Thursday, December 15, 2011

Even Silence Has An End: My Six Years in Captivity in the Colombian Jungle

Even Silence Has an End: My Six Years in Captivity in the Colombian Jungle
Author: Ingrid Betancourt
Source: My friend Ali B
Days to Read: 10
Ali and I frequently exchange books and I am always excited to read a book that has been recommended by a fellow reader. When I began reading Even Silence Has an End, I was immediately interested. The book is a true story of a woman's experience as a hostage of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia in Colombia. Prior to her kidnapping and six and a half years spent in captivity, Ingrid Betancourt was a Colombian presidential candidate. Knowing practically nothing of politics in Colombia the initial back story of Ingrid's life was easy to follow. Her description of life in the jungle is chilling. The conditions of how she lived and how she was treated are appalling. However there were instances throughout the book when a small kindness was shown to her by a fellow hostage or she was able to establish a human connection with one of the guards, and these infrequent happenings resonated loudly against the many pages of depressing details.
However after about half way through the book, I became frustrated with the circle of events; prepare for escape, talk about escape, escape, get captured, repeat. I am sure Ms. Betancourt wanted to include everything that she went through and to really drive home how awful being a hostage was but I feel that the point was clearly made and then dragged on and as a result, lost its impact.
Overall I give this book a 6.
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Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Pro Archia Poeta (In Defense of Aulus Licinius Archias the poet)

My dad drew my attention to this speech and in particular an excerpt that, as an avid reader, I relate to. The opinion of Cicero in 62 B.C., I'm sure, still strikes a chord with many. I just love this quote!

"And yet let us leave aside for a moment any practical advantage that literary studies may bring. For even if their aim were pure enjoyment and nothing else, you would still, I am sure, feel obliged to agree that no other activity of the mind could possibly have such a broadening and enlightening effect. For there is no other occupation upon earth which is so appropriate to every time and every age and every place. Reading stimulates the young and diverts the old, increases one's satisfaction when things are going well, and when they are going badly provides refuge and solace. It is a delight in the home; it can be fitted in with public life; throughout the night, on journeys, in the country, it is a companion which never lets me down."

On to the next book!
Stay tuned for my reviews of Even Silence Has An End by Ingrid Betancourt and Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah
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Friday, December 02, 2011

The Pillars of the Earth

The Pillars of the Earth
Author: Ken Follett
Source: My friend Charlie from work
Days to Read: 9
Before reading this book I had mixed feelings. I had heard from someone that it was difficult to get into and that there was a lot of description so certain passages could be quite boring. However, Charlie assured me that it was a great book and that I should give it a try. I am very glad that I did because it is just my cup of tea!
My favourite genre to read are historical novels. One of my all-time favourite books is The Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George. Like The Memoirs of Cleopatra, The Pillars of the Earth has everything you could want in a book; love, history, adventure, and action.
The basic premise of the book details the building of a cathedral and all the lives of the people involved. A master builder and his family pass through village after village looking for work. The father’s dream is to build a cathedral bigger and more beautiful than any other in England. They settle in Kingsbridge, England and the priory that eventually hires the master builder, Tom, is struggling against the more powerful Prior and Nobleman of the area. It is a constant battle between good and evil, every man wanting more for themselves and manipulating their way to the top.
Another prominent character, the daughter of the ousted Earl of Shiring, Aliena, is a strong female character that you grow to love and respect. Aliena’s perseverance as not only a lady who has fallen to peasantry, but also as a business woman in a world dominated by men, is empowering.
There are many characters in the book with different story lines that intertwine with one another. All the story lines keep the book interesting and they work together quite well in following the main story line.
I have returned the book to Charlie and two days later received the sequel, World Without End. This is now on my stack of books to read and I only hope it is as good as The Pillars of the Earth!
* One thing to note however is there are some graphic scenes that I was not expecting and thus took me by surprise at their vulgarity.
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