West with the Night, Beryl Markham

DogEar ReadingChallenge

For Jeane’s Dog Ear Challenge: West with the Night was the nonfiction book on an obscure topic/on a topic you don’t often read about.  I had a broad selection of Jeane recommendations for this one, since she is always reading books that sound interesting but that I would never pick up on my own.

West with the Night is Beryl Markham’s memoir of growing up on her father’s farm in Africa, and becoming a horse trainer, and eventually learning to fly a plane.  Beryl Markham sounds like a pretty cool person, though from reading her Wikipedia article it sounds like you sure wouldn’t want to be married to her.  (She had an affair with the author of The Little Prince!)  And the writing was lovely, though a bit plummy for me.

One thing that didn’t really work for me was the fact that the memoir is composed of chapters that tend to provide slice-of-life-y anecdotes about her time doing different things.  I liked some of the anecdotes a lot, and some of them not so much, but I struggled to fit them into a narrative.  If my brain were a laptop, it would have made a lot of whirring noises and eventually overheated, that’s how hard I was trying to make an overarching story out of the chapters.  This isn’t necessarily a fault in the book, but I didn’t care for that structure – every time I got interested in something, the chapter ended, and the book went on to something totally else!

Now I am on to something totally else: In Defense of Food.  I understand the food being defended is generally vegetables?  Maybe this will make me love vegetables more, or maybe it will make me hungry for fast food – which is what happened, I’m sorry to say, when I read Fast Food Nation.  Mm, I fancy some cheesy fries right now.

Other reviews: Jeane’s, Framed and Booked, ChainReading

The Camel Bookmobile, Masha Hamilton

Recommended by: Read-Warbler

This book is about an American librarian who brings books to rural African places using camels.

I’ll give you that again: She uses CAMELS to bring people BOOKS.

There are no words that adequately express how sad I am that I wasn’t able to finish this book.  It contains BOOKS and CAMELS.  Bringing books to people via camels.  I love books (obviously), and God knows I love camels more than my luggage.  One time I went to a RenFest, and THEY HAD CAMELS there and I RODE ON ONE.  Didn’t even remotely know that I cared about camels until I got there and saw the sign for camels and instead of being like “Medieval Europe wasn’t exactly camelpalooza” in a snide voice, I seized my sister’s arm and plowed in the direction of the camels going CAMELS CAMELS CAMELS CAMELS.

But camels didn’t feature very much in the bits of the book I did get through, and anyway I couldn’t get through it.  There was much bashing the reader over the head with unsubtle things that the characters are thinking, like, Why does the American lady want to bring us books so much?  Doesn’t she know that here in Africa we are educated in other ways?  Books and reading are not the only ways of knowing things.

Practically in those words.  It gave me a headache.  I had to take two tylenol and an aspirin.