Although I am not the least informed about the world we live in, I'm also not the most well informed. There are a lot of places I know little to nothing about, and what better way to address that than through reading?
In case you missed the time I did this for Hemingway, Three on a Theme is a little feature I plan to do here from time to time when I talk about three books around a similar theme (it does exactly what it says on the tin!). This time I was torn over what to call it, as two of the books feature kidnapping but I didn't have a third, and after two (technically three) pretty gruesome kidnap stories I really wasn't up for putting myself through another right away, so then I thought since both books featured places I'm really not at all familiar with, I'd use that as a theme and make my third something I'm excited to read from a place I don't know much about!
Drumroll please. Here we go!
It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War by Lynsey Addario has been raved about all over the place recently. I heard it mentioned a couple of times on Kim's blog and as the books she loves tend to be great I immediately ordered it in to the library and I am so glad I did. Not easy reading by any means this memoir of Addario's life and career as a photojournalist beginning around the time of 9/11 is incredibly thought-provoking and made me think a lot about why people do what they do. She spends a lot of time in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and even Libya covering extremely dangerous situations and taking pictures of atrocities beyond my imagination, during the course of which she is kidnapped twice, involved in a bad accident and loses several friends and colleagues. How she has the inner strength to do the kind of work she does and take such phenomenal pictures is entirely beyond my understanding but, as she mentions several times throughout the book, she does it so that the public and policy makers get the whole story of what is actually happening. This is such an important and powerful book I honestly think everybody needs to read it, but brace yourself for some difficult stuff.
Purchase It's What I Do
The second book is by an author I've heard raved about everywhere, mostly for her essay collection Bad Feminist but as my library didn't have that and I'm still going strong on my book buying ban I had to start with An Untamed State which I knew was about Haiti, but didn't really know much beyond that. Honestly I almost gave up a few chapters in just because going from It's What I Do to this I thought was going to be too much for me mentally. I'm glad I stuck with it though. It's the story of how a Haitian - American daughter of a rich Haitian businessman is kidnapped. Appparently Haiti is one of the 7 Countries You're Most Likely to Get Kidnapped In, but as with the Dominican Republic before I read Junot Diaz (who is not on this list because his excellence has been extolled already on this blog and I don't want to bore you, but he could be as he is an equally educative author) I knew nothing at all about it until I read An Untamed State.
Although it's not pleasant reading it's an incredibly well written novel and it's very compelling. I kept telling people I was reading it as quickly as I could because I really didn't like the subject matter but I couldn't put it down. To me, if a book makes me read it despite myself then it's worth recommending.
Purchase An Untamed State
Finally for the one I haven't read yet. There were several contenders for this spot: Americanah, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, The Harmony Silk Factory, The Bone People, all of which are books about places I don't know enough about, but finally I went for The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie. I read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian a year or two ago after everyone had told me to read it for about five years and I really enjoyed it. I still feel that I don't know anywhere near as much as I'd like to about Native American culture though and as I already know I like Alexie's writing, this seemed like a pretty good place to start! Anybody read it?
Purchase Lone Ranger And Tonto Fistfight In Heaven
Given that I don't know as much as I'd like to about anywhere other than the UK, what are your recommendations of amazing books that will teach me more about places I don't know enough about?
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