Sunday, 16 August 2015

Selected summer reading (August QuickLit)

Linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy to share our recent reads.

Jacqueline Woodson: Brown Girl Dreaming

Life story in poems. Jacqueline Woodson writes about her family, about living as a child in South Carolina and then in New York, about being different (not just racial issues but also being raised as a Jehovah's Witness), and about finding her voice as a storyteller and writer.

So good to see the world from someone else's point of view.

Here's a little quote from one poem. It's about her finding a picture book at the library, "the picture book filled with brown people, more brown people than I'd ever seen in a book before."

If someone had taken
that book out of my hand
said, You're too old for this
I'd never have believed
that someone who looked like me
could be in the pages of the book
that someone who looked like me
had a story.

Karen Ehman: Keep It Shut: What to Say, How to Say It, and When to Say Nothing at All

A sensible, balanced look at using our words wisely. Many of the points and principles weren't exactly new to me, but served as a good reminder nevertheless. I also appreciated that Ehman's primary focus is not the mouth but the heart - examining the motives why we speak or don't speak - and that she writes candidly about her own struggles.

Jon Ronson: So You've Been Publicly Shamed

Ronson researches various kinds of public shame and humiliation and the way people have survived it - if they have survived it. He starts with a couple of cases where people have been humiliated on the social media. Since I don't use Twitter or Facebook (and don't live in North America), I had no idea of how far this can go and how much or little is needed to spark it.

As a look into the darker sides of social media and our modern culture, this book is fascinating and not a little frightening.

Rob Lilwall: Walking Home from Mongolia: ten million steps through China, from the Gobi Desert to the South China Sea

Lilwall is a Brit but his home is now in Hong Kong. Thus, walking home from Mongolia means walking through China. Lots of arduous effort, plenty of comical moments, some serious thoughts and a good dose of self-deprecating British humour. 

Griff Rhys Jones: Rivers: a voyage into the heart of Britain

Griff Rhys Jones made a TV series about British rivers and wrote a book about the experience. Apparently, the point of the series was to explore the history and the present day of the rivers as well as to entertain the audience by putting Jones into all kinds of difficult, risky and potentially funny situations in various means of transportation. Jones writes with a wry sense of humour and if you want to learn about history and geography, you'll get that, too.

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