Rose Recommends: September | 2 recent reads

Hi. So I’m starting a new series of blog posts called “Rose Recommends,” because I do not review every book that I read. I don’t review every book for two main reasons: 1. time, and 2. sometimes I just don’t have anything interesting to say about a book. Also, if it’s not a very well-known book, I am much less inclined to review it. So that leaves me with a lot of books I don’t review that still deserve a mention on my blog. So, this new series will be dedicated to books I am not reviewing, but still want to mention here because they are worth reading. Hence, “Rose Recommends.” Here goes!

A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008. (~2,000 Goodreads reviews)

I had never heard of this book before, but I picked it up at a book exchange/recycling event this summer because I loved the cover and the title. It’s a relatively short read (208 pages), and it is delightful. It’s a story about a widower who is in love with a woman who happens to lead the weekly bird watching walk in Nairobi. He wants to ask her to the annual Hunt Club Ball, but has trouble plucking up the courage. Enter the rival, our protagonist’s old enemy from school days, who sweeps in and plans to take aforementioned lady to the ball, too. In order to settle this conflict, the Hunt Club members construct a contest: whoever can spot the most species of birds in a week wins the right to ask fair lady to the ball. Ensue hilarity. This is a great read for anyone looking for something light and fun that doesn’t take itself too seriously. I gave it to my parents after I finished, and they both read it in a matter of days…and both loved it. Because the characters are all older people, the book definitely has more of an adult appeal; teens may not get it as much. People who have sentimental and/or silly tendencies will appreciate. I gave it 4/5 on Goodreads.

Unruly Places: Lost Spaces, Secret Cities, and Other Inscrutable Geographies by Alastair Bonnett. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014. (~780 Goodreads reviews)

I found this book at an independent bookstore in Maine during my summer travels, and, bit by the travel bug, decided to buy it based on its title and the description on the inside flap (…and once again the awesome cover art). The inside flap begins by asserting that in a time powered by Google, we can look up any place in the world and see it on a screen. Hence, there are very few places left on Earth that are uncharted or mysterious. But this author begs to differ. Alastair Bonnett has compiled an array of strange locations, both off the beaten path and right in front of our eyes, that complicate the way we perceive “place” as a concept. So, just know that this book is not a cutesy travel guide to weird and unusual destinations – it is an exploration of geography and psychology that uses odd spaces to comment about humanity’s need for “place.” The book is split into sections according to the type of spaces described: lost cities, floating islands, borderlands, etc. Examples run from decoy cities used to throw off bombers in WWII, to traffic islands, international airspace, and whole cities of people living in cemeteries. This book was so interesting that I feel like I am going to revisit it again and again, which is an opinion I don’t have often about non-fiction. Definitely a must-read for those interested in geography/psychology/history. 4/5 Goodreads stars.

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