Sunday, December 30, 2007

Books, Books and More Books

Well, Braden's over there talking about Holden Caulfield, and Carolyn had a post about recent books she read, so I'm in the mood to share a few of my latest finds.

I've recently been on a travelogue/travel writing kick, so I picked up the following two books:

Cruelest Journey: Six Hundred Miles to Timbuktu - Kira Salak
This was a really interesting book. The author sets off down the the Niger River alone in an inflatable raft. The encounters she has with the natives are truly eye-opening. I must admit, I got so annoyed with the people who, immediately upon catching sight of her, a white woman, would scream and rant at her for "Un cadeau, madame!!! UN CADEAU!!!" ("A gift", but really they were demanding money). Some men actually chased her down in their own canoes several times with the intent of robbing her, and one group actually caught her and grabbed hold of her raft--it was only her quick thinking that allowed her to escape. I know that here in the U.S, generally speaking, we are much better off than a lot of the world...but that doesn't mean that you can scream at me for money. As I was reading, I was trying to be sensitive to their situation, but those parts really bothered me, and there were a lot of incidences of that happening. Not everyone was like that, of course. Anyway, a great read.

Es Cuba: Life and Love on an Illegal Island - Lea Aschkenas
I loved the little bits and pieces you pick up from this book about life in it really is, and not from an impersonal travel guidebook. You learn a lot about how most Cubans have their little "negocios" ("businesses") going on illegally, to make a few extra dollars (instead of pesos, which aren't worth much). A lot of Cubans will end their workday at 3pm, so they can go do their "negocio", such as running a restaurant out of their home, renting a room by the hour (or minute, even) for young couples, or allowing someone to access email from their house. Blackouts, and we're talking complete darkness, happen semi-randomly on Mondays, because Fidel has declared that they need to conserve energy, and that's the best way to do it. Dollars will get you anything you want. There is a lot of racism still going on, too. A couple comprised of a Cuban and a foreigner is not allowed to rent a room for the night, or the owners face a stiff fine.
And much more. It was very interesting to me to read about what daily life is like in a Latin American country.

Moving on to a different genre...
I would really recommend the author Shannon Hale. I just finished reading The Goose Girl and Princess Academy. The former was absolutely excellent. I read the latter because I enjoyed The Goose Girl so much, but in all honesty, it wasn't as good. It was still an entertainly read, though, and I recommend it as well. I've requested her other books from the library, so let's hope they're awesome, too.

More to come, since I'm always getting out an astounding number of books from the library...


annahannah said...

between you and carolyn i have new ideas of books that i must request.

LintyPuppy said...

Ah...I remember when I used to be able to read more than 25 words before falling asleep! Someday! Someday, I'll have that again!