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jenn

Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

16 Tasks of the Festive Season - Square 10: Pancha Ganapati Task

Please Mr. Einstein - Jean-Claude Carrière Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume - Julie Kenner, Jennifer Coburn, Megan McCafferty, Lynda Curnyn, Jennifer O'Connell, Melissa Senate, Diana Peterfreund, Stephanie Lessing, Laura Ruby, Erica Orloff, Stacey Ballis, Kristin Harmel, Shanna Wendson, Elise Juska, Kyra Davis, Beth Kendrick, Berta Platas, Kayla Pe The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt, the Lost Hero of Science - Andrea Wulf The Chosen - Chaim Potok Norse Mythology - Neil Gaiman

Tasks for Pancha Ganapati: Post about your 5 favourite books this year and why you appreciated them so much. –OR– Take a shelfie / stack picture of the above-mentioned 5 favorite books.  (Feel free to combine these tasks into 1!

 

Tough cull...  the best of the best for 2017.  It wasn't a straight "5 star" rating thing, but rather the books that stuck with me long after I finished them.  Here then, is my list:

 

Please Mr. Einstein - Jean-Claude Carrière Hands down my favourite book of the year - possibly my life. It's fiction, but it isn't.  Imagine an easy, but in-depth, look at Einstein's theory of relativity, discussed within the frame work of a fantastical time-out-of-time construct.  Throw in a small amount of speculation on what it might have been like to be Einstein, and then throw in a little humour in the form of Sir Isaac Newton constantly trying to crash the interview and get Einstein to admit he was wrong, and you have a small idea of what this book is like.

 

It is not possible to adequately explain how much this book delighted me and moved me.  If you have any interest at all in Relativity and/or Einstein, this book is definitely worth investigating.

 

Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume - Julie Kenner,Jennifer Coburn,Megan McCafferty,Lynda Curnyn,Jennifer O'Connell,Melissa Senate,Diana Peterfreund,Stephanie Lessing,Laura Ruby,Erica Orloff,Stacey Ballis,Kristin Harmel,Shanna Wendson,Elise Juska,Kyra Davis,Beth Kendrick,Berta Platas,Kayla Pe On the other side of the spectrum is Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume.  I loved Judy Blume's books when I was a kid, and at some level I knew she was a best selling author.  But until I read this book I had no idea she'd had as profound an effect on so many others as she had on me.  

 

These essays were funny, moving and amazing.  I don't remember a bad essay in the bunch, but the ones that stuck with me were the essays about Deenie terrifying one author, though ultimately helping her when she herself was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder, and the author essay about having to hide Forever while secretly passing it from friend to friend.  That one might have been my life.

 

The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World - Andrea WulfA lot of you read this right along with me, so you know how good this book was, even when it stumbled a bit towards the end.  

 

Humbolt ... I still can't wrap my mind around how someone who contributed so much can be so neglected today.  There are ancient Greeks whom we now know to be full of shit that get more recognition than this man who was the first to do so many things, and to discover so many things that are absolutely vital to every person's life today.  Accurate things.  Like better weather maps.   And keystone species.  And, and, and.

 

We need to bring Humbolt and his work back, before the world goes to hell in a hand basket.

 

The Chosen - Chaim PotokThis was a very recent read for me, but such an incredible find.  I feel like my life would have been lacking had I never discovered this book.

 

The friendship at the heart of this book is the Jewish equivalent of a Fundamentalist born-again Christian and a Roman Catholic being best friends; both practicing and headed for a life in their faith.  Only, of the two, one is doing it because he wants to, and the other because he has to.

 

There's also a little softball, a fair amount about father-son dynamics and ultimately an entire book's worth about listening to your soul when it speaks.

 

Norse Mythology - Neil GaimanI have always been fascinated by the Norse myths - far more so than the Greek ones.  But I've never known much about the real myths - only what shows up in popular culture and we all know how accurate that is.  But studying Greek myths in college left me intimidated and wary of tackling the Norse myths.  I don't know how you can make stories involving minotaurs and swans dry and academic, but my university, at least, managed to do just that. 

 

But Gaiman... Gaiman can't make anything dry and academic. And after hearing he honoured the originals rather faithfully, I bought a copy on audio.  Then went out and bought a print copy.  I loved them.  They were horrific but entertaining and Thor is hilarious in his oafishness.  I feel like I can now say I have some familiarity with Norse mythology, and it didn't come from Marvel Comics.