All Things Wise and Wonderful

James Herriot

All Things Wise and Wonderful  (All Creatures Great and Small, #3)

This entertaining story carries on where the other books left off. It is mostly his account of his experiences in the RAF during WWII. Many things that happen to him during basic training and learning to be a pilot remind him of his experiences as a county vet, so we get a double set of memories.

Each chapter tells a bit of his experience during training and a look back at some memorable animal or character, all entertaining. If you liked Herriot’s other books, this will appeal to you as well.

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Call the Midwife: Shadows of the Workhouse

Jennifer Worth

Unlike the other two Call the Midwife books that I have read, this book tells the life stories of two characters that the author encountered working at Nonnatus House. The first, Jane, is a quiet, fearful young women. She fears her own shadow, and cannot be trusted with any responsibility due to her fear of making a mistake. The other character, Mr Collett, a soldier who fought in the Boer war, begins as a client needing a nurse, and becomes a true friend to the author.

Jane’s story is the story of the workhouse, a horrible institution that punishes people for being poor. Starting out life as bubbly, charming, intelligent little girl, Jane’s spirit is completely broken by the inhumanity of the workhouse system.

The soldier, Mr. Collett starts out as a patient, but moves into the category of friend as his wounds heal. His life story is gradually revealed as her visits become more social than professional.

Both stories reveal the humanity of the people who came into contact with the sisters and nurses of Nonnatus House, until changing economic times forced the end of the East End and the need for the services of Nonnatus House.

Call the Midwife: Farewell to the East End

Jennifer Worth

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Similar to the first Call the Midwife book, this book is filled with adventures of the Nonnatus midwives. It puts the focus on Sister Monica Jean, who is accused of shoplifting, the ungainly and clumsy Chummy, and Megan’mave, two foulmouthed identical twins who share a husband between them. Along with the usual cast of characters, the real heroes of her book are the people of the East End. Somehow they manage to forge a community along the docks, in spite of economic stresses. Moving among them, the sisters and midwives do what they can to ease their troubles for a bit.

When You Are Engulfed in Flames

David Sedaris

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The usual collection of humorous essays, except toward the end where he turns to his attempt to stop smoking. Anyone who has gone though this can sympathize with his struggles. Only somehow Sedaris makes it seem funny.

When he is writing about his family or his life in foreign countries, Sedaris brings his own skewed take on life.

IMHO he’s a lot funnier than Bill Bryson.

My Name is Mahtob

Mahtob Mahmoody

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Mahmoody chose not to use a ghostwriter when she wrote this plodding memoir, and I think that was a mistake. There is an interesting story about her life waiting to be told, but this isn’t it. The best parts overlapped with her mother’s account, Not Without My Daughter, but my interest dropped off sharply after that. Basically nothing much happens to Mahtob after she and her mother return to America. She lives in fear of her father, but none of those fears materialize. He does attempt to reach out to her, but she rejects every attempt to reconnect with him. I would have too, but this doesn’t make for high drama. She converts to Christianity, which would have driven her father wild, but this also is told in the most trite way.

She obviously is an intelligent and educated woman, but she is still a prisoner of her past.

I’m Just a Person

Tig Notaro

I'm Just a Person by [Notaro, Tig]

So many memoirs of famous people are ghost written. If this was one of them, props to the writer. Every page glows with honesty about Tig’s life, her mother’s death, her relationship with her stepfather, her struggles with health, and her personal relationships. It’s a refreshing look at person’s life struggles.

Best of luck to her in her career and continued good health.

Funny in Farsi

Firoozeh Dumas

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This woman is funny in any language, and it’s a good thing she is. Instead of whining about the terrible things that have happened to her and her family, she chooses to see the humorous side of things. I suspect she does her grieving in private, covering it with light-hearted recollections of her time in America and trips back to Iran. The result is a completely amusing account of her attempts to adjust to a new culture, a new language, and a new society, while coping with her family (especially her father), and extensive relatives.

At Seventy: A Journal

May Sarton

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May Sarton is famous for her poetry, plays and novels, but it is her journals that speak to me the most. She writes about the tension she feels with the tug and pull between her love of solitude and the joy she experiences with groups of people, the pleasures of living alone and the worry about her independence as she ages.

I recommend this book to anyone living alone at this age and curious about how another person experiences the milestone.

Barrel Fever

David Sedaris

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Reading Sedaris is  like accepting a ride from a stranger because he is headed in your general direction. You may end up someplace else, but the ride was worthwhile.

This book is divided into stories and essays. The stories are as weird as Sedaris’ thought process. The essays top out with the Santaland Diaries, a true account of his experiences as a Christmas elf at Macy’s.

Sedaris is an acquired taste, one that I enjoy immensely.  I like Stilton cheese, too.

 

Me Talk Pretty One Day

David Sedaris

If you’ve ever tried to learn a foreign language, you will sympathize with Sedaris. Lost in the wilds of French grammar and vocabulary, he stumbles around trying to find his way.

Interspersed with his language struggles, are glimpses of his family. As a child growing up in the south, being ‘different’, trying to find his way, he spins it all into gold for the reader.