April 26, Saturday afternoon -- Reading George Packer

On a sunny afternoon in the Mission District, at Herbivore--a vegan restaurant with an international menu (like Middle Eastern, Italian, Thai)-- waiting for the bill and, as waiting is done best, engrossed in her book.

Reading The Village of Waiting, by George Packer. It's about man's experience with the Peace Corps and his views of the Togolese (West Africa) school systems. She picked it up because she is thinking about, sometime in the next five years, joining the Peace Corps--she studied public health and international development.

In December she finished school and, while school is supposed to be a place of learning, she felt that she was reading less of what she wanted. A book she did really enjoy reading in school was about Apache linguistics, written by a professor at the University of New Mexico about the Apache language. Something that's interesting--Apache words contain histories, super concise histories, but histories that you need to know to understand what is being said. She's going to get back to me on the title and the author. (The answer is Wisdom Sits in Places, by Keith Basso.)

Since graduating she's been reading West African authors, trying to find books in the original French. But, she said, foreign language books in the U.S. are expensive and it's hard to find them in used bookstores. Something she's looking for now is Le Bout de Bois de Dieu, in English, The Bits of Wood of God, by Sembene Ousmane, a fictional story with social and political commentary about a railroad strike for a railroad between Dakar, Senegal and Mali, where she's done work in public health development.

When she was a child, her favorite books were, hands down, The Baby-sitters Club series, by Ann Martin. When she was in adolescence, it was travel books and Outside magazine....until she decided that Outside was really sexist, which was a downer.

If she were to write her own book, it would be....she had to think about this, and decided it might be about a friend from a little town in Vermont who she worked with in Mali--the friend, she said, is crazy, and she's awkward, and she's self-aware about being awkward and embraces who she is. Right now she's going to (or getting ready to go?) to medical school.

What books did you value most from your own education? And were you ever excited enough about them to loan them to your friends?

9 Comments:

girl with the mask said...

...I was always taught that only a fool lends a book (and only a fool gives a book back!)

x

J said...

I moved to the American South when I was twenty and transferred to a University there. I took a class called Sociology of the South to fulfill a requirement and had to read C.W. Cash's Mind of the South for the class. Anyone interested in the American South should read that book.

Jen said...

Virginia Woolf, especially To the Lighthouse. I was entranced by the power of the mother in that story and have loaned it out many times since, but no one I've given it to has been similarly affected...

Liesel said...

Once i lend half of one of my favourite series of books ever (calvin&hobbes and the sandman library), and never saw them again.

besides those, i lend a book about adolescence (from agony to ecstasy, i think) and never saw it again, too.

Oma said...

I lent 'Touch the Dragon: a Thai Journal' by Karen Connelly to an ESL student from Thailand and never got it back. It is a book I used with my senior (first language) classes when I taught high school English. I just bought myself a new copy.

I love this site, by the way.

Elizabeth said...

I love the idea of your blog. Thanks for writing it! Now I'm tagging you. I hope you don't mind!
http://sixgoldencoins.blogspot.com/2008/04/ive-been-tagged_28.html

Silhouette said...

Well, it's not a book from class, but it should be. It's a book about sales - or it says that is it. I'm studying marketing and got to loan this book from my boyfriend. And I started carrying it around with me wherever I went. I'd still be, if it wouldn't have been bad for my back.

the book is called "the best damn sales book ever" by Warren greshes. And really, it might say sales in the title but don't flinch, don't get turned off by that. It's really just a very inspiring book for any goal in your life. As he says "a goal is a dream with a deadline". This book motivates you to get up from that couch (daydreaming about your future life) and do somethings.

If I had the money I'd a buy a copy for every person I care for.

DDD said...

When I hear people say "...books... are expensive and it's hard to find them...", I want to grab 'em and shake 'em and say, "Go to the Library!"

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