Posts Tagged ‘enlightening’

Tuesdays with Morrie

April 11, 2012

Author: Albom, Mitch

Title: Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson

Genre: Non-fiction

Publication Date: 2002

Number of Pages: 192

Geographical Setting: United Stated (Detroit and Boston)

Time Period: Current

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary:  Mitch Albom is a sports journalist in Detroit. He coincidentally catches a glimpse of his old professor, Morrie Schwartz, while watching TV and learns that he is battling Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Having made a promise 16 years ago to keep in touch, he finally goes to visit him. Through his visits with Morrie every Tuesday, whom he calls coach, he begins his final lesson in life. He puts everything on hold as he begins to organize his own life first. This book is very deep and moving, full of inspiration and many thought provoking subjects. It’s a book that will leave everyone in tears from beginning to end.

Subject Headings: Schwartz, Morrie S.
Brandeis University Faculty Biography.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis Patients United States Biography.
Teacher-student relationships United States Case studies.
Death Psychological aspects Case studies. Life lesson.

Appeal: fast-paced, passionate, gentle, heartwarming, moving, philosophical, inspiring, sympathetic, intimate, thought-provoking, deep, enlightening, and conclusive

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  moving, inspirational, and heartwarming

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Pausch, Randy and Jeffrey Zaslow – The Last Lecture (Randy Pausch is a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon who was disagnosed with terminal cancer and he decides to give a last lesson about living)

Callanan, Maggie – Final Gifts: understanding the special awareness, needs, and communications of the dying (Story of two nurses, Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley, sharing their intimate experience of tending to terminally ill patients)

Canfield, Jack, et al. – Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teacher Tales: 101 Inspirational stories from great teachers and appreciative students (Stories from both students and teachers with their memories and lessons in and out of school)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Coelho, Paulo – The Alchemist (A journey by a shepherd boy name Santiago. He travels from Spain to Egypt and teaches the readers about the wisdom of listening to our hearts as he reads the omens and teaches us to follow our dreams)

Hesse, Hermann – The Journey to the East (A journey of a man in search of enlightenment while struggling with spiritualism)

Gaines, Ernest J. – A Lesson Before Dying (Jefferson was sent to prison for a crime he did not commit. There, he is visited by a teacher names Grant Wiggins. Through the visits, both men rediscover themselves.)

Name: Jun Yoon

Clara and Mr. Tiffany

July 25, 2011

Author:  Vreeland, Susan

TitleClara and Mr. Tiffany


Genre:  Historical Fiction

Publication Date:  2011

Number of Pages:  432

Geographical Setting:  New York City

Time Period:  1890s and Turn of the Century

Plot Summary:  Louis Comfort Tiffany was known for his beautiful glassware creations, but what was not  known until recently, was that the designer and creator of the famous Tiffany leaded- glass lamps was actually Clara Driscoll, director of Tiffany’s Women’s Glass Cutting Department.  In this book, Vreeland focuses on Clara’s story, her personal and professional life while working at the Tiffany Studios.  There are other interesting characters here as well.   Clara lives in a boarding house with artists, bohemians, and actors.  The working women of Tiffany’s Glass Cutting Department are given stories and personalities, as isTiffany himself, a gifted artist, but rigid employer who did not allow married women on his staff. The setting is turn-of-the-century New York, which makes for an intriguing atmosphere of immigrants, sweatshops, women’s rights, and the excesses of the rich.  As Clara lovingly works on her jewel colored glass designs, detailed descriptions of Tiffany’s glass studio and the glass making and selection process are given.  An Afterward defines which of the book’s details were real and which were not.

Subject Headings: New York, Stained Glass, Women’s Rights, Gilded Age, Artists, Glass, Glass Making, Art history, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Clara Driscoll, Women Glass Artists

Appeal: Character driven, historical details, atmospheric, conscientious, leisurely-paced plot, thought provoking, enlightening, accurate, well researched, enjoyable, interesting, descriptive


3 terms that best describe this book: historically accurate, leisurely paced, atmospheric

Similar Authors and Works (Fiction): The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson by Jerome Charyn also historical fiction and biographical, same time period (1800’s) with similar theme of restrictions placed on women;The Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, theme of women behind a famous artist;LovingFrank by Nancy Horan,  based on Frank Lloyd Wright and his love affair with MamahBorthwick Cheney, an independent, educated woman at odds with the restrictions of the early 20th century; The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain, historical and biographical account of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife deals with the subject of the women behind famous men.

