Radio Shangri-La by Lisa Napoli
What's going on when a country bravely tosses the idea of measuring a society's worth in GNP and seizes upon attempting to measure it instead with Gross National Happiness? I've always been curious about Bhutan. Sadly, Napoli reveals in this book that the food in Bhutan is abysmal, but in every other way Napoli finds a small Eden, epitomized by the fact that Bhutan is a country where the king's phone number is actually published in the local phone book.
(Side note: Just when I was feeling all gooey and lovey-dovey about Bhutan, I went to a family get-together last week and my nephew started telling me the sad story of a new fellow at his job who is a refugee from Bhutan, fleeing Bhutan because of persecution there for his religious beliefs. So you might wait a bit before you start packing....)
The Magnetic North by Sara Wheeler
Wheeler takes her readers places no one has been, places no one really wants to go except via books. This time, she guides us through the frozen north, the lands and waters north of the Arctic Circle. She's an ideal guide, one who seeks out all the coolest (in both senses of the word) spots and who finds all the best of the Arctic stories, and relates her tales with a delightfully literate vocabulary.
My Korean Deli by Ben Ryder Howe
There are books I read that make me wish I were as good at reviewing books as I am at reading them. This book is one of these.
Howe is the WASP-iest of WASPs, with Pilgrim ancestors who came over on the first boats, and an A+ education. He's an editor at the Paris Review which, to the five of us who continue to salute the written word, is up there with the Supreme Ruler of the Western World. He's married to a woman who is a new immigrant, with that killer drive which leaves the rest of us watching her zip by as we watch by the edge of the highway, dazzled and dazed.
The story is really the story of America today told with both humor and sadness, an America sitting proudly on its crumbling throne, an America where new immigrants vigorously race around to throw together businesses that fail nevertheless, where intelligence doesn't work, where energy doesn't work, where nothing works, where everyone is left sad and bewildered. All in a humorous way.
What are you reading today?
And don't forget!
What is the Sunday Salon?
Imagine some university library's vast reading room.
It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've wandered in.
They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them,
and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound journals as they go.
Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and
compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake....
That's what happens at the Sunday Salon, except it's all virtual.
Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week's Salon
get together--at their separate desks, in their own particular time zones--and read.
And blog about their reading. And comment on one another's blogs.
Think of it as an informal, weekly, mini read-a-thon,
an excuse to put aside one's earthly responsibilities
and fall into a good book.
Click here to join the Salon.