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Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 bookshelf

a great little used bookshop in Melville, a neighborhood in Jo'burg, RSA

I'm starting a new side bar list for 2010 reading, so here's a comprehensive list of the books I read (mostly devoured) in 2009. The books are in the order I read them (backwards) - the most recent book first, all the way to the beginning of 2009.

As I was going through the list to hyperlink the titles, I realized that I felt emotion and memory for each entry on the list - I could actually imagine how I felt and where I was when I read the bulk of the book. My most productive reading place this year was my friend Katie's place in Beaver Creek, Colorado, where I hid out for a couple of weeks in the snow - maybe it was the giant bath tub or the fireplace - I read A LOT. Otherwise, my favorite place to read is on a couch, with one leg thrown up over the back of the couch. I do a lot of that at Danny's house - usually around 3:30 pm when my mood inevitably crashes.

Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder - from the author that wrote Mountains Beyond Mountains - this book is about a Burundian man who makes his way to NYC during the war in Burundi (after a horrific journey through ravaged Burundi and Rwanda), ends up at Columbia, and returns to Burundi to build a clinic - which has become Village Health Works. Incredible and inspiring read.
Location: the couch in Danny's living room, recovering from a cold picked up in the Ohio winter

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger - read this first and then watched on my flight back to the US. Eric Bana continues to be one of the most beautiful men on earth. And it was a great book.
Location: KLM flight across the Atlantic on my way home for Christmas

Half the Sky by Nick Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn - excellent and inspiring book about the plight of women around the world. Incredible - everyone working on women's issues should read this to feel refreshed. I sent it as a Christmas gift to my wholesale distributor - Stacey Edgar, of Global Girlfriend.
Location: Danny's couch

Buddhism Without Beliefs
by Stephen Batchelor
Location: in bed, all over throughout the year

The Lexus and the Olive Tree by Thomas Friedman - hungover and in my underwear, this seemed perfect for a Sunday afternoon - a bit outdated today, but Friedman's crystal clear explanations for globalization and globalution are addicting. I'm loving the education on stocks, bonds and the electronic herd.
Location: poolside

Man Walks into a Room by Nicole Krauss - my mountain-climbing companion Kapner left this with me and I reluctantly picked it up - it was beautiful. A man loses the last 24 years of his memory - a haunting look at memory, love, forgetting...
Location: Mihingo Lodge at Lake Mburo

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali - fantastic first choice for the Kampalan Ladies #1 Book Club. An honest look at what it's like being a woman in the Muslim world. Unbelievably brave book. Read most of it with malaria.
Location: on my malarial sick bed

Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin - a No. 1 Ladies Detective knock-off, this novel was a welcome respite from anything serious - quick and quaint tale of daily life of a Tanzanian cake-baker in Rwanda.
Location: night time by lantern in Gulu

The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman - I loved this book, even with it's ridiculous length and redundancy. I was really late on the bandwagon, but now I know so much more about Bangalore, the internet, China...fascinating. Read this in Zanzibar, of all places. I really know how to pick em.
Location: Z Hotel, Zanzibar, recovering from climbing Kilimanjaro

Surrender or Starve
by Robert Kaplan - picked this up off the bookshelf in my house for the Kilimanjaro trip - about the politics of famine in the Horn of Africa in the 1980s. Turns out it was Jackfruity's old copy, which made me think of her Bissell vs. Kaplan posts back in the day.
Location: slopes of Kilimanjaro

Cheap by Ellen Ruppel - excellent book about the high costs of discount culture in the West - pretty relevant to my current existence.
Location: my apartment - a rare place to hang out

Body Surfing
by Anita Shreve - and thank you, Anita, for depressing the shit out of me. I got hooked on Shreve back when I was an even more emotional high school student. I hope it says something positive that I can no longer stomach the drama.
Location: poolside at Danny's house

Life of Pi by Yann Martel - really enjoyed this, but was thoroughly confused by the island that eats you.
Location: at my parent's cottage on Johnson's Island - laying on the couch on the patio, but somehow conjures memories of rhubarb at the Marblehead farmers market

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho - re-read this on a Wednesday afternoon. Means more to me every time I pick it up, and I'm feeling very at one with the soul of the universe...just about to turn myself into the wind.
Location: Danny's couch

A Place of My Own by Michael Pollan - how the writer built his own "place" - a little shack in which he writes, read, and thinks. A heavenly piece of literature.
Location: in bed at my apartment

The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Botton - checking in with Socrates, Seneca, etc. to feel better about the random annoyances of daily life.
Location: on the little couch in the Cronin guest house

Siddhartha by Herman Hesse - I picked this up in South Africa at a little used book shop.
Location: on the little couch in the Cronin guest house

The Native Commissioner by Shaun Johnson - picked this up at the Apartheid Museum in Jo'burg, and wow. Tells the story of a white South African man working under the Apartheid regime and trying to detach from his horrific work - resulting in depression and, ultimately, suicide.
Location: on the couch at Mosetlha Bush Camp in South Africa - while Hitesh was snapping away taking photos

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan - as beautiful and depressing as Atonement. McEwan seems to be a bit obsessed with how small decisions totally change our lives.
Location: in Melville/Jo'burb, at the Ginnegaap Guest House

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
Location: On the porch of Virunga Lodge, Rwanda, with that looming volcano in the distance

The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan (not finished, gave it to Julie) - an exploration of sweetness [apple], beauty [tulip], intoxication [marijuana] and control [potato] - so nerdy it hurts (and I'm actually reading it - the apple part was all johnny appleseed...)
Location: Rwanda

Creating a World Without Poverty by Muhammed Yunus - treatise on "social business" and lots and lots of talk about the various Grameen businesses.
Location: on the couch at the Cronin's gu
est house

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - excellent book, scary parallel reference to red satin pajamas.
Location: New York and DC, before heading to Uganda

On Love by Alain de Botton - read this for the second time, with fresh eyes.
Location: Los Angeles, during downtime at the LA Gift Show

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn - "talking" gorilla unveils the dangerous story we as humans have been selling ourselves - the bogus idea that the world belongs to man. Man belongs to the world.
Location: Katie's place in Beaver Creek, Colorado

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell - Why didn't the Getty realize that the kouros was a fake? "...mostly it's because the Getty desperately wanted the statue to be real."
Location: Katie's place in Beaver Creek, Colorado (most of it read at a little gelato shop while Katie was skiing)

In Defense of Food
by Michael Pollan - I heart MP and the pages 147-201 of this book. In short, the cover says it all: "Eat Food. Not too much of it. Mostly plants." Thank you, MP, for your continuing common sensical brilliance.
Location: Katie's place in Beaver Creek, Colorado - mostly read in bed

The Good Husband of Zebra Drive by Alexander McCall Smith
Location: Katie's place in Beaver Creek, Colorado

The Tipping Point
by Malcolm Gladwell - LOVED this book and trying to figure out how to tip One Mango Tree
Location: Katie's place in Beaver Creek, Colorado

Untethered Soul by Michael Singer - eliminating the annoying chatter in your head, letting go of your stuff, tao - excellent and simple advice for a better way of living
Location: Started in the Bahamas, on the beach at the Sivananda Ashram, finished in Beaver Creek, Colorado

The Other by Ryzcard Kapuscinski - a collection of lectures on the concept of "the other" as told through Kapuscinski's journeys. Always thrilled for "new" stuff from Kapuscinski, and this one is pretty bold and thought-provoking - an honest look at being a white westerner working in a non-white, non-western context.
Location: Katie's place in Beaver Creek, Colorado

1 comment:

Ms.Droark said...

LOVED YOUR LIST!