Friday 21 September 2012

Books eight and nine...

Wow that actually feels a bit depressing to write that these are only books eight and nine for the year - there was once a time (in another life!!) when I would have read that many books in as many weeks...
Anyway - I digress...

Books eight and nine - a mix of fiction and non-fiction.

First up - Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse by Suraya Sadeed.

Despite the title leading you to think it may be some sordid lesson that a young girl is taught I had read the cover notes on this one to know that it was not going to be the case - but that rather the lessons that are forbidden are actual teaching or class/school lessons.

This book is all about one woman's efforts in securing aid for the people of Afghanistan.  Providing the most basic of needs such as blankets and food and education - things we take for granted every day.

It talks of how the Taliban invaded the country and took away the most basic of rights from al the women in the country and details her struggle as an Afghani born woman living in America when the two countries are suddenly at war.

I often find biographies to be a little self-indulgent (which I guess they are by nature), you know - lots of "I did this, then I did that" sort of stuff.
This one had a little of that but it also contained a really interesting insight into the country of Afghanistan and a little of its history and also talked of how the country was almost inadvertently caught up in the war with the USA because it was where Osama Bin Laden chose to hide out.

It made me feel very grateful to live where I do - in a country where, as a woman and mother of daughters, I know that we are free to live, learn and exist in a free and open manner - not feeling that we need to be hidden away or that we are in some way lesser citizens than our male counterparts.

I also really enjoyed learning a few facts about a country that I know little of, always a lovely 'side-effect' of reading a book!

Then it was on to a work of fiction by another favourite author (I know, there are a few!).
While Chesil Beach is a real stretch of coastline in the UK, On Chesil Beach is a work of fiction by the wonderful Ian McEwan - who you might best know him from the book and subsequent movie Atonement.

This is not written in the page-turning style of Atonement - but more a slow paced reflection of lives and relationships, and how things that remain unsaid may sometimes better have been spoken.

It details the events of the much anticipated (by the groom) and much dreaded (by the bride) wedding night of a young couple in the early 1960's - as the sexual revolution is awakening.
What should be the beginning of their new life together actually marks the end.

Ian McEwan has a way of getting inside his character's heads so that as you read this book you can feel the pain that each of these young people is experiencing, and you squirm with them when you read what is happening in their relationship - wishing that each could know what is going on inside the head of the other!

While very different books I really enjoyed both of these, and depending on your interests, they are both worth a look.


rachelmp said...

Love these posts. I have just borrowed the Peter Carey from your last post. Can I recommend the Time Travellers Wife too. Oh, for more reading time!

Ellieboo said...

Oh those were the days weren't they - when we actually had time to read books. Ha ha. Ive never read any Ian McEwan.....perhaps its about time I did.

becanne said...

I've just read The Kite Runner also set in Afghanistan, and worth a read. Can't remember who by, but it was also a movie but I won't watch it now because I enjoyed the book.
I'll keep an eye out for that Ian McEwan one.

Unknown said...

I used to read lots of books before I had kids. It takes me a-g-e-s to read a book these days. I guess I will read more again when they are bigger? I hope so!

I am with Rachel - I loved The Time Traveler's wife. The movie left heaps out (and didn't make a lot of sense to my friend ho hadn't read the book). I would also recommend the Girl with the dragon tattoo, and I liked the Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons.

The Ian McEwan one sounds like something I would enjoy.

Annie said...

I too remember the days when I used to read. They still pile up beside my bed, but must be feeling very lonely