Rico’s Picks

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These are the books that I enjoyed most in February. Some are, of course, purely entertainment while others are very thought provoking, whichever ones you read though I am confident you will like them as much as I did.

#1
The Alchemist
Best Selling Author, Paulo Coelho, brilliant work of fiction, although less than two hundred pages, shows that good things do come in small packages. The Alchemist follows the exploits of a young but wiser than his years Shepard boy, who journeys to Africa in pursuit of his “treasure”. But who finds along the way that treasure is not necessarily represented in material wealth. At its core this book explores the importance of listening to your heart and following your dreams, no matter how far it takes you. If you read only one book from this list, make sure it’s this one.

#2
No Country for Old Men
With “No Country for Old Men” Cormac McCarthy demonstrates again why he deserved to win the Pulitzer Prize. Set in the Mid West during the early 1980’s, the author creates a story that many of us (well ok me) have often dreamed about. What would you do if you found a few million dollars in a suitcase? What if you knew that the people it belonged to would come looking for you? And what price would you pay to keep it? This brilliant crime novel, simplistic in its prose and theme is nevertheless a powerful work of fiction. McCarthy’s narrative style and cleverly believable plot twists will leave you anxiously turning the pages to see what happens next. With material like this it is little wonder the Cohen brothers won the Academy Award for best picture, for their big screen adaptation.

#3
Flowers for Algernon
Winner of the Hugo Award for best short story and the Nebula award for Best Novel, this book is truly a brilliant piece of science fiction literature. Although set in the 1950’s Daniel Keyes style of writing makes it easy to picture this story happening today. The book written in the first person follows the life of Charlie Gordon a mentally challenged person who undergoes a much desired operation to enhance his intelligence. But what price do you pay for changing so suddenly that no one, especially those closest to you can relate to you anymore? This work explores the issues of society’s treatment of those with disabilities, the problems that can arise in the families affected, the uncertainties of love and ambition and the complications that can arise when we actually get what we want.

#4
The Child Who Never Grew
Noble and Pulitzer Prize Winning author Pearl Buck, explores the pain, tragedy and bitter sweetness that can come with having a child that is born mentally or physically challenged. For many years this was a secret kept close to Buck’s heart, explored only indirectly in her works of fiction. Not until many years later, did she reveal to all the existence of her first child Carol and how she went about coping with the difficulties that can arise in a world that wasn’t (and still may not be) fully accepting of someone born differently.

#5
The Exile: Portrait of an American Mother
Pearl Buck’s moving biography of her mother who she refers to in the book simply as Carie. This book explores the triumphs and tragedies of a most singularly remarkable woman and her journey from small town America into a China still trapped in the past that is about to be thrown head first into the twentieth century.

#6
Blade Runner AKA Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep
Award winning Science Fiction writer Philip K. Dick’s most celebrated book to big screen adaptation; Blade Runner has continued to wow science fiction audiences ever since it was first released. Now two and a half decades later this book is still as gripping as it was when it was first written. “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” explores the complexities of living in a world where the lines between reality and artificiality are blurred to such a significant extent that no one can really be sure anymore of who or what they really are.

#7
The Terminal Man
The Autobiography of Sir Alfred Mehran (AKA Mehran Karimi Nasseri), perhaps the world’s most famous homeless man who spent over sixteen years in “transit” at the De Gaul airport in France. This book, darkly humorous in its scope shows the dangers inherent in bureaucracy, ignorance and the importance of having your passport ready at all times.

#8
The 36 Strategies of the Martial Arts
Written by Hiroshi Moriya and ably translated by W.S. Wilson, this book looks at ancient Chinese military strategies ranging from the time of the first Chin dynasty and through the warring states period. Some comparisons have been made to more modern conflicts, but the essence of this book is that war and the strategies for being successful at it, are indeed timeless

#9
Lisey’s Story
One of best selling author Stephen King’s latest books. The story follows Lisey the recently widowed wife of a famed novelist, who while cleaning out her husband’s study begins to relive their past life together. A past that she finds is becoming inextricably linked to her future, a future that seems increasingly darker and darker in which she finds herself battling to reach the end. An end she can only hope will bring her back into the light.

#10
Thud
Another Discworld Novel from famed novelist and satirical writer Terry Prachet. In Ank Morpok (The Discworld’s most famous dysfunctional city) a murder has just been committed. A murder which threatens to break the fragile peace between Dwarves and Trolls; a peace which if shattered will result in Commander Vimes most favorite city being torn into pieces. Of course if anyone can prevent it Commander Vimes can and definitely will. After all if there is one thing he won’t permit is war, at least not on his “Watch”. This book explores quite humorously, the prejudices and pre conceived notions that many of us carry with us all too regularly.

Rico-san is a Jamaican English teacher, adventurer, and book lover touring Japan.

     

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