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Title: If Your Dream Doesn't Scare You It Isn't Big Enough
Author: Kristine K. Stevens
Genre: Travel
Rating: 5/5
# pages: 302
Date read: April, 2017

In honor of her 40th birthday, Kristine K. Stevens sold her house, quit her job and traveled solo around the world.

Carrying a backpack and the naïve belief that the trip was nothing more than a six-month-long vacation, she hit the road. As her journey moved on and off the beaten tourist path, she braved a monsoon in Zanzibar, a safari in Kenya, trekking in Nepal, kayaking in Thailand, caves in Laos, red plaid fish and lava in Hawaii, and grizzly bears in Alaska.

Little did Kristine know that she was completing a pilgrimage that would change her life forever. She gained self-confidence with every mile and relearned how to trust her instincts.

One of the best travelogues I've read in quite awhile. Kristine's way of writing really appealed to me, and I was fascinated by her adventures all over Africa, Asia, Hawaii and Alaska. Some of the places she visited (e.g. Alaska) have been on my bucket list for ages, and she just reaffirmed my desire to go there.

There's no doubt that Kristine was a very privileged traveler, in that she could stay with friends many places, and didn't really have to worry about money until the very end, so few people would be able to follow in her footsteps, but personally I loved living vicariously through her and can't remember when I've last been this immersed in a book.

I really appreciated that the book didn't just end with her returning home, but also included her struggles with going back to "every day life" again, and how she handled those challenges.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: One Year Off
Author: David Elliot Cohen
Genre: Non-fiction, Memoir
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 320
Date read: February 2016

A year off from work. A meandering, serendipitous journey around the globe with the people you love most. No mortgage, no car payments, no pressure. Though it sounds like an impossible dream for most people, one day David Cohen and his family decide to make it a reality. With his wife and three children, Cohen sets off on a rollicking journey, full of laugh-out-loud mishaps, heart-pounding adventures, and unforeseen epiphanies.

Readers join the Cohen family and trek up a Costa Rican volcano, roam the Burgundy canals by houseboat, traverse the vast Australian desert, and discover Istanbul by night. Through it all, the family gets the rare opportunity to get to know each other without the mundane distractions of television and video games, discovering the world through new eyes and gaining fresh perspective on life and priorities.

Really interesting book, and I loved living vicariously through the Cohen family. It's the next best thing to being there myself, and I liked how David didn't sugar coat anything. Things were the way they were - the good as well as the bad.

A shame that David's emails home became less and less detailed as the time went on - their time in Costa Rica and Europe was wonderfully elaborate, but after that weeks and even months disappeared with no real mention. If it hadn't been for that, I'd have rated it a full 5 stars, but though very understandable, it was a tad frustrating.

Still, he mentioned a lot of places I wanted to go (or go back!) which made for fascinating reading, and all in all I've definitely caught the travel bug!
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Only in Naples: Lessons in Food and Famiglia from My Italian Mother-in-Law
Author: Katherine Wilson
Genre: Memoir, Cultural
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 304
Date read: January, 2016

I love living vicariously through other people - especially on travels - so the minute I saw the description of "Only in Naples", I knew it would be right up my aisle. Katherine Wilson travels to Napoli - originally only for 6 months - and ends up falling in love with the city, the people, the mentality and the language... and when her future husband's family take her in as one of their own, she knew she was never going back.

The first few chapters were a bit slow-moving. I got slightly frustrated with Katherine at times, and wasn't sure where she was going with her memoir. As she became more familiar with the country and its customs the frustrations lessened though, and before long it came to the point that I smiled involuntarily just from picking up the book, because its charm had so completely captivated me that I felt like I knew these people, and were reading about friends of mine.

Originally I'd assumed it to be a travelogue, but it's more a story of an unexpecting ex-pat falling in love with a new country. As such, it didn't inspire my wanderlust, as much as it made me relive my own experiences abroad, and I therefore connected with the book on a different level than I had expected, and found it intensely relateable.

Highly recommendable.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: De dunkle butikkers gade
Author: Patrick Modiano
Genre: Cultural
Rating: 2.5/5
# pages: 224
Date read: October, 2015

1965. Guy Roland er privatdetektiv på jagt efter svar. Femten år tidligere mistede han hukommelsen i en mystisk ulykke og blev givet en ny identitet. I takt med at han graver dybere og dybere ned i sin fortid, finder han ud af, at hans rigtige navn er Jimmy Pedro Stern. Han rejser fra Frankrig til Polynesien for at lede efter en barndomskammerat, men da han når frem, er vennen forsvundet, og Guy har kun en gammel adresse som eneste spor.

