The president is missing – James Patterson, Bill Clinton
As a thriller, this book is so-so. It is more interesting as a foreign policy read. Presumably in the eyes of Bill Clinton, Israel and Germany are the US’ staunchest allies, England doesn’t even get a mention. Russia is still Enemy No 1, China interestingly is not as much of a great. Saudi is the good guy even though they concocted the plan.
The grave threat is now cyber terrorism.
The president is conceived as the ideal American hero. He is distinguished by a sporting career cut short by war service.
What stood out is how the book is peopled by many women in power. Unfortunately several, if not all, of these women turn out to be tainted. Go figure.
The book ends literally with a state of the union type address in which the president sets out his vision for America. The theme – bipartisanship.
Little fires everywhere – Celeste Ng
This seems to be a novel that people either love or hate, according to good read reviews. I loved it. I read the reviews after and was surprised at the number of haters. One grouse is that Mia is doing this manic pixie mom thing, which is fair point. Another is that it’s supposed to be a character driven novel but the characters don’t stick. I dunno. The character Moody has stayed with me, I like how Tripp was out of character, how Lexie seems to be. Yes, Mrs Richardson is a bit the caricatured stepford wife, but there’s an attempt to give her motivation. The most surprising character for me was Mr Richardson, ask me why in the comments if you’ve read the book and care. My biggest problem was that for a novel written by an Asian and which puts race front and centre, the handful of Asian characters have such secondary roles. They are onlookers or literally the plot on which the white curacters do their thing.
China: a concise history
Basically a primer on modern china. It was more like bringing together a lot of the little bits of information I mostly already knew
Women and Power – Mary Beard
This is a short, very interesting read, tracing how women have been shut out of power in western civilization, going back to Greek myth and connecting it with modern politics.
Five star billionaire – Tash Aw
I first heard of this book at an academic talk when it was mentioned in conjunction with arvind adiga’s white tiger and mohsin hamids how to get filthy rich in rising Asia. This trio are dark Asian Cinderella stories, telling a gritty version of the Asian dream. White Tiger jolted me even if I didn’t love its parable-like structure. Hamid’s book struck me as largely similar. The thing that lingered with me after was which city it was based on. My guess was Mumbai.
I think i enjoyed Five Star Billionaire the most of the three though I took a while to get into it. The series of vignettes start linking up and in the end, there is a sliver of optimism that charmed me.
Sapiens – Yuval Noah Hariri
I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to read this until I did. The first part was the most engaging for me. Some parts were too cultural studies lite. I know he was trying to fair about colonialism but statements such as this middle eastern script would not had been deceiphered had it not been for the Europeans struck me as sloppy. I like that he discounted the idealization of the past and some of the doomsday predictions for the future.