Tuesday, May 6, 2014

SOUL BOOKS: recommended reading.

This month I got around to putting a dent in my long-ignored to-read list. Most of the books I read brought me pleasure but the two that stand out and will live forever in my read-over-and-over list are:

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now. 

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault. 

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

MY TAKE: Green has taken a difficult and morbid fact of life, the ugliness of cancer, and given his reader a romance to take to the grave.

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian

'How do a million and a half people die with nobody knowing? You kill them in the middle of nowhere.'
When Elizabeth Endicott, a young American woman travels on an aid mission to Syria in 1915, little does she realise what atrocities she will have to face. For Aleppo is the final resting place for the hundreds of thousands of Armenians who have been forced to march out of Turkey and through the desert to Syria. There she meets Armen, an Armenian soldier who lost his wife and daughter to the genocide. Thrown together in the unlikeliest of circumstances, their shared experience of the unspeakable events unfolding around them binds them together with an unbreakable bond.

MY TAKE: The book is the story of defeating your enemy  simply by surviving. 
Armenians still suffer at the hands of Turks and Syrians to this day. Most of the world still doesn't know about the Armenian Genocide that happened in WW1 and I think that is an added abomination of what happened to these people. 
I know a few Armenians. They are good, fun-loving people. They tell me stories about what their grandparents/families went through a hundred years ago. They told me this story too...
Once a reporter decided to write about modern Armenia and Armenians, especially its women. He searched for pictures of Armenian women and the first picture he came across was of an eighty-year-old grandmother toting a massive shotgun, protecting her home and hearth. That says it all, Dear Reader, about what life is all about.

Let me end with the famous words of William Wallace, the Scot of Braveheart fame.

You have come to fight as free men, and free men you are. What will you do with that freedom? Will you fight? Aye, fight and you may die, run and you'll live. At least a while. And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take our freedom!

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