I realized with less than a week to go that I had not even picked out the adult nonfiction book I’d said I’d review for the June Librarian’s Choice page. Oops. The adult summer reading theme (which we’re not really doing) is animals, so I thought I’d look for one of the nice narrative animal books which seem only to circulate as long as they’re on the new book shelf. I started with a book on the platypus, a favorite of mine, but soon put it down because I just couldn’t get into it – no good with a tight deadline. But on take two, we had a winner.
The Astonishing Elephant by Shana Alexander Who hasn’t been fascinated by the elephant, the largest of land mammals? Journalist Shana Alexander shares with us her life-long quest to understand the elephant, beginning with her attendance at the rare birth of a zoo elephant in the 1960s. She takes us on a journey through the history of elephants, their importance in Hindu and Buddhist religion, their often sad involvement in circuses in the United States and the excitement of recent breakthroughs in elephant communication. Elephants naturally live in a society which on some days seems ideal – matriarchal family groups, with visiting males. OK, maybe I wouldn’t like the without males part. But the close communication, the affection – they seem to have figured out how to live together peacefully better than we have. They are difficult in captivity because they resent their lost freedom, and will only breed with a mate they like. Today, though zoo conditions have improved, the elephant is still in grave danger from loss of habitat in Asia and from poaching in Africa. The news may not be completely cheerful, but the wise and social elephant has never been so compelling as Alexander shows it to be.
Which Brings Me to You by Steve Almond and Julianna Baggott Two single thirty-somethings meet at a wedding. They are on the verge of an illicit coupling in the coat closet, when John pulls back. What if they let things develop at a slower pace rather than the certain death of a one-night stand? He talks the reluctant Jane into beginning a correspondence in which they will confess their failings, mostly in love. Though the set-up is a wee bit on the improbable side, the resulting letters beautifully chronicle the characters’ development from first high school relationship to the present, as well as their growing relationship. John and Jane are smart and sarcastic characters, no longer trusting that first flush of romance but not willing to settle for anything less than a life fully lived.
And here is the book which took me the better part of a couple of months to read, owing to my rather rusty German.
Tintenherz von Cornelia Funke Ich hatte dieses Buch auf dem Amerikanischen so gern, dass ich es auf dem originallen Deutschen lesen musste. Ja. Die Geschichte ist immer noch sehr schoen und spannend, aber es ist sehr gut das ich es schon gelesen hatte. Es war wirklich gut es auf Deutsch zu lesen, aber gluecklicherweise fuer meine Freunde, die kein Deutsch lesen, ist die Uebersetzung auch gut. Und wenn irgendjemand hier es auf Deutsch lesen moechte, kann ich meine Kopie ausleihen.