Sunday, February 10, 2013

Book Club: Part One

Over Christmas and my birthday I received so many new books that I've run out of shelves, hence the 'book chair' pictured above. I wanted to start a new regular feature on this here blog of mine, highlighting some of my recent reads. This is the first instalment, stay tuned for more in the coming weeks. 
1. Desert Dawn by Waris Dirie. I borrowed this book from a friend quite a while ago and only got around to reading it at the end of last year. Waris Dirie is a a model and human rights activist of Somali origin. Her book is an autobiographic tale recounting her childhood as a nomad in the Somali desert from which she ran away at a young age. Nineteen years later, she is living in New York but decides on a whim to return home and find her family. I found this book to be very emotional and confronting in parts, particularly as Waris discusses the truths of female genital mutilation as is custom in her culture. At the same time, it's very heartwarming and honest and helped me understand a culture I had little knowledge of before.
2. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson. I was given this book by my Mum and Dad a couple of Christmases ago and again, only made time to read it a few months back. Little did they realise but they had actually purchased the 'Young Readers Edition' which meant all throughout the book there were certain words highlighted to show that their definitions could be found in the glossary at the back. I know big words, Mum and Dad, really, I do! We all had a chuckle. Needless to say, it made for a very quick read! Three Cups of Tea recounts the journey of an American man, Greg Mortenson, who attempts to climb K2, the second highest mountain in the world, located in Pakistan. He actually did not make it on his first attempt, and on his way down seeking refuge, he ends up in a very poor Pakistani village where he becomes friends with the locals. The people of this village have a passion for education and the children are desperate to learn, but they have no schools or resources. Greg embarks on a mission to build a school in this village which soon escalates and he ends up building schools all over Pakistan and Afghanistan. Again, this was a heartwarming read and opened my eyes to many truths about the challenges of humanitarian work like this.
3. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. I'm a huge fan of Safran Foer having read two of his other books, Everything is Illuminated and his non-fiction work Eating Animals. This was one of those situations where I had seen the movie before reading the book. I loved the movie but enjoyed the book a lot more. It was much more detailed and Safran Foer's writing style is fascinating. Each chapter presented a different voice or style and the book was littered with interesting images relating to certain parts of the story. I was so into this book and it felt like I was following Oskar all over New York on his expedition to find the missing lock to a key he had discovered in his father's wardrobe, not long after his father was killed in the September 11 attacks. I highly recommend both the movie and the book. 
4. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. This beautiful story about a young Shepherd's journey to the Egyptian Pyramids taught me so many lessons along the lines of finding life's purpose. Sounds deep, huh? Many people have described it as more of 'self-help' book than fiction. I don't really like the term 'self-help' but can certainly see why some may say this. It felt like there was so many little metaphors underneath the story itself along the theme of creating your own destiny. It was a quick and easy book to read if you feel like a little pick-me-up. I'm sensing a theme here, are you?

What have you read lately? Would you recommend it?


  1. Does Waris Dirie have any other books? I think I read this one years ago. I remember it was really good.
    I really enjoy a good autobiography / biography.

    I have been trying to read Jonathan Sanfran Foer - Everything is Illuminated, but haven't really been getting into it. At least no where near as much as I had expected..

    1. According to her wikipedia, apparently she does have a couple of other books with similar names, e.g. Desert Flower and Desert Children. I think I'll have to check those out now! To be honest, I felt the same about Everything is Illuminated. It was hard to get into because the style is so unusual. It wasn't until afterwards that I really appreciated it.

    2. I will have to check those out also.

      So it's worth pushing through to the end of Everything is Illuminated? Are his other books in a similar style or are they any easier to read?

    3. Eating Animals is easy to read as it's a non fiction book. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was hard to begin with but I got used to the style. Each chapter changes in style, so it's a bit strange, but it didn't take me too long to get into it.


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