I have been defeated…

Michael Pollan has won out.  I couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t finish the treacherous A Place Of My Own (APOMO) or as I like to call it: A Pain In My Ass (APIMA).  As detailed before, I have been having a tough time getting started.  Well I continued to peek at The Fat Duck Cookbook and soon, I found myself reading other cookbooks exclusively for a couple of weeks under the false pretenses that I was just “referencing materials”.  But I knew it, the books knew it, Hell, even the dog knew it.  APIMA was on the way out. 

Now that it has hindered my reading for a couple of weeks I have nestled it down into the stack of books waiting for a bookshelf to sit on.  Maybe in a couple years I will pick it up again or when I am having a Mid 20’s crisis and I need some painful book to read that is worse than real life.

Well some sayings that are appropriate for the situation:  Out with the old, in with the new.  Change or Die.  It takes a couple seconds to say Hello, but forever to say goodbye (Well in my case 3 weeks).  Confucius say:  Don’t read crappy book.

The Road

 Dark, grim, disheartening, frightening. 

The Road is skillfully written by Cormac McCarthy in a short, urgent and to the point prose that truly makes this tale about post-apocalyptic America.  It details the plight of a man and his son as they try to survive treacherous conditions, starvation and roving groups of cannibals.  You don’t really want to read this book for the plot, but more for the writing style that took the story and boiled it down to the essence of meaning.  There is no wonder why this book has won so many awards and held in great acclaim.  A must read. 

Animal Farm

 Another great book from George Orwell that just about everyone read in high school.  I thought that I would pick it up again, after finishing 1984.  I had forgotten how short the book was; as I finished it in just under two days.  A reminder of the downfalls of Communism, told through pigs, horses and dogs in classic fable fashion.

In Cold Blood

A gripping book that is based on the actual events that unfolded in 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas.  It is about the murder of the Clutter family, for the small sum of about $50 dollars.  It is excitingly written by Truman Capote as he goes through the events that led up to, through and after the murders.

Obviously Dick Hickock and  Perry Smith could not have understood the implications of the horrible crimes that they committed; not only for themselves, but for the whole of America.  The book delves into the story of the family and Dick and Perry, but it also documents the hysteria, nervousness and worry that the small town residents began to feel after the murders.  Thankfully both of the killers were caught and paid with their lives for the crimes, but America would never be the same.

One of the great works of all time; a definite must read.

 

1984

I love this book and really glad that I re-read it. An appropriate follow-up from the last book that I read, First They Killed My Father, which was just as insane and horrifying, but it was real.  George Orwell sure knows how to write and the book brought back chills from when I first read it.

My only gripe though: I forgot how long the “torture” portion of the book lasted, and that is why it took me almost a week and some change to finish the last 30 pages.  It was so boring and kept going around in circles… *Yawn*  But still, this is one of the best books about societies ever written.

I am taking a break from crazy totalitarian regimes and going to read a really interesting book that I have been wanting to read for years: Freakonomics.  Sure to be a good read (What do school teachers and sumo wrestlers have in common?  They both cheat!).  And if I like it that much, I will buy the new book: SuperFreakonomics.

1984-signet1981

First They Killed My Father

If you don’t know anything about the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot and the mass genocide that occurred from 1975 to 1979 in Cambodia, you need to.  I am still appalled at how such a horrific incident like this can happen without intervention from the rest of the world.  It’s not like no one knew what was happening… 

First They Killed My Father is a survivor story by Loung Ung, through her eyes while a child, on how she survived the genocide [The Khmer Rouge killed about 2 million of their own people, or 1/4 of the Cambodian population, not to mention the United States bombing of Cambodia that occurred from 1970-1973 which estimates suggest killed an additional 250,000].  The book can be graphic and disgusting and horrific, which is exactly how it should make you feel.  It is very detailed and it is so much more powerful being written in the present tense.  First They Killed My Father is heart-wrenching, well-written and thoroughly depressing memoir of what happened during the insane and brutal reign of the Khmer Rouge. 

This book is a definite must-read for anyone interested in Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge or the strength of the human spirit. 

P.S.  One of the most difficult (read: best) articles that I have ever read about the Khmer Rouge, and specifically the prison Tuol Sleng (aka S-21), was done by GQ- here is the link.  During my three day quest to read the entire article (GQ has looooong articles), I had to put it down several times due to a feeling of hopelessness that overtook me.  It is crazy how the Khmer Rouge could torture and kill their own people and even worse; how they killed them.

Slaughterhouse-Five

All done!  Great book- I love Kurt Vonnegut’s writing style.  It is lavish, but not pretentious or difficult to read, which I appreciate.  It is a Sci-Fi novel, but based on true events, about the bombing of Dresden in Germany during World War II.  A great book that will make you think about war and the effects that it has on people- but not in a preachy or persuasive  manner.  It lets you think for yourself.  Go re-read this book, or read it for the first time- you wont be disappointed.  There are so many great quotes and observations, so I will share just one:

It is so short and jumbled and jangled, Sam, because there is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre. Everybody is supposed to be dead, to never say anything or want anything ever again. Everything is supposed to be very quiet after a massacre, and it always is, except for the birds.  And what do the birds say? “Poo-tee-weet”  

So it goes.   Check it out on Amazon here.

Slaughterhouse Five