Friday, January 9, 2009

2009 Books

1. Half of a Yellow Sun - Ngozi Adichie
2. From Beirut to Jerusalem - Thomas Friedman
3. The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
4. Dreams From My Father - Barack Obama
5. Regeneration - Pat Barker
6. The Eye In The Door - Pat Barker
7. The Ghost Road - Pat Barker
8. The Cellist of Sarajevo - Steven Galloway
9. Twilight - Stephenie Meyer
10. The Glass Castle - Jeannette Walls
11. New Moon - Stephenie Meyer
12. Eclipse - Stephenie Meyer
13. Breaking Dawn - Stephenie Meyer
14. Three Junes - Julia Glass
15. Master & Commander - Patrick O'Brian
16. Persuasion - Jane Austen
17. When A Crocodile Eats the Sun - Peter Godwin
18. Wicked - Gregory Maguire
19. Kitchen Confidential
I started 'War and Peace' while on vacation in Mexico and I'm about 500 pages into it (with another 900 to go). I've decided to finish it when I'm on vacation this summer - it's just not the kind of book you can read during the work year.

Review of Half of a Yellow Sun

This book was recommended by a friend who has spent several years working and living in various countries in Africa. I was excited to try something completely new. It tells the story of a wealthy Nigerian woman, Olanna, in the years leading up to and during the Nigerian-Biafra war, a time and place that I knew absolutely nothing about prior to picking up the book. The story follows Olanna and her intellectual academic husband as the war surrounds them and then takes over their lives.

Adichie is a good writer, and her scenes are described so clearly that it's as though you're there, standing in the corner of the room watching as the drama unfolds. But the book never really grabbed me. I kept waiting for it to pick up, turning the page thinking, 'now' it's going to really start getting interesting. But that climax never came.

When I put down the book and thought about writing this review, I had to think for a while about what it was that didn't make me love this book (even though I did indeed like it). And this is what I came up with: although her writing is clear and descriptive, she never really delves into any emotional depth of the characters. Although she writes about their feelings and emotions, they are always only skin deep, and never enough to give a real sense of who the character is - she only scratched the surface with each of them, and therefore I never really got a sense of who any of them really were.

But it's an interesting piece of history that shaped the country and its people, and I'm glad that I read the book.