Friday, May 16, 2008

Books I've Enjoyed Recently, Part II

Note: Thanks to my friend KR for recommending the first two.

Operating Instructions: A Diary of My Son's First Year,
by Anne Lamott: If you're willing to overlook the crassness and profanity, you (especially if you are or were a new parent) may find a mini-gold mine of true-to-life emotion, spiritual insight, and comic relief from this author, a self-described nut case, recovering addict, and quite unlikely Christian.

A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini: This dramatic tale based in the chronically war-plagued country of Afghanistan bears a striking resemblance to the author's other novel, The Kite Runner, in terms of setting, plot (in which several characters' stories run parallel and then eventually intersect), and bittersweet endings. In both, the brutality (both personal and societal) is almost more than I can handle reading about. But the story certainly had me strung along.

Note: As referenced in a close associate's blog, the following is the first in a series of autobiographical reading.

Living History, by Hillary Rodham Clinton: This is a candid self-portrait that gave me a new respect for the author. She spends several chapters on her childhood and college years, and the rest on her eight years as First Lady. The mechanics of politics still befuddles me, but I got a glimpse of how intense life must be for political figures in the hot spotlight of public life. It seems political figures are real people with real flaws and real feelings who, at best, are trying to slog through the democratic quicksand to reach positive, concrete societal change. Yet the demands on a high-profile person like the First Lady or President seem almost super-human (e.g. flying across the globe every week or so for back-to-back meetings with other world leaders, regardless of jetlag, decisions that hold thousands of lives in the balance, constant media exposure, etc.). She's got some impressive shoes, but I surely wouldn't want to wear them.

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