Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Recent Reading Binge

So over the vacation I had a lot of reading time...

Why did I bother even making a book list? I keep finding all these great books I left off (and reading them instead.)

Here are a few of the books that I've recently read/finished:

The Alchemist by Paul Cuehlo:
My boss told me I should read this and I really thought I wouldn't like it. I was pleasantly surprised. The book is about a Spanish shephard who deserts the path his parents had in mind for him and decides to become a shephard in order to see the world and chooses to give up everything to chase his dream of finding hidden treasure. The general theme of the story revolves around finding and following your Personal Legacy. The shephard goes on to meet various people who help him fulfill his Personal Legacy.
I wasn't sure if I like this or not through most of the book but at the end I really believed in what the story was saying and found it very encouraging. I would definitely recommend it if you like this type of book. It really challenges you to think about your goals and dreams and the simple fact that you're either pursuing them or ignoring them.

The Zahir, also by Paul Cuelho:
This book follows a man who is obsessed with his extranged wife who disappeared with no signs of struggle. The theme of this book is finding the true nature of love in the world and follows the main character as down his path of discovering the nature of love. I really liked this book. It took me a while to read; I found it was best to me to read a bit then walk away then come back later, instead of veraciously finishing like normal. This book is very rich and passionate and challenges many of the accepted "truths" we believe about love in our society and in this generation. I would also recommend this book.

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd:
This was a fairly well-written book following 14 year old Lily, whose Mom was killed when Lily was small. Lily lived since then with her abusive father under the care of her nanny, Rosaline. The book is set in the Deep South in 1963 and when Rosaline lashes out at some pompous white men on her way to register to vote, Lily decides to skip town and follow the only clues to her mother's life that she left behind for Lily. The search leads her to Tiburon, South Carolina where she finds August, May and June- three sisters who she knows have some connection to her mother.
I enjoyed this book and the characters were very loveable. The writing style was very simple and I had the overall feeling that things just worked out a little to easily. On the upside, I learned a lot I didn't know about bees.

The Bang Bang Club: Snapshots From a Hidden War:
This book is written by a South African conflict-journalist and follows the lives of himself and four of his colleagues as they risk everything to cover the brutality of South African aparheid in the early 1990's. It follows just a few of the tragedies of that time with brutal honesty and includes several prize winning photos that helped draw attention to the horrid conditions. It also chronicles with brutal honesty the effect this job had one the four of them. The author was shot twice while covering the conflicts. One of the team was killed during a conflict and another couldn't handle the stress of the job in combination with the stress in his life and committed suicide.
I would highly recommend this book. My knowledge of this terrible time was very minimal and I gained great insight through this book as to the cause and effect of apartheid.

Dispatches From the Edge: A Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival by Anderson Cooper
Yes, the Anderson Cooper
I'm still not sure how I feel about this book. It seems especially fluffy since I read it after Bang Bang Club. I know that the media has it's place, I just hate to see people at their lowest exploited by uber-wealthy professionals searching each disaster area like vultures looking for the prize- the most heinous shot in the area in order to boost ratings.
This book covers some of Cooper's life (His mom is Gloria Vanderbuilt), the loss of his father at a young age, and the loss of his brother in his early twenties. It also describes how he got his start in journalism- on his own with a home video camera covering a foreign war.
Cooper honestly relates his coverage of tusnami victims in Asia, Hurricane Katrina survivors, as well as several wars, while interweaving stories of the loss and tragedy he's dealth with in his own life.
I know it's never safe judging motives, but I can't help but think that through his brutal honesty of things like finding the most grisly scenes that will "relay best onto TV" and searching through starving African shantee towns to find the very sickest baby, his editor felt it necessary to weave in more emotion to make Cooper seem more human.
This book was good in the fact that it gives a first-hand account of an observer in the most horrid conflicts we've seen in the last 5 years. Unless you have a soft spot for CNN journalists.


Blogger Vik said...

Hi Tandi, I´ve read The Alchemist some years ago, and I liked it very much. I haven´t read The Zahir so far. I think I´ll re-read The Alchemist, you´re right: it´s encouraging!

10:09 AM  
Blogger Prayerful Knitter - Shelly said...

Wow, Tandi! That is quite a reading binge for sure. : )

1:59 PM  

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