From Lawrence of Arabia to the Discworld….my recently read reviews!

Hello,

Pre little piggies, I was an avid reader. It didn’t matter what it was, I would read it. Fiction, non-fiction, biographies, autobiographies, you name it. If it interests me I’ll read it. I do have one rule though, once you begin a book you must finish it. This rule has occasionally made me regret my promise to myself. Especially when it has been a particularly gruelling read.

Stack of books with Kindle.
Stack of books with Kindle.

However since the arrival of my little pigs, reading has often fallen by the wayside. Since my discovery of crochet I read even less so. After all there are only so many hours in the day. Lets be honest by the time I’ve survived past the final push of bedtime. It is all I can do not to sit on the sofa and stare uncomprehending at the television, while my mind desperately tries to reboot itself.

Anyway I am getting off topic ,the last four books I have read were as follows and below are my thoughts and opinions of them.

  1. Seven Pillars of Wisdom and The Evolution of a Revolt by T.E.Lawrence
  2. Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett
  3. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  4. Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

Seven Pillars of Wisdom and The Evolution of a Revolt by T.E.Lawrence

I chose to read this after having read a few biographies of different people. All of them had lived and worked in Saudi Arabia and the Arab Emirates. T.E.Lawrence or as many know him ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ wrote much about his experiences, and his role in the Arab uprising against Germany and Turkey. I am glad that I read his works but I can’t say that I found it easy. It was incredibly hard going not just because of the subject, but also down to Lawrence’s style of prose (it took me six months to get through his works, and I class myself as a fairly quick reader).

That being said the book gave me exactly what I wanted, which was a greater insight into the Middle East’s turbulent history. At times I found this an uncomfortable read as it became clear, according to Lawrence’s own narrative. That our country’s intentions and interference had been less than noble. It is clear throughout his works that Lawrence’s own conscience too, is plagued by guilt and at times self-loathing at the revolt that he is bringing about. If you are interested in this region of the world, then it is definitely a book to be read. However brace yourself, it will not be an easy read.

One well loved Kindle.
One well loved Kindle.

Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett

After having recently finished a hard and mentally taxing read, I dove into the Discworld created by Terry Pratchett. I find this fictional world comforting, humorous, and the perfect escape from reality. If you are familiar with this series you will already know of the three witches Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick. Even if you aren’t familiar with the Discworld series, this book requires no prior knowledge.

A rather hilarious and cynical take on well known fairytales. Lighthearted but as also with Terry Pratchett peppered with a whole lot of wisdom. This book explores the sides of good and bad. What happens when rather terrible things are done for the supposed cause of good. I rather quite like the idea of being a crotchety Granny Weatherwax in my old age.This makes a great read whether your on holiday, in the bath, or in bed before you switch out the lights. Below are a couple of my favourite quotes from the book.

“Good and bad is tricky,” she said “I ain’t too certain about where people stand. P’raps what matters is which way you face.”

“People think that stories are shaped by people. In fact, it’s the other way around.”

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

This book was given as a gift at Christmas, it is not the first book that I would have chosen for myself. It follows the life and death of Paul Kalanithi. At a relatively young age he is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. It seems a cruel twist of irony that a neurosurgeon who saved the life of many, should be stuck down by such a disease at the age of 36. A little hesitant due to my own family’s medical history (my own mother died at the age of 46 when I was 15), I began this novel. This account of his life and approach towards his death sucked me in with a ferocity that I hadn’t expected. Once I had started I struggled to put it down.

Inspirational, at times almost poetic, this philosophical and scientific approach to death was laced throughout with a brutal honesty. It made me wonder if I would ever be able to look into the welcoming arms of death myself, and maintain such  a graceful and calm acceptance. Curiosity is always my strongest feeling when I discover that an intrinsically scientific professional can have such a strong faith in God. Yet Paul melded the two in a way that seemed natural. Paul left behind a wife and daughter. This is brought home to you as you read the final chapters (his wife’s chapters).

Poignant, this book is beautifully crafted. Even more impressive was that Paul managed to write with such clarity, at a time when most would struggle to accept their fate. Let alone face it head on. His love for literature shines through every page and I finished this book feeling somewhat bereft. Yet inspired to rediscover my own love for literature once more.

An exquisite memoir about death, this book is a must for the living.

Open book.
Open book.

Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

Most people would know this author by the rather well known novel ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’. I read ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ as an adult quite a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. Living in the UK, segregation between races is not something that as a nation, we have dealt with. It made for a very interesting read. Go Set A Watchman follows on from ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ as we meet Scout once again, no longer a child but now a grown woman. Scout is returning home to the South for a few weeks from New York. The first half of this book lulls you into a false sense of security. Scout has returned to her childhood home and we flashback to her childhood memories, while we meet familiar characters once more. As you progress through this book, unsettling encounters and snatches of conversation begin to seep in.

Scout begins to realise that a lot has been changed, while she has been away in New York. The South is struggling to change and conform to a world without segregation. Neither side of the divide is emerging unscathed. The book is thought provoking. The concept that instead of dismissing and fighting against the prejudices of others, you should instead attempt to understand them  is an unsettling one. In a world of prejudice and anger for so many causes and opinions, perhaps a little more understanding of others might not be such a bad idea.

Stacked books.
Stacked books.

That’s it from me for now. Maybe some of you have read these books too? It would be great to hear your own thoughts and opinions. Hopefully I’ve inspired you to pick up that book or kindle, and dive back into the world of literature. Sometimes it’s easy to forget it exists in a world of technology and social media in our busy modern day lives.

Speak to you soon.

Wishing you well.

Stay At Home Piggy.

 

 

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