Sunday, August 14, 2011

Latest Good Reads

I've been reading. I brought books to read on vacation and didn't even finish one. Isn't that sort of always the way it goes?

I've also finally discovered my favorite genre. See, I like fiction and non-fiction. However, my place in the reading world was solidified when wandering through Half Price Books last time I was there and seeing a section marked "multicultural literature" or something along those lines. I was interested in almost every single book I saw. Going over the list of books I've read recently confirms this.

Out of Mao's shadow - Philip PanOut of Mao's Shadow: The Struggle for the Soul of a New China
by Philip Pan

The title sounds like the book is going to be about spirituality, but it is not. It's a journalist telling vignettes of the reporting he's done on the deep cultural and political struggles in China today as it emerges from out of Mao's Communism. Since part of my job for my first three years in Dallas was doing research on China, a lot of the stories Pan is telling are the things I've been reading about for years now. There's a lot of humble heroes pushing for justice. If you're interested in modern China, it's a good read.


To Life or Perish Forever: Two Tumultuous Years in Pakistan
by Nicholas Schmidle

I didn't realize when I started these first two books just how similar they'd be. I thought this would be more the story of a journalist's life in Pakistan, but instead most of the book is the same style as Pan's, with Schmidle using each chapter to tell a vignette of his experience reporting on a particular cultural or political tension during his time in Pakistan. He uses the stories to highlight modern Pakistan's dilemmas of how to deal with tribalism, sectarianism, the Taliban, corrupt intelligence agencies, etc. I was actually bored until the last chapters, because Schmidle happened to be in Pakistan when Bhutto was shot. I had family there at the time as well, and his retelling of how people around him were reacting to this situation and the events that happened afterward were fascinating to me. Schimidle was also kicked bullied out of the country twice by intelligence agencies, and how all that went down was really interesting (and weird).

December 2009 - FictionShort Girls
by Bich Minh Nguyen
This was meant to be my enjoyable fiction read, and it was a good book. It's about two second-generation Vietnamese immigrant sisters. One is married and struggling in her marriage, one is single and recognizing her own flightiness in relationships and work. All the drama ends up happening around the same time that their quirky father finally becomes a citizen. It deals with themes of relationships, belonging, family, and cultural confusion. I liked a lot of that, especially since part of it is set in Chicago. However, since so much of the relational drama happens around themes of affairs and divorce, that just wasn't enjoyable at this point in life. Walking with friends through real-life drama along those lines means that reading fiction about it makes the book almost painful.

A Martyr's Grace
By Marvin Newell
This is a book detailing the lives and deaths of the twenty-some Moody Bible Institute alumni that were martyred overseas. I wrote about my thoughts on it and my alma mater here on my politics/theology blog.

I've also picked back up The Road Less Traveled by M Scot Peck. I am struck again that he is incredibly profound and has such insight into people and life. I mean truly. Astounding depth. And then you look at the life of the man and it is astounding how little be bothered to implement his own insight into his own life. Sad. In any case, when I finish the book I'll have to do a review on it alone.


thisgrace said...

Once again...
The 1st two books on this list are ones I have on my "I really want to read this" list. :)
The others look good too.

cclarebear said...

That first one looks good. Might go and pick it up :)

Kacie said...

So funny, Shanda. Seriously. We were meant to be friends.

Jaimie said...

I just devoured two books last week. WHEN YOU REACH ME, which won the 2010 Newberry and was pretty good, and THE MAGICIAN KING, which is a sequel to THE MAGICIANS, both of which I adored. It's very literary fantasy, spoofing on Narnia a bit, like "Narnia if you were an adult there," but in a way where you can take it seriously on its own feet.