recent reads, October

Finished Left to Tell, by Immacul´e Ilibagiza, the inspiring story of a young woman’s survival of Rwandan genocide. I was worried it would be sad and graphic, but instead it was very gripping and uplifting. Hard to explain, but her early decision to forgive the neighbors that had killed all her family, and to really forgive, sincerely, meant that the entire story, from hiding in a small bathroom for 3 months to a series of decreasingly less threatening camps, and reuniting with other family and friends, was a story that really made you think. Similar to Holocaust stories, I wondered more about what happened afterwards. And those people that straddled the line, the moderates, the ones who spared and hid Tutsis while going out and killing them during the day. She’s Catholic, and a lot of it is about her faith, but in general if you read it as a faith in a superior being, it’s a great book.

Betraying Spinoza, by Rebecca Goldstein. This is my book club book. It’s hard going but after the philosophy bit, which I found really interesting, there’s a long history of the Jewish strains of religion and exile. Spinoza, living in 1660s, had an amazingly modern approach to the division of church and state, and understanding of nature and science. I guess his stuff is used quite a bit by Einstein, Hawking, and other modern scientists. This book was very hard to find. 5 bookstores had sold out (it was published in 2006) and finally found the last copy in San Francisco, at Borders. I did try to go local and independent.

I’ve bought a few books lately, but haven’t read:
Ender’s Game, for my niece (this is a re-read). Orson Scott Card. I remember reading this and hoping that every science fiction book was as fun as this one. Big disappointment, haha.
A Year in the Merde, by Stephen Clarke. God this book is funny. This is a gift for a friend. It’s one of those books that is so entertaining, I can soundly recommend it to most people.
The Guy Not Taken, by Jennifer Weiner. My favorite chick-book author next to Sophie Kinsella (shopaholic series)
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, by Anne Fadiman story of a Hmung child and modern Western medicine practices. I listened to an interview with the author about this true story, and it was fascinating. Also a bunch of friends have worked with the Hmung so interested in the culture in general.