Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Guess Who Got Books!?

Yours truly of course! Okay, so that was rather obvious but after posting my list of Top Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings, I managed to land 5 of them!

I received "The Christian Atheist" twice so I exchanged one of them for "The Alchemist".  I received 6 books in all. What were the others you ask?  "The Girl Who Fell From the Sky" by H Durrow, "As a Man Thinketh" by J Allen, "The Emperor of All Maladies" by Mukherjee, and "Conversations with Myself" by Nelson Mandela

I'm mesmerized by the "Conversations with Myself" cover. Its very striking when you see it in person.

Did you get books!?

Final 2011 Reading Challenge Update!

I attempted to pick up the pace on my reading in the last few months of the year. But I started 4 books that I could not finish (they are not included in the list below) and found myself spiraling into a full blown reading slump. And then, I decided to read another Mitch Albom book, "For One More Day".

I have never been a reader that follows authors. I like good books; it doesn’t matter who wrote them. But after reading "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" and "Tuesdays With Morrie" something, I’m not sure what, has drawn me to Albom’s books and I want to read all of them.

The four reading challenges that I signed up for at the beginning of  2011 are: Nonfiction, Off the Shelf (books that I owned prior to starting the challenge in Jan), Persons of Color (books by any author of color), and Outdo Yourself (goal is to read more books that the year before). 

October – December 2011
Books Read       
Nonfiction/Persons of Color
As a Man ThinkethNonfiction
The Christian AtheistNonfiction
July – September 2011
Books Read       

Persons of Color
Nonfiction/ Persons of Color
April – June 2011
Books Read       
Nonfiction/ Persons of Color
Nonfiction/ Persons of Color
January – March 2011
Books Read       
The Laws of Thinking     
Nonfiction/Off the Shelf/Persons of Color
Nonfiction/Off the Shelf
Nonfiction/Persons of Color
Nonfiction/Off the Shelf/Persons of Color

Total Books Read in 2011 = 24
Nonfiction = 22
Persons of Color = 8
Off the Shelf (in Jan. I owned 31 books that I had not read)  = 3
Outdo Yourself (this is the 1st year I’ve tracked my reading) =  23

 Since I’ve been struggling to finish books I haven’t posted any reviews recently, but more reviews are on the way soon. I promise!

* Updated on Dec 30 to include "As A Man Thinketh"
 ** Updated on Dec 31 to include "The Christian Atheist"

Monday, December 19, 2011

Top Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Some of you may not participate in gift exchanges this time of year but I do! So in the spirit of the season, I decided to participate this week and list the Top Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings. I have over 70 books on a list of books to be purchased. Four of these books were randomly chosen, I've starred* the 6 that were not.

But just to be clear, anyone can bring me any of these books at anytime Smiley 

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson*

If you look at my twitter timeline you will see that on Sept 1, 2011 I tweeted: I'm patiently waiting on Steve Jobs to write a book. Wonder if he has one in the works? On Oct 5, 2011, the world learned that he died. We found out shortly thereafter that he did have a book in the works. It was being written by Walter Isaacson.

Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years—as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues—Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.


Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee* 

I was on the fence about this book until I heard the author speak at the National Book Festival in September. The book has been on my to be read list since that day. 

A magnificent, profoundly humane “biography” of cancer—from its first documented appearances thousands of years ago through the epic battles in the twentieth century to cure, control, and conquer it to a radical new understanding of its essence. Physician, researcher, and award-winning science writer, Siddhartha Mukherjee examines cancer with a cellular biologist’s precision, a historian’s perspective, and a biographer’s passion. The result is an astonishingly lucid and eloquent chronicle of a disease humans have lived with—and perished from—for more than five thousand years.


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot*

I heard about her when I started my first job out of undergrad working in a cancer research lab. When I asked where the cancer cells came from, I was told, "From a lady that died a long time ago. " Little did I know…
Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping. Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave.

 Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 

As I diversify my genre selection, I also want to read books written by authors from other parts of the world. I've added Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to this list.  

Fifteen-year-old Kambili's world is circumscribed by the high walls and frangipani trees of her family compound. Her wealthy Catholic father, under whose shadow Kambili lives, while generous and politically active in the community, is repressive and fanatically religious at home. When Nigeria begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili's father sends her and her brother away to stay with their aunt, a University professor, whose house is noisy and full of laughter. There, Kambili and her brother discover a life and love beyond the confines of their father's authority.


As a Man Thinketh by James Allen 

This book was recommended by Amazon. I think they may have gotten this one right! 

"As a Man Thinketh" reveals how our thoughts determine reality. Whether or not we are conscious of it, our underlying beliefs shape our character, our health and appearance, our circumstances, and our destinies. Allen shows how we can master our thoughts to create the life we want.


The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho*

While at an event this summer hosted by Rosetta who blogs at The Happy Black Woman, I told Julia (she blogs at All About the Pretty) that I had only been reading nonfiction because of the learning aspect. She raved about this book and told me that it was as good as any nonfiction book in that regard. So here it is on my to be read list.

"The Alchemist" is the magical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure as extravagant as any ever found. From his home in Spain he journeys to the markets of Tangiers and across the Egyptian desert to a fateful encounter with the alchemist. The story of the treasures Santiago finds along the way teaches us, as only a few stories have done, about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, learning to read the omens strewn along life's path, and, above all, following our dreams.

The Christian Atheist: Believing in God but Living as if He Doesn’t Exist by Craig Groeschel  

After reading Chazown I wanted to know what else Groeschel had written. Something about this book struck a chord with me so I added it to my to be read list. 

