“Redhead by the side of the road” is almost a day in a life of Micah – a man encapsulated in his own world where he puts the order of small things about the joy and mess of human interactions: “He lives alone; he keeps to himself; his routine is etched in stone.” When a 17 year old knocks on his door, distressed and in need of a roof, Micah’s life is shaken. His realisation of past relationships failures push him to rekindle his last one in an attempt to embrace the joy and messiness of a life shared with a loved one.
I read it in almost one go, so if you a looking to read something unsoliciting and light, this can work.
If you are looking for inspiration in times of adversity, you’ll find it in this book: “My basic reason for writing this book is that I believe that people can become better at dealing with adversity, if they know the concept Battle Mind, and master the underlying techniques.” the author tells us.
The concept of Battle Mind came from military psychology. Accordingly, the Battle Mind is “a state of mind that helps soldiers survive, focus, and take action in military operations, where there is no room for hesitation.” Merete takes forward the question why do some people perform better under pressure, while others lose control and offers practical guidance and techniques to master the art of dealing with crisis and emergencies.
In addition to the practical advice and actionable tips it offers, I appreciated the book for a number of other reasons. It is rich in real life stories from battle fields to corporate floors to learn from. It contains numerous references to other great books and research papers to get further in-depth inspiration for a “yes, we can” mood any project manager needs to exhibit for the team to follow suit.
“Do yourself a favour and read Independent People. Opening this book is like opening a chest of treasures.”. – Chicago Tribune. Indeed, though arm yourself with a ton of patience, I would say. This was not a fun reading and I suspect it was not a fun translation job. It has to be said that the English translation by J. A. THOMPSON is considered one of the finest into any language of Laxness’s masterpiece.
The main character, Bjartur, requires a lot of patience. His stubbornness is monumental and costs him his wives and children’s lives. His idea of an independent man as an owner of sheep and land is explained at length against the background of economic rise and fall of Iceland during the WWI and shortly after. At some point, the novel felt like a economics and political science book, which was rather annoying, as it did not seem to add to the understanding of the character. Nevertheless, the value of the book of this author awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature and its translation in English remains indisputable.
Yet another great piece by Ruta Sepetys. “Out of the Easy” takes us into the world of a daughter of a prostitute in New Orleans of 1950s.
A mysterious death, the life in a brothel, a strong madam character, blackmail and mobsters, friendship and romance, dreams and aspirations, authenticity of the New Orleans atmosphere and the warmth of human relations all come together for a truly gripping reading.
“Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth?” in this world. A watch of a grand father for the life of a young boy?
This is not an easy reading, as it permeates with human suffering beyond understanding. The plot unfolds in soviet Lithuania of 1941 and takes us on the forced journey of a Lithuanian family to Altai and, then next to the arctic circle. The unbelievable hurdles they go through and their stamina are humbling.
I lived in the soviet Union in the years of its glory and we knew nothing about the price people paid to build the infrastructure and resources we benefited from. It took years for the veil over repressions, forced labour, mass deportation to come down after the fall of the Berlin wall.
I am grateful to authors like Sepetys who do the research, talk to people who lived through it all and then put it on paper for us to read, even as historical fiction.
I am usually not a big fan of short stories. Yet, “A thousand years of good prayers” made me adore each story on their own unique merits.
The love story of Granny Lin in « Extra », the prison of shame in « After a life », the vulnerability to time of cultural figures in “Immortality”, the nobleness of keeping a promise in “Love in the Marketplace”, breaking away from the traditions in “Son”, emotional barriers to communication in “A thousands years of good prayers” are some of the themes we’ll find in the collection along with mythology and storytelling for a great authenticity of Chinese characters. In sum, such an exquisite mastery of the plots makes each story a fully fledged novel.
The interview with Yiyun Li included in this edition offers numerous insights and provides a glimpse into how she writes in her unique way. Highly recommended.