Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Eat, Love Pray and The Caliph's House

Eat Love Pray by Elizabeth Gilbert is one woman's quest to find peace after a divorce. After jumping from divorce into a love affair that didn't work Elizabeth decided to take a year off and try to fulfill some of her dreams. The first third of her year was spent in Italy because she had always wanted to learn Italian. The second was spent in India with a guru and the third in Bali with a medicine man as her guide. The book worked for me because of her ability to realistically describe her despair and later on, her enthusiasm, with just a dash of humor, when learning about spirituality

The Caliph's House: A Year In Casablanca by Shah is a humorous look at the Moroccan people and culture from an outsider's perspective. Shah does a great job at presenting the humor and affection for the culture when describing disastrous moments (of which there were many) as well as the every day details about his new home. I love these kind of books where expatriate are offered advice by a series of well intentioned but ultimately baffling local residents.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Worst Hard Time

The Worst Hard Time : The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan is the heartbreaking story of those who settled the Great Plains only to find themselves in the middle of an eight year drought, not to mention the Depression. Egan highlights the endurance and fighting spirit of these settlers but also tells of those who were broken by disaster after disaster due to the unceasing dust storms.

Egan also points out that government push to turn the Great Plains into farmland caused erosion on a grand scale and it was only with the efforts of FDR's Soil Conservation Service returned the land and prevents another national crisis. At the end of the book he also points out some of the current practices that are depleting our natural resources and could potentially cause another ecological disaster in the future.