What I'm reading now: Twofer Edition: 11 April 29

My apologies for the lack of a post last Friday-- what with the holidays and all, the whole weekend was a little busy. By the  time I remembered to post, it was Wednesday. At that point, I decided I'd just wait the two days and post as per the usual schedule.
I haven't been reading as much recently, so my list isn't twice as long as usual. I did read some excellent and thought-provoking books, though...

Neurodiversity: discovering the extraordinary gifts of autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and other brain differences--Thomas Armstrong (non-fiction)
City of Tranquil Light--Bo Caldwell (literary fiction)
Grammar matters: the social significance of how we use language-- Jila Ghomeshi (non-fiction)
Satori--Don Winslow
I, Sniper--Stephen Hunter
War is a force that gives us meaning--Chris Hedges (non-fiction)
The sins of Brother Curtis: a story of betrayal, conviction, and the Mormon church--Lisa Davis (non-fiction)
Beneath the Bleeding--Val McDermid
The hero and the crown--Robin McKinley (YA Fantasy)
Flight of a witch--Ellis Peters

Neurodiversity, by Thomas Armstrong, is a discussion of the seldom-considered positive side of various brain differences. Without minimizing the difficulties and pain for those who are affected (directly or indirectly) with brain differences like autism, dyslexia, or depression, Armstrong points out that these conditions have their strengths, too. Autism, for example, brings with it a powerful focus on the object of one's interest, and the ability to note and pick out details without being distracted by the whole-- something extremely helpful in, say, accounting, or checking tissue samples for abnormal cells. Dyslexia often includes greater-than-normal ability in the arts and in visual-spatial abilities. Armstrong finishes with a discussion of what kind of classroom might be most helpful in teaching the neurodiverse. This would be an excellent starting point for any parent with a neurodiverse child, because it also offers lists of resources: books, websites, and adaptive technologies.

City of Tranquil Light, by Bo Caldwell, is a beautiful book. I read it on the advice of my mother, and immediately on finishing it, passed it on to two of my friends. It's the story of a couple who are missionaries in China. That's the short version, and it doesn't do the book justice. It's a love story; it's friendships across cultural lines; it's adventure and fear; it's the growth of faith; it's putting down roots so deep into a country that the place where you were born is never home again. Caldwell's writing is... I've sat here for five minutes trying to put it into words, but I can't. Just go read the book, okay? You can thank me later.

Grammar matters, by Jila Ghomeshi.  Ghomeshi (sister, by the way, to Jian Ghomeshi, who is ubiquitous on the CBC) discusses what actually matters about the way we use language, and what does not. She argues that many of the rules of "proper" grammar  are arbitrary, and don't really make any difference in one's being understood. The telling difference of grammar is more in how one is perceived. "I ain't got any," Ghomeshi says, is as easily understood as "I don't have any," but the first speaker sounds less intelligent and capable. I didn't agree with all of her points, but I think I will be trying to be a little less of a grammar snob than I have been. (Cue quiet celebration among my friends and co-workers.)

Satori, by Don Winslow. This is the second book I've read this year where a writer continues the story of characters created by another-- in this case, the character of Nicholas Hel from Trevanian's Shibumi. (The first was The Attenbury Emeralds  by Jill Paton Walsh, based on the characters by Dorothy L. Sayers.) It's been a few years since I read Shibumi, but what I remember of Nicholas Hel, as well as Trevanian's writing style, was well-served by this prequel. Satori is an excellent thriller, with lots of plot turns and cliff-hanger chapter endings, and you almost need a chart to keep track of the double-crosses and triple-crosses that come up as Hel tries to execute a mission for the Americans in Vietnam and get out alive. An excellent read, and I would also recommend one of Winslow's earlier books (the only other one of his that I've read), California Fire and Life, as well as Shibumi, by Trevanian, which is where this all started.

I'll just mention, briefly, that if you want to have a better understanding of some of the conflicts going on around the world today, read War is a force that gives us meaning, by Chris Hedges. Hedges was a war reporter for years, and has had plenty of up-close-and-personal experience with war.

I've got a number of interesting books in a stack beside my reading lamp, and more on hold and on order at the library, so check back again in a week (or two), and I'll have more to tell you about. There are more non-fiction titles (I seem to be reading more non-fiction than usual), and some very interesting-looking thriller authors that I've just come across....