If June is here, then it must be time for vacation book suggestions. If you are like me, then books about the same topic seem to come in waves, and right now, perhaps due to the political news, the topic is Korea.
My favorite genre is memoir––a good one tells us the facts. The Girl With Seven Names, Escape from North Korea is a good one. In her compelling story, Hyeonseo Lee describes a country that is unknown to us. We might imagine how hard it is to get out of North Korea, but the truth is worse. Lee’s Ted Talk is worth watching.
See did her typical documentary-level research with The Island of Sea Women, a story about life on the Korean island of Jeju. Although the island is in a historically critical location between South Korea and Japan, I had never heard of it. I even went to Google maps to make sure it was a real place, and then I watched this Unesco video (9min).
Lastly re Korea, the novel Pachinko by Min Jin Lee is good summertime read. As my friend Cathy said, you can pick it up and put it down and always know what’s happening––it’s a soap opera. The book covers several generations, and gives insight to Japan-Korea relations. Even Obama has Pachinko on his recommended reading list.
On the other side of the planet, and if you like WWII stories, I highly recommend Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan. A novel, but a true story very much like a memoir. Amazing tale about a still-living hero, who was, in the 1940s, a young man in northern Italy. I loved reading about the Italian Alps, maybe because we had such a great biking vacation there a few years ago.
I’m not usually into mysteries, but here’s one that I couldn’t put down, that is, once the main character Kya grew up past the child endangerment part, which was hard to read at times. Where the Crawdads Sing by the wildlife scientist Delia Owens may appeal to women more than to men (is the term chick-lit applicable?), but the book has something for everyone and the hoopla is deserved. Lots of nature, a good mystery, and a beautifully written story. The movie will be good, but won’t be able to match Owens’ descriptions of nature.
Have a good summer, and keep reading!