So in the middle of volunteering for MWF 2010, where I got to hug Bryce Courtenay at The Wheeler Centre, take photographs for Eduardo Antonio Parra at ACMI and assist Terry Denton with running illustration workshops at Birrarung Marr, I managed to read five books. When I begin to read , I can’t be bothered to eat or sleep and even find the necessity of basic bodily functions annoying so I generally end up fueling myself with endless cups of caffeine-laced coffee and also water when dehydration seems imminent which is why I can probably finish a 800 page novel in a couple of days.
A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini
This second novel by the author of best-selling novel, The Kite Runner, explores the war landscape in Afghanistan this time through the eyes of two female protagonists, Mariam and Laila. It is a tragic, depressing and heart-wrenching story of grim desolation and wasted potential with vivid, compelling characters placed in circumstances beyond their control. If you can stomach stories of martyrdom and sacrifice, it is worth reading at least for the glimpse of daily life in Kabul, prior to and during the harsh regime of the Taliban.
Eat Pray Love – Elizabeth Gilbert
Exploring three countries beginning with the letter I ( namely Italy, India and Indonesia) , Elizabeth Gilbert recounts how she recovers from depression after going through a complicated divorce in New York. In Italy she spends time eating food, locating the best meals in town from grocers, fishmongers and fruit and vegetable vendors. Next in an ashram in India, she harnesses the power of meditation drawn from different religions and uses it to find peace within herself. Then in Indonesia where she gives her company to an old medicine man, she finds someone to love. If you like stories that celebrate free spirit and encourage pursuing that unrelenting need for change , this is your oyster.
The Lost Symbol – Dan Brown
The next thriller Robert Langdon finds himself mixed up in has author Dan Brown getting his readers bogged down into a theological adventure involving the history of the Freemasons. Failing to double-check an invitation to speak at the U.S. Capitol Building by someone claiming to be a colleague of his friend, Peter Solomon, has him suddenly thrust into a clandestine world of mystery locations, forgotten lore and well-kept secrets in pursuit of an all-encompassing truth. Unfortunately he has to do this code-breaking business while battling against a deadly villain whose identity is unfortunately far too predictable.
The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
My first impression of this book was “my god, what a lot of sex and cunnilingus!”. Nevertheless I suppose if your husband was the type that disappeared in sporadic bursts either into the past or into the future and you had no guarantee of his return, you would probably make the most of intimate moments. Science fiction is something I usually fiercely detest unless it is that of a supernatural bent, so as an extension of the genre I rather enjoyed this romance between Henry De Tamble, the librarian and Clare Abshire, the artist, as it was refreshingly different.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Jonathan Safran Foer
Oskar Schell, a nine-year-old amateur inventor, jewelry designer, astrophysicist, tambourine player and pacifist searches New York for the lock that will match a mysterious key in an envelope with the word “Black” on it left by his late father who was a victim of the September 11 attack. His grandparents’ tale of woe which centers on the Dresden firebombing intertwines with the quest which drives the plot. The narrative I found to be moving without being cheaply sentimental but the typographical stunts and gimmicks like the two page numerical code soliloquy while daring kind of annoyed and distracted me from its essence.