adrian is rad


mini-reviews of every book I’ve read since coming to south africa

Filed under: — adrian @ 6:42 am

in a different time by peter harris
In A Different Time, by Peter Harris, one of the best books I’ve read recently

Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
I started this back in SF and I really wanted to finish it before I came here but things got really busy before I left. Mandela is one of the most inspiring figures of modern times. Everyone focuses on the post-prison Reconciler, but seeing the young, brash, successful Mandela is interesting, as is his reasoning behind various decisions in his life (like starting the military wing of the ANC). Though not faultless, it’s well told and I’d thoroughly recommend it.

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
I flew through this book. It’s an addicting book and I had time on my hands. I saw the ending coming from miles off and the narrators political rants get old, but I still couldn’t put it down.

The Plains of Camdeboo by Eve Palmer
A book about an area of the country that I love (but hadn’t seen at that stage), the Karoo. A mix of family and regional history, plus discussions of the plants, animals and fossils of the area, it wasn’t very interesting at a time—though parts of it came back to me during trips through the area—and unless you’re intensely interested in the area, I’d give it a skip.

New Writing from Africa 2009, editted by JM Coetzee
The first book I bought in South Africa, it’s collection of new writing from Africa with 34 stories from 12 different countries. The quality is pretty hit-or-miss with the best being quite good but many boring stories are contained within as well. Read the prize winning stories in a book store and skip the rest, I’d say.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
As you probably know, this is a novel about a brash, subversive patient at a mental institution which has thus-far been run with an iron fist by the head nurse. It’s definitely worthwhile if you haven’t read it yet.

Playing the Enemy by John Carlin
This is the book that got turned into the movie Invictus. It’s both better researched and better presented than the movie, with both more depth and breadth about the lead-up and triumph of the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa. Quite moving in the end.

Chuck Klosterman IV by Chuck Klosterman
This is a series of essays in Klosterman’s trademark snide, often sidetracking style. I love Klosterman’s writing and I tore through this book which includes interviews, essays and general pop culture pronouncements. I might start with Killing Yourself to Live if you haven’t read anything by him, but if you like his writing already, you’ll like this.

The Blind Side by Michael Lewis
Michael Lewis is a fantastic writer. I enjoyed Moneyball and various essays he’s written for the New Yorker or Vanity Fair and I enjoyed this story of the rise of the left tackle in football and the rise of one player, Michael Oher, through life. Even if you marginally enjoy football, you might like this.

Previous Convictions by A.A. Gill
Various travel stories written by the highly sarcastic British writer. He can be funny but offensive, eg. “Do you think that when the Berlin Wall came down the East Germans were disappointed that there was just more Germany on the other side?” Overall, it was pretty good.

In a Different Time by Peter Harris
Possibly the best book I’ve written this year. Harris was the defense attorney for many cases involving the ANC and this book chronicles the case of the Delmar Four, MK operatives who were tried for a series of crimes including assassination, bombing, etc. Very well told and very thought-provoking.

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
My dad gave me this book about behavior economics, as some call it. Basically, in various situations, people regularly act in ways that aren’t described by classical economics. Ariely has done a lot of studies about this and found fascinating things. (Eg make something FREE! and people go nuts, or people judge such things as value of items and attractiveness of people relatively rather than absolutely.) It’s not the sort of book I normally read, but I found it very interesting.

An Anthropologist On Mars by Oliver Sacks
I really enjoyed Sacks’ Musicophilia so my parents got me this book (autographed, nogal!). It’s a series of case studies on a variety of neurological conditions and disorders. Sacks looks at the artist that perfectly replicates the village of his youth, which he hasn’t visited in 30 years. And the Tourettic surgeon and autistic professor. It’s more in depth about the neurology than Musicophilia which makes it a slower read but also more informative in some ways. I still liked it.

The Girl on the Fridge by Etgar Keret
I just finished this book of short (often 2-4 pages) stories by this Israel author. He uses very concise writing in his often surreal stories; he can say a lot in two pages. A lot of it is set in modern Israel so there are some pretty heavy topics within. Overall, I really liked it.

I recently joined Goodreads. You can see what I books I’ve read/ am reading and whether I like them there.

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