Rambling about books

Book review: North Korea Undercover, by John Sweeney

Award-winning BBC journalist John Sweeney is one of the few to have witnessed at first hand the devastating reality of life in the controversial and isolated nation of North Korea.

Posing as a university professor, Sweeney went undercover to gain unprecedented access to the world’s most secret state. He spoke to people who have seen the horrific dark side of the regime and saw things which have been hidden for years from the eyes of the western world: huge factories with no staff or electricity; hospitals with no patients; uniformed child soldiers; and the world-famous and eerily empty DMZ – the De-Militarized Zone where North Korea ends and South Korea starts – all framed by the relentless flow of regime propaganda from omnipresent loudspeakers.

Sweeney also visited South Korea and met defectors from the North who told him the other side of the story: gulags within a gulag state, dire poverty, blunted lives, hideous torture, effective infanticide of disabled babies, stick-limbed children dying of famine and mass graves of political prisoners that could only be dug when the spring thaw set in.

With the world’s eyes focused on North Korea, Sweeney’s timely account is a stunning piece of reportage from the country the author describes as the strangest place he’s ever visited. A combination of first person experiences, new and revealing interviews, and history, North Korea Undercover examines the country’s troubled history and provides a window into life there today. Goodreads.

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Rambling about books

Book review: Modern Romance, by Azis Ansari & Eric Klinenberg

Do you know why I like Azis Ansari? Go and watch his stand-up shows, and/or watch the pilot episode for Master of None. I don’t think I need to elaborate on how interesting it is to listen to Azis Ansari. Having said that, I am beyond excited when I saw this book whilst I was browsing a bookstore last year. The theme of the topic reminds me of an episode where Azis was a guest on The Conan Show and he was talking about online dating and how he’s not into that. It was funny, and imagine having to read a whole entire book on his thoughts about romance; modern romance to be precise. Will Azis be as funny as he was in The Conan Show, as sarcastic as during his stand-up shows, as witty as his character in Master of None?

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Rambling about books

Book review: If the Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Quran, by Carla Power

Book cover from Goodreads

Anybody who forces people to change their beliefs, they are not a teacher. Learning should come from understanding properly, not from being forced.

If you think this is a book about Quran, I’m not going to say that you are wrong, but you are most definitely not right either. This is a book about someone who wants to know more, who loves to discuss, who wants to understand without prejudice, who wants to be a part of something that is foreign from them; ultimately this book is about learning, whether it be about Quran, Islam, acceptance, tolerance, or simply about life.

The book is the results of the author’s discussion with her friend,Sheikh Mohammad Akram Nadwi, after a yearlong journey through the Quran. The journey took them all the way from London to the Sheikh’s hometown in Lucknow, covering the topics about the world right down to the most personal discussion of the loss of their parents.

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Rambling about books

Book review: Mythology 101: From Gods and Goddesses to Monsters and Mortals, Your Guide to Ancient Mythology, by Kathleen Sears

Book cover from Goodreads

Explore the fascinating myths of Greek and Roman civilizations

The tales of gods and heroes are often turned into tedious discourse that even Ovid would reject. This easy-to-read guide cuts out the boring details, and instead, provides you with a thrilling lesson in classic mythology.

From the heights of Mt. Olympus to the depths of the Underworld, this book takes you on an unforgettable journey through all the major myths born in ancient Greece and Rome, such as Achilles’s involvement in the Trojan War; Pluto’s kidnapping of the beautiful Proserpina; and the slaying of Medusa by Perseus, the heroic demi-god. You’ll also learn all about the wonders of the world as well as the greatest creatures ever recorded in history.

Like Charon navigating the River of Wailing, Mythology 101 will guide you through the most glorious (and completely terrifying) tales the ancient world has to offer. Goodreads Continue reading “Book review: Mythology 101: From Gods and Goddesses to Monsters and Mortals, Your Guide to Ancient Mythology, by Kathleen Sears”

Rambling about books

Book review: Religion 101: From Allah to Zen Buddhism, an Exploration of the Key People, Practices, and Beliefs That Have Shaped the Religions of the World, by Peter Archer

Book cover from Goodreads

Discover the origins and traditions of world religions!With so many religions in the world, it isn’t always easy to recall each faith’s key influences, spiritual figures, and dogmas. Written in easy-to-understand language, “Religion 101” offers a fascinating–and memorable–glimpse at the sacred stories, traditions, and doctrines that have influenced today’s most popular religions. Goodreads

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Rambling about books

Book review: F*ck Feelings: One Shrink’s Practical Advice for Managing All Life’s Impossible Problems, by Michael I. Bennett, MD and Sarah Bennett

Book cover from Goodreads

In this brilliantly sensible and funny book, a Harvard-educated shrink and his comedy-writing daughter reveal that the real f-words in life are “feelings” and “fairness.” While most self-help books are about your feelings and fulfilling your wildest dreams, F*ck Feelings will show you how to find a new kind of freedom by getting your head out of your ass and yourself onto the right path toward realistic goals and feasible results. F*ck Feelings is the last self-help book you will ever need! (Goodreads)

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Rambling about books

Book review: Severed: A history of Heads Lost and Heads Found, by Frances Larson

Book cover from Goodreads

From the western collectors whose demand for shrunken heads spurred brutal massacres, to the Second World War soldiers who sent the remains of Japanese opponents home to their girlfriends; from the memento mori in Romantic portraits to Damien Hirst’s platinum skull set with diamonds; from grave-robbing phrenologists to skull-obsessed scientists, Larson explores the bizarre, fantastical and confounding history of the severed head, and offers us a new perspective on our macabre preoccupations.

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