Friday, June 26, 2015

2nd Quarter Book Report, Part 1

Instead of trying to remember my thoughts and feelings as I finished a book a month or two after, for this report, I am going to review them as I finish them.  The result, the numbers will be out of order, but I feel this is a more authentic report of my Reading Challenge, first written about here, and the First Quarter Report, here...

#6.  A book written by someone under 30

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

It took me a bit longer than I expected to read this book, not because I did not enjoy it, but because there was a lot of information to absorb, especially in the first part.  I arrived in Nigeria in the early 1960's in the first pages and was introduced to the five main characters, which in the beginning, I was concerned one would get lost in the fray, but that was not the case.  The novel covers a coup, then a brutal civil war that tore Nigeria apart and for a while led to a smaller independent country that that only Rwanda acknowledge.  Chimamanda writes with compassion, yet honesty on what happened and while it is heart breaking to read of the starvation and brutality, it is well worth reading.

#41.  A book by an author you have never read before

One Thousand White Women:  The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus

This is a 50/50 review.  There are some things that I hated, and yes, I do mean hated about it, but I also loved things.  The book poses an interesting, yet morally bankrupt, 'what if' to a small moment of American history.  The actual offer was made of 1000 Cheyenne horses for 1000 white women to become brides of the Cheyenne, in order to assimilate the Cheyenne into a world they were rapidly going to have to accept in order to survive......  This book follows the first 40 women West, and this is where some of my issues roll in....  This book is written by a man, not one review on the cover or insert  by other authors was a woman (this should give you a clue on what my issues are).  The way the 'women' written by a man talk, deal, and survive rape bugs me on a fundamental level.  If a man deals with rape from the female perspective, he needs to be very, very careful and sensitive, this author was not. I almost gave up on the book with this issue, because it happens early and often in the beginning.   If you can get past that and some other issues with a man writing about women and sex, the story is like a train crash you can see coming, but can not turn away from.  The period in history is fascinating; the broken promises by the US government for greed embarrassing; and the simple, yet called barbaric lives of the Cheyenne worth learning about.  Read it with caution.

#19.  A book based on a true story

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer

You should know that for a while I, for a while, wanted to climb Everest.  I have since changed my mind, not only from reading this book, but from a heartbreaking story on HBO's Real Sports about the risks that the Sherpas take for Western indulgences.  Sir Edmund Hillary, the first to reach Everest's peak, has condemned the new lackadaisical attitude of 'climbers' who sit on chairs and eat First class meals on the mountain during their ascent.  It has become a luxury tour money making machine that is costing Sherpa's their lives and ruining Everest (and more importantly, the more holy names that the Nepalese and Tibetan people call it).  Now for the was well written by a haunted author and participant of the events he was writing about.  Jon Krakauer described the process of not only getting to base camp, but the process of elevation acclimation and the eventual climb and ascent of Everest.  It is more frightening and life threatening than I ever imagined and that's when it all goes right.  The expedition that was written about in Into Thin Air did not.  The book is at times hard to read, not because of poor writing, but because of the brutal suffering and deaths that occur.  I am recommending this as a cautionary tale of what happens when Mother Nature reminds us that she is in charge, especially when humans get arrogant about the risks.

#35.  A book set in the Future

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Don't worry, you were genetically engineered to like your life and if something stresses you out, there is a drug to help.  Forget reading and art, they make you think, so you don't have to do that....
The scary part of this book is that it was written in 1932 and in 2015, it seems a lot of the population just wants to be entertained all of the time and as soon as something is wrong pop a pill for it.  I have a feeling that in 1932 this book was scandalous, but now, it has become, in my opinion, a warning......
that you can not push aside the uncomfortable, you have to work through it.  Happiness does not come by ignoring sadness, but by working through it.  Are you seeing a common thread, working through something....not ignoring it.  A highly recommended read....

#25.  A book you supposed to read in School

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

The descent into madness is so slow, and reasonable, that the bottom hits you hard leaving you with the confusion and frustration that Esther, the main character,  feels.  A remarkable book written by someone who dealt with and ultimately lost her battle with mental health issues.  It's not a long book, but it took me a bit to read it, because I needed to take a break periodically, however, I still recommend it.

#36.  Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

A young girl from Indiana has unrealistic expectations about a Prep school in New England due to pamphlets and articles and photos in Seventeen magazine.  Lee, the main character, struggles to fit into a mold that she sets for herself, not realizing that by being herself she would of fit in just fine, even with her being a scholarship student.  The book pulls you right back into high school, no matter where you went and all of the emotions that went with it.  I do have a major complaint about the book and its in the way Lee treats her family.  Even thought she is on scholarship, there are still expenses for the family and they are a burden, but Lee never seems to appreciate it and is down right snotty and bitchy to her parents.  I got the feeling throughout the book that she was embarrassed of them and not on the high school level that most teenagers go thru, but a life long embarrassment.  All in all, it was an interesting read, but I can not say that I really liked it..

#30.  A book that came out the year you were born...(1971)

The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth

It started slow with details and information about a group that I had no prior knowledge of and a country's protection and police force inner workings.  I had my doubts, but after I got thru the first section, it started to fly and was very interesting.  They call this book the first novel of its genre and I can see why, I've read others and they all owe something to this book.

As you can tell, I read quite a few books in the 2nd quarter of the year, and this is not all of them, but I'm feeling like this post is getting really, really long, so I am going to break it into two parts...

Stay tuned for part 2....

Still reading,

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