Thursday, March 29, 2012
52 books in 52 weeks - March
Handle With Care - Jodie Picoult
Little Bee - Chris Cleave
Thief Lord - Cornelia Funke
Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
The Bookseller of Kabul - Asne Seiestrad
This has been an odd month for my 52 book reading challenge. I assumed it was getting off to a good start when I found a Jodie Picoult book I hadn't read at the Book Trust. In retrospect I'm glad it only cost me Ghc1.50, because otherwise I would have felt cheated. Sadly, Picoult seems to have taken what was a winning writing formula and done little more than a cut and paste - sure the names are different and the illness has changed, but it's yet another suffering child, parents in turmoil and court case where lives are upended and obligatory plot twists revealed. As for the ending? Blech.
Whenever I read other people's lists for reading challenges I'm impressed by the orderly nature, and their proactive approach. Rather then having a preordained list I tend to let books find me. Little Bee is one that I was gifted by a friend and it was a wonderful read. This is a book I will probably go back and read in the future. I love Chris Cleave's writing style. He's one of those writers whose work I read and immediately wish I could write like that. He creates such beautiful voices and turns of phrase. Overall though I'm still not sure what I felt about the story. It's a fascinating premise and yet I'm not entirely convinced he pulled it off. Although Cleave is a British writer, the fact that book is set in Nigeria gives me the chance to chalk it up as one for the Africa Reading Challenge being run by fellow Ghanaian blogger, Kinna, over on her Kinna Reads site. With Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness on my February list I'm well on the way to meeting my five book quota.
I actually thought I'd have brought that up to three this month as I started reading The Bang Bang Club; a biography of four South African photographers. It's an incredible true story tracing their coverage of the violence in the lead up to Mandela's election, but I doubt I'll finish it. I don't know what it is - perhaps the fact that being married to a photographers makes reading about photographers getting shot and committing suicide less than entertaining, but it also had a lot to do with the never-ending cycles of violence and incredible cruelty that they found themselves witnessing. I found myself skimming over the brutality they were witnessing, which really undermined the point of the whole story.
It's ironic then that when I stopped reading this (I was reading it on kindle while waiting to pick up my daughter) that I picked up Catching Fire instead. The second in Suzanne Collin's Hunger Games series, this book is about a battle to the death reality game. But then it is also a cutting commentary on televised violence and political manipulation so perhaps the transition was not so surprising.
The Thief Lord was a homeschool related choice, as we've been studying the book in English. I loved Cornelia Funke's Inkheart series, and this was also a good read. Perhaps not as good as Inkheart, but enjoyable nonetheless. It also encouraged a side study of Venice which I really enjoyed. It made me realise how little I actually knew about Venice and about it's ongoing battle with the sea.
My favourite for the month though would have to be The Bookseller of Kabul. I acquired this one last weekend from a friend who is leaving the country and leaving many of her books behind. We hear so much about Pakistan and Afghanistan that you can almost begin to think you know something about both countries and their incredible histories, but this book brings such a fascinating insight that you quickly realise how little you know or understand. Norwegian journalist, Asne Seiestrad, spent several months living with a family in Kabul and has woven their stories into a beautiful narrative. It is a particularly moving insight into the lives of the women of Kabul. This is definitely worth a read.
photo credit: digitalart