January’s Book List

January 31, 2012 § 1 Comment

This is a series of brief book reviews of literary works that have been read by Ben or myself. The book list will be published at the end of the month and will include titles that have been finished in the previous month. All books are rated using the following system:

5 Stars – Excellent. Couldn’t put it down, a real page turner. It’s easy to be a bookworm when the material is this good!

4 Stars – Very Good. Liked most of the book, a little slow in parts. Was an enjoyable read overall.

3 Stars – Average. Nothing really made it stand out. A bit boring. Unrealistic plot.

2 Stars – So-so. Blah. Could only read a few pages before I fell asleep.

1 Stars – Poor. So boring…why did I even finish this??

Cover via Amazon

Read in paperback copy, not currently available as an E-book. 4 and a half Stars.

This is truly an astounding book and should be required reading for anyone living in or traveling to Africa. It is a little boring at times as parts of it read like a textbook (it is a book in ethnography, after all!). The content, however, makes it worth trudging through! This book looks at the social and economic factors of African culture with principles that hold true through almost all (if not all) of African countries. It explains the reasons behind certain behavior that we find “odd’ or “weird” or even “embarrassing” in Western cultures (such as asking friends or employers for loans, why many taxis are not registered with the government even though they are often penalized for it, and why duct tape or twine is a favorite repair tool).

Cover of "Mountains beyond mountains: the...

Cover via Amazon

Read as a paperback, available on Kindle. 3 Stars.

Tracy Kidder writes about the true story of Dr. Paul Farmer and his work in establishing an NGO in Haiti. However, I found it to feel more like fiction than a true story. Mr. Kidder writes about Dr. Farmer in almost a god-like fashion, showing his unrelenting devotion to the Haitian people and how he continues to put aside his own needs in order to help those more in need than himself. I felt like I needed to read between the lines in order to get the true story of what Dr. Farmer was truly like and what message I should take away from his story. In truth, I came away with two points: if an agnostic is doing so much to help the poor and destitute, what the heck are Christians doing? Not to mention, Dr. Farmer’s lifestyle is not sustainable for long-term success. God has ordained the sabbath and rest and we should do good work to help people but we must have time for rest as well as for ministry.

The Hunger Games

Image via Wikipedia

  • The Hunger Games Series: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay

Read as an audiobook, available as an E-book. 3 Stars.

I completed the third of this series in early January so I’m counting it for this month. It seems like everyone is talking about this series and my curiosity was piqued. In truth, I needed an engaging novel for my long drives to and from our NGO office (about a 45 min drive from our house) as well as my time filing paperwork for our research study. It is a futuristic story and centers around Katniss, a teenage girl who goes to the hunger games, which is similar to the Roman gladiator shows. The story kept me going but I found myself annoyed at the actress reading the audiobook. She was slow and deliberate which made me concentrate on some of the unrealistic points of the plot, not to mention the lack of character development. It was good for entertainment. All I had to do was turn my brain off.


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