6. Grace (Eventually): Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott (2008 library list)
This book appears to be a collection of her writings published in the early 2000 and, while some such column collections age well (for me, for example, Anna Quindlen comes to mind), this one hasn't, overall. The frequent George Bush-bashing just seems irrelevant and annoying. There were a few nice things in here -- some stories of acceptance of people at her church, and of the trials of teaching Sunday school to small children examined in light of the overall picture of grace, but overall, for me, it was a "meh."
7. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell (church book group, February)
I actually didn't go into this with high hopes, and was pleasantly surprised. I found his examinations of the "whys" behind certain social phenomena very interesting. For example, the relevance of the logical approach of the Chinese language to math -- it's basically the metric system in words -- to Asian students' success in mathematical fields in the U.S.; and the examination of hockey success based on birth dates and season starts -- and, hence, amount of ice time practice. (As you can imagine, that one was a big topic of discussion here in Minnesota at the book group.) Kudos to Gladwell for also including his own family's experiences -- his mother is Jamaican, educated in England -- in some of these sociological explorations. I'm still somewhat disturbed, however, by his apparent conclusion that yes, people who succeed in any endeavor need to work hard, but if you work hard in a particular endeavor and it's not the right time for the succes of that area where your talents lie -- i.e., it's not the 1970s for Jewish laywers in New York, it's not the 1980s for computer programmers, it's not the late 1800s for wealthy industrialists -- well, then, rots o' ruck to you. A thought-provoking, memorable read.
8. Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella (women's book group, February)
Picked as an easy, light, fun read, by the author of the Shopaholic chick lit series. This one's not part of that series (although I, personally, can see a sequel featuring the cousin of the main character -- even if others in the group couldn't), and I didn't enjoy it quite as much as the Shopaholic ones I've read, but it was still fun. The main character is in her 20s, rather aimless and lacking her own direction in life -- when she becomes haunted by the ghost of her great-aunt, a 1920s flapper with a mystery to solve/necklace to find. The great-aunt's gumption helps the main character get her life on track, find love, etc. Also, there's a lot of descriptions of 1920s fashion, and I kind of like 1920s fashion.
9. Retire Happy: What You Can Do Now to Guarantee a Great Retirement by Richard Stim and Ralph Warner (2008 library list)
I picked this up now in part because of my mom's recent retirement and because, as a person in her 40s, I probably should be thinking about retirement, well, a bit more than I have been. I liked that, while it did talk about the financial aspects -- and offered some very practical, clear advice -- the book also focused on other areas of life where one should prepare now to have a good retirement (and, as a byproduct, have a good "now," too): things like maintaining health, establishing and repairing family connections, and figuring out hobbies/interests/what it is you've "always wanted to do" -- and taking steps to do it. I would definitely recommend this book and may try to acquire it for our home library at some point.
10. Things I Want My Daughters to Know by Elizabeth Noble (2008 library list)
For some reason, I had been under the impression this was a nonfiction book. It's not: it's a novel -- one which I really enjoyed. I tend to like well-written books with all the family interweavings and such, and this book has all that: it's about the letters a mother leaves behind to her four daughters after her too -early death from cancer, what the daughters learn from the letters, what they do with their lives, how their perspectives of their past life changes, and so on.