favorite man in nature book is probably NEVER CRY WOLF by Farley Mowat which was on the old summer reading list and is excellent.

This book is a series of interrelated poems. At first it can be confusing – sometimes you can tell who the speaker is, sometimes not. But by the end of the book the amazing way these poems fit together is revealed and you realize that you know who all these kids are. As soon as I finished it, I went back to read it again and it was even better the second time – because it was easier to keep everyone straight in my mind. The language itself isn’t hard at all – these people talk like people really talk. And the way they relate to each other is fascinating.

I didn’t used to like books that were written as poems. It kind of seems like cheating. The writer gets credit for writing a whole book and they are using about a third of the number of words as a “real writer” would. But sometimes it really works. This is one of those times.

If you like this I would highly recommend KESHIA’S HOUSE by Helen Frost. Sondra Sohnes is another good poetry/novel writer. My favorite of hers is ONE OF THOSE HIDEOUS BOOKS WHERE THE MOTHER DIES. I also liked BURNED by Ellen Hopkins, but it is an emotional roller coaster of a book, so don’t say you weren’t warned!

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Zombie Survival Guide
Originally uploaded by barbfecteau.
When Zombies get their act together and start taking over the planet you are going to be really glad you bothered to read The Zombie Survival Guide! This tongue in cheek book gives you the best strategies for staving off zombie attack and keeping your brain out of the hands of the un-dead and in your skull where it belongs. There is no story to speak of, it reads like a guidebook. The fun lies in the serious tone that Brooks takes. There are little synopses of previous uprisings so you can compare them to your own zombie-related circumstances.

Brooks is also the author of World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, so he knows whereof he speaks. If you like fake guides to crazy stuff you might also enjoy How to Survive a Robot Uprising: Tips on Defending Yourself Against the Coming Rebellion and The Government Manual for New Superheroes.