Category Archives: Book Reviews

October Book Review Denison, Iowa by Dale Maharidge

Maharidge and his photographer Michael Williamson lived in Denison for one year interacting with the people of the town and observing events that transpired. The story Maharidge wrote demonstrates the strained relationships between the Anglo citizens and the growing Latino population. In addition, Denison was suffering the changes in farming and agriculture and from the loss of jobs to overseas businesses, thereby creating a real loss in local business. In the 1980’s the meat-processing plant froze wages and remained static. He wrote about  alone Lutheran woman who taught English to Latino immigrants. The author continues to trace the lives of the citizens, their trials and tribulations that lie behind the picture of the ideal Midwest town.

Maharidge chose Denison because it was the perfect example of the changes that were occurring in the nation as small towns struggle to stay alive during some hard economic times. Denison, Iowa is an interesting, thought-provoking book that takes a detailed view of the demographics and in the culture that coincides in a troubled small community.

Other books by Dale Maharidge:

Bringing Mulligan Home: The Other Side of the Good War

Journey to Nowhere: The Saga of the New Underclass

Someplace Like America: Tales from the New Great Depression

The Last Great American Hobo


The Coming White Minority

Leapers(A Rick Waverly mystery/adventure)


October Book Review



In October, I will be reviewing Denison, Iowa by Dale Maharidge.  Maharidge’s first book, Journey to Nowhere: The Saga of the New Underclass, moved Bruce Springsteen to write songs the songs “New Timer” and “Young’s Town.”  In 1990, Maharidge won the Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction for And Their Children After Them. Maharidge is a professor at Columbia School of Journalism.

In this nonfiction book, Maharidge discusses the lives of people and their adaptation to a changing culture in a Midwest town during the era of Pax Americana. Pax Americana is a historical concept of liberal peace in the Western world due to the “power” of the United States around the turn of the 20th century. 


Life of Pi Book Review

The Life of Pi is the story of Pi a boy while growing s up in India who develops an enduring love for God and animals. His father who owns a zoo is forced to close it and sell all the animals. Some of the animals are sold to other zoos in Canada and America. The remaining animals travel to a new home with the family to Canada. During a raging storm, at sea, the ship sinks and Pi, a boy of sixteen, is the only human survivor a long with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. The rest of the story talks about Pi’s battles and thoughts while braving the challenges of a harsh, unforgiving environment and trying to convince Japanese officials his story is true.  This is an adventurous, funny, and entertaining book. The Life of Pi was the winner of the 2002 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. Find this book at RiverShare Libraries:*&query=&page=0

If you like The Life of Pi here are other books you may want to read:

gullivers_travels Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
Find this book at SCC Library by clicking this link and then press the Find It button:*gullivers%20travels&by=KW&sort=RELEVANCE&limit=ab=46&query=&page=0

sidd_sm Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

Find this book at SCC Library by clicking this link and then press the Find It button:

brave Brave New World by Aldous Huxley: Considered Science Fiction but has a religious theme:

Find this book at SCC Library by clicking this link and then press the Find It button:

July Book of the Month

I have selected Life of Pi by Yann Martel as July’s book of the month. The movie is breath-taking in its 3 D effects and includes a charming story of a boy and a Bengal Tiger. If you have not seen the movie, I highly recommend it. I have never read the book but I hope it is as good and humanely sensitive as the movie.    Book of Pi

This Bright River by Patrick Somerville

The novel is basically about the difficulties Ben and Laura have experienced in the past and the growth that takes place between the two characters.

Both grew up in St. Helens, Wisconsin.  Ben has returned to St. Helens  after serving a prison term to sell the home of his deceased uncle. Lauren, a doctor,  has recently divorced her husband who was also a doctor.  Ben struggles to keep his sanity while dealing with many troubles: primarily the betrayal by a friend who seized the contributions to a video game Ben and Lauren created.  Most of all, Ben was troubled by the mysterious death of his cousin in Michigan where the novel’s  river flows.  Lauren struggles with the memories of her abusive father and a failed suicide attempt. Together they search for the meaning behind their past hardships.

I was  bored at times and interested at others while reading this book. Ben was highly introspective person which was boring and confusing.  However, I enjoyed reading about his return to his childhood hometown, where he became familiar with the people and the town again.

Usually, I do not like romance novels.  When they first met Lauren had no interest in Ben.  I was interested to see if anything developed between them.  However “This Bright River” is more than a romance novel. It is a psychological thriller especially when Lauren’s ex-husband became involved.  As their characters develop, I began to empathize with the two of them and cared for them as human beings.

Because of the attention to character, the suspense, and drama that keeps the reader turning the pages, I recommend this book as a fascinating novel, well worth the read.

Other psychological novels include The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman, The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh and The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult.

Selected Book of the Month

This Bright River

I will be selecting a book each month to review. I am hoping the review will start a discussion about the book. If you have any titles you     would like me to read and review just post a response or email me at
I have chosen to read and review The Bright River by Patrick Somerville. Watch this blog or the SCC Library Facebook page at for the review. Thank you!

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