Saturday, 28 January 2012

Book worm.

I love to read, I always have a number of books on the go at any one time. A pile of books perched on my bedside table, genres for any and all moods. 
Sometimes though, I’ll go through phases when I don’t get to read as much as I like.
This week was not one of those phases. In fact, it saw me turning to the final pages of no less than 3 excellent books. I’ve enjoyed reading all of them, so thought I’d do a quick few lines of review on them in case you are a reader too and are looking for something to fill that space on YOUR bedside table. 

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I was lent this book by one of the young people in the church, and was looking forward to reading it as the film version is coming out on the 23rd March. 
It focuses on a future version of our world, where civilization has fallen and been rebuilt into districts divided up into 13 sections, the one at the centre being the Capital (the big bads). To keep the population quiet and to show their power, every year, each district has to provide two young people to come to an arena of the Capital’s choosing, where they fight to the death. 24 go in, only one comes out. 
It sounds a little morbid, and is. It’s not the easiest of reads in parts, a bit sad to see these characters in these impossible situations, but well written, and a great world created.
This is only the first book of the trilogy, so Im looking forward to reading the next 2, and counting down the days to the movie release (which if the trailers are anything to go by, seems to be very faithful to the source material).
Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
I’m on a running kick at the minute, so this book was recommended to me by a friend who is already an accomplished runner. It’s one man’s story of re-learning the art of running by discovering the secrets behind some of the best runners in the world. In particular he spends a lot of time in the Copper Canyon’s in Mexico, where the world’s greatest long distance runners reside (the Tarahumara). These tribes of people seem to eschew modern knowledge on long distance running, going against what all the experts in our first world context would say, and yet, remain the world’s best. 
As I attempt to train up for the marathon, this is a great bit of motivation. Reading as the author learns to love running again, and hearing the stories of some of these incredible runners, it does however make the 26 miles of a regular marathon look like a walk in the park when some of these guys pop out 100 miles through deserts with seemingly no problem... Maybe that’s for next year...
(This was also the first book I've ever read on a Kindle/iPad format. I thought I'd hate it, but actually liked it better than I thought I would...I'm not ready to jetison paper just yet though!)
Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
This man is my favourite author. I say a lot of things are my “favourite”, but this is actually true. I love his style and the way he brings real life and depth to the characters he creates. 
In the case of this book, that isn’t really necessary as it’s actually about a real family. The Zeitouns are a mixed-culture Muslim family living in New Orleans, and this book is all about their lives throughout the time of Hurricane Katrina, looking at the way the government and armed forces dealt with the aftermath, in particular how a Muslim man of Syrian background was treated. It’s pretty shocking to imagine that these events took place in the USA only 6 years ago.
As usual, Dave Eggers packs a punch. He seems to have found his niche telling stories of those who have suffered at the hands of others and governments, sharing the profits widely around different foundations to help deal with the affects. One of his other bests and on my “you must read it” list is “What is the What”, which looks at a young boy escaping from Sudan (as one of the Walking Boys as they came to be known) and finding a new life in the USA. 
(And while I’m on a roll, other jewels from Dave Eggers are “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius”, “You Shall Know Our Velocity”, and “How We Are Hungry” (a beautiful book of short stories) He also wrote the film “Away We Go”, probably my favourite film (again, no exaggeration) with his wife Vendela Vida, also an author in her own right well worth looking into (her best so far in my opinion being “Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name”)
So there you have it. My two cents on three great books that I'm thankful made their way into my hands. 
Let me know if you’re currently engrossed in something you think shouldn’t be missing from my bedside table.

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