Books: INFIDEL: MY LIFE by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Title: Infidel: My Life
Author:  Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Genre: Memoir
Published: 2007

When I read Infidel more than four years ago, Ayaan Hirsi Ali had lost her dutch citizenship and her status as a member of the Dutch parliament. The controversy about her was over the means in which she had acquired her refugee status in the Netherlands and her subsequent citizenship.
My reading of  Infidel at the time was not tarnished by any preconceived ideas. Writing about the book now, years later and after a second reading, makes me doubt the legitimacy of the harrowing tale she tells.

Books: UNACCUSTOMED EARTH by Jhumpa Lahiri

Title: Unaccustomed Earth
Author: Jhumpa Lahiri
Genre: Fiction
Published: 2008

Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth is a collection of short stories told from the perspective of different characters, all of Indian origin carving out their lives in the US. The first part of the book is a collection of five different stories, all relating the varying experiences; from the parents – arriving in the US to a world wholly different to what they know;  to their children- born in the US to Indian parents, and struggling with their own identities and the juxtaposition of their origins and their citizenship.

Books: ONE THOUSAND WHITE WOMEN – The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus

Title: One Thousand White Women : The Journals of May Dodd
Author: Jim Fergus
Genre: Fiction
Published: 2011

This book is a fictional book that is so well-researched and written that I had to keep checking whether it was in fact not based on actual records. It is about the the exchange of one thousand white women as brides for Native American men by the American government in the 1800s, in the years immediately prior to the gold rush.

Books: THE No.1 LADIES’ DETECTIVE AGENCY by Alexander McCall Smith

Title: The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency
Author: Alexander McCall Smith
Published: 2008
Genre: Fiction

This was a joy to read, and I wonder why it has taken me so long to read the Ladies’ Detective Agency series. This debut to the immensely popular series is fast-paced and funny- and for a Southern African, the writing style and vocabulary were elements I could completely relate to. McCall Smith writes in a vernacular form which made my enjoyment of the book much richer.

Books: SIXTY MILLION FRENCHMEN CAN’T BE WRONG by Jean-Benoit Nadeau & Julie Barlow

Title: Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong
Authors: Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow
Published: 2003
Genre: Memoir

This is one of those books I pick up once in a while when I am astounded by how much I still do not understand about the French. Just when I think I get them, and I think – yes they are different in this way, or that – something happens and I am yet again drawn to some form of theory that will  help me understand the people of my host country.

Books: THE SENSE OF AN ENDING by Julian Barnes

Title: The Sense of an Ending
Author: Julian Barnes
Published: 2011
Genre: Novel

The Sense of an Ending is similar to the The Remains of the Day, which I read a month ago. Memory, reflection and the crafting of a story that begins with a mystery. I read and finished it in a fairly short time but the layers of interpretation to the story will probably require a second reading. It’s about Tony Webster, a man well into his sixties who is now divorced and leads a quiet, if unexciting life. He is mysteriously bequeathed a journal from a school friend – and this sends him thinking back to his years at school when he met the charismatic Adrian Quinn; who was a mystery to them even back then.

Books: THE GLASS CASTLE by Jeannette Walls

Title: The Glass Castle
Author: Jeannette Walls
Published: 2005
Genre: Memoir

I was sitting in a taxi, wondering if I had overdressed for the evening, when I looked out of the window and saw Mom rooting through the Dumspter. It was just after dark. A blustery March wind whipped the steam coming out of the manholes, and people hurried along the sidewalks with their collars turned up. I was stuck in traffic two blocks away from the party where I was heading.
Mom stood fifteen feet away. She had tied rags around her shoulders to keep out the spring chill and was picking through the trash while her dog, a black-and-white terrier mix, played at her feet.

Books: A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS by Khaled Hosseini

Title: A Thousand Splendid Suns
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Published: 2007
Genre: Fiction

I read this a couple of years back and was reminded of it again when another blogger mentioned they had just read The Kite Runner, Hosseini’s first book, and could not put down. I felt the same way about the Kite Runner, and immediately after reading it I went on to read A Thousand Splendid Suns. This for me was more of harrowing read. I enjoyed it even more than The Kite Runner.

Books: THE REMAINS OF THE DAY by Kazuo Ishiguro

Title: The Remains of the Day
Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
Published: 1989
Genre: Fiction

Kazuo Ishiguro’s book, The Remains of the Day is told from the point of view of Stevens, an English butler who throughout his professional career served at Darlington Hall, a grand manor in a time of butlers and maids. It is set in 1950s, but fleets back and forth between these years and the those preceding the Second World War. The reader learns of Stevens’s past and of the people he worked for and with, though flashbacks.

Books: SORBONNE CONFIDENTIAL by Laurel Zuckerman

Title: Sorbonne Confidential
Author: Laurel Zuckerman
Published: 2007
Genre: Memoir

When I picked up Sorbonne Confidential I was expecting just an insight into life as a student at the Sorbonne, I got a lot less of this, but it was still an interesting read. The book is more about the course that Laurel Zuckerman enrolled for in her bid to become an English teacher.  The author does a great job explaining the intricate and complicated French education system, and this was particularly interesting as it is a very topical discussion in France.