scrounge: /skrounj/ informal verb: to actively seek [books] from any available source
The title of Red Sails to Capri confused me initially. Was "Red" a person who sailed to Capri? Or did something with red sails sail to Capri? And if so, what and why? All that aside, I ended up enjoying this book more than I thought I would.
The sails indeed belong to a ship which shows up in the harbor of Capri, carrying three travelers who are each looking for something slightly different. They stay at an inn owned by the family of Michele, a boy who is the main character. The travelers eventually become intrigued by a cove on the island that the locals fear -- and yet no one seems to know why. I won't give too much away, but it was fun to see adventure trump fear here, and even neater to realize that the name of this cove is an actual place on the island of Capri in Italy -- be sure to google it once you've finished!
I wouldn't really call this story a "mystery" just because there is a bit of mystery in it -- but still, I enjoyed the eccentric characters, especially the banter between Michele and Angelo, and also Michele's mother, a cook who has a complicated repertoire of songs that must be sung to her food at just the right time, or else it is ruined. She treats her dishes and ingredients as if they were cantankerous people who must be appeased before they deliver the finished product.
Scrounged From: A friend on GoodReads
Author: Ann Weil
Content Advisory: I don't remember anything objectionable for the age group it's aimed at.
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End was such a much-needed look at how the medical system treats death. I had wondered whether it would be depressing to read, and there were certainly sad moments and stories, but it was also hopeful and uplifting, and I found myself losing track of time while reading it sometimes. Even when statistics and information are provided, the narrative moves smoothly enough into stories and commentary to not get bogged down.
Gawande traces some of the history of the way humans have treated end-of-life care, emphasizing the advent of the nursing home, as well as "assisted living" and other attempts to bridge the gap between the hospital and the home. He also includes the stories of the (non-elderly) terminally ill as he explores the questions of what people who are dying really need -- and how we even get to the point where we are able to recognize "dying" for what it is, when we try to stave off death at any cost. He says:
“The problem with medicine and the institutions it has spawned for the care of the sick and the old is not that they have had an incorrect view of what makes life significant. The problem is that they have had almost no view at all. Medicine’s focus is narrow. Medical professionals concentrate on repair of health, not sustenance of the soul. Yet—and this is the painful paradox—we have decided that they should be the ones who largely define how we live in our waning days.”
He contrasts the traditional attitude of medicine, which is to solve problems and offer as much information and possibilities as it can, with the type of care (hospice) that looks to instead focus on the here and now rather than sacrificing the "now" for slim and unlikely future gains for the elderly and terminally ill -- but as he illustrates, it can be very difficult to draw that line.
There were so many eye-opening things to think about here. This is a book that will probably resonate with many people -- even those of us who are not elderly or terminally ill have loved ones who are or will be, and it's worth thinking about what is most important during that journey, and developing a little bit of preparation for difficult conversations that will inevitably happen.
Scrounged From: A local used book sale.
Author: Atul Gawande
Content Advisory: Naturally, in a book that discusses death, there are many descriptions of people who are aging and dying, as well as some descriptions of their ailments and medical procedures. As I said, some of these are very sad, but the tone of the book overall is uplifting. Other than that, I remember a few minor swear words, but nothing else that I'd consider objectionable. Gawande does briefly mention "assisted death" toward the end, but that's not what the book is about. While he doesn't appear to be opposed to the idea, he also critiques it, and emphasizes that this attitude leaves us in danger of not valuing "assisted living" enough.
The story follows Hans, a baker's son who dreams of becoming a Riding Master someday. He demonstrates a sincerity and passion in his pursuit of knowledge and experience that is admirable and contagious, and his singular focus brings him closer and closer to his goal of someday doing the courbette on his beloved Borina.
I enjoyed reading this in a large format rather than a mass-market paperback -- Wesley Dennis's numerous small illustrations really help tell the story, especially when complex horse ballet movements are described.
Scrounged From: A gift from a relative
Author: Marguerite Henry
Illustrator: Wesley Dennis
Content Advisory: Injury and death are briefly described, but not in detail.
Many girls love horses, and while I was not as intense as some (I never sought out riding lessons or anything like that), if my eventual fascination can be traced back to anything, I think it would have to be this book. King of the Wind is definitely my favorite of Marguerite Henry's many horse stories.
On the surface, it is the story of a boy and his horse, and the ups and downs (and eventual triumphs) of their journey together through several countries. But I feel that Henry has captured more than just a story here -- it feels like a legend, and Sham, while remaining a non-anthropomorphized horse, portrays a little something beyond just an animal -- he really feels like a historical figure who has since become larger than life.
I remember how much this book gripped my imagination as a girl -- I felt Agba's innocence, loneliness, and occasional despair, and felt so keenly the connection between the horse and the boy. This was aided by Wesley Dennis's superb illustrations, which capture the beauty of the horse characters throughout their many movements (if you can get a copy of this book that has the full color illustrations, do it!).
On another level, I think this book reminds us all that we are more than our "pedigrees." Sham proves himself by what he does, not by what is written down about who/where he comes from.
Scrounged From: PaperbackSwap.com
Author: Marguerite Henry
Illustrator: Wesley Dennis
Content Advisory: There are some depictions of cruelty to horses and people.
Mary on Horseback is an interesting and inspiring story -- I don't remember hearing about Mary Breckinridge before, but this is a great introduction to her work, written in three short stories that also help give children a picture of what this time period and region were like.
After losing two husbands and two children, Mary Breckinridge could have given in to despair, but instead she gave her skills and her life to help others, the poorest of the poor. Whether she is saving a father's leg from amputation, inoculating children against deadly diseases, or delivering and caring for babies, Breckinridge and her team of frontier nurses served the people in the Appalachian region and helped them in ways no one else would or could.
Scrounged From: HomeschoolClassifieds.com (Sonlight Core A)
Author: Rosemary Wells
Content Advisory: Some descriptions of illness and injury.