Saturday, January 12, 2013

Book Review

I have been reading an inordinate amount of books on this trip...and since my cousin Jacqui is dying for threatened to kill me if I ever wrote another book review, I thought I'd oblige irritate her.
What desert sunset? I'm reading.

The Poisonwood Bible

I had already read this one back in 2008 when I went to South Africa. I don't normally read a book twice, but we found it in a hostel's book exchange and I demanded that Summer read it. For lack of a book to read myself, I read it again. SO GOOD. One of my all-time favorites. About a crazy zealous baptist minister who takes his wife and four daughters to baptize the children of the Congo. Never mind their culture, of course. The story is written from the perspective of the wife and four daughters and it's BRILLIANT. My favorite parts are the mother's, as she reflects on why she never left her crazy husband, and the eldest daughter Rachel's, a prissy teenager trying to deal with the grossness that was their African village.

Holy Cow! An Indian Adventure

I picked this up at the Kochi airport upon arrival to India. It's an Australian woman's account of living in Dehli, ten years after having backpacked India as a young person and hating it. She's incredibly candid about all the stuff you can easily hate about India, (i.e. people peeing and pooping in the streets) but also educates the reader on most of India's main religions, ethnic groups and regions. Fascinating.

The White Tiger

Story about a lower-caste driver for a wealthy businessman in Dehli who strikes out and makes it rich. (After murdering the wealthy businessman of course.) Very good, and a nice peek into the caste-system still employed in India, even after it was outlawed.

The Scarlet Pimpernel

Loved this little classic, even though it was highly predictable. I got it for free on eBooks!

Norwegian Wood

Wildly popular (in its day) Japanese novel I traded out in Serbia with another backpacker. Pretty good. Explores young love and suicide in a way where you can't even sympathize with the main character because he's just really unsympathetic. I liked it.

Turning Thirty

Dumb, dumb book. Another trade out I made in the Maldives. Here you can't sympathize with the main character either, but in a really bad way. I turned thirty once and couldn't identify with any of his points, except the part where he moved back in with his parents, but he hated it and I did not. Because my parents are awesome.

One & A Half Wife

Fictional story about an Indian girl, raised with just one purpose: to get married. Her parents even move her to the United States to make this happen for her. She does get married to a rich Indian, but then he devastates her by telling her after many years of marriage that he doesn't love her, never has and that he wants a divorce. Her parents practically disown her, they're so ashamed. But she didn't really do anything wrong. Not the most amazing book, and the ending is ridiculous, but it's an interesting study of Indians and their [slowly improving] disdain for divorce and divorced people.

What Young India Wants

I'm reading this collection of essays slowly. It's very interesting, but not fluffy enough to be a page turner. Written by a columnist, it discusses the issues facing young India today and this man's opinion of why India continues to struggle in our modern world. His opinions are sometimes annoying to me, like in an essay about how Indian women are reported to be the most stressed out in the world. 87% of Indian women feel stressed most of the time, compared to only 53% of American women. *Asterisked comments are mine.*

"I may be biased, but Indian women are the most beautiful in the world. As mothers, sisters, daughters, colleagues, wives and girlfriends, we love them. Can you imagine life without these ladies? [...] There would be body odor, socks on the floor and nothing in the fridge to eat. The entertainment industry would die. Who wants to watch movies without actresses?" *All very good reasons to keep women around. The socks especially.*

"At an extreme, we abort girls before they are born, neglect their upbringing, torture them, molest them, sell them, rape them and honor kill them. [...] We judge our women, expect to much of them, don't give them space and suffocate their individuality. Imagine, if you did this to men -- wouldn't they get stressed out?" *Uh yes, I imagine they would.*

The Cellist of Sarajevo

I read this on the beach in Croatia. Fiction, but written about Sarajevo during the siege when a real-life cellist played in the ruins of the street for 22 days straight. One day for every person killed while standing in a bread line in front of his apartment. From the life-and-death struggle to get water and food to the reasons why some became snipers, a very sad look at the war from three different perspectives.

Into Thin Air

Just finished this one today. I had read Into the Wild, also by John Krakauer, and this one was definitely on my list of books to read. I thought it would be his reporting of a trip to Mount Everest (much like Into the Wild was his reporting of another man's adventure story), and was surprised to find out he had actually been on the expedition. This was his personal account of the 1996 Everest summit disaster, and it was gripping. Really gripping. Plus there's this little gossippy bit at the end where he gets into it with two other men that were also there over details of their behavior. I was just as interested in that little war of words as I was the rest of the book. Krakauer doesnt back down, man. I even did some side research (five seconds on Google, that is) about it. Quite the scandal in the late nineties. Very sad story and for some strange, strange reason, reading the account made me want to climb Everest. Even though most of his team died or got horrible frost bite.


I went to a book store yesterday and traded Holy Cow and The White Tiger for Flight Behavior, by Barbara Kingsolver, (who also wrote The Poisonwood Bible), and Under the Banner of Heaven (also by John Krakauer) about one of my favorite subjects: fundamentalist Mormons who still practice Polygamy and MURDER. Think Hollace Green.



Jessica said...

I love POisonwood Bible. Have you read A Fine Balance? You've got to read it if you haven't.

A Lady Reveals Nothing said...

Thanks for the recommend!

Jacqui said...

ugh. i was annoyed just having to quickly scroll past this post.

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