Welcome 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 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.
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.
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?