Books of the month: January

Eastern Sierras, CA. Books are like open roads taking us to fascinating journeys of discoveries...of our own selves, and of the world around us...

Eastern Sierras, CA. Books are like open roads taking us to fascinating journeys of discoveries...of our own selves, and of the world around us...

One of my goals for 2018 is to read even more than what I am normally reading. To spend even less time on social media and more time going through the pages of the many books, old classics and contemporary best-sellers, I have on my ever-growing "must-read" list.

I try to read at least 50 pages a day, which allows me to read, in average, one book per week or every ten days. In January I read these three I will be recommending here on the first of a series of blog posts I will be having every month from now on.

But why should I read novels, one may ask?

To quote Mario Vargas Llosa:

"Fictions exist because of this fact. Because we have only one life, and our desires and fantasies demand a thousand lives. Because the abyss between what we are and what we would like to be has to be bridged somehow. That was why fictions were born: so that, through living this vicarious, transient, precarious, but also passionate and fascinating life that fiction transports us to, we can incorporate the impossible into the possible and our existence can be both reality and unreality, history and fable, concrete life and marvellous adventure".  - Mario Vargas Llosa


So here are the books I read in January...

1. The Bonesetter's Daughter, by Amy Tan

This beautiful story by Amy Tan chronicles the tale of three generations of Chinese women: Precious Auntie, LuLing and Ruth.

Ruth Young and her widowed mother, LuLing, have always had a tumultuous relationship. Now, before she succumbs to forgetfulness thanks to Alzheimer, LuLing gives Ruth some of her writings, which reveal a side of LuLing that Ruth has never known. . . . 

The book is filled with secrets, mysteries, superstitions and curses that one by one are resolved or put to rest. It is a story about the power of family, tradition and love that stretches between generations.

In a remote mountain village where ghosts and tradition rule, LuLing grows up in the care of her mute Precious Auntie as the family endures a curse laid upon a relative known as the bonesetter. When headstrong LuLing rejects the marriage proposal of the coffinmaker, a shocking series of events are set in motion–all of which lead back to Ruth and LuLing in modern San Francisco. The truth that Ruth learns from her mother’s past will forever change her perception of family, love, and forgiveness.

This is a beautiful novel that certainly makes us reflect about our own relationships with our's the first work I read from Amy Tan (one of my goals for this year is also to read more books written by women), and I will certainly read more from her...


2. Into the Wild, by John Krakauer

Surprisingly enough, I had never actually read the book.

I've watched the movie countless times, and its amazing soundtrack has been playing on my iPod over and over again, especially during road trips or when we go camping somewhere.

I really enjoyed the book and I think the movie did a great job capturing the most important aspects of the story.

For those who may not be familiar with it, the book tells the true story of Christopher Johnson McCandless, who, after graduating in May 1990 and giving $25,000 to Oxfam, cut communications with his family and started his journey across Western United States, first on his car and then hitchhiking. 

On April 28, 1992, McCandless made his way to the Stampede Trail in Alaska, where he wanted to  immerse himself in the wild, inspired by authors such as Thoreau and Tolstoy. After almost 3 months, he died of starvation after eating poisonous seeds that had weaken is already fragile physical condition by then.   

While many criticize him for being "too idealistic" and unprepared, he indeed was able to survive for over 3 months in extremely harsh conditions. He obviously made some mistakes along his way, but at least he was out there, pursuing his own dreams, following his own idea of life. 

While I do not idolize him, I do respect him for going after what he was looking for, and the longer I live here in the US the more I understand the need he felt to espace the claustrophobics pressures of society and seek peace and refuge in Nature. I also love the writers who inspired him to hit the road...

The book is a very easy and engaging read, and once you start it is pretty hard to put it down...


3. It's What I Do - A Photographer's Life of Love and War, by Lynsey Addario

Lynsey Addario has always been an inspiration and I've always admired her for courage, ethics and sensibility, as well as for ability to make beautiful and compelling photographs even in the most dangerous environments.  

Her memoir is the story of how her relentless pursuit of truth, in virtually every major theater of war in the twenty-first century, has shaped her life. What she does, with clarity, beauty, and candor, is to document, often in their most extreme moments, the complex lives of others. It’s her work, but it’s much more than that: it’s her singular calling.
As a woman photojournalist determined to be taken as seriously as her male peers, Addario fights her way into a boys’ club of a profession. Rather than choose between her personal life and her career, she learns to strike a necessary balance. In the man who will become her husband, she finds at last a real love to complement her work, not take away from it, and as a new mother, she gains an all the more intensely personal understanding of the fragility of life.

This is a fascinating story of pursuing your dream and giving it all to make it come true. Even if you are not a photographer, this book will certainly inspire you to start or keep fighting for your own dreams and goals in life.

How about you? Which books did you read last month? Have you read one of these I've mentioned here? What did you think of them? What books would you recommend me? 

Thank you! :)


Bernardo Salce