Jeg har meget svært ved at finde ud af hvordan jeg skal anmelde denne bog. Den er så fuldstændig ulig stort set alle andre bøger jeg nogensinde har læst, så det er ikke rigtig fair at bedømme den efter mine sædvanlige kriterier. Af samme grund har jeg valgt at give den 2.5 stjerner - en gennemsnitlig karakter til en gennemsnitlig bog. Den er absolut ikke dårligt skrevet, så mindre ville være urimeligt, men samtidig synes jeg heller ikke, at den er så fantastisk skrevet, at den fortjente nobelprisen i literatur.

Set ud fra et fuldstændig objektivt synspunkt kan jeg godt se at den er meget interessant skrevet, og benytter sig af skriveteknikker man ikke ofte ser - præcis fordi handlingen er så atypisk - men desværre virkede stilen ikke rigtig for mig, og jeg tvivler på, at jeg havde læst den færdig, hvis den ikke havde været så kort. Især fandt jeg det frustrerende at handlingsbeskrivelsen røbede de sidste sider af bogen og at historien nærmest bare stoppede spontant, uden at have nogen egentlig slutning.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Og sådan blev det (And that's the way it was)
Author: Maren Uthaug
Genre: Cultural
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 205
Date read: November 2013

A young girl is forced away from her Sami background and sent to live in Jutland. She never feels settled in Denmark, so as an adult she makes contact with the mother she left behind, and travels back to the country of her childhood to find her roots.

Honestly, I have NO idea how to review this book. It was absolutely brilliant, but so different from what I usually read that I'm at a loss for words. The title so perfectly describes the life of Risten / Kirsten from her forced separation from her mother, to the overbearing character of her step-mother (gah! she made me furious!) and the final closure back in northern Norway. The ending was very abrupt, but for once really worked for me - and again, tied in perfectly with the title.

It's a book that stays with you, I think, and though I honestly cannot say whether I liked it or not, I can say that it worked - and that Maren Uthaug is an incredibly talented author. She really has a way with words! This is her first novel, but hopefully not her last.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: What Were We Thinking?
Author: Nancy Sathre-Vogel
Genre: Memoir, Cultural
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 305
Date read: March, 2013

Before there was a family on bikes, John and Nancy teamed up for the ride of a lifetime. We arrived into Pakistan with little more than bikes and dreams. This book tells the story of that year on the road, and of our unlikely romance.

Not quite as good as "Twenty Miles Per Cookie" or "Changing Gears", but still WELL worth the read :) Although the title is very apt - what on earth were they thinking? ;)

I enjoyed reading this story of "how it all began" and getting to know more of the earlier stages of Nancy's and John's life. However, unlike their touring in the Americas, I have no real desire to visit that part of Asia, so though very interesting to read, it didn't give me the same kind of wanderlust.

Like Nancy, I was appalled by how she was treated by men and children in especially Pakistan and India. I would like to think that things have improved since 1990, but never having been to either country, I honestly don't know.

Still, I've got to agree with Nancy that the best way to experience a country is on bike, and for that reason I'd love to "do" New Zealand on bike some day... Until then, does anybody know of a book I could live vicariously through??? ;)
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Title: Stolen: A Letter to My Captor
Author: Lucy Christopher
Genre: Fiction, Cultural
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 362
Date read: January, 2013

Sixteen year old Gemma is kidnapped from Bangkok airport and taken to the Australian Outback. This wild and desolate landscape becomes almost a character in the book, so vividly is it described. Ty, her captor, is no stereotype. He is young, fit and completely gorgeous. This new life in the wilderness has been years in the planning. He loves only her, wants only her. Under the hot glare of the Australian sun, cut off from the world outside, can the force of his love make Gemma love him back?

The story takes the form of a letter, written by Gemma to Ty, reflecting on those strange and disturbing months in the outback. Months when the lines between love and obsession, and love and dependency, blur until they don't exist - almost.

It's wrong to say that I "really liked" this book (which is the translation for 4 stars on goodreads), because I'm not entirely sure this is a book you like, but I couldn't put it down - that's for sure. The book is very emotionally draining, and I felt almost exhausted - again, emotionally - upon finishing it. It's so powerful and so captivating (no pun intended) that I think I will suffer from a slight book-hangover the next few days.

