30 June 2007

reading list.

last update: 28 august 2009

Books I've read:

1. 100 Ways America is Screwing Up the World, John Tirman
2. 9-11, Noam Chomsky
3. All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque
4. The Amber Spyglass, Philip Pullman
5. American Sucker, David Denby
6. America (The Book), Jon Stewart
7. Amnesiascope, Steve Erickson
8. And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie
9. Angels and Demons, Dan Brown
10. Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons, Lorna Landvik
11. Animal Dreams, Barbara Kingsolver
12. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
13. Ape and Essence, Aldous Huxley
14. A Life Inspired: Tales of Peace Corps Service
15. A Murder is Announced, Agatha Christie
16. A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, David Foster Wallace
17. Atonement, Ian McEwan
18. The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears, Dinaw Mengestu
19. The Best American Non-Required Reading 2007, Dave Eggers (ed)
20. The Best American Short Stories 2008, Salman Rushdie (ed)
21. The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood
22. The Blind Watchmaker, Richard Dawkins
23. Bodily Harm, Margaret Atwood
24. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
25. The Bourne Supremacy, Robert Ludlum
26. The Bourne Ultimatum, Robert Ludlum
27. Brainiac, Ken Jennings
28. Breaking Dawn, Stephenie Meyer
29. Candy, Luke Davies
30. Candide, Francis Voltaire
31. A Caribbean Mystery, Agatha Christie
32. Catch 22, Joseph Heller
33. Collapse, Jared Diamond
34. Collateral Damage, Fern Michaels
35. Confessions of an Economic Hitman, John Perkins
36. Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches, Marvin Harris
37. Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
38. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Mark Haddon
39. Dead Aid, Dambisa Moyo
40. Death in the AIr, Agatha Christie
41. Deception Point, Dan Brown
42. The Devil Wears Prada, Lauren Weisberger
43. Diary, Chuck Palahnuik
44. Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank
45. Digital Fortress, Dan Brown
46. Dispatches from the Edge, Anderson Cooper
47. Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, Alexandra Fuller
48. The Double, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
49. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, David Sedaris
50. Dubliners, James Joyce
51. Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert
52. Eclipse, Stephenie Meyer
53. The Edible Woman, Margaret Atwood
54. The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery
55. Emergency Sex, Ken Cain, Heidi Postlewait, & Andrew Thomson
56. The Emperor, Ryszard Kapuscinski
57. The End of Poverty, Jeffrey Sachs
58. Esprit de Battuta, Pamela Watson
59. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Tom Robbins
60. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
61. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S Thompson
62. The Fellowship of the Ring, JRR Tolkien
63. Feminism is for Everybody, bell hooks
64. Flavor of the Week, Tucker Shaw
65. The Floating World, Cynthia Kadohata
66. The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand
67. Franny and Zooey, JD Salinger
68. Globalization and its Discontents, Joseph Stiglitz
69. The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins
70. Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond
71. Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
72. The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood
73. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, JK Rowling
74. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, JK Rowling
75. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, JK Rowling
76. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
77. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, JK Rowling
78. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, JK Rowling
79. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, JK Rowling
80. Hegemony or Survival, Noam Chomsky
81. Held at a Distance, Rebecca Haile
82. The Hobbitt, JRR Tolkien
83. Holidays on Ice, David Sedaris
84. Holy Blood, Holy Grail, Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, & Henry Lincoln
85. Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, Laila Lalami
86. The Hospital by the River, Catherine Hamlin
87. The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros
88. How We Are Hungry, Dave Eggers
89. The Human Stain, Philip Roth
90. I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, Tucker Max
91. I Love You, Beth Cooper, Larry Doyle
92. I Married a Communist, Philip Roth
93. Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri
94. I'm Not Scared, Niccolo Ammaniti
95. Infidel, Ayaan Hirsi Ali
96. Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer
97. An Irish Country Doctor, Patrick Taylor
98. Island, Aldous Huxley
99. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
100. Jarhead, Anthony Swofford
101. Jemima J, Jane Green
102. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini
