Three Very Different Books

Sometimes when I finish a book it might only be a day or two before I get round to writing a review. More often than not, life gets in the way, and it can take a week or two so that I have a build up of books in need of reviewing. The last three books that I’ve read have all been very good, but very different.

First up is Down to the Sea in Ships by Horatio Clare, where the author requests passage across the seas on shipping containers. The first half of the book is on one of the largest vessels in the world as it travels from Europe, through the Mediterranean and the Suez Canal, and ultimately to Japan and China. The second half of the book he travels on a much smaller boat across the Atlantic from Europe to Canada.

The book covers everything, especially the crew, who are mainly low paid Phillipinos with much better paid European officers. The work is tough with long hours and the conditions are not always that good. A very fascinating book and gives a very good insight to the world of shipping.

Next up is In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park. The author was born and raised in North Korea and escapes with her mother across into China and ultimately to South Korea. The brutal North Korean regime is described in detail, as is the constant search for food and the blatant corruption among officials. Eventually, they can take no more and pay for transport in China, not knowing that they will in fact be sold to farmers as wives. What they went through in China is horrific, but eventually they find their way to South Korea via Mongolia. Yeonmi works incredibly hard on her education as she is so far behind, where she excels and ends up travelling the world telling her story and raising awareness about the life of ordinary people in North Korea. An excellent book.

Finally, The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. I read this book many years ago as I was completing my PhD, and as such had completely forgotten the whole plot. Therefore, when my lovely wife finished reading it I picked it up to read again. There isn’t too much to say about this book, as almost everyone will have heard about it. The main character, Allan, has lead a very interesting life, meeting presidents, despots and dictators, almost like a Swedish Forrest Gump, without the running. Definitely one of the best books written in the last decade. A laugh out loud tale on historic shenanigans and modern day mayhem.

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