Saturday, July 23, 2011

Recent reads - June & July 2011

Quick notes on several recent books read –

First They Killed My Father:  A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers – and the sequel Lucky Child:  A Daughter of Cambodia Reunites with the Sister She Left Behind – both by Loung Ung.  A third text,  When Broken Glass Floats:  Growing Up Under the Khmer Rouge – A Memoir by Chanrithy Him


I was not required to read these books as part of field work that we are engaging as Peace Fellows in Southeast Asia – but I am glad I took the time to read all three.  Like the film, the Killing Fields (link to Trailer), that I have watched and used in class in the past – these stories recount the experiences of the authors (and their families) as they (but not many in their families) survived the turbulent years in the late 1970s to and through the 1980s as they lived in Kampuchea/Cambodia/Angkar.  I will be in Cambodia for 9 days in less than two weeks.  I have no doubt that my thoughtful and attentive empathetic and emotional reflections will be piqued for the experiences I will soon have.  Each story had value for my reading – though each story itself is full of tragedy, pain, and senseless death.

Lone Survivor by Ken Hodgson.  A cheap AmazonKindle purchase – one that I found “fun” in several intriguing ways.  Presented as a autobiographical report – that really is historical-fiction – the protagonist (Alferd Packer) explains how his quest for gold in the Colorado Rockies – coupled with a tragic winter storm – led him to cannibalize other potential gold prospectors.  An interesting exploration for the “mindset” and “lifestyle” of life, but not a text I’d recommend or read again.

Accidents Waiting to Happen by Simon Wood.  A cheap AmazonKindle purchase – used to kill some time on a long trip.  Not a book I would recommend – as numerous scenes, including some important scenes early in the narrative are improbable (spoiler alert – after an airplane accident in the story, the FAA/NTSB report came back within days – and these reports normally take months before they are reported!) 

And finally, Jane Eyre.  I hadn’t read it.  Now I have.   When it was all over I wondered why it was a classic.  So I read the Wikipedia page on it.  If I would have read the Wiki Summary – it would have saved quite a bit of time reading the extended story.  Alas, I was on the road and had the time.

With the final three books, though, I am reminded that good reading is better than just reading.  (I am sure there are some Lit. Experts who would challenge my ideas about Jane Eyre - and while I recognize it's importance for its time - when it was written - it didn't move me now.  In the history of literature, I am sure it was and is important.)

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