Monday, December 1, 2008

Book Recommendations

December 2008 has arrived and with it some good news. Jean Henry Mead's blog book tour for A Village Shattered begins today and runs through December 15. The full schedule and a book trailer are available on the site Jean Henry Mead's Book Blog Tour. While there, check out the cool guest book at the bottom of the page. And where will Ms. Mead be on December 12? You guessed it - right here on Char's Book Reviews. Get your questions ready as Ms. Mead will be here all day to read your comments and answer your questions.

You might remember, at the beginning of November, I promised to discuss A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, Blue Latitudes by Tony Horwitz and, time permitting, Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. I have not been able to find my copy of Three Cups of Tea, so that one will wait. Instead, I have a non-travel book – The Radioactive Boy Scout by Ken Silverstein.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the Appalachian Trail, which stretches through 2,100 miles of mountain from Maine to Georgia. Did you know there is a growing group of hearty souls who have hiked the entire trail? Did you know some of them have managed to accomplish that task in a single season? Perhaps you already know all this. Perhaps you are among the thousands (or perhaps millions) of Americans who have a romantic notion of “one day” striking out to concur the AT yourself. If so, you’ll want to read Bill Bryson’s book, A Walk in the Woods, before you begin packing. Mr. Bryson takes us through the process of planning for the trip, the exhilaration of those first few steps, the beauty of the mountains, the full meaning of “leave nothing behind but footprints,” the eventual realization that you are hours (or days) from civilization – you are on your own. Really. Through all the blisters, overly-heavy packs, sleeping on soggy ground, etc., Mr. Bryson writes with humor, shares interesting trail details and history, and introduces us to the entertaining characters he meets on his journey. By the end of this entertaining read, I felt like I had hike the trail with him.

In Blue Latitudes, Tony Horwitz sets out to retrace the journeys of Captain Cook – in a replica of the captain’s ship. The result is part modern day travel journal, part history lesson, part adventure and discovery. Mr. Horwitz captures every day life of an eighteenth century sailor, investigates modern views of Captain from the various cultures he affected, and attempts to capture the essence of the man. This 444 page adventure takes us around the world and through time.

As I read The Radioactive Boy Scout, I kept asking myself the same question, "Did this really happen?" Perhaps, I told myself, this is one of those fiction books designed to look like non-fiction so that it is more disturbing. How disturbing? The subtitle is "The Frightening True Story of a Whiz Kid and His Homemade Nuclear Reactor." The book is written by an investigative reporter - Ken Silverstein, contains a bibliography, and names names - all traits of a non-fiction work. The book describes how, in a Detroit suburb, David Hahn decided to go the extra mile in earning his boy scout atomic energy badge by building a nuclear reactor in a garden shed. Did he succeed? You'll have to read the book. Then you can start wondering what's really going on in your neighbors' backyards.

If you've enjoyed any of these books, please use the comments link below to share your thoughts.


Jean Henry Mead said...

Thank you, Charlotte, for the great introduction. I look forward to my visit with you here on December 12. The books you have listed are intriguing, especially The Radioactive Boy Scout. I've got to look into that one. :)

Charlotte Phillips, Co-Author of The Eva Baum Detective Series said...

Jean, You won't be disappointed! This is one of those real-life stories that's stranger than fiction. In fact, if someone had come up with a fictional tale like this, readers would find it too unbelievable for merrit.

Anonymous said...

Haven't read Blue Lattitudes, but A Walk in the Park and Radioactive Boy Scout - 2 great reads!

I'll have to check out the other one.