New guy Ryan Conrad brings these picks for this Friday’s Bookclub. Please think up some Socialist methods of voting. Lets keep Putin out of it.
1. The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie.
Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.
This is a text that will make you laugh and cry simultaneously. In the past years it has topped a list of the most banned books In America which is exactly why I think it’s important to read. The book takes on critical issues such as race, poverty, alcoholism, and suicide but does it with humor and grace. Let’s face it we’re all perpetually 14 years old at heart in this book wallows in all of the issues of adolescence that follow us into our adulthood. The book is hysterical and Easy-to-Read but reaches much deeper than much of the diversionary entertainment that colors our culture.
2. South, Sir Ernest Shackleton.
On my office wall I have a couple of photographs of the Endurance. They are a reminder to me the no obstacles are too great and that with resolve and determination any challenge can be met. It is an amazing and very readable story of adventure and the strength of the human spirit.
In 1914, as the shadow of war falls across Europe, a party led by veteran explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton sets out to become the first to traverse the Antarctic continent. Their initial optimism is short-lived, however, as the ice field slowly thickens, encasing the ship Endurance in a death-grip, crushing their craft, and marooning 28 men on a ploar ice floe.
In an epic struggle of man versus the elements, Shackleton leads his team on a harrowing quest for survival over some of the most unforgiving terrain in the world. Icy, tempestuous seas full of gargantuan waves, mountainous glaciers and icebergs, unending brutal cold, and ever-looming starvation are their mortal foes as Shackleton and his men struggle to stay alive.
What happened to those brave men forever stands as a testament to their strength of will and the power of human endurance.
This is their story, as told by the man who led them.
3. The Motorcycle Diaries (a) by Ernesto Che Guevara AND/OR Chasing Che (b) by Patrick Symmes. Please note that this is a unique pick in that it is a pairing of two texts. You should be able to read either and participate meaningfully and the discussion, or if you’re lazy you can always just watch the movie.
3a. The Motorcycle Diaries are a memoir that traces the early travels of Marxist revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara, then a 23-year-old medical student, and his friend Alberto Granado, a 29-year-old biochemist. Leaving Buenos Aires, Argentina, in January 1952 on the back of a sputtering single cylinder 1939 Norton 500cc dubbed La Poderosa (“The Mighty One”), they desired to explore the South America they only knew from books. During the formative odyssey Guevara is transformed by witnessing the social injustices of exploited mine workers, persecuted communists, ostracized lepers, and the tattered descendants of a once-great Inca civilization. By journey’s end, they had travelled for a symbolic nine months by motorcycle, steamship, raft, horse, bus, and hitchhiking, covering more than 8,000 kilometres (5,000 mi) across places such as the Andes, Atacama Desert, and the Amazon River Basin. The diary ends with a declaration by Guevara, born into an upper-middle-class family, displaying his willingness to fight and die for the cause of the poor, and his dream of seeing a united Latin America.
Love him or hate him Che Guevara maybe one of the most influential figures of the 20th century. His image is ubiquitous throughout the developing world and understanding his appeal is essential for understanding the world that we live in. The text is short and highly enjoyable narrative of a motorcycle Adventure across South America. It illustrates the emergence of chaise political consciousness let him on the path to becoming a world-renowned and/or reviled revolutionary.
3b. Chasing Che by Patrick Symmes – This companion piece is written by a travel journalist who traces the path of Che”s original motorcycle journey many decades later. Addition to his own amazing adventures Patrick Symmes also does an incredible job of laying out the social and political history of a region of the world that we know far too little about.
Intrepid journalist Patrick Symmes sets off on his BMW R80 G/S in search of the people and places in Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s classic Motorcycle Diaries, seeking out his own adventure as well as the legacy of the icon Che would become, Symmes retraces the future revolutionary’s path. And on the way he runs out of gas in an Argentine desert, talks a Peruvian guerrilla out of taking him hostage, wipes out in the Andes, and, in Cuba, drinks himself blind with Che’s travel partner, Alberto Granado.
Here is the unforgettable story of a wanderer’s quest for food, shelter, and wisdom. Here, too, is the portrait of a continent whose dreams of utopia give birth not only to freedom fighters, but also to tyrants whose methods include torture and mass killing. Masterfully detailed, insightful, unforgettable, Chasing Che transfixes us with the glory of the open road, where man and machine traverse the unknown in search of the spirit’s keenest desires
Extra credit for overachievers and those who interested in fomenting and organizing a left-wing Revolution. Guerrilla Warfare by Che Guevara. A literal highly detailed field manual for anyone who wants to start up a popular Insurgency in a developing country.
4. The Adventures of Don Quixote, Miguel Cervantes.
A Spanish novel by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. Published in two volumes, in 1605 and 1615, Don Quixote is considered the most influential work of literature from the Spanish Golden Age and the entire Spanish literary canon. As a founding work of modern Western literature and one of the earliest canonical novels, it regularly appears high on lists of the greatest works of fiction ever published. The story follows the adventures of a hidalgo named Mr. Alonso Quixano who reads so many chivalric romances that he loses his sanity and decides to set out to revive chivalry, undo wrongs, and bring justice to the world, under the name Don Quixote de la Mancha.
Nearly four hundred years after its publication this book still makes the top nearly every canonical list of great books. The fact that has withstood the test of time is a testament to the fact that it speaks deeply to the human experience.