Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Reading, Watching, Listening

Wow, I hardly know where to begin with this post.  Somehow I made it through last week with two girls sick with the stomach flu.  I myself became sick on Saturday and it lasted through Monday.  Monday was one of the longest days of my life. I was so severely nauseous that I just lay on the floor for most of the day with Clara crawling all over me.  I may have cried once or twice....out of pure self pity.  But I didn't come here today to wax nostalgic over last week's misery. No, no. I want to forget it ever happened. 


I am here today to talk to you about some amazingly GREAT books!!!!! 

On January 28th, the American Library Association released it's book/literary awards for 2013.  Well, you know I'm all over that.  I immediately put in all of my HOLD requests at the library for the winning books.  This year I decided to also read the young adult books selections.  Well, I am SO GLAD I did. 

Last week two of my hold requests came in.  The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate  and BOMB by Steve Sheinkin.  

I read The One and Only Ivan first. Mainly because I am such an animal lover and all I knew about the book was that it was about a gorilla.  

Cover of The One and Only Ivan

Before I speak about this book, there are a few things you should know about me:

1.) I adore and am forever fascinated by apes.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them.  
2.) Even as a young child, when my parents would take me to visit The National Zoo in Washington, DC, I always secretly wished I could sit in the Great Ape House all day to watch the gorillas (in their sad, bland, cement cages ~ I can hardly imagine anything more depressing!). 
3.) A number of years ago, when I did my volunteer work and research at The North Carolina Zoo, I used to spend the last half an hour before the zoo closed, sitting alone by the glass of the gorilla exhibit (in much nicer, grassy, spacious quarters ~ still depressing but WORLDS improved from those National Zoo cages). Every once in a while, I'd experience a connection with one of the females.  It moved my heart. 
4.) I studied primatology in the early 2000's.  
5.) Jane Goodall has always been an idol of mine. 

I read this book in one sitting.  It was that good.  A fast read too.  Alain was sleeping next to me. And, at a certain point in the story, I collapsed into sobs.  The story was just that touching to me and so beautiful.  Katherine Applegate wrote this book for someone just like me.  I was her perfect audience.  I can't even recall the last time a book moved me that much.  If you have a spare few hours, do yourself a favor and read this lovely, touching story.  I don't want to tell you anymore about the story because I feel that it's best to go blindly into a book.

Only after finishing the book did I learn that it was inspired by a real gorilla named Ivan who just happens to reside at the Atlanta Zoo.  

Ivan at Zoo Atlanta

{Photo of Ivan by Tammy Jo Dallas}

Yes, I totally foresee a trip there in the near future to observe the lovely beast who inspired Katherine to pen a true masterpiece.  I also plan to buy a hard copy of this book to keep in our private collection.  My girls NEED to read it when they get older!  

Ok, moving on.  BOMB.  

Where do I begin with BOMB?

Of course I grew up knowing a good deal about atomic bombs, the history behind the making, the race for the US to develop the bomb first, blah, blah, blah.  To be honest, I learned what I HAD to learn and I left it at that.  I don't like anything having to do with warfare, violence, killing of innocent lives, etc.  I debated hard whether or not to actually read the book.  But it just kept coming up in book blogs, reviews, awards.  I caved because I figured a book with worthy of that much decoration had to be something special.  I was right!!!!

I think, in life, sometimes all it takes is someone putting history in the right words.  Steve Sheinkin did that for me.  I owe him a huge thanks!

I read this book in one day.  It literally pained me to have to put it down.  I knew a lot of what I was reading but I found it infinitely more interesting.  I suddenly had this strong desire to learn more, research more.....I guess you could say I was hungry for the facts.  Poor Alain.....for the past few days, I can speak of little else.  He was a History and International Affairs double major so, of course, this is old hat for him.  He finds it quite funny that "a kid's book" is what finally peaked my interest in the subject.  I never was good at writing book reviews but, if you want a nice little summary of the book, visit here.  Janssen used to be a librarian and she's much better at writing up books!  She's actually one of the people who made me cave and finally read the book.  So, so glad!

I am currently reading Empty Without You: The Intimate Letters of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok.   I've always admired Eleanor and yet I am floored after reading this book just how little I really know about her life.  Floored.

I love when I have so many good books to read.....all in a row!


After reading BOMB, Alain was a good sport and watched a short documentary with me on Monday night. I don't want to mention it here because, like I said, it was short and I felt frustrated that it didn't go into more depth and detail.  This morning, because Clara woke me at the crack of dawn (Ggggrrrrr!), I started watching Trinity and Beyond: The Atomic Bomb Movie.  Ever seen it? 

This movie starts off with the Trinity testing and then goes on for almost two hours showing footage from the 331 atomic tests the US conducted in the late 40's and all through the 50's.  With each test, I became more and more sick and disgusted.  I turned it off at around 1956.  You see, this is why I didn't want to read BOMB in the beginning.  I will never understand man's need to destroy.  The amount of life, land, water, etc that was destroyed during all of this testing is more than mind boggling to me.  I now feel sad and worried for this country and the world.  My interest in the atomic bomb and it's long, full history is now abated.

If you can recommend something happy, peaceful, relaxing, beautiful to watch, please pass it my way.


I recently discovered The Imagine Dragons. They have a song on the radio (below) and Sophie finds me singing it ALL THE TIME.  I never knew who sang the song ~ I only knew it stuck in my head.  Once I started looking up music of The Imagine Dragons, I realized they were the artists. Give it a listen ~ you just might like it too!!!

Ironically, one of their big hits is a song called RADIOACTIVE. And the setting of that video above looks like nuclear fallout to me! How crazy weird is that?


  1. Oh Audrey!
    I would LOVE that book about Ivan!
    Do you remember my story about Willie B from Zoo Atlanta? I am like you, I love the gorillas!
    I can't believe that I have not heard of that book before, but I thank you for telling me about it! I always wanted to write a book about Willie B but I can't now, cause folks would say I was copying this lady!! HA!
    Hope you are feeling better now, that sickness sounded rough. (If you say you are "sick" in England, people edge away from means you are about to throw up, they say they are "ill". HA! I never know the right thing to say!!

  2. Thank goodness you're better now; it's so much nicer to "wax nostalgic" over past misery isn't it! Thank you for sharing your reads -- don't think I want to read the ape one; I tend to avoid books and movies about animals -- they're sure to make one cry!

  3. I am very glad that you're better now :)

    I would love to see Ivan someday! I have long loved gorillas. Happy Saturday Audrey :)


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