Triple Choice Tuesday: Bibliojunkie

Triple-Choice-TuesdayWelcome to Triple Choice Tuesday. This is where I ask some of my favourite bloggers, writers and readers to share the names of three books that mean a lot to them. The idea is that it might raise the profile of certain books and introduce you to new titles, new authors and new bloggers.

Today’s guest is JoV (Joanna), who blogs at Bibliojunkie.

Jo took it as a favourable sign when she moved from broody and wet Manchester to the sunny city of Reading 2.5 years ago, because her first obsession is actually what the city is called, reading (although, sadly, it’s pronounced Redding)! But as a full-time working mother of two young boys, her only reading time is the daily commute between Reading and London. For many years, to keep up with the latest business management theories and innovations, all Jo ever read was non-fiction and management books. But in 2008 she began to experience the joy of literature again.

Jo’s reading taste is eclectic. Travel journals, classics, Asian and Middle Eastern literature, books on journalistic account of politics, conflict and war, pop culture, Jo reads them all.

Without further ado, here’s Jo’s Triple Choice Tuesday selections:

Flowers-for-algernon-book A favourite book: Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Flowers for Algernon is a sci-fi novel with a heart. Charlie Gordon is about to embark upon an unprecedented journey. Born with an unusually low IQ, he has been chosen as the perfect subject for an experimental surgery that researchers hope will increase his intelligence – a procedure that has already been highly successful when tested on a lab mouse named Algernon. The experiment appears to be a scientific breakthrough of paramount importance until Algernon suddenly deteriorates… Will the same happen to Charlie?

The book is my favourite because for a big part of my life I have been taught and brought up to worship intelligence. My social circle looks up to intelligent people, my society endorses intelligent people as powerful, but is intelligence the be all and end all? This book is the first book that broke the myth of intelligence for me. Written in an engaging and heart rending way, it tells me that it is more important to have a heart rather than a very intelligent brain. There are more important things in life that cannot be attained by mere intelligence; love, compassion, kindness. This book reminds me what it means to be human.

Nothing-to-envy A book that changed my world: Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick

I have a comprehensive picture of Chinese politics and I thought North Korea’s would be similar. This book smashed my rose-tinted view about the country. I knew the situation was bad but I didn’t expect it to be this bad. Nothing to Envy weaves together the stories of adversity and resilience. It follows the lives of six people and their extended families before the famine, including their upbringing, right up until their decision to embark on death-defying defection.

It reads like a thriller – and a very good one, too. I have read so many journalistic accounts of wars and sufferance and yet none has moved me like this one. This is due to Barbara’s painstaking, beautifully narrated details of her interviewees’ daily inconveniences that made me invested in their lives at the very beginning. To top it off, these are true stories. When those little inconveniences culminate into a bigger tragedy, it became too much for me to bear.

At the time of writing, out of the 104 reviews at Amazon.co.uk, 86 rated this 5-stars, 12 4-stars, three 3-stars. It goes to prove I’m not the only one who thinks this book is life-changing. After reading it, I never look at a bowl of rice the same way again.

I-saw-Ramallah A book that deserves a wider audience: I Saw Ramallah by Mourid Barghouti

In 1966, the Palestine poet Mourid Barghouti, then 22, left home to return to university in Cairo. Then came the Six-Day War in Palestine, and Barghouti, like many young Palestinians abroad, was denied entry into Palestine. Thirty years later, with the Oslo Agreement, the Palestinian refugees and exiles could apply for the right to return and Barghouti was allowed back to his homeland.

Journeying through the now occupation-scarred Ramallah, Barghouti visits his home, familiar haunts and family, keenly aware that the city he knew has changed beyond recognition. But he must also come to terms with the fact that his years of exile and the events of 1967 have left him permanently homeless, a naziheen, the displaced ones.

I like to read immigrant stories, whether it is self-imposed or political exile; the feeling of displacement is hard to imagine until one actually experiences it. Half (or more) of the world’s problems on war and terrorism can be traced back to the Jewish occupation in Palestine. Barghouti captures the sentiment of displaced Palestinians most eloquently as he narrates his life story of the Palestinian diaspora and the restrictions imposed on him that separated him from his family for many years. Before then, the Palestinian fight for freedom was only a slot in the evening news. After reading this book, it has injected more soul and a reality check to the news headlines, and I began to understand the anger.

Thanks, Jo, for taking part in my Triple Choice Tuesday!

I’ve read the first two and agree with Jo’s sentiments. The Demick book is particularly brilliant and pretty much unputdownable, in my opinion. Not read I Saw Ramallah, but it very much sounds like something I’d enjoy…

What do you think of Jo’s choices? Have you read any of these books?

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19 thoughts on “Triple Choice Tuesday: Bibliojunkie

  1. I’ve only read Flowers for Algernon and Jo’s description of it reminding her what it is to be human is a good one. I really do like the sound of the Demick book and will look out for that one.
    Having travelled extensively in the Middle East I read oodles about the conflict…all sides…for a long time and feel like I reached my limit of books on the subject but maybe it’s time to have another go.

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  2. Bernadette,
    I didn’t know you travel extensively in Middle East, why that makes you an expert in that region! I think you will like “Nothing to Envy” very much.

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  3. Flowers for Algernon is on my wishlist. I haven’t heard about the other books, but to be fair, I’m not always interested in other countries. Having said that, I have (accidentally, maybe?) read a fair amount of good fiction and non-fiction about far-away countries.
    I will certainly take a closer look when I see these books in the shop, Jo, as I value your opinion on books.

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  4. Nice to see Jo’s choices featured here 🙂 ‘Nothing to Envy’ looks like an interesting one – North Korea is not a place you read a lot about…

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  5. Flowers for Algernon is one of my favourites and Jo kindly found a copy of Nothing to Envy for me when we went book shopping together, so I hope to read it soon.
    I haven’t heard of I Saw Ramallah, but Jo has a similar reading taste to me, so I’ll add it to my wish list.

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  6. Jackie,
    I can’t miss the chance of you not having it! I am glad you did and look forward to hear what you think of it.
    You have similar taste of reading to me too and I really really want to read The Dark Side of Love and The Fine Balance, and also OUT. 🙂

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  7. Jackie,
    I mean I can’t bear thinking of you not having it when I saw the book. Geez.. a gibberish and mix mesh of missing the chance and you not having it! LOL

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  8. I love the idea of this post! The only book of the 3 I’m familiar with is Flowers for Algernon, an amazing heartfelt story. I am very intrigued by Nothing to Envy especially since I don’t know a lot about the situaton in North Korea except that it’s bad and strikes me as an unsettling place to live.
    Having just read Displaced Persons by Ghita Schwarz, I Saw Ramallah sounds upsetting, fascinating and shocking to me. I had to read several time to be sure I was reading correctly that Mourid Barghouti at 22 was denied the right to return to his home for 30 years, at which point everything had changed.
    I understand as much as I can without having read 2 of these 3 books, why they are Bibliojunkie’s choices! Thank you for sharing!

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  9. Amy,
    I hope you have a chance to read I Saw Ramallah. I find the feeling of not being able to return home the most painful and I don’t wish for anyone to experience that. I’m going to look up “Displaced persons”. Thanks for the recommendation!

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  10. Awesome choice Jo! So glad to see Argenon and Nothing to Envy as your selections as they are my favorites of all time too :). I guess I really should look for and read your third selection now!

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  11. I’ve read the last two and also highly recommend them! I don’t think I could handle Flowers for Algernon: I loathe scientific experiments on animals.

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