Similar Authors and Works (Nonfiction):  A New Light on Tiffany: Clara Driscoll and the Tiffany Girls by Margi Hofer writes about the celebrated works of Tiffany Studios in an entirely new context, focusing on the women who labored behind the scenes to create the masterpieces previously credited to Louis Comfort Tiffany. The Lamps of Louis Comfort Tiffany by Martin Eidelberg discusses the development and manufacture of the Tiffany lamp from freehand sketch to the finished form and the artists who helped create them as well as the chief decorative themes in Tiffany’s glass masterpieces.  Masterworks of LouisComfort Tiffany by Alastair Duncan, concerns the life and works of the artist.

Name:  Chris Murray

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

June 16, 2010

June 16, 2010

Author: Mary Roach
Title: Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
Genre: Nonfiction
Date of Publication: 2003
Geographical Setting: U.S. & Global
Time Period: Present
Plot Summary: “Death. It doesn’t have to be boring.” Writes Mary Roach as she takes a scientific approach (sprinkled with humorous commentary) to the subject of human bodies donated to research. What the public doesn’t know (or want to know?) are the various forms of scientific research for which human cadavers are used. When a body is donated to science, the donor and/or the donor’s family really have no say as to the area of research in which the body will be used. Roach covers several areas in her book, and she does so using very accessible language coupled with a wry sense of humor. She is neither disrespectful nor irreverent in her tone. Her descriptions and comments are delivered in a conversational manner, and her observations are objective. Stiff can be read in chapter order, or can be “dipped into” as one might read a collection of short stories. Roach begins by sharing an experience of observing a seminar for surgeons seeking to hone their skills in facial surgery. The doctors will only be working on the head of a patient, so they will practice exclusively on that part of the cadaver. This means that the heads used for the class are separated from their bodies. This first chapter ended with an unanswered question referring to the pupil less eyes of the cadavers. In another chapter, Roach discusses the obsolete practice of body snatching and the selling of corpses. The process of human decomposition is covered in disgusting detail. Cadavers are used as human crash test dummies and the military uses human cadavers to study the effects of bullets, weapons, and explosives on the human body. Casualties from a plane crash can tell their own story of the crash. By studying the victims’ wounds, an injury analyst can piece together fragments of events involved in the crash. “Beating-heart cadavers” are discussed as a relatively new term. This term refers to a person who has been declared brain-dead, after which their organs may be “harvested” for donor recipients. Roach follows this process with a female patient she calls “H” expressing that “H” is “a living, breathing, thriving person. It is strange, almost impossible, really, to think of her as a corpse.” In the historical period before death could be clinically and scientifically confirmed, the primitive methods for determining death are described, from jamming needles under toenails to thrusting a sharp pencil up the deceased’s nose. Of course, the only reliable way to determine absolute death was to delay burial of the body. The wait period had to be long enough to confirm the telltale signs of decomposition. This prevented the possibility of live burials, at least. Stiff even delves into the scientific study of the soul, its location in the body, and its weight. Decapitation, reanimation, and human head transplant theories are discussed. Roach describes experiments done in France with real human heads of decapitated criminals. The transplant experiments were done with animals. Experiments using human cadavers to simulate the effects of crucifixion have also been performed. In the last part of the book, Roach discusses medicinal cannibalism (not done in the U.S.). She writes about the medicinal use of mummified humans to benefit the living. The grossest details of uses of other body parts and/or byproducts (which will not be detailed here) are given as well. In China, aborted human fetuses are believed to have medicinal benefits when consumed. The final chapter deals with environmental issues surrounding traditional cremation, which consumes lots of energy. There are now safe and energy saving “green” methods that can be used to organically break down a corpse. What option is the author considering? She expresses some humorous considerations, but remains undecided.
Subject Headings: Human experimentation in medicine, dead, and human dissection.
Appeal Terms: morbidly fascinating, informative, humorous, medical, technical, enlightening, revealing, educational, unsettling, detailed, engaging, bizarre, and quirky.
Three terms that best describe this book: morbidly fascinating, human dissection, and humorous.
Relevant Nonfiction Works and Authors:
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson is probably the funniest book available about the history of science. Bryson, a well-known humor writer, discusses the Big Bang Theory, particle physics, geology, evolution, and science throughout history to the present. He takes his experiences observing, gathering, and researching, and turns them into funny stories.
Parasite Rex: Inside the Bizarre World of Nature’s Most Dangerous Creatures by Carl Zimmer is a thorough study of the relationship between humans and parasites. Zimmer gives disturbing accounts of parasites that are dangerous to humans as well as those that are beneficial. He artfully balances the disgusting and the scientific.
The Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell takes the reader to various historical landmarks and museums that have become significant due to assassinations. She covers the Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley assassinations with her trademark wit and sarcastic humorous commentaries compiling a rather bizarre travel guide.
Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:
The Immortals by Tracy Hickman is a medical thriller that depicts governmental extermination of targeted citizens who have contracted a dreaded virus in epidemic proportions. Chilling accounts of the main character’s discoveries make it a gripping read.