103. The Last King of Scotland, Giles Foden
104. The Lexus and the Olive Tree, Thomas Friedman
105. Life of Pi, Yann Martel
106. Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
107. Lord of the Flies, WIlliam Golding
108. Magical Thinking, Augusten Burroughs
109. Mere Christianity, CS Lewis
110. Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris
111. Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides
112. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie
113. The Mirror Crack'd, Agatha Christie
114. Moral Disorder, Margaret Atwood
115. Mortified, David Nadelberg
116. Murder, Jackie Collins
117. Murder on the Links, Agatha Christie
118. My FBI, Louis J Freeh
119. My Name is Red, Orhan Pamuk
120. Naked Lunch, William S Burroughs
121. Nemesis, Agatha Christie
122. Netherland, Joseph O'Neill
123. New Moon, Stephenie Meyer
124. No one belongs here more than you, Miranda July
125. Notes from the Underground, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
126. Northern Lights, Philip Pullman
127. Now They Call Me Infidel, Nonie Darwish
128. The Old Testament
129. On Chesil Beach, Ian McEwan
130. Orientalism, Edward Said
131. Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell
132. Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi
133. Persepolis 2, Marjane Satrapi
134. Player Piano, Kurt Vonnegut
135. Playing in the Dark, Toni Morrison
136. The Plot Against America, Philip Roth
137. A Pocket Full of Rye, Agatha Christie
138. Point Counter Point, Aldous Huxley
139. Post Office, Charles Bukowski
140. Primary Colors, Anonymous
141. The Quiet American, Graham Greene
142. A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry
143. The Raw Shark Texts, Steven Hall
144. Reading Lolita in Tehran, Azar Nafisi
145. Red Alert, Peter George
146. The Return of the King, JRR Tolkien
147. The Road to Gandolfo, Robert Ludlum
148. A Room of One's Own, Virginia Woolf
149. Running with Scissors, Augusten Burroughs
150. The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes, Neil Gaiman
151. The Sandman: The Doll's House, Neil Gaiman
152. The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie
153. Season of Migration to the North, Tayeb Salih
154. The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins
155. The Sex Lives of Cannibals, J Maarten Troost
156. The Sirens of Titan, Kurt Vonnegut
157. The Six Unsolved Cipers, Richard Belfield
158. Sleeping Murder, Agatha Christie
159. Sophie's Choice, William Styron
160. A Spy in the House of Love, Anais Nin
161. Straight Talking, Jane Green
162. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert Heinlein
163. Stripping and Other Stories, Pagan Kennedy
164. The Subtle Knife, Philip Pullman
165. Surfacing, Margaret Atwood
166. Surrender or Starve, Robert Kaplan
167. The Tao of Pooh, Benjamin Hoff
168. Tender is the Night, F Scott Fitzgerald
169. Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
170. They Poured Fire on Us from the Sky, Benson & Alephonsion Deng, Benjamin Ajak
171. The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien
172. The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell
173. Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere, Jan Morris
174. The Two Towers, JRR Tolkien
175. Twilight, Stephenie Meyer
176. Uncle John's Bathroom Reader: Triumphant 20th Anniversary
177. Uncle John's Bathroom Reader: Unsinkable 21st Edition
178. Uncle John's Bathroom Reader: Wide World of Odd
179. Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackery
180. Vote Mr. Robinson for a Better World, Daniel Antrium
181. Waiting for the Dark, Waiting for the Light, Ivan Klima
182. Walden; or, Life in the Woods, Henry David Thoreau
183. Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen
184. Welcome to the Monkey House, Kurt Vonnegut
185. What is the What, Dave Eggers
186. When You Are Engulfed in Flames, David Sedaris
187. The White Album, Joan Didion
188. The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga
189. Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?, Beverly Tatum
190. Why do Men have Nipples?, Mark Leyner
191. The Wisdom of Whores, Elizabeth Pisiani
192. A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle
193. The Yacoubian Building, Alaa Al Aswany
194. Zadig and Other Stories, Voltaire
195. Alias Grace, Margaret Atwood
196. Faggots, Larry Kramer
197. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
198. The World is Flat, Thomas Friedman
199. A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khalid Hosseini
200. Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
201. Nickel and Dimed: On (not) Getting by in America, Barbara Ehrenreich
202. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
203. Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
204. Blink, Malcom Gladwell
205. Ender's Game, Orson Card
206. Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ray Bradbury
207. Still Life With Woodpecker, Tom Robbins
208. The Partly Cloudy Patriot, Sarah Vowell
209. The Clash of Civilizations, Samuel Huntington
210. The White Man's Burden, William Easterly