In many ways it reminded me of 3,096 Days by Natascha Kampusch and Room by Emma Donoghue - even though one is non-fiction and the other fiction. The emotion it leaves behind is the same.

At some point near the end, I really couldn't see how it could end in any satisfactory manner, and feared the worst. But Lucy Christopher managed beautifully, and though I would have liked for it to continue a while longer, it really couldn't have ended in any other way.

It did make me long for the Australian outback though - and I think that's in part what the author intended.

Most thought-provoking and troubling book I've read all year... although not troubling in a bad way, even though I know that makes no sense.
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Title: The Painter of Shanghai
Author: Jennifer Cody Epstein
Genre: Cultural
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 417
Date read: August, 2012

Pan Yuliang was a girl with no dreams. Her parents were taken from her at a young age, then her uncle sold her into prostitution; it was enough for many years just to cope and survive. One day, fate places a kind gentleman in her path, and she begins to discover the city outside the brothel and the world beyond China's borders. As a larger canvas of life emerges, Pan realizes that she has something of value to say -- and a talent through which she can express herself. From Shanghai to Paris, Pan is challenged by the harsh realities in politics, art, and love, and must rely on her own strength to develop her talent. In so doing, she takes a relatively ordinary life and makes it extraordinary.

Interesting and allegedly true story about the Chinese painter, Pan Yuliang... inspired by a true story anyway. I can't quite make up my mind what I think of it. The first half was brilliant, difficult to put down and rather similar to "Memoirs of a Geisha" in atmosphere. The second half was still interesting, but the last 100 pages especially were more than a little depressing... and the worst thing is that I don't think they were supposed to be depressing, they just came across that way.

I'd probably have gotten more out of it if I had known more about the history of China from 1918-1957.
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Title: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Author: Deborah Moggach
Genre: Cultural
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 281
Date read: July 2012

When Ravi Kapoor, an over-worked London doctor, is driven beyond endurance by his obnoxious father-in-law, he asks his wife: 'Can't we just send him away somewhere? Somewhere far, far away.' His prayer seems to have been answered when his entrepreneurial cousin, Sonny, sets up a retirement home, recreating a lost corner of England in a converted guesthouse in Bangalore. Travel and set-up are inexpensive, staff willing and plentiful - and the British pensioners can enjoy the hot weather and take mango juice with their gin.

I went to see the movie, "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel", not knowing that it was based on a book (although originally published as "These Foolish Things"). Upon discovering that it was, of course I had to find and read the book as well.

I'm glad I did :) Though I think I may actually have preferred the movie, the book was pleasantly charming as well. I especially liked Evelyn (who was also my favourite in the movie) and Dorothy.
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Title: Leap of Faith
Author: Queen Noor Al-Hussein
Genre: Memoir, non-fiction
Rating: 4/5
# pages: Audiobook, ~17hrs
Date read: February, 2012

With eloquence and candor, Queen Noor speaks of the obstacles she faced as a naive young bride in the royal court, of rebelling against the smothering embrace of security guards and palace life, and of her own successful struggle to create a working role as a humanitarian activist in a court that simply expected Noor to keep her husband happy.

As she gradually took on the mantle of a queen, Noor's joys and challenges grew. After a heartbreaking miscarriage, she gave birth to four children. Meshing the demands of motherhood with the commitments of her position often proved difficult, but she tried to keep her young children by her side, even while flying the world with her husband in his relentless quest for peace.

This mission would reap satisfying rewards, including greater Arab unity and a peace treaty with Israel, and suffer such terrible setbacks as the Gulf War and the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin.

A fascinating book about an amazing love story. American-born Lisa ends up being married to King Hussein of Jordan and changing her name to Noor Al-Hussein - the light of Hussein.

The book spans from the early 1960s to the late 1990s and as such deals heavily with the various conflicts in the Middle East of those years. It gives a very different view on certain events than one usually hears, and made me question some things I had otherwise taken for granted. I know "history is written by the winners", but neither the USA nor Israel come out of this smelling like roses.

But though very political, the main attraction to me was the personal aspect - hearing life of royalty described by one of their own. Queen Noor Al-Hussein comes across as a charming and charismatic woman who ended up being a definite asset to Jordan.
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Title: Kindred
Author: Octavia E. Butler
Genre: Cultural
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 267
Date read: January, 2012

Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South.

Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back again and again for Rufus, yet each time the stay grows longer and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana"s life will end, long before it has even begun.

I picked up this book on a whim after reading the back blurb in a book store and being utterly unable to stop thinking about it again. Something in the blurb mesmerized me, and I knew I had to know more.

It's a fascinating story that ended up leaving me tied to my couch for 3 hours straight while I read it. It gives you a very unusual insight into the lives of black people in the South in the early 19th century, and how an otherwise decent white person can become so much a product of his time that he turns cruel too, because that's all he has ever known.

Octavia Butler left a number of things unexplained - why did Dana suddenly start travelling in time on her 26th birthday? Why not before? And once she did start, why did the travels occur so quickly, one after another, rather than spread out over several years? Why did she lose her arm (no spoiler, this happens in the prologue)? And will she continue travelling after the events described in the book occurs? These unanswered questions did bother me somewhat, but not enough to distract from the powerful message of the plot itself. I'm glad the book wasn't any longer than it was (267 pages) - I'm not sure I could have borne it.
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Title: Shantaram
Author: Gregory David Roberts
Genre: Cultural
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 944
Date read: December, 2011

Lin, an escaped convict with a false passport flees maximum security prison in Australia for the teeming streets of a city where he can disappear.

Accompanied by his guide and faithful friend, Prabaker, the two enter Bombay's hidden society of beggars and gangsters, prostitutes and holy men, soldiers and actors, and Indians and exiles from other countries, who seek in this remarkable place what they cannot find elsewhere.

Wow... took me almost two months to read this book! It wasn't a bad or boring book, but it just wasn't a page-turner either, and for a book of 900+ pages, that's really to its own detriment.

I can't really figure out whether it's a novel or a memoir. From what I've been able to gather through online articles, it seems to be a fictionalized memoir... or a novel based on the author's own experiences. At least, all the larger details of Lin's life were things that happened to the author as well.

It was really, really interesting. I know next to nothing about India of the 1980s and was fascinated (and occasionally horrified) by the descriptions given. But holy foreshadowing, Batman! It's a literary technique that has always bothered me, and even more so when as in this book it occurs in almost every chapter.

I'm glad to have read it, and ended up loving some of the characters like Prabaker and (strangely enough) Karla, but I really, really doubt it's a book I'm ever going to read again.
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Title: The Kitchen God's Wife
Author: Amy Tan
Genre: Cultural
Rating: 2/5
# pages: Audiobook ~16hrs
Date read: July, 2011

Winnie and Helen have kept each other's worst secrets for more than fifty years. Now, because she believes she is dying, Helen wants to expose everything. And Winnie angrily determines that she must be the one to tell her daughter, Pearl, about the past - including the terible truth even Helen does not know. And so begins Winnie's story of her life on a small island outside Shanghai in the 1920s, and other places in China during World War II, and traces the happy and desperate events tha led to Winnie's coming to America in 1949.

I think I must accept that I'm just not into Amy Tan's books. I read "The Joy Luck Club" a couple of years ago and was bored by it, but figured she deserved an extra chance. She got that with "The Kitchen God's Wife", but unfortunately didn't manage to change my opinion of her work.

One thing that threw me for a loop in TKGW was that the main character wasn't who you thought it was going to be. In fact, it turned out to be a person who'd been described rather unsympathetically in the first few chapters, so I wasn't inclined to like her, and really didn't care about what happened to her -- which kind of defeated the purpose of reading the book, as all but the final two chapters was about her! I seem to recall Amy Tan doing something similar in TJLC, so it's apparently her way of writing - which just confirms that I won't be reading any more of her work.
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Title: The Last Concubine
Author: Lesley Downer
Genre: Historical fiction, cultural
Rating: 2.5/5
# pages: 475
Date read: June, 2011

It is 1861.

Growing up deep in the mountains of rural Japan, Sachi has always felt different, her pale skin and fine features setting her apart from her friends and family.

Then, when she is just eleven, an imperial princess passes through her village and sweeps her off to the women's palace in the great city of Edo. Bristling with intrigue and erotic rivalries, the palace is home to three thousand women and only one man - the young shogun. Sachi is chosen as his concubine.

But Japan is changing. Black Ships have come from the West, bringing foreigners eager to add it to their colonial empires. As civil war erupts, Sachi flees for her life.

