Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Book Talk - March Reads

Read any good books lately?  I haven't been reading as much as I'd like, but I thought I'd share a couple of good reads that I came across this month. 

 Honolulu by Alan Brennert

I found this to be an easy and interesting read-- especially so because my parents & grandparents were  born and raised in Hawaii, most of my family still lives there, and even though I'm a native Californian, I consider Hawaii "home". The sugar plantations, pineapple canneries, "camps" are all part of my family's history and the characters and their experiences just seem so real to me.  Oh, and the mention of all the yummy "mixed plate" food just makes me salivate... which is bad since I tend to read late at night. So anyhow, back to "Honolulu"... This book is about a Korean girl whose desire to escape the binds of Confucian-era Korea lands her in colorful and often lawless Honolulu at the turn of the 20th Century.  Her story is woven around many of the historic events and personalities that shaped Hawaiian culture-- Ever wonder where the term "local" came from?; Why Hawaii traditionally votes Democrat?;  Hawaiian shirts, anyone?  Whether you've a "local", seasoned visitor or are planning to visit someday, you'll find this to be a historically accurate, well-researched and compelling story. 


The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba, Bryan Mealer

If you ever find yourself having a "my life sucks... why me?" kind of day, I highly recommend this book for some real life inspiration.  This is the true story of William Kamkwamba, a 14 year old boy from Malawi whose perserverance and drive overcomes the obstacles that he faces daily-- poverty, famine, lack of education, no resources, corrupt government... to name just a few. His dream is not all that unusual-- To get an education and to find a way to better the lives of his family and village.  But how he does it-- without the benefit of education, simple resources, and especially in a time of famine, is truly inspiring.  It's easy to forget that he lives in "modern" times.  There is a shocking juxtaposition between what little resources he has in third world Africa and the abundance and waste that most citizens of first world countries experience daily.  It was so refreshing to see the world through his eyes and be inspired by the tenacity and beauty of the human spirit.