Joshua Foer 'Atlas Obscura'
‘Atlas Obscura’ is an unusual travel guide that focuses on the world’s weird and wonderful places. You will find no familiar tourist sights and experiences here, only fascinating and eccentric spots that have been abandoned or overlooked.
Among the many curious and out-of-the-way sites that deserve a visit: dazzling glow-worm caves in New Zealand… Amsterdam’s Electric Ladyland Museum of Fluorescent Art …a spectacular underground salt mine city in Poland…Australia’s startlingly bright pink Lake Hillier…the Canadian house built from 500,000 empty glass bottles…
Although you may have to wait a while before travelling, if you are an adventurous explorer and are inspired by what you see, the guide has maps and practical travel instructions on how to arrange a visit.
I would recommend this as an interesting read that will inspire your sense of wonder!.
Atlas Obscura by Joshua Foer available as an eBook through Libby.
Nick Hornby 'About a Boy'
Will is a cool and trendy guy in his thirties. He doesn't have any responsibilities and he is okay with that. He hates children and doesn't see why anyone would want them. He doesn't need to work, and he likes his days being his own.
Marcus is a teenager. He is not cool or trendy, and he doesn't mind one bit. He finds school hard as other children make fun of him.
When Will decides that he needs a woman in his life he focuses on a single parents group as the perfect place to meet someone; this is an unexpected decision given his feelings towards small people but, he reasons, he will attract a higher calibre of woman because women with children are desperate and grateful to find someone who will go out with them.
As a result of this somewhat heartless plan Will meets Marcus and a rather lovely friendship develops between the two. A role-reversal friendship between a man who hasn't grown up and a boy who is old before his time. What one lacks the other can help with and they somehow manage to fill the gaps in one another's lives.
This a feel-good story, written in a humorous way, and although the subject matter can sometimes be quite serious, it never gets too heavy because of the positive, sometimes naive, attitudes of the two main characters. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a light and amusing read, also because it is a positive story that shows that if you push yourself beyond your usual comfort zone, you can improve not only your own life but the lives of the people around you.
About a Boy by Nick Hornby is available as an eBook through Libby.
Khaled Hosseini 'A Thousand Splendid Suns'
This is the first Khaled Hosseini book I have read and certainly won't be the last. It is very well written and extremely gripping; in parts I smiled, laughed, and cried. The story is enthralling and you totally engage with the characters and care what happens to them. It is a world away from the life most of us are familiar with but the description of places and characters submerge you into this world. It is one of those books that you think, just one more chapter...
It is an incredible story spanning thirty years of Afghan history with a deeply moving story of family, friendship, faith and the comfort to be found in love and hope. It has memorable likeable and unlikeable characters with a plot that is eye-opening, educational and emotionally draining at times. Compelling and heart breaking, this story stays with you long after you have put the book down; it makes me thankful for the life I have.
Overall, this is a beautiful, thought provoking story. Whilst it is captivating, it is an incredibly hard read at times and there are certain situations that trigger difficult emotions but please stick with it to the end. I certainly thought about the book when I was not reading it. A definite sign of a good book.
Margot Lee Shetterly 'Hidden Figures'
An important and inspiring book. This is the story of the African American mathematicians who contributed to NASA's success. Shetterly focuses on the stories of four women: Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson and Christine Darden. She delves into the historical context of the women's lives, highlighting the sacrifices they made and the significant barriers they faced. Namely, racial segregation in all areas of society.
Shetterly shines a light on the transforming power of education. Hampton, Virginia, has a strong tradition of Black academics who lead and influenced people; of which the NASA mathematicians were part. The author is very good at making you feel you are alongside these women as they struggle, achieve and succeed in their lives.
I give this book a 5-star rating and would recommend it for book groups.
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly is available as an eBook through Libby.
Edward Snowden 'Permanent Record'
Deception, conspiracies and exotic locations. ‘Permanent Record’ is a book with themes that could fill the latest Bond franchise and yet, Snowden, the IT guy, is far from what most people would picture as a character from the world of espionage. The book shows the more mundane, everyday desk-bound view of contemporary intelligence. This might sound dull, but as you read this review from a screen linked to the internet, you too are dragged into the secrets and little-known connections that surround our everyday lives. It will certainly make you think the next time you purchase another book online!
Two-thirds of this book is filled with stories of Snowden’s background and childhood, the purpose of which is to paint a picture of an all-American boy: a patriot from a family of heroes with links that go back to the first settlers. The story picks up as he travels to his overseas posts, later followed by his lover, which he must lie to and trust with his life. The day he decides to break with everything that he has worked for, and lived with, is as gripping as any thriller.
Ultimately, this is the story of a regular person with a life and a family just like the rest of us. If anything, this book will open your eyes to the connections we have with the rest of the world and how our everyday lives are filled with secrets and lies.
Permanent Record by Edward Snowden is available as an eBook through Libby.