Crisis by Robin Cook takes place in the courtroom and the hospital as a malpractice trial unfolds. In this spellbinding story, the wife of the defendant asks her medical examiner brother to exhume the body in question and perform an autopsy in hopes of clearing her husband. All are surprised at results of the autopsy and their significance.

Deadly Harvest by Leonard S. Goldberg portrays forensic pathologist Joanna Blalock urgently seeking a liver for her dying sister. She retains the services of what she believes to be a legitimate organ-transplant service, but discovers that the business obtains its donors through questionable means. While the mystery unravels, time is running out for Joanna’s sister. This is the second book in a medical/detective series.

The Kite Runner

October 21, 2009

Title: The Kite Runner

Author: Khaled Hosseini

Publication Date: 2003

Number of Pages: 371

Genre: Bestseller (September, 2004) – Literary Fiction

Geographical Setting: Afghanistan, Pakistan, California

Time Period: 1970s to the present

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: The Kite Runner follows the story of Amir, the privileged son of a wealthy businessman (Baba) in Kabul, and Hassan, the son of Amir’s father’s servant, Ali. A first-person narrative, Amir tells the story of growing up in Kabul, with his best friend Hassan. As children in the relatively stable Afghanistan of the early 1970s, the boys are inseparable. They spend their days running kites and telling stories of mystical places and powerful warriors until an unspeakable event changes their relationship forever. Soon after this event, Hassan and his father, Ali, leave Baba’s home. Amir and his father end up fleeing to America, where Amir remains haunted by his cowardly actions and disloyalty towards Hassan. In part, it is these demons and the inability to forgive himself that brings Amir, as an adult, back to his war-torn native land after it comes under Taliban rule. When he receives a phone call from his father’s best friend, Rahim Khan, Amir realizes that returning to Kabul may be the only way he can find forgiveness and perhaps peace of mind.

Subject Headings: Afghanistan, Literary fiction, Kite runner, Taliban, Historical fiction, Boys, Rape, Adoption, Friendship, Deception, Sexual abuse, Betrayal, Abuse, Coming of age, Forgiveness, Kites, Love, Loyalty, Multiculturalism, Muslim, Survival, Religion, Redemption, Relationships, Tragedy, War, Kabul, Abandonment, Family, Alienation, Arabic, Disability, Family, Violence, The 1970s

Appeal: Well-told, compelling, eye-opening, emotional, honest, tragic, funny, hopeful, heartfelt, extraordinary, insightful, intriguing, enlightening

Three terms that best describe this book: Compelling, Heartrending, Thought-provoking

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

House of Sand and Fog (1999) by Andre Dubus Kathy is living alone in the modest California bungalow she inherited from her father and has few material or emotional resources upon which to draw when a pair of sheriff’s deputies evict her. It’s all a mistake, but before Kathy can straighten things out, Colonel Behrani, an exiled Iranian air force officer forced to work menial jobs to support his family, snaps up her home at auction for a third of its value, moves in, and prepares to resell it at a profit. The turmoil and anguish that Kathy, the Colonel, and his family go through make this a heart-wrenching, realistic story.

