I love reading books. If I could marry books I would. And I'm sure my fellow book lovers would agree with me when I say that it is my dream to either own a library. Or live in a library. Or both. I love being absorbed by the plot and getting away from reality. If only for a little bit. And when I've finished reading a book that I really, truly enjoyed, I feel like I lost a friend in the process. Weird, I know. But such is my attachment to books.
My summer vacation just started and since I'm not going anywhere and don't have anything spectacular planned, I figured I would just stay at home and read as many books as possible before life begins again. And I've recently found out that I like it better when someone recommends a book to me, instead of me perusing for endless hours trying to find a book that I might like. So if you're like me and would like some book recommendations , here's a list I put together for you, books that were recommended to me from various people (with a brief synopsis* and my own thoughts):
- An Unexpected Light:Travels in Afghanistan by Jason Elliot
- This is an account of Elliot's two visits to Afghanistan. The first occurred when he joined the mujaheddin circa 1979 and was smuggled into Soviet-occupied Afghanistan; the second happened nearly ten years later, when he returned to the still war-torn land. The skirmishes that Elliot painstakingly describes here took place between the Taliban and the government of Gen. Ahmad Shah Massoud in Kabul. Today, the Taliban are in power, but Elliot's sympathies clearly lie with Massoud. Although he thought long and hard before abandoning his plan to travel to Hazara territory, where "not a chicken could cross that pass without being fired on," Elliot traveled widely in the hinterland, visiting Faizabad in the north and Herat in the west. The result is some of the finest travel writing in recent years. With its luminous descriptions of the people, the landscape (even when pockmarked by landmines), and Sufism, this book has all the hallmarks of a classic, and it puts Elliot in the same league as Robert Byron and Bruce Chatwin.
- I've just begin reading it. Will let you know how it turns out.
- Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy.
- At age nine, Lucy Grealy was diagnosed with a potentially terminal cancer. When she returned to school with a third of her jaw removed, she faced the cruel taunts of classmates. In this strikingly candid memoir, Grealy tells her story of great suffering and remarkable strength without sentimentality and with considerable wit. Vividly portraying the pain of peer rejection and the guilty pleasure of wanting to be special, Grealy captures with unique insight what it is like as a child and young adult to be torn between two warring impulses: to feel that more than anything else we want to be loved for who we are, while wishing desperately and secretly to be perfect.
- I really enjoyed this book because it was a memoir and because Grealy doesn't sugar coat things for you. She's straight to the point. And also this book deals with the ugly truth about society and how we perceive people based on looks.
- The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
A lot of professors give talks titled "The Last Lecture." Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them. And while they speak, audiences can't help but mull the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy?
When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn't have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave--"Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams"--wasn't about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because "time is all you have...and you may find one day that you have less than you think"). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living.
- Randy Pausch is a truly remarkable man. If you aren't into books, I would definitely recommend watching The Last Lecture on youtube or something. He is very inspirational and makes you realize that you should not take life for granted. More on Randy Pausch in another post.
- Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
- Some failures lead to phenomenal successes, and this American nurse's unsuccessful attempt to climb K2, the world's second tallest mountain, is one of them. Dangerously ill when he finished his climb in 1993, Mortenson was sheltered for seven weeks by the small Pakistani village of Korphe; in return, he promised to build the impoverished town's first school, a project that grew into the Central Asia Institute, which has since constructed more than 50 schools across rural Pakistan and Afghanistan.
- As a future teacher, I was really happy to see this man work so hard for so many years to provide the best education possible for children who truly needed it. Mortenson shows how you can fulfill all of your dreams with just the right push and not a lot of money.
- Do not be Sad by Sheikh Aaidh ibn Abdullah al-Qarnee
- Sheikh Aaidh ibn Abdullah al-Qarnee authored a self-help best seller book about helping Muslims, as well as Non-Muslims cope with feelings depression of helplessness and for times when one feels discouraged and sad. This book is different from the many of similar kind in that it is written specifically from an Islamic perspective and referes to the Quran, the Holy Book of Islam, and Hadith, yet also quotes western philosophers and thinkers whose words of wisdom are equally applicable in this context.
- This was the first Islamic book that I felt attached to. It was just the book I needed during a rough patch in my life.
- A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.
- Born a generation apart and with very different ideas about love and family, Mariam and Laila are two women brought jarringly together by war, by loss and by fate. As they endure the ever escalating dangers around them-in their home as well as in the streets of Kabul-they come to form a bond that makes them both sisters and mother-daughter to each other, and that will ultimately alter the course not just of their own lives but of the next generation. With heart-wrenching power and suspense, Hosseini shows how a woman's love for her family can move her to shocking and heroic acts of self-sacrifice, and that in the end it is love, or even the memory of love, that is often the key to survival.
- If you havent read this book already, do so!
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- Death himself narrates the World War II-era story of Liesel Meminger from the time she is taken, at age nine, to live in Molching, Germany, with a foster family in a working-class neighborhood of tough kids, acid-tongued mothers, and loving fathers who earn their living by the work of their hands. The child arrives having just stolen her first book–although she has not yet learned how to read–and her foster father uses it, The Gravediggers Handbook, to lull her to sleep when shes roused by regular nightmares about her younger brothers death.
- Haven't read this book yet, but am definitely interested in reading a book where "Death" is the narrator.
If you have any book recommendations, do share!
*I didn't want to give my own synopsis' of the books, didn't think I would do them justice. Majority of the reviews are from www.amazon.com.