A History of World in Six Glasses: Tom Standage

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An interesting book on how six drinks – beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea and Coca Cola have contributed in shaping the world history.  It is an interesting premise and the narration  convincing.  The accident birth of beer and then wine in grape-growing areas – and its contribution  to Greek and Roman cultures, the discovery of science of distillation in Arab world and birth of hard liquor, Arab world’s response of coffee to intoxicating drinks not allowed in Islam and coffee houses serving as social settings of like minded people – businessmen, artists and scientists.  The politics of tea, its popularity in Britain and the opium wars (that could easily have been called tea wars) with China and identification of Coca Cola with American values.  The book is an easy read,  full of fun facts and anecdotes, and tells a captivating story.

Recommendation: Read

A Prayer for Owen Meany: John Irving

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An American classic.  Johnny Wheelwright tells us the first person account of his best friend Owen Meany, a boy so small in size that his classmates passed him around in Sunday school, from adolescence to adulthood.  Besides many other oddities, Owen Meany foresaw his own death.  It’s an ok story – in parts not completely believable.  The bit about Johnny’s real father, an unexpected turn.  The writing is terrific, however.  Adolescent boys in their super-confused state of mind and the Vietnam war and how it divided the nation are particularly captured beautifully.  The humor – both in Gravesend Academy and the church works.  Owen Meany’s unbearably irritating voice that speaks in capital letters is interesting.

Read.