Istanbul Passage by Joseph Kanon
The Grade: B
Why I Picked It: The Good German is one of my favorite novels, and Istanbul
Quick Take: I loved the setting of post Wold War II Istanbul. Kanon’s newest novel furthers my resolve to read more book set in Istanbul, and learn more about the city itself. It’s hard to follow The Good German, and Istanbul Passage lacks the emotional heft and moral dilemmas of Kanon’s previous post war novel. He touches upon the same themes, but the characters, their conundrums and the plot in Istanbul cannot compare to Berlin. Still, though Istanbul Passage is not as meaty as The Good German, it’s still a pretty good yarn, and for me, well worth it to be in 1945 Istanbul for a few hours.
Juliet Gordon Low The Remarkable Founder of the Girl Scouts by Stacy Cordery
The Grade: A-
Makes Me Want To: Get involved in Girl Scouting beyond simply buying cookies, and read Cordery’s biography of Alice Roosevelt Longworth
Quick Take: Although I was a girl scout (Daisy to Junior Girl Scouts) all I knew of the founder was that her nickname was Daisy, so the very youngest girls in Girl Scouting were in Daisy troops. Juliet Gordon Low was so much more, and Cordery has done a great service in chronicling her remarkable, inspiring life. Here are two of my favorite anecdotes. After she was diagnosed with breast cancer, those around her were understandably sad. Low said she was disappointed that no one had remembered her birthday. Her hosts through a grand party, and it wasn’t until the celebrations ended that they remembered it was not actually her birthday. She confessed to the subterfuge and said she wanted to cheer everyone up. On one of her crossings between England the U.S., her companions wouldn’t go with her to a costume ball. She wore old white sheets, tied a rope with empty liquor bottles around her waist and went as departed spirits.
Maman’s Homesick Pie: A Persian Heart in an American Kitchen by Donia Bijan
The Grade: A-
Why I Picked It: Recommended by the unabridged chick; my interest in Iran
Quick Take: Bijan is an Iranian American. While on vacation with her family, the Shah was toppled and the Bijan’s became exiles. Bijan become a chef and uses recipes and memories of food to tell the story of her life, and her memories of her parents. I love the language, and the idea of telling stories through recipes. I’m a vegetarian, so I won’t be sampling all of them, but I do intend to try some and adopt others. I loved the atmosphere of this book; I savored it and knew as I was reading it I would add Maman’s Homesick Pie to my personal library.
Favorite Quotes: “I cooked the way my father practiced medicine–with joy, precision, heart, and soul” (205). “The desire for food, security, and love is a shared thing” (243).
My Two Moms: Lessons of Love, Strength, and What Makes a Family by Zach Wahls
The Grade: B+
Why I Picked It: Like the millions of other viewers, I was moved by Wahls’ testimony to the Iowa House Judiciary Committee in support of same-sex marriage
Quick Take: Operating by the maxim that we fear what we don’t know, Wahls, an Eagle Scout, lets us get to know his family. Wahls is an Eagle Scout and shapes his book by the principles and values of the Boy Scouts. Each chapter focuses on one of the values or character traits of an Eagle Scout, such as being brave, reverent, and helpful. Like his testimony, My Two Moms is forthright, honest, and relatable. I suspect many people will see their own families in Wahls’, which is the point.
ETA: One of my favorite quotes from the book:
Opponents will often talk about the struggles and challenges that children of gay couples have to go through. I will say only this: We have to go through those challenges because you put us through them. We only have to experience that pain because you insist on inflicting it. By trying to tell us that there is something wrong with gay marriage, that there is something wrong with families led by gay couples, you create something wrong—you become the source of our pan. Knowing the challenges that little boy will have to face and the things he will have to deal with–that’s we’re still not at a point when he can live a childhood untouched by fear and unsullied by hate–breaks my heart. This book is for him”(209).