Books I want to read:
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America
Andrew Bostom, The Legacy of Jihad
Benjamin Barber, Jihad vs. McWorld
Charles Portis, True Grit
Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe
Daniel Dennett, Breaking the Spell
Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon
David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest
David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
DH Lawrence, Lady Chatterly's Lover
Don DeLillo, Underworld; White Noise
Eugene Burdick, The Ugly American; Fail-Safe
Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited
Firoozeh Dumas, Funny in Farsi
Gary Shteyngart, Absurdistan
Herman Hesse, Narcissus and Goldmund
Ian Buruma, Occidentalism
Jack Kerouac, On the Road
Jacqueline Susann, Valley of the Dolls
James Cain, The Postman Always Rings Twice
James Jones, From Here to Eternity
James Joyce, Ulysses
John Burnett, Where Soldiers Fear to Tread
John Milton, Paradise Lost
Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything is Illuminated
Julian Rubinstein, Ballad of the Whiskey Robber
Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
Ken Kesey, Sometimes a Great Notion
Lewis Nordan, Wolf Whistle
Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind
Martin van Creveld, The Transformation of War
Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Neil Strauss, The Game
Norman Mailer, The Naked and the Dead
Richard Condon, The Manchurian Candidate
Robert Baer, See No Evil; Blow the House Down
Robert Graves, I, Claudius
Robert Penn Warren, All the King's Men
Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Rory Stewart, The Places in Between
Sarah Vowell, Take the Cannoli
Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
Susan Seligsan, Stacked
Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire
Thomas Homer-Dixon, The Upside of Down
Tim Harford, The Undercover Economist
Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
Tom Wolfe, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test
Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita
W Somerset Maugham, Of Human Bondage

29 June 2007

the little things.

Whoever said that money can't buy happiness never purchased a fan during the height of the Jordanian summer. Quite possibly the best 23 dinar I've ever spent.

27 June 2007

somewhere no one's expecting.

A little background on my future home:

1. Amharic looks hard. But it's Semitic (the second most widely spoken member of the family), and I've already put three years into learning the most common Semitic language, so perhaps that will prove helpful.

2. Ethiopia is the oldest independent African nation (some 2000 years, save a brief Italian occupation in World War II).

3. The flag is pretty. But more importantly, the three main colors (red, yellow, and green for my colorblind readers) may appear familiar. They were adopted by pan-African supporters because of fact #2, and that's why so many African states used some combination of those colors when they gained independence from colonial rule.

4. The population of Ethiopia is approximately 76 million people, the second largest in Africa (after Nigeria).

5. On a sadder note, there are 1.5 million people living with AIDS in Ethiopia, a 4.4% prevalence rate. Ethiopia ranks sixth in the world and fifth in Africa (India is second globally) for number of AIDS infections and 25th for prevalence rate.


6. Ethiopia shares borders with Sudan, Eritrea, Djbouti, Somalia, and Kenya. Four of its neighbors have State Department travel warnings - any guesses as to who's the lucky one out? The capital and largest city is Addis Ababa in the center of the country. Although the Ethiopia is landlocked, it is home to the headwaters of the Nile River. As a result of the ongoing conflicts in Sudan and Somalia, Ethiopia is home to a sizable population of refugees.

7. The national literacy rate is 42.7%, with a 15% differential between men and women. 38.7% of the population live below the poverty line.

8. Life expectancy is 49.2 years, ranking Ethiopia 199th in the world. The birth rate is 5.1 children per woman. 43.4% of the population is under 14, compared to approximately 20% in the United States and Western Europe.

Photos that changed the world. This is why I've always loved photography.

24 June 2007

make a plan to love me.

