by Wally Lamb, 2009, performed by the author, HarperAudio
This is a refreshing Christmas story about a ten-year-old kid in a parochial school in 1964. The author does a great job in reading, particularly the accent of the Russian girl and her parents. There are some hilarious moments as they perform the Christmas program and the rest of the book is fairly humorous. All the characters were good and the story was enjoyable to listen to.
by Peter Gethers, 1991, Fawcett Columbine, New York
Ye, Gads! Another cat story!
This cat is the most amazing animal that ever lived. It’s owner can let it run loose on the rooftops of Paris with nary a concern that it will encounter its demise. This cat can melt the heart of the meanest carmudgeon. This cat makes me want to trade-up all of our existing three felines for animals who are at least above average.
No, on second thought, I think we will stick with what we’ve got: three lazy, do-nothing, give nothing in return, peeing over the edge of the kitty litter, always demanding critters. After all, they need us almost more than we need them.
One thing is for certain though; I won’t be reading more books about that super breed anytime soon.
by Phil Doran, 2005
When I picked out this book I was in the mood for some fun, light reading and the excerpts from the reviews on the cover caught my eye as they suggested that the book would elicit belly laughs. It’s about a former TV sit-com writer in L.A. who moves into an old, delapidated house in Tuscany and gives up his former career.
Funny? Hardly. I read the book and found a few passages where I found myself smiling a bit, but that was all. After reading it, I understand why Phil Dorn was being phased out as a sit-com writer; he’s just not that funny. He is not a bad writer, however, and the real value of reading the book is to look into the struggles of a middle-aged man as he tries to reinvent himself into someone he didn’t think he was. As he goes through this process, he discovers that there is much more in life than his former job and he is restored in health and happiness. Despite this obvious transformation, Phil still seems to cling to the idea that he can go back and be successful at what he once was. By the end of the book, I felt that he had only made it about 95% of the way there and still needed to get over that last little bump to understand what he really had accomplished.
Dorn’s characters are somewhat enjoyable, but if you are looking for that belly laugh, read Janet Evanovich because his Tuscan friends and acquaintences just don’t make the grade. Phil should drop any idea that he is really funny and concentrate more on just telling the story.
I think the book is worth reading, however, as it is fairly well-written and the struggle this guy is going through is an interesting story in itself. It’s just not what it was advertised to be.
by James Herriot, 1972
One day we were shopping in Barnes and Noble and, for some unknown reason, I thought about the PBS TV program with the British veterinarians from a number of years back. I couldn’t remember the name of the book so we asked the sales person. She happened to be from England and had a picture of her dog snapped onto her blouse. Her eyes lit up and she immediately led us to the the book.
I really enjoyed reading this book, not because I was particularly interested in animal medicine, but for the reason that it was about some truly interesting human characters. It also didn’t hurt that the book was well written. James Herriot is a very self-deprecating author and was able to find humor in almost every situation, particularly when it involved events that were embarrassing to himself.
This book will probably never be one of the world’s greatest, but if you want an enjoyable read, to learn a bit about life in Scotland in the 1950′s, and want to chuckle, I highly recommend it.