Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Before I Die by Candy Chang

Published November 5, 2013

What do you want to do before you die?

When artist Candy Chang painted the side of an abandoned building with chalkboard paint and asked her neighbors this question, she never expected it to become a worldwide phenomenon. Within a day of the wall’s completion, however, it was covered in colorful chalk dreams as people stopped and reflected on their lives. Since then, more than two hundred walls have been created by people all over the world.  This beautifully designed book is an inspiring celebration of these walls. Filled with our hopes, fears, humor, and heartbreak, it’s a reminder of our shared connections and a chance to ponder life’s ultimate question.
Candy Chang is an artist that (I think at least) brings people together with her interactive projects. This project specifically started as something for the community (in New Orleans) and it has since spread world wide. Some of the things people wrote were funny, some were sad, and some inspiring.

The book is filled with pictures and stories and, at the end of the book, it tells you how to make your own "Before I die" wall in your community. This is something that, with the help and resources, would be a great project for my town. While it's not the kind of book I typically read, it was a nice change and is something I'll probably leave on my coffee table and look at from time to time when I need some inspiration.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield

Published November 5, 2013
Caught up in a moment of boyhood competition, William Bellman recklessly aims his slingshot at a rook resting on a branch, killing the bird instantly. It is a small but cruel act, and is soon forgotten. By the time he is grown, with a wife and children of his own, William seems to have put the whole incident behind him. It was as if he never killed the thing at all. But rooks don’t forget . . .

Years later, when a stranger mysteriously enters William’s life, his fortunes begin to turn—and the terrible and unforeseen consequences of his past indiscretion take root. In a desperate bid to save the only precious thing he has left, he enters into a rather strange bargain, with an even stranger partner. Together, they found a decidedly macabre business.

And Bellman and Black is born.
William Bellman has some luck and a lot of work ethic... and then more bad luck (though never with money). He is a business man who makes that his focus. Whatever he is working on at the time gets his full attention and thoughts. I both liked and hated that about him. But when he sees the man in black he becomes obsessed with him- both in trying to find him and thinking about who he is/might be.

When it came to the end of the book- we follow him from the time he is a child and kills the rook to late adulthood- that he wasted the time he could have had with his family by focusing on working. His work seemed to be the center of his life and when tragedy strikes he is thrown even more into business pursuits. It seemed to me that his focus on business rather than family was such a waste. But after being surrounded by so much tragedy he loses the ability to appreciate what he has and he makes "more"- getting more, saving more- his life. It was sad but very interesting and well written.