Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Barefoot with Tea and Music

Grooving on the new tunes in my play list. Hadn't made a change up in a while and thought it was time. After going through illness, vacations and the busyness that is summer, I felt that I needed to ground myself in a few new songs. Go take a listen if you need some quiet music to chill out to. Feel free to make a suggestion, if you think something is missing too! While you are listening, you can also read about some of the other things I have been up to this summer. 


I have also read some new books. I started the summer with a light-hearted book entitled "Barefoot", by Elin Hilderbrand (© 2007 Elin Hilderbrand, Back Bay Books). Well, light-hearted might not be the right term, I guess. More light and easy to read. It was predictable and tied up nicely with feel-good vibes all around at the the end. A brief synapsis: Three women land in Nantucket to spend the summer barefoot and fancy free on the beach. Or do they? One sister is just beginning a battle with cancer and will be receiving chemo all summer. She has two young sons and is not ready to let go of life, but doesn't know how to let go of the stress of it all. The other sister has volunteered to assist her older sibling through chemo treatments and help out with the kids. It sounds altruistic, until we discover that she is also escaping her life back home where she lost her job as a professor at a university for having an affair with a student (mature student - older than herself).  Oh ho, getting interesting! The third woman is the best friend of our ailing woman. She needs a break from her life back home, because she has just found out her husband is cheating on her. After several rounds of failed IVF, she is devastated, but no more so than when she finds out that she is pregnant! And to add a romantic twist, they meet a young man at the airport, who becomes their babysitter for the boys, who of course ends up having an affair with our poor pregnant damsel in distress. It is all very predictable, but was a perfect read for sitting on the beach myself. Easy to read, and well enough written to keep me reading through to the end.

I followed that up with "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin (© 2006 Penguin Books). Now this was another cup of tea entirely (pardon the pun). I originally picked up this book, as we were going to read it in book club, but we ran out of time the first year. It sat on my bedside table for ages and I finally cracked the spine this summer. Once I did, I could barely put it down. Relin is an accomplished writer and he brings Mortenson's story to life in vivid detail. I am sure that many of you have read the book or at least heard tell about it. It won the Kiriyama Prize (according to the sticker on the front of my book) and was on book club lists all over the continent. It is the story of Greg Mortenson's original failed attempt at climbing K2, that ultimately led him to set up the Central Asia Institute (CAI), which built many schools, community centres and irrigation systems around Pakistan and Afghanistan. Mortenson struggled against political, religious, societal and economic hardships, but is painted as a hero that strives to accomplish good where all others failed. 

In pulling together information for this post, I did find out some interesting details though. It seems that there has been some scandal associated with Mortenson's dealings, just this past year. 60 Minutes did an expose back in April, that questioned many of his financial practices, as well as his claims to greatness. Regardless of the truth of the story that was unearthed, I still applaud the ultimate goal behind the book though. The message is that one person CAN make a difference. I think that this fact is a valid point and humanitarian aid always has a place in society. It is a shame if the rumours are true, but the book renews faith in the goodness of human kind none the less. It is a great story and one that is worth the read. 

Now, I must close my eyes for the night though. I am reading "The Book of Negroes" by Lawrence Hill, at present, and so far it is good. I fear that my brain is done for the night though and any reading will have to happen in the morning or beyond. I wish you good music, happy reading, and whatever else floats your boat this summer.



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