September 19, 2010

Book Club

Last Thursday Kelsi and I started off this year in Book Club by hosting at our place. Per usual, we invited all the English speaking female teachers we work with, made some delicious food and got out the wine opener. Our spread included Kelsi's pretty-much-famous Sangria, zucchini hummus, roasted red pepper hummus, guacamole, pitas, pasta salad, fresh veggies and no-bake chocolate/oatmeal/peanut butter cookies. Mmmm - just thinking about it all again makes me hungry!

I wish I had some pictures to share, but unfortunately we were so busy getting ready and then enjoying the night that any documentation completely slipped my mind! The whole night was so fun and we had a great turn out for the first month. There is just something about getting together with a bunch of fabulous women that is so fun and inspiring!!

Here are the books I shared:
I actually had an interesting conversation about this book with my students last week because they asked why I would read this. Since most Colombians do not like Pablo Escobar in the slightest, they thought reading something like this was a waste of time. The answer I gave them went something like this...

For me, Pablo Escobar is something like the tagline of Colombia. Whenever I tell someone I live here, they inevitably think of Escobar. For so many U.S. citizens he is the face associated with this country. This book helped me understand why. I wanted to know the story behind the man who held an entire country hostage in fear of what he would do next. I wanted to know the story behind the man who got his government to allow him to be "imprisoned" within his own mansion on a hill. I wanted to know the story of the man who kept the United States government searching and searching for years on end. I wanted to know the story behind the man Bowden calls, "Public enemy number one in the world."

Killing Pablo helped me understand the terror he imposed on Colombia and also helped me understand the back story to much of the U.S. involvement in the Colombian drug trade. This book opened my eyes to the infinitely many tiny little strings that bind these two countries together.
While this book was not exactly what I expected, it was still a great story about Catholic and Jewish girls growing up in New York City in the 1950s. They form a club dedicated to working together and maintaining strong community bonds. Well written and true to life, I felt like the author truly captured the spirit of growing up with girlfriends who become more like sisters. It was a cute book and a quick read!
I picked up this book during a family stop in Lincoln, Nebraska to register my little brother for college this summer. I think it was one of about five books in the Latin American section of the used bookstore. Piri Thomas is a dark-skinned Puerto Rican who grew up in Spanish Harlem during the 1930s and 1940s. Infused with Latin rhythms, Spanish words and occasional slang, Thomas paints a spell-binding picture of growing up on "these mean streets". While the memoir reminded me a bit of The Autobiography of Malcolm X, the story was still magnificent and well-told. I was especially intrigued by the introduction to this 30th anniversary edition, written by Thomas, which reminds readers that these mean streets are even meaner today.
After lots of sharing of books, wine and food, our September Book Club ended a success (even if there aren't any pictures to show it!).

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