After over a decade of successful ministry, he had to make a painful self admission: although he believed in God, he was leading his church like God didn't exist. Christians and Christian Atheists everywhere will be nodding their heads as they are challenged to take their own honest moment and ask the question: am I putting my whole faith in God but still living as if everything was up to me?

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah 

Christa of Mental Foodie: A Book and Food Lover commented on a recent post and suggested this book. 

The author now twenty-five years old, tells a riveting story: how at the age of twelve, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen, he'd been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts.This is a rare and mesmerizing account, told with real literary force and heartbreaking honesty.


Conversations with Myself  by Nelson Mandela*

I feel like I should put myself on punishment for not having read a book written by Nelson Mandela. I've decided to make this one my first; many will follow. 

After a lifetime of taking pen to paper to record thoughts and events, hardships and victories, he has bestowed his entire extant personal papers, which offer an unprecedented insight into his remarkable life. A singular international publishing event, Conversations with Myself draws on Mandela’s personal archive of never-before-seen materials to offer unique access to the private world of an incomparable world leader.

 The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill*  (alternatively titled Someone Knows My Name)

Some of you know that I'm a sucker for a book with an attractive cover and a minority author. This book has both. And since it is also accompanied by numerous 5 star reviews, it was a no brainer. I added The Book of Negroes to my to be read list. 

Kidnapped as a child from Africa, Aminata Diallo is enslaved in South Carolina but escapes during the chaos of the Revolutionary War. In Manhattan she becomes a scribe for the British, recording the names of blacks who have served the King and earned freedom in Nova Scotia. But the hardship and prejudice there prompt her to follow her heart back to Africa, then on to London, where she bears witness to the injustices of slavery and its toll on her life and a whole people. It is a story that no listener, and no reader, will ever forget.

What books should I add to this list? Have you read any of these?  

And while I'm listing books, I have several books that I started but I did not finish. I plan to pick them up again, eventually:

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

I wrote a "Why I Didn't Finish...." post on this one and after reading your comments, this book has been recategorized. I will finish Infidel because after all, you guys know something about books too!

Raised in a strict Muslim family, Hirsi Ali survived civil war, female circumcision, brutal beatings, an adolescence as a devout believer, the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, and life in four countries under dictatorships. She escaped from a forced marriage and sought asylum in the Netherlands, where she fought for the rights of Muslim women and the reform of Islam, earning her the enmity of reactionary Islamists and craven politicians.

Love Under the Kola Nut Tree by Esther Lamnyam

I purchased this book after hearing the author speak. I put it down over a year ago but always intended to finish it. It is a powerful book with compelling lessons that I still think about today. I want to finish it in 2012.

A devastating accident brings to light a long-kept secret that now threatens to tear apart a family. When 5-year-old Micah Walker is hit by a car, the esteemed Dr. Morgan discovers that the boy’s father is not his biological parent. Find out how an act of infidelity opens onto a mystical path of spiritual awakening in a new, unconventional romance novel. After marital counseling fails, a visiting African queen begins to teach the Walkers and their friends also experiencing heart wrenching relationship drama laws and secrets of nature and ancient truths concerning men and women. These laws are constant, can’t be plea bargained, or manipulated. It is a journey that branches onto unexpected paths. This spiritual quest leads the queen to Dr. Morgan, who has a secret of his own that will restore the balance of power between men and women.

Medisin by Scott Whitaker and Jose Fleming

I found this book back in 2008 and made it just over half way through before stopping. I want to finish this one but at this point I think I will have to start from the beginning.

The causes and solutions to disease, malnutrition and the medical sins that are killing the world. Do you really know the effects of the chemicals in the foods that you're eating? Did you know that your lack of awareness about the connection between the pharmaceutical industry and those who govern Agribusiness are at the core of most common illnesses? Yes, this book uncovers the conspiracy of the Medical Industry, while at the same time guiding its readers back to a pathway of sound health

Maxed Out by James D Scurlock

I wrote a "Why I Didn't Finish...." post on this one as well. Shortly after that post, I received an email nudging me to finish it. I will try something new with this book and write a review that's strictly informational.

"Maxed Out" ventures beyond the mind-numbing statistics to expose a financial industry spinning wildly out of control. From the gilded master-planned communities of Northern Las Vegas to the shotgun shacks of the Deep South, the world's largest financial institutions are trolling for customers, hooking the nouveau riche and the poor alike with promises of cheap and easy credit. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Why I Didn't Finish 'Infidel' by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Why I bought it
The cover. I felt like she was looking directly at me! I passed this book several times before finally deciding to buy it on my third trip to the Borders going out of business sale.  
Why I didn’t finish it 
It wasn’t moving fast enough for me. It included too many details and read too much like a diary. After 1 ½ weeks, I was not even half way finished. Instead of spending another 2 or 3 weeks drudging through, I decided to call it quits. 

One thing I enjoyed about the chapters in  Part I: My Childhood is that Ali often speaks from her perspective as a child instead of as an adult looking back. It was impressive that she could retell these events without imposing her adult point of view.  

Much of what Ali remembers from her upbringing is abuse and neglect from her mother and grandmother. She also spends a significant amount of time trying to understand the teachings of Islam. As her family moves from Ethiopia to Saudi  Arabia to Kenya, Ali observes the role religion and politics plays in each of these countries.

I did not make it to Part II: My Freedom.

Will I finish it?

Have you read Infidel? What did you think?

*Update 12/7/2011* You may want to look below at the comments on this one. I didn't finish it but other avid readers have a different opinion! Join the conversation! 

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Infidel on Amazon
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