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Book Roundup

15 Jan

Oh heavens. 2013 has not been kind to me so far. We are two weeks in, and I spent the first week bed-ridden with a nasty cold (albeit not the super-flu that’s going around) and a couple of days ago I sprained my ankle walking down stairs (no one has ever accused me of being graceful.) Hopefully this just means I’m getting disasters out of the way now in preparation for an amazing 50 remaining weeks. But despite a brief respite in California with my family when both legs were functional, and I was only suffering from a lingering cough, I have spent most of my time in bed watching “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and reading. Thanks to my new addiction to Good Reads (Join and be my friend!) I’ve been reading a lot of amazing books lately. I only like to recommend books that I absolutely loved, and I’m amazed that I have three to write about. In that sense, 2013 has been awesome.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Boot_jkt-330I’ve written about Cheryl Strayed before. She is one of the most honest, intuitive writers I’ve encountered in a long time. “Wild” is a memoir of her time hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. She was 26, lost, confused, and simply out of ideas. So, quite ill-prepared, she decided to take a summer to hike the trail and figure her shit out.

As someone who is also 26 and likewise lost and confused, I found her hell-bent journey fascinating. She doesn’t hide or sugar-coat any of the bad decisions she made in her life, and like a lot of 20-somethings she embarked on a somewhat foolish journey. The wisdom of what she learns about herself and how she reconciles her past with her blurry future was fascinating to me. I couldn’t put it down.

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick

Nothing_to_EnvyWow, man. North Korea is an insane place. I’m sure you already know that. We all laugh about the antics of Kim Jong-Il, but this is one of the most isolated places on Earth. We really have no way to know what’s going on in there, and they don’t know what’s going on out here!

Demick interviewed six escapees from North Korea about their lives inside. It’s mind-blowing. I read this in a day. My jaw was on the ground. It’s heart-breaking to know the immense amount of suffering going on, and the fact that the people there are so brainwashed that they think they are the lucky ones in the world. When I lived in the Czech Republic, we studied the failures of communism, but this takes it to a whole new level of failure.

How to be a Woman by Cailtlyn Moran

how-to-be-a-womanI have decided that this book should be recommended reading for most everyone. First of all, it’s a hilarious memoir of her life. Second, she makes some damn fine points about feminism and the state of women in the world today. Third, it’s not an intimidating book at all. People are TERRIFIED of the term feminism, but they really shouldn’t be. It’s quite simple, wanting women to have equal standing in the world. I read this book while I was lying in the sun in California, quietly nodding to myself and occasionally letting out a “Mmmmhmmmm” or an “Aymen!”

“What is feminism? Simply the belief that women should be as free as men, however nuts, dim, deluded, badly dressed, fat, receding, lazy, and smug they might be.

Are you a feminist? Hahaha. Of course you are.”

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2 Responses to “Book Roundup”

  1. queerfox February 17, 2013 at 10:05 pm #

    I just joined my Mum’s bookclub (currently, there are only two other women in it, both closer to my age than hers), and we picked out our books for the year. I suggested “Nothing to Envy” because of your recommendation, and because Hawaii is so close to North Korea and has so much Asian culture.
    It turned out that one of the other women had also had that book recommended to her, so it’s going to be one of our books to read. I’ll let you know when we end up discussing it… It’ll be sometime in autumn, I think…

    • Chrissy February 17, 2013 at 10:16 pm #

      That’s great! It’s such a well-written book. I can’t wait to hear what you think of it.

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