More Favorite (Travel) Books: COVID Reads Part II

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Between living in Guam and COVID, I no longer have access to a good library.  I have a kindle, but I spend so much time a day on the computer I decided to return to buying real books.  I think this has helped rekindle (pun intended) my love for reading.  There is something about seeing the book on the coffee table or nightstand that draws me back to it (my kindle is boring and once I put it down, it is easy to ignore).  There is something about the weight in your hands and thinking…just one more page….just one more chapter.  I stopped buying books years ago because of the cost and I didn’t want to store them.  In a COVID world, I am not doing much else, so it is probably worth the cost, and I also have the fun of re-gifting them to new friends or sending them across the ocean to those I love in other countries that might enjoy them. 

Of the 55 books I read in during COVID 2020, here some of my favorites that I recommend:  

Lion’s Gate by Steven Pressfield is a terrific and personal account of the Six Day War.  You will take away a lot about the culture and spirit of Israel’s early days.  It is also one of the best books on leadership and patriotism I have read.  (Israel)

40 Ways to Look at Winston Churchill by Gretchen Rubin is an easy and fun way to learn about Winston Churchill without having to wade through the pages of his enormous autobiography.  (British WWI and WWII history)

Unpackaged Tours World Travels Off the Beaten Track by Edwin Morrisby.  I am disappointed to say, this book literally sat on my to read shelf for over twenty years.  It was a gift, so I can definitively say 20 years, 5 months, and 23 days from the time I received it to finishing it. What a shame.  This is an older book, published in 1988 with most of the stories taking place in the early 60s.  However, the stories are fascinating as Edwin travels off the grid before today’s technology and just as the “modern” world was finding itself post world war two.  What I appreciated most in the most was his historical synopsis – he does a marvelous job of capturing significant events and people in only a couple of pages!  (Places you’ve never heard of!)

Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton was a bit sappy and predictable but still a great read about the Cuban Revolution and the complicated relationship Cuban Americans in Florida have with their past.  (Cuba and Florida)

Our Women on The Ground:  Essays by Arab Women Reporting from the Arab World edited by Christiane Amanpour and Zahra Hankirwas a fascinating look at the lives and experiences of women journalist in the middle east.  Some are from Western backgrounds but most were born and raised in the region.  The chapters are short and each focus on a specific incident or period of their time as a journalist – mostly the ongoing conflicts.  I learned a lot about the region and continue to appreciate the great diversity of perspective there is in the world.  (Middle East)

Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende was a wonderful book.  It starts with the Spanish Civil War and then moves to Chile where you follow the main characters through most of the 20th century.  After reading this book, I also picked up In The Midst of Winter which was also fantastic.  (Spanish Civil War and Chile)

I read Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri in one day.  I couldn’t put it down and stayed up late to finish it.  It is a fictional account of one family’s journey from war torn Syria through Turkey and Greece to the UK.  (Syria and the EU)

Last Train from Shanghai by Helen Zia  was on my to-read list forever.  In fact, I accidently bought it twice (one hard copy and on my kindle).  It was worth it.  Anchored in Shanghai but the stories end up all over the world, the book follows the lives of several individual before, during and after the Chinese Communist Revolution.  (China and the 20th Century)

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