Reading Notes

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I’m just finishing up Apples Are From Kazakhstan by Christopher Robbins. Robbins told President Nazarbayev that he wanted to write a book about Kazakhstan that will be read for years to come and although he was only trying to impress the President, I think he might have accomplished that goal. It’s true that I was drawn to this book because of the apples just as Robbins was drawn to the country because it is the origin of the fruit, but I learned about so much more. All I knew about Kazakhstan was the apple bit. I never saw Borat, so I guess I missed something.  Robbins manages to tell the story of a an enormous country in which a number of different groups of people and 46 different religions all live together without much ethnic or religious tension. Robbins meets a descendant of Ghengis Khan who takes him to meet the fabled eagle hunters, goes on a helicopter tour with the President to visit the vanishing Aral Sea, talks to a survivor of the Gulag and visits a wasteland of nuclear test sites. Robbins is taken by this country and he can’t help but draw the reader in with him. I find that I’d much rather read a book like this than to read newspapers. I have to admit that I’m a lousy reader of newspapers (if you can believe it, we didn’t get the paper at my house). The information is no longer news I suppose…

I also finished a fun book for work called Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson. I guess I’ve got a travel theme going on here. Johnson tells the story of a high school student who gets a package from her artist aunt after she has passed away. It contains thirteen blue envelopes that send her on a quest across Europe in an effort to better understand her Aunt. Maureen Johnson also has a great, often hilarious, blog.

What’s next: catch up on my poetry, read Going, going by Naomi Shihab Nye and maybe look back on Moby Dick before I forget about it. I’m hoping to get The Creative Family by Amanda Blake Soule of SouleMama soon. Everyone is raving about it and if it’s anything like her blog it’s bound to be good. I get crafty mama envy whenever I visit.

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