November 12, 2011

Random Short Books

Back in October, I realized I needed to take drastic action if I were to meet the 30 books by the end of the year goal I'd set for myself.

So, I did.

I ripped through all these, each short, and in their own way, awesomely enjoyable, and not necessarily something I'd read if it weren't for the need for brevity:

20. An artist of the Floating World, Kazuo Ishiguro. An elderly Japanese painter walks us through his current life after the war, trying to arrange a marriage match for his 26-year-old daughter in the absence of his wife, who died in a raid, and his son, who died in action. Interspersed with his memories from his early training, merrymaking in the pleasure-districts, and a commitment to nationalism that the author slowly admits resulted in unnecessary deaths.

21. Kabul Beauty School, Deborah Rodriguez. Gritty real-world tale of trying to establish a beauty school in post-taliban Kabul. Culture shock at its most extreme layered over a desire to help the Afghani women and an unlikely marriage to an Afghan man with another wife and family.

22. Mudbound, Hilary Jordan. A tragedy filled with racism, the after-effects of war, love and marriage, and death and revenge. You know it's going to end badly and it still surprises you with how.

23. Running For The Hansons, Sage Canaday. First-person account of the day-to-day life of a member of the Hansons Brooks team. Very detailed information on training plans, gastrointestinal setbacks, internal group competition and more. Timely insights into the current day stars of U.S. long distance running prior to the 2012 Olympics.

24. Notes from My Travels, Angelina Jolie. Dense, difficult, and detailed accounts of missions with the UNHCR with refugees in Africa, Cambodia, Pakistan and Ecuador. The reality of the plight of refugees is very difficult to understand and accept. I had nightmares.

25. Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs, Heather Lende. A true Alaskan memoir. Poignant tales of community, survival, death, hunting, music, faith, friendship, love, and forgiveness told by a woman who successfully recovered from being hit by a truck and broken to pieces.

26. 90-Day Geisha, Chelsea Haywood. Brightly lit and depressingly awesome and addictively over-the-top tale of Japanese perversion, ridiculousness, and a young beautiful woman trying to make her way in life in the Japanese Hostess Culture. Fascinating. I started and finished it in less than 48 hours (during the work week).

27. Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro. My second book by Mr. Ishiguro and I'm impressed -- a poignant, Booker Prize winning life story of a British butler. Ishiguro's understanding of the British and their sense of honor and duty (not to mention linguistic nuances) lead me to believe I was reading a blue-blood Britain's words. But Mr. Ishiguro is an immigrant to Englad, he arrived, with his Japanese family, at the age of 6. This makes both this book, and the last book of his I read (An Artist of the Floating World) even more amazing. He manages to render a believable tale from the viewpoint of a born and rasied british butler. Similarly, in Artist, he rendered a tender and believable tale of Japanese cultural modification after the war as if he had lived it himself. In each case, he did not. And his ability to bring you into a world he never actually inhabited is fascinating.

28. The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffengger. My college roommate's favorite book. I finally read it on vacation and found myself shocked to be crying on a hammock in Kauai. V claimed she didn't like sad books! Liar. Even so, it's a gorgeous painful tale of true love and hurt and pain and loss and longing and death and the tricks that time plays. Highly recommended.

And now? Nothing but 2 to go 'til December 31, 2011.

Easy, Peasy.

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