Filed under: Books, Travel, War | Tags: Aschinef Latifi, Barbara Kingsolver, Emma Larkin, Eric Weiner, Fareed Zakaria, Hyok Kang, Milarepa, Nick Hornby, Robert Hicks, Simon Winchester, Steve Fainaru, Susan Brownmiller, Words Without Borders
One of my favorite blogs is my monthly books read column. Here are all the books I read this month (which happens to be thirteen) in the order I read them. Here are my January Reads and February Reads.
1. SEEING VIETNAM ENCOUNTERS OF THE ROAD AND HEART by Susan Brownmiller
2. High Tide in Tucson: Essays from Now or Never by Barbara Kingsolver It’s good for me to read a book about my own country now and again (although several of the passages in this book are of Kingsovers’s travels). Fantastic collection of essays. Interview with the author.
3. The Life of Milarepa Translated by Lobsang Lhalungpa For a book that is a translation of an ancient text, I couldn’t believe how it is so full of humor that is still relevant. This is a great introduction to the story of Milarepa, the classic folk hero of Tibet. He was able to reach enlightenment after one lifetime, even after killing thirty people in his village by completely dedicating himself to repenting his actions. (It’s like My Name is Earl in orange robes on the Tibetan plain. 😉 )
4. This is Paradise! My North Korean Childhood by Hyok Kang
Kang grew up in North Korea where he and his family nearly starved to death. They believed the propaganda the NK was the most prosperous country on earth and thought if they left they would surely starve and be even worse off. Eventually his father, being tried for crimes against the state, decides they need to flee, where they discover the world is not as they’ve been told.
5. The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad (Revised Edition) by Fareed Zakaria I thought this was a great account of how not all democracies around the world work the same. He looks at the success of several, both in terms of political success, and in how their populace is thriving. He makes some pretty scathing remarks about the Arab world and how their wealth is based on selling resources and if they do not make moves to build infrastructure and society, when those resources are gone so will be their tenuous success.
7. The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner Besides the fact that I’m a fool for any book with Geography in the title, I loved this book. Full review here.
8. Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby Okay, I didn’t actually read this book. I loved High Fidelity, and wanted to try another of Hornby’s, but I have no, and I mean no, interest in books about sports. Even though the back jacket said I would like it even if I wasn’t a sports fan. It’s not true.
9. Even After All This Time: A Story of Love, Revolution, and Leaving Iran by Aschinef Latifi
10. Finding George Orwell in Burma by Emma Larkin
Probably the best book I read this month. A classic travel narrative following the footsteps of George Orwell’s time in Burma and how his travels affecting his writing. Larkin’s vivid descriptions of Burma really make this book.
12. The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks
Hicks was working on restoring the old Carnton Plantation, a house that had been taken over by Confederate soldiers and made into a makeshift hospital during the Civil War. He got so wrapped up in the history that this book is the fictionalized account of what he learned about the house. It is a fantastic story about Carrie McGavock, the lady of the house, and a soldier she becomes partial to. One of the interesting things for me about this book is that I live in Nashville, and Franklin, the location of this plot, is very close to here. Interview with the author.
13. Big Boy Rules: America’s Mercenaries Fighting in Iraq by Steve Fainaru My review here.
The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun!
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