It's final. I'm going to Ethiopia. I leave October 5 and will serve until the end of November 2009, dates subject to change depending on the length of training. I'll be part of a group of 40 Community HIV/AIDS Advisors spread around the country - the first group of PC volunteers since the 1999 Eritrea/Ethiopia war made PC recall everyone. According to my assignment, running water and electricity are possible, but not likely, in my living conditions. I'll be working with a health center or NGO in a small town or village community. I'll have a more detailed update on my service and Ethiopia itself once I get a chance to sit down and work through all the paperwork. But the point is, after a nine-month application process, it's finally here!

While not counting down the days until I'd be at work and hence able to check my mail (an odd sensation, I must admit), Candace and I have gone on a MacGyver-esque cooking kick. Armed only with a finicky gas stove, half-cup measuring cup, and a (Celsius) toaster oven, we have produced peanut butter-oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies, potato chips, popcorn, and banana bread, as well as a variety of "real food" dinners. Next up is key lime pie (ingredients courtesy of Fleming's parents...at Christmas), watermelon sorbet, zucchini bread, and zucchini fritters. I bought three pounds of zucchini on the side of the Desert Highway for less than a dollar. If you have other recipes calling for zucchini, send them my way. Eggs, too - due to a shopping miscommunication, we have approximately 50 eggs in our refrigerator. We're also in the market for sauce recipes to liven up our lives. Candace has a lot of free time on the internet at work and I have a lot of free time at home during the day. Paula Dean makes great recipes, just so you know. I've become an old woman. Recipe swapping. Such is life. I live "between Iraq and a hard place" and I'm moving to Ethiopia, so at least I'm not bored.

22 June 2007

content without perfection.

Facebook may well be the greatest research tool of the modern era. Thanks to a variety of groups formed by prospective Peace Corps volunteers who have already received invitations, I've narrowed down my possible destination to one. I could be completely wrong, but I think I'm going to Ethiopia. Ahh, but that wasn't on my original list, you say? That's because the Peace Corps hasn't sent volunteers to Ethiopia since 1999 - I'd be among the first group in eight years. Ethiopia! How amazing would that be?! I should know for sure next week, barring a Jordanian postal mishap.

Here's a heartwarming example of why I love Conor Oberst.

19 June 2007

beauty comes to those have been waiting.

My Peace Corps invitation is on the way. FedEx + Jordan = anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks. Let's hope for the shorter end of that window. I don't know where I'm going yet - PC likes to surprise you with the invite. But, I do know my departure date - October 5 - and that I'm not going to Francophone Africa. So, with some rudimentary detective work using Wikipedia and the Peace Corps website, I will most likely end up in one of the following places:

Botswana
The Gambia
Ghana
Kenya
Lesotho
Malawi
Mozambique
Namibia
South Africa
Swaziland
Tanzania
Uganda
Zambia
(and possibly Madagascar or Mauritania, since French is only a common language there)

I can't wait. Top choices include Tanzania, Madagascar, South Africa, Uganda, and Kenya.

In other news, I've decided to become a restaurant critic when I get back in two years (January 2010! Sounds crazy to say that). I was interviewing the sushi chef at my favorite restaurant for a JO profile, and after two days of royal (and free) pampering by the manager, I'm sold. I wasn't even reviewing his restaurant; I just wanted to talk to an immigrant sushi chef about his experience in Jordan. But just in case, the manager provided me with a free meal both days and a signature (virgin) drink on the second night while I ran around taking pictures of the chaos that is all-you-can-eat sushi night. Theoretically, I could get paid to do that over and over again at a plethora of restaurants. Why am I going to school again?

On the topic of school, Arabic tutoring is entertaining, if not entirely educational. Steffen and I grew tired of articles about war (which essentially translates to the evils of America and Israel), so we asked our professor if we could switch to something else. We started with a lot of articles about African refugees fleeing to Europe, then switched to Iraqi refugees. We pushed for a change, and got Palestinian refugees instead. Steffen studied biology, so he suggested agriculture. I suggested social issues. Ghazi (professor) countered with "how about diplomatic relations?" We said no politics. He suggested Parliament. We explained that we didn't know any basic life words like food, furniture, or utensils, and he just seemed confused that we might want to learn them. Lost in translation, I suppose. Is it really that strange that I might want to learn to really speak a language and not just read the daily death tolls?

