Book Reviews—Themes by Month

2008 Book Reviews — Themes

 . . . and the Books

Dec '08 — African Trio
A newly elected US president—half African; a reader requesting a book guide for Cry, the Beloved Country; and a daughter taking a semester in Africa all served as inspiration for this month's LitPicks, beautiful books, all.

The Syringa Tree
Half of a Yellow Sun
Cry, the Beloved Country

Nov '08 — A Boy's Life
Three boys come of age in the years soon after World War II—one from the American Midwest, one from Norway, and one from India during the tumultuous years of independence.

The Life & Times of the Thunderbolt Kid
Out Stealing Horses
Midnight's Children

Oct '08 — Quiet Intimacy
Some books speak to us softly, peering into the corners of our lives and matters of the heart. Plot is secondary to characters and relationships. These works are quiet but remarkable.

To the Lighthouse

Sept '08 — Beyond the Pale
This month's authors tackle horrific subjects, the unthinkable. Yet as readers we end up sympa-thasizing with characters we would otherwise villify. This is life in its irreducible complexity.

Skinny Dip
Nineteen Minutes

Aug '08 — Uses of Mythology
Literature draws on mythology, primitive stories that frame life's events. Populated with heroes & heroines, deities & monsters, myths reveal a universal pattern of human behavior.

Edith Hamilton's Mythology
The Human Stain
The Iliad

July '08 — No theme this month, just a few good books.

The Lovely Bones
The Grapes of Wrath

June '08 — War Torn Lives
Lives and communities torn apart by World War II. This month's stories are tales of survival. Though grim at times, each offers a transcendent vision of humanity.

The Book Thief
Suite Francaise

May '08 — Wherefore Happiness?
What is happiness? How does one attain it, who deserves it, and how does one hold onto it? Three books consider happiness—using vastly different lenses and reaching very different conclusions.

The Jane Austen Book Club
Saying Grace
A Doll's House

Apr '08 — Transgressions
Three women cross boundaries, defy codes, and flout tradition. They gain much—and lose much—as they search for a truer self. What are we to make of them?

Their Eyes Were Watching God
Loving Frank
Anna Karenina 

Mar '08 — Healing: horses, books, people
Three books use parallel symbolism to explore human healing. A sick horse heals her owner; a damaged manuscript heals its conserver; and a returning spirit heals her mother.

Chosen by a Horse
People of the Book

Feb '08 — Magical Realism
These books use a pretense of realism while weaving in fantasty and the supernatural. The magic blends seamlessly with the natural world to reveal life's wondrous possibilities.

Garden Spells
The House of the Spirits
One Hundred Years of Solitude

Jan '08 — No theme this month, just a few good books.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
The Remains of the Day
Far from the Madding Crowd

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