Book wrap-up, book-wrap up, when will it end?

I’m so close to caught up with the wrap-ups, and here we are again. These are five of the last books I read.

Bruce by Peter Ames Carlin

This is a Bruce Springsteen biography, it’s from last year, and it’s great. It’s really brucecomprehensive and it’s big. It’s also fascinating. I love Bruce Springsteen, like, a lot. I went to a concert with him this summer and when I found out he was coming to Oslo I made a weird noise that was not a word. I love his music, and I will always any TV-show, or concert with him… ever. I had however never read a book about him. And Whitney at All the Shelves also loves Bruce Springsteen, and she said this was her favorite biography of him, so I went for it. And it’s incredible. It’s so long and full of his whole history (duh), and it covers his firsts bands, him finally forming the E Street Band, breaking up with the E Street Band, and reforming. And all the interviews he’s done indicates that people love Bruce, and that he was always this force of nature when he performs, and he is electric. He writes about Bruce’s closed off personality, and his poetry and his politics, and how he took the tragedy of 9/11 and tried to do everything he could to make people feel less awful. It’s clear that Carlin loves Bruce Springsteen, and wants to tell his story in the best possible way. It was so good. I now want to read more about Bruce Springsteen, because why not? He recently released his autobiography, so I’m going to need to read that. I love Bruce Springsteen, so much. So much.

 

The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee

This is a non-fiction book about science, more specifically about genetics, from Aristotle naming the atom, to Mendel’s pea plant experiments, to DNA, to GMO, to cloning, to the idea that maybe we can eradicate diseases by researching genetics. the-geneMukherjee is a cancer physician and researcher, and he originally hails from India, but lives in America. He uses his own family as a sort of through line in the book. His father’s brothers in India struggled with mental illness, one being schizophrenic, one being bipolar, and both of them going to pieces when they get wrongly diagnosed, and because they live in abject poverty. Mukherjee finds out that it’s quite common to have this pairing, a father having two sons where one is schizophrenic and one is bipolar, and it travels down the generations. He wonders if he carries it inside him, and should he inform his wife in case they have sons? It was a fascinating history. I haven’t had any biology since I went to high school, which is apparently 10 years ago. I’m fine. It was still fairly easy to understand and it was comprehensive. Obviously it’s not completely comprehensive, cause it’s 500 pages, and you can’t cover Aristotle to 2016 in 500 pages, but if covered the basics and the big lines, and it was great. I really want to read his other book which is about cancer.

 

In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park

Yeonmi Park was born in North Korea to a relatively wealthy family. Her father in-order-to-liveoperates on the black market and compared to the average North Korean he has a fair amount of money. When North Korea’s delightful leader cracks down on the black markets he is arrested and his family succumbs to poverty. His wife and daughter’s live on the least possible food, and try their best to get him back. When Yeonmi is 13 her older sister defects and disappears. Yeonmi and her mother goes looking for her and then defect as well. They’re lied to and then trafficked and Yeonmi’s mother is sold to a farmer. Yeonmi is able to avoid being sold for a while by helping her trafficker selling more women. Eventually Yeonmi and her mother get away and get a job, and then manage to defect to South Korea. It was incredibly hard to read and I cried a couple of times. Yeonmi is brave and strong and tough. She is so honest about her captivity and her trafficking. It was fascinating to read about Yeonmi learning about North Korea from the outside. She has been brainwashed to think North Korea is the best country on the planet, and suddenly she learns they’re the poorest and that Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il have been tricking them and abusing their people. She is from an atheist country, because in North Korea the leaders are God, so she struggles to talk against them for a long time. She’s currently regarded as a traitor and enemy by Kim Jong-un. It was so good, and heart breaking, and I want to read more about North Korea.

 

Presidentene by Hans Olav Lahlum (The Presidents)

Hans Olav Lahlum is a Norwegian crime novelist. This book however is a non-fiction book about every single president of the United States. I listened to an abridged presidenteneversion of if, where he gives a history of the 13 sort of most important presidents, or most profiled presidents I guess, and then gives like a quick two-sentence profile of the rest. It was written in 2008, so the last president mentioned is George W. Bush. It was really interesting, and there are definitely things about the US presidents that I didn’t know, because I’m not American, so our school curriculum doesn’t focus too much on them. So what I know about them I have from popular culture to be honest, therefore it was really interesting to hear about these presidents and their lives. I think I want to read some presidential biographies, and this made me want to pick one up quicker. I do have a gripe with the audio book. It’s read by the author and he consistently reads English, and French, German, Russian, names and place names with a Norwegian accent. Sometimes I it didn’t bother me, sometimes it was incredibly jarring (Gerald with a hard G? I’m not sure it’s even Norwegian). Other than that it was a fine audiobook performance.

 

M Train by Patti Smith

M Train is Patti Smith’s second memoir. It’s basically little stories and essays about m-trainher life. Some of them are about her life right now, some are about her early life with her late husband and with her family. It was really beautiful. They mostly focus on places she goes to. A lot of them starts with her going to her favorite café just down the street from where she lives and how that is often the start of her day. It is just a sort of rambling group of stories and essays. She goes on quite a lot of trips and has friends all around the world. She has travelled a lot of these places with her husband, Fred Smith, who passed away in 1994. She keeps remembering them going to these places together, and it’s very beautiful. She has all these memories of him that she can evoke by going somewhere. I really liked it and I want to read Just Kids as well. 

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