Books on Vacation

There is nothing quite like being on vacation and having the ability to consume books freely.  This year, not only did I read, I also  knit.  I enjoyed the back and forth.  I’m in the process of knitting a blanket of squares.  All the squares have different stitches.  I figure by the end of summer I will finish.  We’ll see.

So, here are the books that I read on vacation.  Some good, some not.

I finished A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry.  I had already read of his, Family Matters, which I preferred.  A Fine Balance gives you insight into the overwhelming disparity between the poor and rich.  The challenges that were faced in India during the 1970’s, I would guess are still being faced today.  Interesting characters affected by the times and their world.  Although I am not immune to looking at different cultures, I found the book left me with no hope for the future of Indian and I do not believe that.  India has many cultural and economic differences but I believe India is undergoing profound changes and that those changes are helping people at all levels.  I preferred Family Matters.  Although the content in some way is the same, Indian cultural issues, the connection of family and dealing with each other internally was much more positive.  I found too much frustration with the characters in A Fine Balance.

Veronica, one of the top books on all the lists for 2005 was the next on my list.  The book flows.  The writing is wonderful.  The story line is utterly disturbing and probably more real than any of us want to believe.  A young girl who gets swept away in to the world of modeling, with no real parental backbone, and finds herself taken advantage of from beginning to the end.  She is constantly looking for something to make her feel like a complete happy person.  Unfortunately, that isn’t in the cards.  Slice of life book.  Didn’t get it much thought again after putting it down.

Beasts of No Nation.  This book has been getting huge accolades everywhere.  Written by a young man from Harvard, his first novel.  He happens to be an African American who grew up in DC, in a world of privilege.  How he every came up with this book, is truly impressive.  The book is seen through the eyes of a young boy who is abducted by guerrillas in his West African country and becomes part of the war.  Chilling, disturbing and probably more real than you want to know.  Small book, quick read.  Really worth it.  Just when you thought we were living in the year 2006.

The Amazing Adventure of Kavalier and Clay
  This book, by Michael Chabon, won the Pulitzer Prize a few years back. It has been sitting on my bedside stand for years.  I had read Mysteries of Pittsburgh, his first novel when it first came out.  It was ok.  I also attempted to read Summerland, so that is probably the reason for my delay in reading Kavaliar and Clay.  I am glad that I finally read Kavalier and Clay.  Interesting story on many levels.  The friendship between the 2 main characters, the connection to the Holocaust, the history of the comic book, the changes of NYC during and after WW2.  All and all, a worthwhile, well written read.

The Fountainhead.  Everyone has read this book at one time of their life or another.  I believe the last time I read this book was in college, and then proceeded to read all of Ayn Rand’s books.  I felt compelled to read this book again.  The state of the world these days, her passion for Capitalism, etc.  I was interested to see how I would feel about reading the book now vs. then.  Certainly when I read it at 20, I was in some way more impassioned by what I read because I then attempted to read every book Ayn Rand had ever written.  This time around I felt some frustration at the characters but appreciated the time of growth and the foundations of Capitalism.  If you haven’t read the book in years, it is definitely worth picking up.  Howard Roark is the ultimate.  My favorite line in the book is when Howard returns to the Temple that he built which has now been rebuilt and destroyed.  Inside he finds Ellsworth Toohey, the most despicable character in the book, and Ellsworth asks Howard, between the 2 of them, what he thinks of him.  Howard replies that he doesn’t think about him at all.  I loved that.  I wish the world had more Howard Roarks.

Home now, more books to come.  Vacation stories in the next few days.