Monday, June 02, 2008

Brenna’s Updated Reading List

Since I’ve been in Nicaragua I have been lucky enough to have had the time to read 31 books. I find them in the Peace Corps book exchange in the Managua office, or by exchanging with friends. Here is an updated list of books I have read beginning with those I have read most recently.

  1. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, by Kim Edwards. About a family torn apart by the father’s secret decision to give away their daughter born with Downs Syndrome. My rating:7
  2. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck. Amazingly, I had never read this before. It was of course a wonderful book, full of complex characters and tales of injustice. My rating: 9(East of Eden is still the best book I’ve ever read).
  3. A Long Way Gone, by Ishmael Beah. This is a first hand account of the life of a child soldier in Sierra Leone. Beah doesn’t hold back any gory details, making it a remarkably shocking and gruesome book, but it’s an excellent view into the destruction and suffering plaguing so many African countries. My rating:7
  4. Freakonomics, by Stephen Levvitt and Steven Dubner. Levvitt is a young and brilliant economist who looks at common issues and asks unlikely questions, leading to sometimes shocking answers. The section that I found most interesting was how he links the falling crime rate of the 1990’s to the legalization of abortion 20 years prior, with Roe v. Wade. He claims that all of the unwanted babies that weren’t born would have begun causing crime (they would have been in their late teens and early 20’s), and because they weren’t born, the crime rate went down. This is just one of the interesting theories he discusses in the book. My rating: 6
  5. On The Wild Edge, by David Petersen. This was recommended by Mason. In this book, the author describes his quiet life living in an isolated cabin in the woods near Durango, Colorado. He is a minimalist who prefers the company of the natural world to that of the city or towns. My rating:8
  6. Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen. This book was so much fun to read! It follows a train-based traveling circus in the 1930’s. I loved the funny characters the fun pace and the interesting situations they get into! Rating: 9
  7. The Old Patagonia Express, by Paul Theroux. This is the first Theroux book I have read, and I didn’t really like it. It’s his account of his travels by train from Boston down to Patagonia. The book was basically boring and depressing, which I guess well describes third world train travel. My rating: 4
  8. Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, by John Perkins. A must-read for all Peace Corps Volunteers, since Perkins was a PCV as well! This paints a bleak picture of the US’s imperialist ways, and how our government would and will do just about anything to protect our own interests. It involves the CIA (naturally), USAID (which surprised me), other government entities and multi-national corporations committing scandalous “economic” crimes to suppress third world economies. The truth is, these tactics still occur today. No wonder much of the world hates us. Are we paying for our past today? My rating: 9
  9. The Miracle of Mindfulness, by Thich Nhat Hanh. Thanks to Mike Doyle for sending us off to Nicaragua with this book. Our copy is now underlined and starred and highlighted, it’s so full of good thoughts and practices. Its main message is to live and think in the moment. “Wash the dishes to wash the dishes, not just to get them done.” We should take our time with all that we do, and always do everything well. This book will be read many more times. My rating: 9
  10. A Framework for Understanding Poverty, by Ruby Payne. This is a quick academic study on generational poverty, which I found extremely useful in understanding things here in Nicaragua. Poverty has the same characteristics worldwide. Nicaraguan poverty is inherently the same as Harlem poverty, or Indian poverty. She argues that poverty places a lot of value on entertainment, which explains the constant TV. watching, too loud music, and loud funny personalities. She also says people living in generational poverty don’t have planning skills, and discipline is not based on an expected behavior change. She argues that society (the system) is based on middle class norms that generational poverty cannot thrive in, because they don’t understand the rules. My rating: 7.5 (recommended to Peace Corps Volunteers and teachers).
  11. The Power of One, by Bryce Courtenay. This was once my favorite book, so I decided to read it again. The story follows the life of young Peekay, a South African boy of English descent. I loved the characters that shaped his life, especially Hoppie, Doc and Morrie. My rating: 9

The rest of the books are listed in a previous blog entry. Click Here to check them out.


Post a Comment

<< Home