Rescued by a rebel warrior, she finds unknown feelings stirring within her. But before she dare dream of a life with him, Sachi must unravel the mystery of her own origins - a mystery that encompasses a wrong so terrible that it threatens to destroy her.

I feel a bit bad giving this a rating of only 2.5, because it's in no way a bad book... it's just a book that was so easy for me to put down that it took me 4 months to finish it! It wasn't boring, it just... wasn't engaging either. The author was too far removed from the characters, so the reader never really got to know them or care too much about them either.

It did have some really interesting insights into Japan at the time though, but as a period book was far too long for what I got out of it.
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Title: The Night of the Mi'raj (aka "Finding Nouf")
Author: Zoë Ferraris
Genre: Crime, cultural
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 356
Date read: October, 2010

When Nouf ash-Shrawi, the sixteen-year-old daughter of a wealthy Saudi dynasty, disappears from her home in Jeddah just days before her arranged marriage, desert guide Nayir is asked to bring her home.

But when Nouf's battered body is found, Nayir feels compelled to uncover the disturbing truth, travelling away from the endless desert to the vast city of Jeddah, where, most troubling of all, he finds himself having to work closely with Katya Hijazi, a forensic scientist. The further into the investigation he goes, the more Nayir begins to question his loyalties: to his friends, faith and culture.

I'm not usually a big fan mystery/crime/detective novels. They have to be really good - or at least "just right" for me to care much about them. As crime stories go, I'd have to say that this was just "okay". Though I understand the reasoning, I think it was a mistake to tell the story from Nayir's view point. Since Nouf was dead by the beginning of the book, the reader couldn't get to care about her, and therefore didn't need the closure of discovering her murder, and as Nayir didn't know enough about her to care for her either, the motivation to solve the murder was secondhand at best, and made it really difficult to relate or even care whether or not we found the murderer. Sure, I was curious, but that was about it.

But as always it was fascinating to read a book that takes place in a culture so foreign to what I'm used to, so Zoê Ferraris still managed to keep me interested by the atmosphere, even though I was somewhat indifferent to the plot.
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Title: Kafka on the Shore
Author: Haruki Murakami
Genre: Cultural
Rating: 2.5/5
# pages: 459
Date read: November, 2009

Kafka On The Shore follows the solitary, self-disciplined schoolboy Kafka Tamura as he hops a bus from Tokyo to the randomly chosen town of Takamatsu, reminding himself at each step that he has to be "the world's toughest fifteen-year-old." He finds a secluded private library in which to spend his days--continuing his impressive self-education--and is befriended by a clerk and the mysteriously remote head librarian, Miss Saeki, whom he fantasizes may be his long-lost mother.

Meanwhile, in a second, wilder narrative spiral, an elderly Tokyo man named Nakata veers from his calm routine by murdering a stranger. An unforgettable character, beautifully delineated by Murakami, Nakata can speak with cats but cannot read or write, nor explain the forces drawing him toward Takamatsu and the other characters.

I'm not entirely sure it deserves such a low rating, because I think my problems with it more than anything stem from the fact that I didn't understand it. At least I hope that's the case, and that the symbolisms just went waaaay over my head, because the alternative is that this is a very, very, very strange book. We're talking Ib Michael strange!

Despite its strangeness, I have to admit it was really well written though. There's not much plot in it, but the characters drew me in completely, and I kept reading because I was interested in seeing what happened to them, more than for any other reason. Not that we were ever fully told though - there were a LOT of empty threads left hanging and questions left unanswered... although I'm not sure they were every intended to be explained.

So I'm in the odd situation that I simultaneously liked and disliked the book - and both would and would not recommend it.
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Title: The Secret Life of Bees
Author: Sue Monk Kidd
Genre: Cultural, fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
# pages: 374
Date read: July, 2009

Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily's fierce-hearted "stand-in mother," Rosaleen, insults three of the town's fiercest racists, Lily decides they should both escape to Tiburon, South Carolina--a town that holds the secret to her mother's past. There they are taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters who introduce Lily to a mesmerizing world of bees, honey, and the Black Madonna who presides over their household.

A very pleasant book. When I started reading it, I feared it would be a rather depressing book, so I was very glad to be proven wrong. I wish Lily had talked to August about her mother earlier, but I do understand that she needed to feel safe before she could.

