Thursday, May 28, 2009

Talking Hands: What Sign Language Reveals About the Mind by Margalit Fox

First sentence:

"The house is a lighted island in a sea of gathering dark."


"Imagine a village where everyone "speaks" sign language. Just such a village -- an isolated Bedouin community in Israel with an unusually high rate of deafness -- is at the heart of Talking Hands: What Sign Language Reveals About the Mind. There, an indigenous sign language has sprung up, used by deaf and hearing villagers alike. It is a language no outsider has been able to decode, until now.

A New York Times reporter trained as a linguist, Margalit Fox is the only Western journalist to have set foot in this remarkable village. In Talking Hands, she follows an international team of scientists that is unraveling this mysterious language.

Because the sign language of the village has arisen completely on its own, outside the influence of any other language, it is a living demonstration of the "language instinct," man's inborn capacity to create language. If the researchers can decode this language, they will have helped isolate ingredients essential to all human language, signed and spoken. But as Talking Hands grippingly shows, their work in the village is also a race against time, because the unique language of the village may already be endangered.

Talking Hands offers a fascinating introduction to the signed languages of the world -- languages as beautiful, vital and emphatically human as any other -- explaining why they are now furnishing cognitive scientists with long-sought keys to understanding how language works in the mind.

Written in lyrical, accessible prose, Talking Hands will captivate anyone interested in language, the human mind and journeys to exotic places." -- from the inside flap

My thoughts:

I learned a lot about language, both sign and spoken, by reading this book. I especially found the chapter on the brain very interesting as linguists learn how signers perceive signs as language and not just movements through space.

Date read: 5/28/2009
Book #: 30
Challenges: Dewey Decimal Challenge, Support Your Local Library Challenge
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Nonfiction

ISBN-10: 0743247124
ISBN-13: 9780743247122
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Year: 2007
# of Pages: 368
Binding: Hardcover
LibraryThing Page

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule

First sentence:

"No one glanced at the young man who walked out of the Trailways Bus Station in Tallahassee, Florida at dawn on Sunday, January 8, 1978."


"Ted Bundy was everyone's picture of a natural "winner" -- handsome, charming, brilliant in law school, successful with women, on the verge of a dazzling career. On January 24, 1989, Ted Bundy was executed for the murders of three young women; he had also confessed to taking the lives of at least thirty-five more young women from coast to coast. This is his story written by a woman who thought she knew Ted Bundy -- until she began to pull all the evidence together, and the whole terrifying picture emerged from the dark depths." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

This was a good true crime book in which Rule not only wrote about the life and crimes of Ted Bundy, but also wrote about how she was fooled by him for many years.

Date read: 5/10/2009
Book #: 29
Challenges: 999 Challenge, Dewey Decimal Challenge, Spring Reading Thing Challenge 2009
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Nonfiction

ISBN-10: 0451164938
ISBN-13: 9780451164933
Publisher: Signet
Year: 1989
# of Pages: 489
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing Page

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Acorna: The Unicorn Girl by Anne McCaffrey and Margaret Ball

First sentence:

"The space/time coordinate system they used has no relationship to Earth, our sun, the Milky Way, or any other point of reference we could use to find our way around, and in any coordinate system we use, they're so far off the edge of the chart that nobody has ever contemplated going there, even with the proton drive."


"She was just a little girl, with a tiny horn in the center of her forehead, funny-looking feet, beautiful silver hair, and several curious powers: the ability to purify air and water, make plants grow, and heal scars and broken bones. A trio of grizzled prospectors found her drifting in an escape pod amid the asteroids, adopted her, and took her to the bandit planet Kezdet, a place where no questions are asked and a girl might grow up free.

But Kezdet has its own dark secret. The prosperity of the planet is based on a hideous trade in child slave labor, administered by "The Piper" -- a mystery man with special plans for Acorna and her powers. But free little girls have a way of growing into freedom-loving women, and Acorna has special plans all her own...." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

This was a good book introducing me to the character Acorna. I liked how Calum, Gill and Rafik learned about her powers and how Acorna and her friends made a difference on Kezdet. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, Acorna's Quest.

Date read: 5/6/2009
Book #: 28
Series: Acorna, #1
Challenge: 999 Challenge, Celebrate the Author Challenge, Spring Reading Thing Challenge 2009
Genre: SF
Rating: 3*/5 = good

ISBN-10: 0061057894
ISBN-13: 9780061057892
Publisher: HarperPrism
Year: 1997
# of Pages: 400
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing Page