Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Reading Room

I like an eclectic reading list, and aside from a month post-surgery where I couldn't concentrate on anything longer and more taxing than a magazine article, I've been devouring books at a rate of one every two days. Some are sticking in my mind more than others and I thought I'd recommend them.

On top of 'bucket list' things to do before shuffling off this mortal coil, if I actually made a bucket list that is, is to go on an African safari (sans guns, of course).  Two books I loved that detailed this life and how guides live and interact with the wild animals around them have only served to whet my appetite. Don't Run Don't Look Behind You is hilarious and hard to put down. The guide writes of just starting out, learning to be a guide (think being thrown into the deep end of a pool with no instruction how to swim), and is now teaching in Africa on how to be a guide. Often funny and, on occasion, sad, particularly for people  like me who can't stand to see an animal suffer, is the occasional story of animal abuse or endangerment.  Fortunately, it doesn't occur in the book often.

The Elephant Whisperer, by the founder of the World Organization and former safari lodge owner Lawrence Anthony, is excellent and totally absorbing.  He wrote two other books, one about saving animals in the Bagdad zoo, and another that is coming out about rhinos. Think those are actually called The Bagdad Zoo, and The Last Rhino. You may know his name because when he died of a sudden heart attack this spring, his rescued elephant herd walked more than 12 miles out of the bush to hang around his house for two days and pay their respects. They showed up within hours of his death, and his family was baffled as to how they just 'knew.' Go to YouTube or Google him.

The Few, by Alex Kershaw, is the true account of seven American pilots who snuck into Canada and then sailed to England under false identities  to fight with the RAF (Royal Air Force) against the Nazis in the Battle of Britain, a year before America was drawn into WWII. Eventually there were almost 30 Americans flying with the RAF. But of these seven, only one survived and returned to America. And their American citizenship, which had been revoked, wasn't reinstated until the '80s, which was crummy. They would have been jailed had they been caught while leaving America to fly for the RAF. Most of them saw the writing on the wall as far as war went, but they also were aviation obsessed and just wanted to fly the fast planes.

You might like to read the newest Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Positive. It has some great stories. My essay on living with vHL is on page 335. If you aren't up to buying the book, read  it at the bookshop!

One book that is on the NY Times list and getting tons of publicity, is Gone, Girl. I really enjoyed it --right up until the final chapter, and then it really bombed. I cannot believe the editors didn't mind the huge gaping holes in the plot that made it fall short for me. If anyone has read it please let me know whether you had a problem with the ending as well.


e said...

551-You highlight very interesting books and I'm happy to see you blogging again. I wish you many more energetic days and good luck with your bucket list

Ms. A said...

I heard and saw a video about the elephants paying their respects to Lawrence Anthony. That was amazing!

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Nothing better than being lost in a world of a book. Just ordered 4 new books. Yep, I'm old school and i hold books and not electronics. I know, I know I'm ancient!
Thanks for the reviews...now i have more on my list.

Retired English Teacher said...

So glad to see you are doing better. Thanks for the reading list. I've not read "Gone Girl." Like you, I hate endings that make the reader question the plot structure. I refuse to read some authors for that reason.

ReformingGeek said...

Thanks for the summaries. I need something funny to read!

I think Africa would be fascinating.

I Wonder Wye said...

Thanks to all. Peg, that's the only way I like to read as well. Can't see curling up with an I PAD.

Laoch of Chicago said...

Oooh, must get the elephant book!

injaynesworld said...

You're much more generous with Gone Girl that I am. From the beginning I didn't like either character. By the middle I hated them both. Never did buy the premise that Amy, who was the total narcissist would leave her NY life to follow him to MO AND give him all her money. I forced myself to finish the book, but found the ending just as unsatisfying as the rest of the book. I need someone to care about or root for in a story. both of these characters were completely despicable.

e said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog. You are right on both counts--the neighbor and the cat. I am heartbroken about Angel. She was a special girl with loads of personality.

I wish you continued energy. I'll check out the Lawrence Anthony book. BTW, if you get Netflix, you might like a 2009 documentary about Jane Goodall.