Wow, these months do fly on by, huh? One third of 2011 is nearly over! Hope it's going well for you! Here are the books I finished this month.
Islam Today by Akbar S. Ahmed -- a "short introduction to the Muslim world." I was especially interested in the talk of the Central Asian Muslim countries that were formerly part of the Soviet Union because I didn't know much about them. The author tended to focus more on Asian Muslims rather than Arabs. That was a change so I Iearned a bit from that perspective which was good. see previous posts about this book (they are in March)
Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives In North Korea by Barbara Demick -- The author told the story of northern North Korea - a city called Chongjin - through the tales of defectors she met while living in Seoul. I heard about this book from Bridget's blog and when I found it at my library, I checked it out. It's so interesting and sad. Several times I had tears in my eyes as I thought of the difficult lives of these people. The author described party faithful and those who were questioning of the regime, but dared not say anything for fear of neighbors who would report them. The lies told about how poor the capitalists were and how privileged the North Koreans were by comparison were heartbreaking especially when people finally realized the truth. So many people starved to death. Ugh. The author also told how hard it was for many North Koreans to start over in China or South Korea. After having the government tell them what to do and basically make every decision for them and provide everything, they didn't know what to do with the array of choices available in South Korea. Due to lack of nutrition, North Koreans average about five inches below their southern counterparts in height. Also the north has kept more of the traditional culture than the south. South Koreans worry about the reunification because of the problems of having millions of extremely poor people in their country. Also imagine a group of people who don't know much about how to use ATMs, internet, cell phones and so forth. They've been literally kept in the dark. Great book. And the title is from a North Korean song in case you were wondering.
Motoring with Mohammed by Eric Hansen -- This library book published twenty years ago tells of the author's adventures first getting shipwrecked in the Red Sea, his rescue, burying his travel notebooks and later - a decade later - his return to Yemen with hopes of locating these. I enjoyed the tales from his weeks living amongst the Yemenis and meeting Westerners who lived there.
The Gifts of the Jews by Thomas Cahill -- "How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels" -- see previous post
Feather in the Storm: A Childhood Lost in Chaos by Emily Wu and Larry Englemann -- This book describes the early life and teen years of Emily as she grew up during the Cultural Revolution as a daughter in a "black" family - one where her father was considered "ultra-rightest" due to his intellectual and American ties (he was a professor and had been university educated in Chicago.) I really enjoyed this book though it was not uplifting and sweet and cuddly at all. Still the determination and hard work and the strength of some people is admirable. I was glad to see glimmers of compassion and community in certain characters. Emily was interviewed for a documentary described here. Wow, I just saw where one of the relocated youth teaches at Duke University which is about a half hour from my house! Here he is now. Oh,oops! It seems he died last Christmas at age 59 and his memorial service at Duke was held just yesterday! Freaky coincidence since I'm just learning about him today (April 9). Here's the notice. Sad!
Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter by Thomas Cahill -- see previous post; this book talks about how the Greeks contributed to our western culture
Historic India by Lucille Schulberg. -- see previous posts
Himalayan Passage by Jeremy Schmidt -- a traveler's tale of his seven month journey with his wife and friends through the high country of Tibet, Nepal, China, Indian and Pakistan. I enjoyed the tales of people they met, sights they saw and experiences with officials, locals, dogs and so forth. Got this at my local library.
North Korea by The Voice of the Martyrs with Todd Nettleton -- a brief book with a bit about the situation of Christians past and present in this country
The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization by Richard W. Bulliet -- This Columbia University professor discusses how Islam and the West are like siblings and how very similar their paths have been. He discusses democracy and fundamentalism within the world. The book consisted of four rather lengthy chapters and number three was my favorite. It was especially interesting to read this in light of what has happened this year in many Arab countries.
Why Do You Kill? by Jurgen Todenhofer was recommended to me by a Moroccan Facebook friend. I read much of this book with Samer (I read it to him) and finished it on my own. It gives the story of the Iraqi resistance. I thought one mother's summary was good. "Can you not make your American friends understand that they have to stop presenting our children with this horrible alternative -- either to stand by and watch their families being slaughtered or kill someone themselves? Tell them to end this war, which is killing both their young soldiers and our sons - for no reason at all." (pg. 138) It really helped me see the Iraqi perspective as so many people have been affected by what the United States has done over there.
The Jesus You Can't Ignore by John MacArthur -- This is one of my brother's books that he gave me to read. The theme is that Jesus thought so much of Truth that he didn't always be nice and tolerable to people who were distorting it. The author showed several confrontations Jesus had with Pharisees and false teachers and how he stood up for the Truth.; also see previous post
"Truth was his only weapon. He did not assault the false teachers in Corinth the same way they had attacked him - with innuendo, distortions of his teaching, purely personal insults, and webs of deceit. He answered their deception with truth." (pg. xxxii)
A Deadly Misunderstanding by Mark Siljander -- a great book about a former Republican Congressman from Michigan as he changes his views about Islam once he meets Muslims and starts listening to them; saw this mentioned first by an Arab Christian friend on Facebook, Nabeel Jabbour, and got it for Christmas off my Amazon Wishlist.
What have you read lately that has most interested you? :)