The Warlord’s Son (2004) by Dan Fesperman – A tale of betrayal, brutality, and courage, Skelly (aka Stan Kelly), is a three times-married, journalistic warhorse, a veteran of hot spots from Managua to Sarajevo to the Kuwaiti deserts. Suffering burnout, he returns to the U.S., but “three years of the suburbs of the Midwest had left [him] forgetful of past lessons.” Now in Pakistan, he plans to cross the border into post-9/11 Afghanistan in hopes of a career-crowning story.

The Mulberry Empire (2002) by Philip Hensher — In 1839, about 50,000 British troops entered Afghanistan to replace the amir with someone more palatable to the Empire. In this fictionalized account, Burnes, a British explorer who ventures into the capital city of Kabul and befriends the soon-to-be-ousted Amir Dost Mohammed Khan. There are a large cast of characters that include Russians, Afghans, emperors, merchants, journalists, serfs, soldiers, expatriates, army wives, and Bella Garraway, the woman whom Burnes, the protagonist, briefly loves. After their affair, Burnes returns to Afghanistan by way of India. The numerous characters, plot lines, and time shifts make the events of this story appear timeless.

Relevant Non-fiction Works and Authors:

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier (2007) by Ishmael Beah Beah lived with his family in the village of Mogbwemo until the civil war reached their area in 1991. All members of Beah’s immediate family were killed, and his village destroyed. In 2007, Beah’s memoir, was published, recounting the story of how Beah was forced to go into hiding along with several other young boys after their villages were attacked by the RUF (Revolutionary United Front). Eventually, at the age of thirteen, Beah was forced to become a soldier for the Sierra Leonean army. After nearly three years of fighting, Beah was rescued by UNICEF and sent to a rehabilitation center in Freetown.

One Day the Soldiers Came: Voices of Children in War (2007) by Charles London — London speaks with child soldiers from around the world, recounting their stories and helping to raise awareness of the estimated 300,000 child soldiers across the world. This book explores the world of refugee children and compiles stories and drawings of children from Burma, Congo, Kosovo, Sudan, and Rwanda to reveal how they understand and have been shaped by the conflicts surrounding them. As a 21-year-old research associate for Refugees International, young-adult advocate London began his five-year immersion in the international world of refugee youth and child militia in East Africa, Thailand and the Balkans, barely scratching the surface of the estimated 20 million uprooted refugee children worldwide.

They Poured Fire on Us From The Sky: The True Story of Three Lost Boys from Sudan (2005) by Alephonsion Deng, Benson Deng, Benjamin Ajak ; with Judy A. Bernstein. Raised by Sudan’s Dinka tribe, the Deng brothers and their cousin Benjamin were all under the age of seven when they left their homes after terrifying attacks on their villages during the Sudanese civil war. In 2001, the three were relocated to the U.S. from Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp as part of an international refugee relief program. Arriving in this country, they immediately began to fill composition books with the memoirs of chaos and culture shock collected here.

Name: Maurine

Tuesdays with Morrie

June 24, 2009

Author: Mitch Albom

Title: Tuesdays with Morrie

genre: inspirational, biographies & memoirs

publication date: 1997

number of pages: 192

geographical setting: United States, Detroit and Boston

plot summary: Having graduated and moved on in his life the Author looses touch with what he wants in life. By coincidence he sees an old professor on television who he hadn’t talked to in 16 years. Learning that this great mentor of his is dying of an incurable disease the author puts his life partly on hold to fly back and and learn one final lesson from the teacher, what he learns puts his life in a whole new perspective.

Subject headings: inspirational, religion & spirituality, biographies & memoirs

appeal: enlightening, teaching,  inspirational, thought-provoking, detaching, symbolic, deep, learning, true, spiritual, bereavement, death,

three terms: teacher/student, thoughtful, acceptance

relevant fiction:

The Five people you meet in heaven by Mitch Albom (life’s purpose)

My sister’s keeper by Jodi Picoult (meaning of life)

The Guernsey Literary and potato-peel pie society by Mary Ann Shaffer (human nature)

relevant non-fiction:

Who Dies? by Stephen Levine (dealing with death)

Practicing your path by Holly W. Whitcomb (finding spirituality)

Marley and me by John Grogan (life perspectives)

Name: Bill Thurston