I don't think it'll ever be a favourite, but it was good enough that I'm glad to have read it, and will probably keep an eye out for the movie.

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Title: Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books
Author: Azar Nafisi
Genre: Non-fiction, Cultural
Rating: 6/10
# pages: 343
Date read: December, 2008

Summary: In 1995, after resigning from her job as a professor at a university in Tehran due to its repressive policies, Azar Nafisi invited seven of her best female students to attend a weekly study of great Western literature in her home. Since the books they read were officially banned by the government, the women were forced to meet in secret, often sharing photocopied pages of the illegal novels.

For two years they met to talk, share and "shed their mandatory veils and robes and burst into color". Though most of the women were shy and intimidated at first, they soon became emboldened by the forum and used the meetings as a springboard for debating the social, cultural and political realities of living under strict Islamic rule. They discussed their harassment at the hands of "morality guards," the daily indignities of living under Ayatollah Khomeini's regime, the effects of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, love, marriage and life in general, giving readers a rare inside look at revolutionary Iran. The books were always the primary focus, however and they became "essential to our lives: they were not a luxury but a necessity", she writes.

Review: "A Memoir in Books" - the concept sounded fascinating. Especially for a book lover like me. Unfortunately, it didn't really work for me. It ended up taking me almost a month to read this book, because it just didn't capture me. Not that it was boring, and I enjoyed it while I was reading it, I just found it all too easy to put down, and found myself forgetting it for weeks on end because I had more interesting books to pick up in its stead.

Also, the "in books" part of the memoir seemed almost added on. I think I would have enjoyed it more had it just been a memoir in its own right instead of Azar trying to tie everything up with the books that she'd decided 'fit'. Because the parts about her life in Iran were absolutely fascinating, and there were some quotes that'll stay with me for a very long time, (eg. "Criminals should not be tried. The trial of a criminal is against human rights. Human rights demand that we should have killed them in the first place when it became known that they were criminals" - Ayatollah Khomeini - pretty representative of the revolution of 1979), as I really knew much too little of what happened there.

I hadn't read many of the books she mentioned (mainly "Lolita", "The Great Gatsby", something by Henry James (never did find out which book it was) and "Pride and Prejudice), but don't think that made too much of a difference in my opinion of the book, as the events refered to were pretty well described.

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Title: A Suitable Boy
Author: Vikram Seth
Genre: Cultural, fiction
Rating: 7/10
# pages: 1379
Date read: November, 2008

Summary: Vikram Seth's novel is, at its core, a love story: the tale of Lata's--and her mother, Mrs. Rupa Mehra's--attempts to find a suitable boy for Lata, through love or through exacting maternal appraisal. Set in the early 1950s in an India newly independent and struggling through a time of crisis, A Suitable Boy takes us into the richly imagined world of four large extended families and spins a compulsively readable tale of their lives and loves.

Review: I seldom struggle this much with a book, but while not exactly boring, it wasn't a page-turner either, making it a very slow read. Also there were so many different characters, that it was difficult to keep them all straight, and there were 4 or 5 different plotlines - only two of which I was interested in. The summary is woefully inadequate, but I guess trying to summarize almost 400 chapters and 1400 pages into one or two sucinct paragraphs is too daunting a task for anybody to attempt.

I'm glad I've read it, because I think it can easily be considered a modern classic, but it's not a book I'm very likely to reread, nor is it a book I'd recommend to others unless they're very interested in the Indian culture and politics in the early 1950s.

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Title: Frit fald over Amazonas (Free Fall Over the Amazons)
Author: Ulla Lund
Genre: YA, cultural
Rating: 8/10
# pages: 176
Date read: October, 2008

Summary: 16-year old Lone is on her way to Rio de Janeiro to visit a friend when the plane she's on is hijacked and crashes over the Amazons. She's saved from the wreck by a group of Yanomami indians - the last natur-people in the Amazons - and has to learn to live by their rules until she once again can return to Denmark and so-called "civilisation".

Review: I first read this book in 1992 - it's one of the few books I remember exactly where and when I read for the first time, because it affected me very strongly. I loved reading about how Lone was introduced to the Yanomami culture and came to love the people. And I was completely appalled at how they were treated as nothing more than animals by the 'white people' who wanted to mine the uranium discovered in their area. Such treatment always makes my blood boil.

Fortunately Free Fall Over the Amazons passes the test of time, and I enjoyed it just as much on this read-through as when I first discovered it.

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