Category Archives: book reviews

The Monday Book: THE ROSIE RESULT by Graeme Simsion

This week’s Monday book is The Rosie Result, a novel by Australian author Graeme Simsion (the third in a series focused on an autistic man named Don Tillman). It is reviewed by JANELLE BAILEY. Bailey is an educator out of Wisconsin; she was one of the Little Bookstore’s shopsitters and in the summer reads AP English tests for college applicants. Take it away, Janelle!

I have really, through all three books, come to enjoy Don Tillman as a character, along with his wife Rosie…and the others, really, who are part of their story, round or flat, static or dynamic. This particular “episode” is focused more narrowly on Don and Rosie’s son, Hudson, and his challenges at school and in friendships and in life…and especially facing the question of whether, like his dad, he may be on the autism spectrum…in ways.

And I also enjoy Simsion’s writing and the issues he addresses in his books. Not only does one laugh out loud at Don and his very narrow, literal thinking, how hard he has to work to expand his perspectives, but one also appreciates his work ethic and how smart he is and how willing to take on subject matter to learn or “projects” to pursue, for his perseverance always leads things–ultimately, at least–up a valuable course.

In this third book he not only takes on autism and its potential influence in their lives but also homeopathic practices and anti-vaxx perspectives and what impact this can have on a child when parents are insistent…resistant…and expecially when that child has some serious medical issues. 

When I attempt to see, concisely, Simsion’s success in writing, I think it is again here that he gives a voice, through his characters, to those who might not otherwise get to speak but have important things to address. In part because of who and how Don is, he can bring it all to light in ways that others, “with filters applied,” might not. Whether it is he and his wife speaking to their son’s principal and teachers about very relevant concerns with their son’s classroom issues or addressing their son’s wish to have his friend, the daughter of the anti-vaxxing homeopath, seen by a medical doctor for her condition, there is simply a lot of believable truth to these situations and valuable, thoughtful response opportunity and empathy building on the part of the reader.

I truly enjoy and appreciate Simsion’s smart and thought-filled, valuable writing and story.

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Filed under book reviews, humor, Life reflections

The Monday Book: THE YEAR OF LESS by Cait Flanders

Janelle Bailey brings us the Monday book this week.

The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store by Cait Flanders

I had not heard anything about this book, but it was available through Libby to be my next walking “listen,” and I have come to enjoy, more so, non-fiction while walking than fiction…though I’m not certain I have quite figured out why.
So very much of this book and Flanders’ ideas resonated very strongly with me and my own experiences, and yet I think that I have even more to say about some of what she said than she did say here. I wonder whether it’s time to just write that one…myself.

Janelle Bailey’s pick this week

Oh, do I ever have in my possession numerous things–mostly clothing but some other as well…yes, books, too, but those DO give me joy–for the life I think I’m supposed to one day live. How dumb is this? I find this especially challenging to address currently, as I’m torn between–will this now be my “new” annual and seasonal “work” wardrobes and routine, still working from home (and for the past sixteen months)? Or will there be a time when I will wish to wear, again, dress pants and heavier sweaters, for instance? I have no idea. But if I addressed things either as Flanders does or as Marie Kondo does, all of it should go. I struggle with that…and it’s mostly silly, I suppose. And truly: I could/should just let go of the “skinny” clothes that don’t just fill the drawers and closet waiting for them to fit again but also fill me with some sort of tacit stress and anxiety–possibly constantly–to make them fit again. It’s so silly!
I appreciate Flanders’ approach to these various “issues” in her life and how Flanders has created as projects and blogged about them her sobriety, her paying off of significant ($30,000) debt, and now, in this book, her “shopping ban.”
There was just so much that she said that makes tremendous logical and rational sense and with which I could identify…mostly if looking from the outside “in” to my own closet and drawers, pantry, and other storage areas–a very full linen closet, for instance, that is rarely opened since it contains so many things for “when” they are needed…old sheets for costumes, for instance, that are never sought. So silly to store it all…and not use the linen closet for the “linens” used.
I was especially satisfied by Flanders’ storytelling and honesty–true sincerity–in its forthright telling and also by the data with which she began each new chapter: how many months she’d been sober, what percentage of her income she’d saved that month, and the percentage of the likelihood that she’ll complete this full year’s project, the actual shopping ban. I was with her, supportive, cheering her on from here…well, from my walking path…all the while that I “read” (listened).
And I will take her lessons learned into my near future. I will consider documenting it myself, as our circumstances are somewhat different: I’m in my early 50s, she then in her mid-30s;  she was single and childless, and I am married for the second time and have five children, three stepchildren, and two grandchildren; I have a houseful–ney, a house- and outbuildingful–of stuff that is not all even my own, though I suppose that all of the “baggage” is. Sigh. Sigh.
I will be thinking of this book and Cait Flanders’ success for some time to come for sure.


Filed under book reviews, Life reflections, Wendy Welch, what's on your bedside table