Monday, February 9, 2009

Might as well face it, I'm addicted to text

Written text that is. I often surprise myself at how quickly I read books - sometimes I'm disappointed that I've devoured a book too's a terrible thing. I have a small support group, Vardy also eats books ridiculously quickly. But at least I've been aiming to read books with a bit more substance than the chick lit that's been piling up. So here are some of the better books I've read in the past couple of weeks.

Marching Powder

by Rusty Young. This is the story of Thomas McFadden, an English drug smuggler caught in Bolivia and sent to San Pedro prison in La Paz - Rusty is a young Australian guy who actually lived in the prison with Thomas for a few months to write his story. If I'd had an extra day in La Paz I would've gone into the prison (it's more of a social microcosm than a traditional prison) and experienced this for myself. Thomas's stories are pretty incredible, and it's really hard to believe that such a system truly exists.

The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices

by Xinran, a Chinese radio journalist who recorded some of the many stories she was told by women from all over the country. It was really quite heartbreaking to read some of these stories, and reminded me how lucky I am to have grown up in a politically stable country in relative wealth.

Another Day in Paradise: front line stories from international aid workers

edited by Carol Bergman, the book is divided into three sections; natural disasters, war, and fragile peace. The stories are an interesting mix, some retelling one particular event or day, others describing years of war, and some are better written than others. Most of the stories are from the 90s, so it's interesting to read with the added benefit of hindsight, and also with sadness knowing how some places are still suffering the same problems as 15 years ago. Sobering.

Whatever You Do, Don't Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide

by Peter Allison. A really funny memoir of the author's years in Africa leading really reinforced just how much I want (need?) to get to Africa, and was a welcome respite from the seriousness of the books above.

A Long Way Gone: memoirs of a child soldier

by Ishmael Beah. I remember writing in a post ages ago (maybe in was on my old blog) that I was wanting to read this book. Wow. For those of you who have seen the movie "Blood Diamond" you'll be able to imagine what happens in this book, which recalls Ismael's time as a child soldier during the civil war in Sierra Leone. It was only because of that movie that I could picture what was happening. The recruiting of children into armed service, and the treatment they endure during their time (and after) is just such an alien concept to me. I really struggled to believe that this could, and still does, happen, when I know full well that it does - particularly when Ismael is around the same age as me. So while I was fretting over starting high school, he was holding an AK-47...

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