It is summer, at least in the Philippines. The time of the year where yuppies strut their well-chiseled bodies in beaches, notably Boracay. The month of April in particular is where beaches are packed to the brim, because of long holiday break (Holy Week). By now, some of you have planned activities during this break.
Here are my recommended books, fit for waiting for your flight at the airport, or waiting for the bus to go landtrip in your province, or scheming through horrendous traffic in your private cars en route to an escape of the city. Reading is a favorite pastime, and I enjoy good stories (fiction).
1. The Twelfth Imam (by Joel Rosenberg). Reading this new novel by Joel Rosenberg is reminiscent of Dan Brown’s—you cannot stop reading it! It tells the story of the forthcoming Twelfth Imam in Iran, a descendant of Prophet Mohammed in Muslim faith, and its objective to create a Muslim Caliphate in the Arab region. It also infuses Iran’s longstanding desire to develop a nuclear armament. Fast-paced, easy read. You can finish the book if you are travelling in a long-haul flight.
2. Unbroken: A WWII Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption (by Laura Hillenbrand). This is the second book by Ms Hillenbrand, after Seabiscuit (where the film is based). It tells the life story of Louis Zamperini, a runner during his heydays in the 1930s-1940s but because of World War II, he enlisted to the US Army as a bombardier. During one of his flights in the Pacific Ocean, the plane that he is in crashed. It is where his struggle start as he run for his life in the vast Pacific Ocean (sharks notwithstanding!). I am currently reading it, and the manner of its writing is like it’s as if you are just hearing it from your grandmother relieving stories of their times in the 1940s. It is consistently in the Amazon’s bestsellers list since last year; and it that is not reason enough, what is?
3. Shantaram (by David Gregory Roberts). It was rumoured that Johnny Depp is interested to adapt this book into film. I am not sure if it will push through, but you cannot blame Mr Depp for being so interested (though, it was said that the project was shelved). This is the life story of the author of his travails in India, living with the urban poor, where rats are as big as cats. You can smell the filth even from his words. If you find Slumdog Millionaire dirty, then you haven’t discovered this excellent book. I was introduced to this novel when I saw a feature in Talk Asia years ago where Anjali Rao (the show host) is interviewing the author in the setting exactly what is written in the book. It is a long book, but you won’t notice it because the story is so engaging. Please, adapt it to film. And please, hire an excellent writer and director.
4. Life of Pi (by Yann Martel). An ecstasy—a celebration of humanity’s creativity. A boy, Pi Patel, finds himself stranded in the middle of the Pacific Ocean when the ship that he is travelling in sink. But here’s the catch—he is not alone. A Bengal tiger also survived, and they both share a small wooden raft. The best way to combat fear is to make sure that the thing that you are afraid about is more fearful of you than the other way around. He has to find strength from within his self, cunning and all, to overcome challenges that they encounter in the vast Pacific Ocean—from storms and disasters, food, shelter, etc. The acclaimed director Ang Lee is making a film adaptation of this wonderful book, and I hope he will do justice to it the way it tickles my imagination when I read it years ago.
5. Open (by Andre Agassi). An honest memoir of one of tennis famous product. From his childhood experiences, to his struggles with tennis school, rebel days, falling in love, and handling fame, the book is bittersweet and cute. Andre Agassi’s life on the edge makes it an interesting read, but you salute him more for being benevolent to his family, and friends in times of dire needs. You have to read the book on his honest-to-goodness impression of some tennis players, and how he met his wife, Stefi Graf.
· The Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest)
· Life by Keith Richards
· The Windup Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
· Little Bee by Chris Cleave
· Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen