I tend to refer to readings and quote favorite novels or aspire to live the lifestyle and endure the challenges of role model whose biography I just read and from that many of you and a handful of friends often ask me for book recommendations. Though I’m not one to recommend books, per se, I do read a wide variety of things and so I thought it was only fitting to share what sits on my nightstand and engage with all of you to see which books your nose is stuck behind. Just to let you know, this new section will cover anything from poems to fiction to history books to biographies, and starting with…
As a former student of Middle East studies, I found the role of women in the region absolutely fascinating. The book chronicles the author’s experience after returning to Iran during the revolution between 1978-1981. Nafisi writes about her teaching at the University of Tehran after 1979, her refusal to follow the rule of wearing the veil and thus her expulsion, and then eventually the formation of a book club and her reason to emigrate. I love that historical events are interlaced with the stories and memoirs of the book club members that consists of seven female students. They met weekly at Nafisi’s house to discuss disputed works of Western literature.
Slightly similar to Nafisi’s story, Ka is a poet who returns to Turkey after 12 years of living in political exile in Germany. He returns with the intention of investigating a series of suicides, but also in the hope of meeting a woman he used to know. During his investigation and search Ka has a conversation with a secularist, former communist, fascist nationalist, Islamic moderates, possible extremist, Kurds, the military, the Secret Service, the police and a revolutionary. Intermingled with softer emotions of love and compassion, a coup is staged and brings out references to Turkey’s fascinating twentieth century history.
About this time last year, I spent it in St. Andrews casually meeting with a few friends once a week to talk about politics, headed by me, and poetry, headed by Katie and Lizzie. Though I read this shortly after leaving St. Andrews, I always find re-reading poetry magical with its multiple interpretations. Duffy’s collection of poems here discuss themes of sexism and equality whilst poetically scrutinizing historical events from a female perspective.
Though slightly controversial, I find this read to be extremely motivational. In 1993, Greg Mortenson attempted to climb the world’s second highest mountain, K2 in Pakistan. After some 70 days on the mountain, Mortenson and three other climbers attempted to complete a life saving mission of another climber. But after getting lost in his descent, Mortenson became weak and ended up in the village, Korphe. To repay the community for their hospitality, Mortenson built a school for the village. The book account Mortenson’s challenges in his endeavor of finding and raising funds to build over 50 schools in Taliban territory.
I will admit that I had the hardest time to continue with this book, but I started to invest more time in understanding the characters that drew me into the novel. Set during The Great Depression in the Salinas Valley, the novel follows the Hamiltons and the Trasks. As I traversed through the mid-chapters of the book, I found out that the Hamiltons are based off of Steinbeck’s own maternal ancestry whilst the Trasks represent the Biblical Adam and his descendants. The novel covers a series of themes, as a concise plot summary is difficult to construct, of love, acceptance and the potentiality of self-destruction.
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And since I’m always searching for something new to read, what’s on your nightstand?