Part of this frustration stems from the articles we read (and the manner in which they're written). I have as many problems with Israel as anyone in this region, but I can only take so much of an agenda being shoved down my throat. Articles include lines like "the Israeli government full of murderers and war criminals." Granted, that was a verbatim quote from a source. But "stopping the Israeli enemy" wasn't a quote, it was one sentence in a four-sentence article. I'm not saying the America media is by any means objective, but I feel like such demonization isn't as commonplace. I'm not gaining sympathy for Israel, but I'm certainly not feeling any more tenderness towards the other side either. I guess if I were in the place of the Arab states, I'd rather attract supporters who cared about my cause, but everything seems to be written in pursuit of the reader's pity. Playing the victim will always be easier than taking ownership of your own problems, I suppose.

15 June 2007

the sound of the hopeless ones.

Check out this fascinating blog. It's a collection of "strange maps," some combining odd concepts and others just plain weird. The current one is a map of the US, relabeled with countries with similar GDPs. Thought provoking.

It's been a week of teaching GRE prep, and my students still haven't figured out that not only do I not have a college degree, I've also never taken the exam. Victory. I had to explain what a jury was. I suppose when you live in a country conveniently lacking an independent judiciary, such concepts are rather foreign. Quixotic also proved rather challenging for thirteen people who had never read Cervantes. And did you know that "vim" means energy and "prolix" means wordy? Yeah, me either. After this experience, I'm considering just taking the GRE - chances are, I'll never be more prepared than I am today. I just have to make sure I don't blow my cover and take it at the same time as my students. All of whom are significantly older than I am, save the one girl who's an undergraduate at...wait for it...Florida State University. Cue "It's a Small World After All."

06 June 2007

like art could save a wretch like me.

It's been a while, but I've been keeping myself amused in the meantime. Candace and I have moved into our new apartment, and although the hot water appears to be broken or nonexistent (hopefully the former), it's otherwise fabulous. Except for moving in and shopping with three flights of stairs. We invested in an electric oven and a blender, so life just keeps getting better. We live on an adorable tree lined street where, for the first time, I hear birds chirping constantly. It's still unsettling, since it sounds just like our doorbell, but I'm thrilled to be in a quaint little neighborhood in which, if I felt so inclined, I could actually go running. And best of all, someone in our building is running an open wireless network, so until they discover us, we have free internet at home. Yes.

Between trips up the stairs, I picked up another (hopefully my primary) job for the summer. Inspired by last summer in Berlin, I've been hired as a photographer and writer for JO Magazine, an English-language magazine covering politics, social issues, culture, entertainment - it deals with a wide range of issues, which is what attracted me in the first place. The May issue featured a special report on environmental issues in Jordan, hence I fell in love. On a whim, I sent a cover letter and CV to the editor telling him I love his magazine and would really like to work there. Lo and behold, a week later, I have a job. And my editor really liked my photos (thanks Freeman!) and story ideas, so perhaps there's a future in this. I may also end up as the final proofreader, unless they find someone more grammatically anal retentive than I am. Not likely.

Although the Language Center nearly drove me away from Arabic, in a moment of lunacy, a friend and I decided to hire a tutor to keep teaching us for the summer. Thank god there's two of us and we're a bit competitive, otherwise I'd probably start slacking. Peace Corps is on their final review of my application, so I should have an assignment by the end of next week. Start packing your khakhi shorts and safari hats.

This women is amazing.

This, however, is appalling.

This is beautiful. My friend is in Fez for the summer, the city that got me started on this whole Middle East mess.

One final Sam Harris quote:

"It must be possible to live ethically - with a genuine concern for the happiness of other sentient beings - without presuming to know things about which we are patently ignorant. Consider it: every person you have ever met, every person you will pass in the street today, is going to die. Living long enough, each will suffer the loss of his friends and family. All are going to lose everything they love in this world. Why would anyone want to be anything but kind to them in the meantime?"