Thursday, January 21, 2010

National pride

Ever since Haiti was devastated by a 7.0 earthquake on January 12, 2010, the eyes of the world have been focused on the country and the rescue and relief efforts taking place. 

In Israel, we've been taking pride in the fact that for once, the news reports have not been condemning Israel but praising the performance of the Israeli team in Haiti. Even CNN, who rarely has a kind word for us, has been impressed with the Israeli response in Haiti.

 Interviews with representatives of the Israeli team and reports on the Israeli field hospital can be found on Anderson Cooper's blog  (Israel's medical operation in Haiti) and NBC's nightly news with Brian Williams.

 Of course, not all the press about Israel has been positive and we seem to be our own worst enemies. Israel's very own Haaretz published Akiva Eldar's Israel's compassion in Haiti can't hide our ugly face in Gaza while other critics claim that we're only in it for the public relations - Haiti: An Israeli Public Relations Moment? and יחסי הציבור של המוות

I can accept that PR plays a part in Israel's decision to send aid abroad but I don't think it's the only (or biggest) consideration and I don't think it negates all the good we're doing. I choose to believe Yuli Edelstein, Israel's Diaspora Affairs and Public Diplomacy Minister, who said: "We are doing that because we are Jews, we are Israelis, and because we were brought up with this famous Talmudic perception 'Saving one life is like saving the entire world'."
Here are some links for keeping up with Israel's continuing efforts to assist the people of Haiti:

IDFinHaiti - Twitter updates from IDF and Israeli aid delegation in Haiti 

idfnadesk - IDF Spokesperson's Unit  official YouTube channel

Sunday, January 3, 2010

2009 reading roundup

I've been using Librarything for the last few years to keep track of what I read. Here is the list of books I read or listened to in 2009, in the order I finished them.
  1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  2. Compulsion by Jonathan Kellerman
  3. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
  4. Another Life: The Final Burke Novel by Andrew Vachss
  5. The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones
  6. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
  7. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  8. The Seamstress of Hollywood Boulevard by Erin McGraw
  9. Lethal Legacy by Linda Fairstein
  10. Black and White and Dead All Over by John Darnton
  11. Sima's Undergarments for Women by Ilana Stanger-Ross
  12. Bones by Jonathan Kellerman
  13. The Piano Teacher by Janice Y. K. Lee
  14. Invisible Sisters by Jessica Handler
  15. The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker
  16. Life After Genius by M. Ann Jacoby
  17. The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
  18. Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell
  19. The Reader by Bernard Schlink
  20. Long Lost by Harlan Coben
  21. The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
  22. Revenge of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz
  23. Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure by Rachel Fershleiser
  24. Life Sentence by Laura Lippman
  25. Little Bee: A Novel by Chris Cleave
  26. God in a Cup: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Coffee by Michaele Weissman
  27. Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
  28. Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg
  29. Attack of the Theater People by Marc Acito
  30. Keeping Hannah Waiting by Dave Clarke
  31. Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child
  32. Wicked Prey by John Sanford
  33. Songs for the Butcher's Daughter by Peter Manseau
  34. The Dirty Secrets Club by Meg Gardiner
  35. The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly
  36. Shadows Still Remain by Peter De Jonge
  37. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
  38. Capture by Robert K. Tanenbaum
  39. The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman
  40. Roadside Crosses: A Kathryn Dance Novel by Jeffrey Deaver
  41. The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews
  42. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
  43. Songs for the Missing by Stewart O'Nan
  44. Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug
  45. Dune Road by Jane Green
  46. How to Be Good by Nick Hornby
  47. Road Dogs by Elmore Leonard
  48. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
  49. The Increment by David Ignatius
  50. Plan B: A Novel by Jonathan Tropper
  51. The Kill Artist by Daniel Silva
  52. April & Oliver by Tess Callahan
  53. The English Assassin by Daniel Silva
  54. New World Monkeys by Nancy Mauro
  55. The Sunday Wife by Cassandra King
  56. Dr. Death by Jonathan Kellerman
  57. A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
  58. Die Trying by Lee Child
  59. Carved in Bone: A Body Farm Novel by Jefferson Bass
  60. The Secret Servant by Daniel Silva
  61. The Great Perhaps by Joe Meno
  62. The Book of Air and Shadows by Michael Gruber
  63. Street Dreams by Faye Kellerman
  64. Q & A by Vikas Swarup
  65. Devil's Waltz by Jonathan Kellerman
  66. Annie Freeman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral by Kris Radish
  67. Empire Falls by Richard Russo
  68. The Embers by Hyatt Bass
  69. The Poet by Michael Connelly
  70. The Puzzle King by Betsy Carter
  71. The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty
  72. Sing Them Home by Stephanie Kallos
  73. Flesh and Bone: A Body Farm Novel by Jefferson Bass
  74. A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
  75. The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway
  76. The Monk Downstairs by Tim Farrington
Of the 76 books I read or listened to in 2009, only four were non-fiction, 18 were audiobooks, and four have been made into movies. You can see how my 2009 stats compare to the two previous years I've been keeping track in the table below.

2007 2008 2009
Number of books 83 81 76
Audio books 11 32 18
Nonfiction 10 13 4
Authors read more than once 11 7 7

Some of my favorites in 2009 were Empire Falls, Songs for the Butcher's Daughter, The Little Giant of Aberdeen County, and the first two books in Stieg Larsson's Millenium series, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl who Played with Fire. I also enjoyed listening to Sing them Home which was long and took me a while to get into but once I did I thoroughly enjoyed it and The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.  And although I read To Kill a Mockingbird years ago, listening to it on audio was a great treat. The Uncommon Reader was a quick and enjoyable listen and Attack of the Theater People was a totally theatrical out there experience which I'm sure I wouldn't have enjoyed if I had only read it and not listened to it. I was most disappointed by The Story of Edgar Sawtelle which got such hype and not only did I not find it enjoyable to listen to, I DESPISED the ending! April & Oliver was another book that got a lot of hype but I found it underwhelming. 

I'm almost done with my first book of 2010 and I have several audio books waiting for me. Some of the books I'm most looking forward to reading or listening to in 2010 are Pat Conroy's new novel, South of Broad, John Irving's Last Night in Twisted River, Sue Grafton's U is for Undertow, and the final book in Stieg Larsson's Millenium series, The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest which I received as a graduation gift from my friend, CK, who graciously gave me the book her husband shlepped home from London even though she hadn't read it yet. 

So here's looking forward to many more reading adventures in 2010!