Thursday, November 4, 2010

Books I Recently Read

In case you wondered (and why would you?) whether I actually read as well as write I offer the following book reports on my recent efforts to become well informed and well rounded.   (Hey! I’m not referring to my pear shaped figure.)

Third World America, by Arianna Huffington.
I have followed Arianna Huffington for some time as she has shared her views on various television news programs.  I subscribe to The Huffington Post,  her online blog that hosts dozens of the top analysts in the country today.  When I saw her interviewed about her latest of thirteen books up to the present, I immediately bought and read it.

The first two thirds of the book deals with the multitude of ways our country has devolved into a “third world” [1] nation.  It was discouraging and bewildering to see the research laid out in such a systematic and straightforward manner.  The lower middle class is increasingly becoming the poor and the upper middle class is sinking to the regular middle class.  One class continues to grow—the 2% of the population in the upper class.  That 2% is managing to capture the major portion of wealth in our nation, currently estimated to be about 85%.  That means that 98% of the population shares in only 15% of the wealth.  One can debate the figures.  There are numerous ways in which these calculations are made.  But the fact remains that the so-called “trickle down” economics of the Reagan era never trickled down to any body.  That increasing wealth was hoarded and reinvested in ways that would further benefit the super rich.

In the final third of her book, Ms. Huffington outlines ways in which this imbalance can be remedied.  She talks about entrepreneurship,   Calling on the can-do attitude that is part of America’s DNA, Huffington shows precisely what we need to do to stop our free fall and keep our country from turning into a Third World nation.”

I urge you to read it.
Eighteen Acres, by Nicolle Wallace.
I just finished this completely absorbing novel about life inside the eighteen acres that comprise the grounds of the White House.  I could not put this book down!  Coming as it has right at the time of the midterm elections, it satisfied my curiosity about the work, the people and the antics of the people we elect to lead us and those they gather around themselves in order to accomplish their goals.  It is a novel but it is based on a real knowledge of how things work (or don’t) in the world of high-powered politics.

Nicolle Wallace is an established political commentator who regularly appears on network and cable news programs.  She is a contributor to The Daily Beast and a former analyst for CBS Evening News.  She was White House communications director under George W. Bush and campaign advisor for John McCain and Sarah Palin.
I found it most interesting to imagine who her characters were in “real life.”  Of course they were drawn from a number of administrations and their personnel and one cannot be absolutely certain who is who.  The fun is in imagining that you might know.  I am sure that the insiders know who they are.

I read very few novels, but I bought this as soon as I heard Ms. Wallace interviewed about her book.  Get it!

Dead Love, by Linda Watanabe McFerrin.
And now for something entirely different.  This book, written by the wife of a friend of mine, is not the type of material I usually choose for reading matter.  My curiosity pushed me, both because of the current interest in the subject matter and because of my relationship to the author.

First, let me admit that I did not consider myself a ghoul/zombie person!    I must say, though, I had hardly begun Dead Love when I realized I was strangely excited.  Anticipation conjured in each paragraph led me to wonder what next?  Then it was from one chapter to the next.  I was hooked!

There was no wasted time building up to the sexual interplay of the characters.  Erin and Ryu take care of that right away.  Best to get into it quickly so one could fully participate in the real adventure of dead love!  The sex was, as Erin exclaimed, “almost annihilating” to say the least.

At some points in the reading I imagined a Bogart figure, as in Casablanca or African Queen, an understated character innately powerful.  Each of the Dead Love characters was well drawn and believable. Of course it helped if you already had an inclination to be interested in shape-shifting ghouls and zombies.

The author is a marvelous wordsmith.  Her colorful and descriptive narrative moves us from one dark corner of the mind to another, each fraught with the shadows of intrigue and deception.

The author is currently on a book signing tour and will be stopping at Powell’s Beaverton bookstore November 10 at 7:00 PM.

[1] ·  The term arose during the Cold War to define countries that remained non-aligned or not moving at all with either capitalism and NATO (which along with its allies represented the First World) or communism and the Soviet Union (which along with its allies represented the Second World). ...
·  Unlike an industrial nation where certain criteria are met, these are nations which struggle to compete because of a lack of one or more of the following: health, education, employment, resources, money, and other various factors. ...

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