Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Reading Potpourri 1

If you enjoy reading something with a lot of visuals try Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland. This recent novel about Clara Driscoll, a young woman who worked for Louis C.Tiffany in his New York glassworks firm, gives a picture of the day to day life in that city. In particular it highlights the immigrant communities and hardships faced by women who lived in NYC during the later 19th and early 20th centuries.

Clara and Mr. Tiffany includes a lot of description of the varied and famous pieces of art glass, windows and lampshades designed by the Tiffany Firm. Vreeland also descrives how each piece of the glass is made by color and texture, with the artist knowing where it will go into the mosaic pattern of the design. Two complimentary titles to Vreeland's fictional work, one shelved in the library's oversized section, include color plates of the works.

If you enjoy reading about things a little more wild and crazy, read The Wave by Susan Casey. This is all about those "rogue waves" that happen around the world and can't be predicted. They swallow ships whole, never to be seen again. There are also many chapters on surfers who travel around the Pacific looking for the biggest waves to get the ultimate rides. Casey explains the science behind these waves. It's very interesting and might just be your cup of tea.

Have you ever wondered how we learn? And how animals think? If so, read Ape House by Sara Gruen. The studies being done with bonobo apes, teaching them to understand spoken language and communicate with us, provide for a thoroughly entertaining novel. Gruen interweaves research through the story, so you begin to understand how human these apes are and how we are so similar to them. The apes live in a "house" situation, have a family, show emotions, have their own computer with symbols and type to converse. This is all based on present day research. Sometimes we wish we could have so much communication with our own teens!

Gruen's last book, Water for Elephants, was a big hit with many people. I'm curious to see what she writes about next.

Kathryn @ Warrenton

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