May Reading Roundup

On May 1st I was in Switzerland and since then, I’ve made my way through Austria, Croatia, Montenegro and now Albania where I’m settled in for another three weeks, working at a hostel on the beach. (Can you say paradise?) It’s been busy, to say the least. But the reading continued and I’m quite pleased with how much I’ve managed to finish in this past month. And of all of them, Shantaram really stood out as a book for the ages, so if you’re thinking about reading it, then do so!

This was also a strange month because I read exclusively stories, memoirs and fiction, and no informational nonfiction at all. Surprisingly, though, I feel as though I’ve learned just as much (if not more) than any of the other more “intellectual reading” months. Shantaram and The White Tiger gave me an in depth view of what India’s culture is like, The Book Thief updated my knowledge of WWII and Wild taught me a lot more about long distance hiking than I thought it would. Ask me about what you should pack for a hike and I can tell you that a fold-able saw is not necessary, but a ski pole just might come in handy!

Special thanks to Steve (who has been linked to below) for recommending several of the books I read this month!

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Nonfiction / Meh

While the description of the hiking trail and all the people she met along the way was fascinating (and made me want to get my hike on!), for some reason I don’t think this will be a book that’ll stay with me. But props to the author for being a wilderness bad ass nonetheless!

Thank you Steve from Twenty First Century Nomad for the recommendation!

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Fiction / Recommended

Writing a book from death’s perspective is already a challenge, and the author did a fantastic job of it. The details of World War II were an education and the main character quite lovable (and pitiable).

Thank you Steve from Twenty First Century Nomad for the recommendation!

Shantaram: A Novel by Gregory David Roberts

Fiction / Recommended

There’s a lot of debate about how much of this “novel” is based in the author’s actual experiences, but really it doesn’t matter. It’s a masterpiece of philosophy, wanderlust-inducing descriptions of India and one that’s really left me thinking about morality and how we define it.

Thank you Steve from Twenty First Century Nomad for the recommendation!

The White Tiger: A Novel by Aravind Adiga

Fiction / Recommended

This novel, while also about India, was so totally different from Shantaram in every way and I almost gave it a “meh”, probably because every book would be overshadowed by such an epic tale. But The White Tiger was pretty funny and not so long, so it’s worth the time to read, for the laughs at least.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Fiction / Meh

I have really mixed feelings about this book; on one hand, I couldn’t put it down but on the other, I find the premises a bit childish and impossible to really believe, the same way I believed in The Wheel of Time and other fantasy novels. But, still, I couldn’t stop reading, so that must say something, right?

 

As for next month, I’ve got time on my hands and books on my Kindle, including a collection of Maya Angelou’s works that I’d like to get into, in memory of her fantastic, inspirational life. I’m looking forward to it!

Have you read any of these? What were your thoughts? And as always, send your recommendations my way too!

You can also find me on the ABOFA Facebook Page or subscribe to the email list, if you’d like.

October Reading Roundup

I’ve always been a voracious reader, and I don’t use that word lightly. As a child, I’d stay up way past bedtime with a book and flashlight under the covers, so I could finish whatever Boxcar Children story I was reading. In middle school, my dad bribed me and my siblings (yes, with real money!) to read the Lord of the Rings series before watching the movies, and I breezed through it in less than a month while my brothers never did finish the books. Slackers.

During my time living abroad in Argentina, Austria or now South Korea, I looked for used books, English book stores or other means for getting physical books. When my stints were just half a year and I wasn’t particularly successful, it wasn’t as much of a big deal. I’d get home, go on a reading binge and all was well again. Living, really living in South Korea for over a year now has been a bit harder. I took books from a local book exchange that a friend maintains, but little of it was really my style. I bought some books from the English bookstore in Seoul, but to do that regularly? My wallet says ouch. I did manage to finish an epic 15 book series, reading it all on my iPhone, but that’s just eyeball suicide in the long run. I needed a better solution.

So this October, I finally “caved” and got an e-reader. I put caved in quotations, because what I really mean is I stopped being a nostalgic-for-paper-for-no-good-reason idiot. Yeah, I said it, people! If you’re living or traveling abroad, you love to read and you don’t have an e-reader… you’re just shooting yourself in the foot. Go buy one. Combined with my not-so-local-anymore library back home and a library card number, I’ve been able to access books I’ve been wanting to read for months on end, finally, and for free. Success.

So, I’ve decided to begin a series. This is both to share my literary endeavors with you and hopefully inspire you to pick up one of these books, as well as a way to keep myself reading consistently. If you’re not into books, first I beg you to reconsider, and if you’re still not interested in what I have to say about books, then ignore this post and its sequels. On the other hand, if you love you some words and books and stories, then boy, do I have some good content for you! Let’s go!

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

The Lovely Bones
The Lovely Bones (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fiction / Recommended

This book isn’t life changing by any means, but it was well written, interesting and based off a cool story concept. If you like fiction and want to breeze through something that will make you smile at the end, then you’ll enjoy this one.

Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick

Nonfiction / Recommended

North Korea is depressing and fascinating. Sadly, though this book was published five years ago, the narratives from North Korean defectors haven’t changed. Quite an eye opening book.

The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti

Nonfiction / Recommended

If you’re pro-life (no exceptions) or staunchly Christian, then I’m going to be upfront and tell you that you’re not going to like this book. But regardless of your beliefs, if you have an open mind and want to take a dive into some feminism, then this is a good, interesting book about the concept of virginity and its negative effect on young women.

What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast by Laura Vanderkam

Nonfiction / Not Recommended

I’m going to save you the trouble of reading this mini-book. (Yes, it’s a mini book and it’s not even worth the read.) Summary: successful people consistently get up very early in the morning (6am and earlier), and most of them exercise. You’re welcome!

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Fiction / Recommended

The story is original, captivating and interesting, and it will make you cry big, ugly tears right before you’re supposed to go on a date. I didn’t get any memorable life lessons out of this book, but after some of my nonfiction pursuits, that wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, either.

-~-

Have recommendations for me? I would love to hear them. Pass them on!

Find ABOFA on Facebook or subscribe for email updates, if you’d like.