Category Archives: Rodger’s reviews

Reaal World, Indeed!

Natsuo Kirino is back! She’s a Japanese author who writes mystery/suspense/social commentary/feminist manifesto sorts of books. Her latest effort translated into English is “Real World,” and like “Out,” which I also enjoyed immensely, it grabs you by the throat and won’t let you go until you’ve finished it. This time, a high school girl “witnesses” a neighbor boy murdering his mother. She and three of her friends get entangled with the young man’s flight from justice, and in the process we get to see into each of their own “real worlds.” Strange, disturbing, but very difficult to put down.


Talking About Running…and Life

I just finished “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running,” by Haruki Murakami.

He’s written several novels and short story collections that have been translated into English and published here, but this book is entirely different. It’s a memoir about running, and the role it has played in his life since he started over 30 years ago. This isn’t a “missionary tract” about running and why we should all do it. It’s much reflective than that, and definitely worth the short time it takes to read it (its under 200 pages).

Murakami suggests that he’d like to see this sentence on his gravestone when the time comes: “At least he never walked.” I endorse his sentiments 100%!

Twelve Mighty Orphans

Now, believe it or not, I’m not a big football fan, but this true life account of the Texas Masonic Home for Orphans, and it’s football team, is truly inspiring. The home barely had funds to house, feed and educate its population of about 150 orphans. But somehow they managed to field a football team, and even seriously challenge for the Texas State Championship for more than a decade, against far larger and richer schools. Since football is a secular”religion” in Texas, this was a huge story, and a source of great inspiration through the Depression, which was the orphans time of greatest glory. Jim Dent, who also wrote “The Junction Boys,” about Bear Bryant’s Texas A&M teams of the 50’s wrote this book. He doesn’t edit the stories of the players to contrive “happy endings” for all of their lives. It’s pretty gritty stuff at some points, but still a gripping read. Check it won’t be sorry.

Playing for Pizza!

The title of this book grabbed me right away, because I’d personally do nearly anything for pizza. Turns out there’s lots more to this book by John Grisham than meets the eye.

It’s the story of Rick Dockery, a prematurely washed up NFL quarterback who flees (almost literally) to Italy to play for the Parma Panthers of the Italian “NFL.” The football part is fun, but even better are the cultural insights (I nearly cried with laughter as Rick undergoes some of the same experiences I had when I lived in Italy!) and the way Dockery finds himself and a true love for football. I listened to it in CD, but that way or in print, it’s worth your time for sure.

“What a SHAM”

Ever felt skeptical of all the “gurus” who are selling products, services and plans to make your health, finances, relationships, romantic life, or nearly anything else perfect (and in 30 days or less) ? This book will tell you why your suspicions were on target. It takes on every “self help” trend, and shows how the people helped the best by all these “final solutions” are those who collect the money spent on them. Read this book, be prepared to be outraged, and hide your checkbook and credit card the next time you see one of those infomercials !

Find this book in the FPPL catalog!

Out, by Natsuo Kirino

If you’re looking for a book to bring some sunshine into your day, don’t read this one. But if you enjoy writing that grabs you by the lapels and won’t let you go, even when you can see disaster coming for the main characters, this one’s for you.

Book Cover

The plot revolves around what happens in the lives of four very ordinary Japanese women when one of them does something horrifyingly extraordinary. Part suspense tale and part social commentary on the condition of modern day Japanese society, this is a true page turner.

Find it in the FPPL catalog!
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