What’s a broke girl to do while killing time? Read a good book or ten..
For the history buff, I highly recommend the Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass. In his book he discusses his experiences as a slave and later as a free man. As a child I read passages of his book in school, though the entire book was not required reading; it should be. A few months ago I had the privilege of viewing the traveling exhibit “America I AM,” which traces the legacy of African Americans in the United States, including Mr. Douglas. I then happened to be at a bookstore and found a new release of his book with additional public speeches and essays. Part of what I find so interesting the eloquence of Mr. Douglas’ writing. He was only taught the alphabet, the rest he managed on his own. He talks about the importance of education and how learning to read really made the difference in becoming a free man. It is a great read about history as well as the triumph of the human spirit.
I recently stumbled across the BBC America mini series Spies of Warsaw, based on Alan Furst’s novel. So, I decided to check out one of his earlier novels – Dark Voyage. It started off a bit slow, but transitioned to a solid espionage tale set in the 40s. The story revolves around a clandestine operation on a freighter at sea. I am looking forward to reading more of Furst’s work.
For those of you having Downton Abbey withdrawals, check out The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin – it is around the 450-page mark, but is an easy read. It is a story about an American Heiress — Cora who heads to London in search of a husband and title, and finds just the right man. It’s romantic and at times has a feel similar to the novel (and classic film) Rebecca.
I do love history and all that goes with telling embellished stories about famous family dynasties. Recently, I was on a short visit with my sister and failed to pack a book or my kindle, so I picked up The Kingmaker’s Daughter by Philippa Gregory. Her writing leaves me wanting to further explore the lives of the characters. This particular book centers mainly on Anne Neville who eventually became Queen of England because of events set in motion by her father, the Earl of Warwick. I am looking forward to reading The White Queen next.
I do not read very much in the vampire genre, but I really like the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris. I think it is fairly specific to her writing style because I have read all of the books from her different series and really enjoy them. I recently read Deadlocked, which is the most recent Sookie book. It’s good, lighthearted, campy fun.
I arrived a little late to the party with this selection, but The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets‘ Nest by Stieg Larsson is my favorite of the trilogy. Lisbeth Salander is a great character – dark, moody and incredibly intelligent. If you enjoy watching films based on your favorite books, look for the original subtitled Swedish trilogy with Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth and Michael Nyqvist as Mikael Blomkvist – Netflix has an extended mini-series version streaming. I didn’t like the American remake very much, but I digress. There is a fourth unfinished book that the family is fighting over and I hope they find a way to finish and release it.
Recently, I reread the classic, Love In The Time Of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez — a sad tale of love, loss, and unrequited love. This is a pretty quick read. Márquez has written so many great novels you cannot go wrong if you come across one of his other titles. His books are also readily available at the library — at least they are near me.
Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane is the true story of a young boy growing up in the slums of South Africa during Apartheid. Mathabane recounts sad stories of sleeping on the kitchen floor with his siblings, never having enough to eat and having a mother that insisted he go to school and get an education. His mother saved every cent to pay tuition to send him to school. His grandmother later introduces him to a world that he had always despised, but that changes his life. Mathabane was the first black South African child to earn a sport scholarship from an American College. It is a sad, realistic and triumphant story that shows the significance of education in lifting people out of poverty.
I went to see Argo a while ago and loved it, so I bought The Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA by Tony Mendez – the CIA agent played by Ben Affleck in the film. It’s not quite the Bourne series because the stories he recounts are true and feel more realistic, but a good read for those that enjoy spies and intrigue. Mendez has written a few other books that I plan to check out as well, but if you are a cold war aficionado this one’s for you.
Last, but not least, The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto – Banana is one of my favorite authors. She is a Japanese author who writes stories about everyday life. She creates characters that people can relate to; typically her tales revolve around love and overcoming tragedy. I have read every book she has written that has been translated into English, the first –- in 1993. There are a few out there that are not available in English, so French it is.