I’m blessed to have extremely literate, well-read friends who share their favorite books with me. This comes in handy, because I don’t have much time, but I LOVE TO READ.
I’d like to figure out which social networking site works best for books (shelfari? goodreads?) and post all the books I read there, but in the meantime here are three I highly recommend.
Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi by Geoff Dyer – This was a good read, but I only recommend it if you have an interest in the art world. Because I am, and have attended art fairs, and mingled with art critics and artists, I was fascinated by the setting of the Venice Biennale – and the fact that the main character is an art writer. This guy is also on the manic, neurotic side, which I don’t mind, and other people might. As the title suggest, the first half of the book is set in Venice where Jeff is trying to make sense of his life while have a terrific time with a woman he meets (nice sex scenes!); the second half takes place in India, where, well, things make less sense.
Zeitoun by Dave Eggers – is one that I’ll be recommending to people for a while. It reads like a novel, but is the true account of one man and his family’s experience of Hurricane Katrina. Zeitoun stays behind to take care of the house and his numerous business assets around the city, so you get to read about the surreal beauty of the city under water, while the water is still clear and fresh – before the rot and contamination set in. And then because Zeitoun is silently floating about in an aluminum canoe, he is able to hear the quiet calls of help of people stranded in their homes. The first woman he rescues is a 200-pound 80-year old woman floating near the ceiling in her dining room holding onto the top of her bookcase.
The real truth that is uncovered here, though, is not so much the devastating effects of the storm, but the United States government’s reaction to the crisis. That’s what’s truly horrifying.
And on the topic of uncovering, Annie Leonard’s book The Story of Stuff is the mama of all unreveals. She takes you through the history of your favorite t-shirt, from extraction, production, distribution, consumption, and disposal – much the same way Michael Pollan traced the origins of four meals. This book is the culmination of ten years of research and presents information EVERYBODY NEEDS TO KNOW. Fortunately, it’s well-written and riveting read.
For instance, do you know that of everything that comes into your home – what percentage is still there after six months? ONLY 1% – everything else has been trashed or passed on, but mostly trashed.
Also, the average American creates 4.6 pounds of garbage A DAY. I thought, well, that seems like a lot compared to China, where the average Chinese produces only .7 pounds a day. It was mortifying and humbling to read on that AUSTRALIANS only produce 2.7 pounds a day, and CANADIANS only 1.79 a day!
Below you’ll find the 20-min youtube video of the same name that first put Annie Leonard on the map.