Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Mark Adams.

 

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An intriguing title indeed.  Mark Adams follows the route Hiram Bingham took to Machu Picchu, when he ‘discovered’ it.  The book traces the journey of the both men, undertaken in very different times, the joys and challenges of their travels.  Written with wit and humor, the book is pleasant reading.  However, when Adams starts writing about his second trip, the book loses its thread and becomes unhinged.

Read, if you are interested in Machu Picchu , or are planning to visit.

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The Great Alone: Kristin Hannah

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Pure, unadulterated drudgery.  One-dimensional characters, repetitive situations, plot flaws, it had everything.  The book starts with a cliché story, of an unhinged ex-soldier, taking it out on his wife and daughter.  Half-way though, the man gets banished, and you start hoping, only to be rewarded with another cliché story of young, forbidden love.  The only thing that worked in the book were Hannah’s descriptions of Alaska.

Don’t even think about it.

Between The World and Me: Ta-Nehisi Coates

 

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Coates offers advice to his son on the race politics in the United States.  On what does it mean to be a black person in this country.  The fear of a father of his son getting hurt by a police force that is hopelessly prejudiced, the streets where one wrong move can mean end of life, the ghettoing of an entire race – Coates writes with a visceral lucidity that brings these to life.  It makes you think and take a look at the continuous divide that is not going away anytime soon.  Sadly, Coates doesn’t offer a solution.  Even though his anger at decades of slavery and his bitterness with who he calls ‘the dreamers’ is justified, you are left looking for answers in the end.

Read, for a quick introduction to race relations in the US.

Pachinko: Min Jin Lee

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Pachinko is a beautifully written saga spanning five generations of a poor Korean family that moves to Japan.  Lee does a great job on many fronts.  The protagonists change as the story progresses, yet she does a remarkable job in keeping the characters distinctive.  She introduces the readers to Korean culture and the depressingly realistic picture of Koreans living in Japan.  Despite using an omniscent narration, she is able to let the readers  look into the characters’ heads.

A must read.

World’s Best Boyfriend: Durjoy Datta

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The title was a fair warning, I must say.  However, Durjoy Datta is one of the most popular writers in India today, and I decided to read on.  It was a bad decision indeed.  A difficult-to-digest, strange, love-hate story between an angry young man (who, of course, has a legitimate reason to be angry) and a girl with a skin disease, that doesn’t make any sense at all.  This extreme love-hate thing doesn’t work for me.  How can you be so hateful one minute that you ruin reputations and careers and realize you are in love the next?  Even though Bollywood has done its best to tell us it’s possible, I still can’t buy it.  Any saving grace?  Two actually.  I liked Sanchit’s (our hero’s friend) dialogs that have a touch of humor.  And the moment in the book when the heroine meets Raghuvir (the requisite third angle to the story) and for the first time starts to feel good about herself.

Don’t even think about it.