March Book Recommendations: / by Deborah Clague

WILD: FROM LOST TO FOUND ON THE PACIFIC COAST TRAIL
Written by Cheryl Strayed

The release of the film piqued my curiosity about 'Wild' by Cheryl Strayed. The tale follows a narrative that mirrors my own recent circumstance: unexpected loss of a parent from cancer, dealing with the aftermath of grief, depression and the "art" of distraction, and experiencing a robust desire to find one's self through travel and adventure. Cheryl's journey took her on an 1,100 mile hike following the Pacific Coast Trail which extends from California to Washington State in the western United States. Though inexperienced (and naive), she was determined and combated record snowfall, snakes, bears and gathering Deadheads to successfully complete the trek. If nothing else, the book was incredibly inspirational. 

Favorite line: "The father's job is to teach his children how to be warriors, to give them the confidence to get on the horse and ride into battle when it's necessary to do so. If you don't get that from your father, you have to teach yourself."

To buy this book, click here


THE REAL NORTH KOREA: LIFE AND POLITICS IN THE FAILED STALINIST UTOPIA
Written by Andrei Lankov

North Korea has always fascinated me; Its history a narrative rife with corruption, criminal activity and importunate bravado far exceeding rank. This book documents the hermit kingdom's troubled past and even more tragic present, from the machiavellian antics of Kim Jong-Il and the famine of the 90s to the reign of his son Kim Jong-Un and their development into a nuclear state. The author, a Russian scholar and university professor who has lived in North Korea and now resides in Seoul, also theorizes several solutions for reunification that may present themselves in the future (none of which will be easy or, unfortunately, avoid further conflict). 

Favorite line: "Visitors and richer Pyongyangites – some 10 to 15 percent of the new middle class – can feast on numerous delicacies in a multitude of posh private and semi-private restaurants that have sprung up around the city in recent years. Most new restaurants have private rooms, which are used for the closed banquets of the bureaucrats and the new rich. In some case, they do not limit themselves to gastronomical pleasures but double as elite brothels. For the average North Korean denizen, the upmarket restaurants are prohibitively expensive, dinner costing some $5 to $10 (excluding alcohol). To put this into context, the average monthly salary of a university professor now equals some 80 cents." 

To buy this book, click here