1-11 Literature Review

There is something immensely unsatisfying in finishing a good book. It’s like planning a party or a in the final performance of a show where in reaching the end “goal” you give up the journey and the journey was really the important part all along.

That said, I have had plenty of chances to finish books in the last few months. Most of them have been good, a couple were not good and there have been a few that stand out as exceptional.

If you want to read a book about my experience while I’m doing it, “Surviving Paradise” is the memoir of a man who went to the Marshall Islands to teach English for a year. He is self-deprecating and funny and takes an honest look at the experience of living on a small island, both the good and the bad. I really enjoyed the book and found it to be an accurate view of the joys and aggravations of living on a small island.

For the other side of that view, there is “Getting Stoned with Savages” by J. Maarten Troost. I think the author does a good job of talking about life in Vila, but then he sort of assumes he knows about life on the islands, which isn’t quite as accurate. He has a tourist’s view of Malekula and Tanna, which is not at all the same as living there. A lot of people in the Peace Corps in this area really don’t like the book because of the “know-it-all” kind of quality while he is really only discussing the ex-pat culture of Vila. The writing is clever and light-hearted and it is a quick read.

Finally, I fall back on fantasy. “Nation” by Terry Pratchett is a really good book. I’ve read it three times in the last two years and each time it makes me think new thoughts and smile at new parts. The setting is the South Pacific in a world that is definitely not the Victorian era of our world. It starts on the day the world ends and asks questions about the existence of God, gods and souls while telling a story about coming of age in a world that has new rules. Read this book.

We’ve read a lot of other books, too. These ones are just relevant. Maybe I’ll write up a few posts of books reviews or at least a list of recommendations. I have plenty of time to read.

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