Published on Thu, Dec 2, 2004 by Margot Griffiths

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Book Review

By Margot Griffiths

At year’s end, our reading list reflects the state of our world – and our desire to celebrate the good, understand the bad, explain the inexplicable, and then escape it – through the transformative gift of literature.

What’s the Matter with Kansas: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America

by Thomas Frank
Superb and wryly humorous commentary on the incongruities of life and why so many Americans vote against their economic and social interests, opting instead for down home values. Observant and insightful political analysis.

Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books
by Azar Nafisi
An inspired and heroic English scholar secretly imparts western classics to young women in Iran, after that country’s violent conversion to an Islamic state, and its ensuing war against women. A revelation of the power of art and literature in defying the tyranny of oppression.

A Short History
of Nearly Everything

by Bill Bryson
A witty and widely-loved storyteller tackles the scientific world in this vastly entertaining intellectual odyssey. With the help of the world’s best scientific minds, Bryson not only makes the complex comprehensible, but endlessly fascinating too.

Path Without Destination
by Satish Kumar
At the age of nine, the author began his wandering as a Jain monk, choosing a lifestyle of non-violent activism for ecological responsibility and spiritual development. Uplifting prose and emotional depth that leaves the reader enriched and enlightened.

The Forest Lover

by Susan Vreeland
A novel built on the courageous life of Canadian painter, Emily Carr. A woman of immense artistic talent and huge personal strength takes center stage in rich historical fiction for art lovers.

Author, Author
by David Lodge
Henry James was author of some of the greatest contemporary novels, yet he struggled deeply with his own belief in his writing. With signature humor, pathos and absorbing suspense, David Lodge paints a superb picture of the competitive literary world in late Victorian England.

by Alice Munro
One of the leading writers of short stories presents eight new vignettes, exploring the arc of love in women’s lives. Munro carries the thread of continuity from one story to the next, creating outstanding characterizations ach-ieved in brilliant brevity.

The Kite Runner
by Khaled Hosseini
In this debut novel, the lives of two young Afghanistan men change forever under the repressive Taliban regime. An extraordinary and passionate exploration of recent history, with taut plot twists and deeply moving players.

by Ken Haruf
The author of Plainsong, again delivers a quietly beautiful story of life in the small prairie town of Holt, Colorado. Haruf sets the same sympathetic characters in a narrative that delves into the delicate alchemy that holds the human family together.

Polar Express
by Chris Van Allsbury
This talented writer and artist creates a visual delight, as a young boy takes a magical train on Christmas Eve. His destination? The North Pole. A modern day Child’s Christmas in Wales, for ages eight to 80.