Several Books I’ve Read in the Past Week or So

Great title for the post, eh? I couldn’t think of anything more clever. I’ve been reading a lot, but nothing that has made me run to the computer to write about. The following books all were good in different ways.

  • Whispering in the Giant’s Ear by William Powers: I mentioned in a previous post how much I ended up enjoying his forthcoming book Twelve by Twelve. Sometimes I like to read an authors previous works so I grabbed this one. I learned a great deal about Bolivian politics, which is to say that they’re are extremely complicated and nothing is black and white. I ended up with lots of questions too. Powers is an earnest writer. He truly wants to make a difference in the world and in the end, I find that admirable.
  • When Things Get Dark: A Mongolian Winter’s Tale by Matthew Davis: I decided to follow up with more Peace Corps travel type stuff. Mr. Bookdwarf asked if everyone who joined Peace Corp had to write a book. Maybe it’s true. When Things Get Dark chronicles Davis’s two years in Mongolia and his gradual self-destruction as the cold, dark winters take their toll. If you like stories about drinking that make your jaw drop, than this is for you.
  • By Fire, By Water by Mitchell James Kaplan: During the Spanish Inquisition, Luis de Santangel, chancellor to the court and also from a converso family, tires of witnessing the brutality of the church. He’s implicated in the murder of a priest and his loved ones come under attack. He begins to reconnect with his Jewish roots and a finds himself falling in love with Judith Migdal, a beautiful and clever Jewish woman trying to navigate a tough world. And Christoper Columbus plays a role. It’s a nice portrait of a dramatic period in history.
  • Bleeding Heart Square by Andrew Taylor: A mystery set in post World War I London, we meet Lydia Langstone who has just escaped her abusive husband to her estranged father’s house in Bleeding Heart Square. Each chapter begins with a section of a diary written by a murdered woman. It’s hard to connect all the dots at first, but as the story comes together things become more clear. You know who the murderer is from the getgo, but there’s still a surprise ending.
  • Chef by Jaspreet Singh: A widely praised debut novel narrated by Kirpal Singh, called Kip, as he travels by train to Kashmir. He was twenty on his first trip to General Kumar’s camp, in the shadow of the Siachen glacier, where he apprenticed under the camp’s chef Kishen. He learns to create wonderful dishes from around the world. His life is thrown into chaos on the day he meets a supposed terrorist woman being held in the camp. Lots of lovely descriptions and it’s nice to read a novel set in India not in the warm regions.

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