My Stroke of Insight, by Jill Bolte Taylor. Viking, 2008, c2006

My sister-in-law read this book after my mom had a series of mini-strokes, and recommended strongly that I should read it, too. It's been hard to find, and also popular! There are still holds on it, two years later.

The author is a neuroanatomist specializing in brain anatomy and function. She suffered a rare form of stroke at the age of 37 and chronicles the progress of her disability and complete recovery over the next eight years. In a very readable and accessible style, she divides her story into three parts: required knowledge to understand the stroke, the story of her stroke and immediate post-stroke care, and insights about her experience and recommendations for readers.

The part that affected me most was her description of the differences between the right-brain and left-brain, and of how she uses her new-found knowledge of how they work separately and together to control her physical and emotional responses to life. It's so similar to what I was taught in school about the eternity of one's soul and the effects of prayer.


A single shard [electronic resource], by Linda Sue Park. Listening Library, 2007.

I downloaded this Newbery Medal winner a long time ago, and only just now listened to it when I began walking again.

Set in the medieval Korean village of Ch'ulp'o, where potters make the celebrated celadon ware, Tree Ear, an orphan lives under a bridge with Crane Man, who is homeless because an injured leg prevents him from working. He scavenges for food in junk-heaps to feed them both, and Crane Man provides wisdom and stories. One day, while rummaging through the potter Min's junk heap, Tree Ear happens to see Min throwing a vase on a wheel and becomes fascinated with the potter's craft. He steals into Min's house and accidentally breaks a greenware box. Min exacts nine days work from him in payment, and thus begins Tree Ear's - and the reader's - education in the production of celadon pottery and the society that supported it. Here is an image of the prunus vase mentioned in the last paragraphs of the book.

Although this is a children's book, the audio version, at least, is also appealing to adults. It would be a good discussion book because of the descriptions of the pottery processes and of Korean medieval society.


Chasing Shakespeares, by Sarah Smith. Atria Books, 2003.

This is another title I rescued from the re-shelve trucks. This time, it was the author's name that caught my eye, because I actually know a Sarah Smith, though she is not the author of this book. I showed it to "my" Sarah Smith, and she admitted to reading other works by the author, finding them pretty good.

A relatively minor American university receives a Shakespeare collection as a bequest. It seems most of the items in it are forgeries, except one letter ... and the grad student cataloging the collection takes it to London to show it to an expert. What starts as a research project turns into something far different, as research and relationships begin taking on a life of their own.

The interesting part, for me, was the travelogue and the biographies of the players and places in Shakespeare's life. A major theme was the conflicting evidence that Shakespeare was - or was not - the author of the works published under his name, and if not, who the real author might be. I usually avoid history, but I was drawn into the discussions and proofs, and feel like I got a literature lesson along with the entertaining read.