This month’s installment of Dori & Jess’ Book Club…
The Death Class: A True Story About Life by Erica Hayasaki
Review: Erica Hayasaki, a journalist for the “Los Angeles Times,” shadowed Dr. Norma Bowe for four years as Dr. Bowe taught her “Death in Perspective” class at Kean University. Dr. Bowe’s class includes discussions on what occurs biologically when a person is dying of natural causes, trips to a cemetery, prison and end-of-life hospital, and assignments like writing a goodbye letter to someone you know who has died and writing your own bucket list. The interspersed assignments and real responses from the class were interesting and thought-provoking. The book also included the life stories of a few of Dr. Bowe’s student which helped make the book more about living than dying and illustrating different ways people deal with death but Dori & I both agree that it would have been better with shorter stories about more students rather than singling out just a few. However, there is no question that both of us were impressed by the remarkable woman that is Dr. Norma Bowe and we were glad to have the opportunity to read about her.
So my friend, Dori (an occasional guest reviewer on this blog), suggested that we both read a book and have a mini book club which was a genius idea. She selected “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” for our first endeavor. Here are some of our thoughts.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Review: Reading this book felt like stepping into a dream; a dream which got progressively stranger and scarier. In fact, for about two-thirds of the book, I didn’t know whether the whole thing was going to turn out to be inside the narrator’s head. Now, don’t get me wrong, it was captivating and beautifully written like I’ve come to expect from Mr. Gaiman and yet, haunting. Mr. Gaiman’s prose was ominous, romantic and real all at the same time. Dori called it “visceral” and I have to agree. Additionally, we both agreed that we wanted to know more about the fantastical and mythological world that Mr. Gaiman created. We discussed how hard it is to classify this book because it had an unusual mixture of mythology, loss of innocence, fantasy and authenticity. Parts of this book were disturbing and kinda effed up but neither of us could put it down. I’d have to say overall, it was dark but also thought-provoking and well executed.
The Agatha Christie Book Club by C.A. Larmer
Total Reading Time: 2.5 hours
Review: I’m calling this one so-so. I liked the general idea of an all-Agatha Christie book club solving crimes and the Agatha Christie references were good. However, the grammatical errors were distracting and the story was too predictable, even for me, the mystery dunce.