December 13, 2010

Books read, reading, to read

Considering how much time I spend in front of a glowing rectangle, I think living in another country without regular access to electricity will bring me back to reading books. And there's something about the University that both endows a sense of reading and furnishes an incredible procrastination towards opening a book (or finishing one). But here's a few that stuck with me, or that I struggled with, or that I want to struggle with. In no particular order.

The Road to Hell: The Ravaging Effects of Foreign Aid and International Charity - Evidence that aid is a big business, in particular that its interventions are not as effective as intended (see Frontline's report on Play Pumps) and that requests for donations do not always match up with funded projects (also see the great blog Good Intentions Are Not Enough). Interested in reading The Crisis Caravan also.

Reading Lolita in Tehran - At the same time a memoir and a lesson on literature, its illuminations and its effects. My only criticism is that the author removes herself from her own narrative by a layer of interpretive reflection.

The Significance of Schooling: Life-Journeys in an African Society - Study of primary schools in Zambia, near the border with Malawi. Critiques of it as an academic work include the small sample size and the admitted failure of some interventions (particularly parent-teacher conferences). Really good analysis of the interaction of language and the role of knowledge in the society of the study.

Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail - Thumbed through it at a bookstore. Author claims that aid which sells, rather than gives, can often be more successful than a "handout". Not sure how effective this would be in all cases, especially where an additional cost imposed on a household would cause them to cut corners elsewhere. The author is associated with the exhibition Design For the Other 90%.

Invisible Cities - Short stories about imaginary places. Not really about the memory of place but the location of memory itself, and its reliability.

Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel - Handbook for my imagined self.

Infinite Jest - Someday, will finish.

The Pale King - Patiently waiting for its release.

Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche - Of interest. The issue of performing clinical tests almost exclusively in one country, and applying its findings worldwide.

Heart of Darkness - Found at a thrift store, paid a dollar.

A Book of Five Strings: Strategies for Mastering the Art of Old Time Banjo - Everyone needs a hobby.

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