Friday, April 13, 2007

What I've Been Reading 4/13/07

I can't even begin to talk here about the hectic-ness that has been my life the past couple weeks. Suffice it to say that someone else's shit hit the fan at work and I've been busy dealing with the fallout.

So. . . Not much reading lately, but a couple of really excellent books to mention:

Nancy Farmer: The House of the Scorpion

Picked this one up last month when I was in Portland (darn it -- still haven't posted those pics!), from the remainders bin at Powells. It's young adult lit, and has won a ton of awards and rave reviews, for good reason. I read the whole book in less than a day and it was truly fabulous. The premise: It's some unspecified time in the future. Human cloning is a reality and to the South of the United States is a country called Opium, which exists, as you can guess from the name, purely to produce drugs. The main character is Matt, a young boy who learns fairly early into the book that he is a clone of the biggest of all of the drug lords. I don't want to give anything away, but suffice it to say, Matt lives a pretty screwed-up life at the hands of the drug lord and his cronies, but eventually escapes from it all. Really interesting book. Parts of it reminded me of Louis Sacchar's Holes, and other parts reminded me of dystopic writers like Margaret Atwood in The Handmaid's Tale or Ray Bradbury. Good stuff. I'll definitely be recommending it to middle school and high school students.

Elizabeth Gilbert: Eat, Pray, Love

I wasn't so sure how I'd feel about this one, not being an especially religious type, and also not having much patience for sappy self-help crap. This book turned out to be quite a lovely read, though. It's a memoir and the basic story is that Gilbert goes through a bone-crushing divorce and then the devastating end of the affair she used to shield herself from the divorce. In search of something, well, not so sucky, she decides to live abroad for a year in 3 different places: Italy (where she eats like crazy and learns to speak Italian), India (where she lives on an Ashram and meditates a lot) and Indonesia (Where she studies with a medicine man and, unexpectedly, falls in love again). This book had the real potential to become sappy, and there are certainly moments where it walks the line. But Gilbert is also pretty darn irreverant and FUNNY, to boot, so she tends to stay just this side of the line. I liked a lot of things about the book, but I think what struck me the most was Gilbert's capacity for self-forgiveness, and her lack of fear at showing that side of herself to the world. I've already recommended the book to a friend who's going through a tough break up. I kept thinking of her as I was reading -- I think there's a lot that will speak to her in this book.

And, really, that's about it for my reading for the past couple of weeks, unless you want to include countless documents at work.

Santa Cruz pics in the next post, I swear.

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