Friday, April 27, 2012

Recent Reads

I didn't intend for this post to have a theme, but looking at the two books featured today, I guess the theme would be unexpected parenthood (in one form or another). These two very different authors honestly and poignantly share their surprises, fears, and joys with readers:

Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected

When I began to seek out online resources for information on Down Syndrome several months ago (due to having regular contact with a toddler with DS), it was inevitable that I would discover Kelle Hampton's blog. Hampton had had a blog for years before she posted her unflinchingly honest birth story of her youngest daughter, Nella. Hampton immediately knew that Nella had Down Syndrome the moment she was placed in her arms, which understandably was a shocking and frightening revelation. Her birth story catapulted her (reluctantly at first) into a media and Internet frenzy. Hampton's eye-catching photography and her mostly positive personality (although she has does reveal her private concerns from time to time) have earned her millions of blog readers (as well as some heated criticism, which she confronts in her book), speaking engagements, and now, a book detailing Nella's first year. Bloom is a remarkable chronicle of how a mother's despair and anguish blossomed into hope, peace, and pride. (Yes, love too, but it was always there, even during that first awful night.) Hampton also reveals her unconventional childhood and her early relationship with her husband. Blog readers will be pleased to know that apart from a condensed retelling of her birth story post, this is all new material and stories.

Girl Walks Into a Bar

To paraphrase Amy Poehler's blurb on the back cover of Girl Walks Into a Bar, it is a shame that Oprah still doesn't have her daily talk show, for this is definitely a book that would be perfect for her show (Poehler uses more *colorful* language to express her viewpoint).  Indeed it is. For Girl Walks Into a Bar is an addicting, entertaining, hilarious, and endearing tale of the former Saturday Night Live star's life after her initial success with SNL, her awkward exit from friend Tina Fey's show, 30 Rock, and unexpectant motherhood at the age of 44. As someone who was a SNL fan during Dratch's run on the show, I was immensely entertained and impressed with her recollections; having read Live From New York, I was aware of the crazy schedule kept by the cast and crew, but I was once again in awe at the intense pressure felt by the cast week after week in hopes of getting to write and/or appear in at least one sketch (No wonder the majority of the cast is usually very young and childless.).  Dratch honestly explores her career disappointment post-SNL and her mixed emotions concerning her pregnancy; she also delightfully shares her joy in her son and candidly discusses her views on show business. Unlike many other celebrity memoirs, this is refreshingly free from serious bitterness, scandal, and angst (although Dratch does share an episode with depression). Dratch is an engaging, hilarious, and very personable author.

I'm currently reading Superman vs. the Ku Klux Klan: The True Story of How the Iconic Superhero Battled the Men of Hate. I knew nothing about the history of the Superman comics and franchise (the pivotal moment happens on the radio program), so everything is all new and fascinating to me. I was happy to find that we have The Superman Chronicles, which collects the original Superman comics. As Superman vs. the Ku Klux Klan is written for teen readers (and above), younger fans might be interested to read The Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman. We also have the 4 Superman movies starring Christopher Reeve.

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