Ilana’s Book List

written by Ilana

I have decided that I want to keep track of everything I read over the year. This reading has (mostly) been made possible by Benji and his kindle. Although I miss reading paper books, the kindle makes it possible for me to actually carry all of these books with me.

The Last Days of the Incas–Kim MacQuarrie. A must-read if you’re going to Peru
My Horizontal Life–Chelsea Handler.
The Lost Girls–Jennifer Baggett, Holly Corbett and Amanda Pressner
. Good prep for a rtw trip
Are You There Vodka, It’s Me Chelsea–Chelsea Handler.
Right, I’m obsessed with her.
The Lacuna–Barbara Kingsolver.
Love her and love historical fiction.
Committed–Elizabeth Gilbert.
I dig Elizabeth Gilbert, but I may have appreciated this more if I was a divorcee in my 30’s getting remarried.
Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life–Irwin Kula.
My aseret yemei teshuva reading.
Between God and Man–Abraham Joshua Heschel.
Shul and chag reading. Heschel chazarah is always good.
Introducing Kafka
— a nice comic-book style introduction to Kafka
In a Sunburned Country–Bill Bryson
. I figured I should learn something about Australia what with an Australian husband and all.
It wasn’t funny when it happened
–funny travel stories. Don’t remember who wrote this, and the stories weren’t actually so funny.
Tales of a Female Nomad–Rita Golden Gelman
. I like reading travel memoirs while traveling. It’s interesting to see how others experience travel, etc.
The Inheritance of Loss–Kiran Desai
. I love books about India. Really enjoyed this one. Highly recommended. Randomly found it in a lending library in Sumatra.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, –The Girl Who Played with Fire, –Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest–Steig Larson. Figured it was about time I join the masses. I couldn’t put these down, and had not purchased the last one, so went wandering around Ubud trying to find it. Luckily, it was easy enough to procure. The violence was a bit much for me, and I would advise against reading them right before going to sleep.
Godchildren–Nicholas Coleridge. A couple we met in Ubud gave this to me, so I gave it a try. I read it, but was not so into it.


Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China–Jung Chang. Randomly found this on the beach in Bali, without knowing anything about it, but wanted to read something about China before our trip. AMAZING. The true stories of a Chinese woman (the author), her mother, and her grandmother living in China through most of the 20th century. I learned so much about 20th century China from this book, and every chapter was fascinating.
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress–Dai Sijie. Having become obsessed with China after being in China and reading “Wild Swans” I decided I had to buy this book when I saw it on the street in Shanghai along with the full series of Seinfeld on DVD… Well written, enjoyable, quick read that takes place during the Cultural Revolution in China.
Out of Mao’s Shadow: The Struggle for the Soul of the New China–Philip Pan. Anyone who is interested in modern China needs to read this. Fascinating.
The River of Lost Footsteps: A Personal History of Burma–Thant Myint-U. Dense at times, and a bit difficult to get through. Read the introduction and the last chapter for the essentials, but if you want to know the ancient history of Burma, then read the whole thing.
Finding George Orwell in Burma–Emma Larkin. A journalist follows in the footsteps of George Orwell and discusses Burmese politics and history along the way. Good pre-Burma trip reading.
Olive Kitteridge–Elizabeth Strout. I really enjoyed this.
Water for Elephants–Sara Gruen. Quick, enjoyable read. This made me want to go back to Circus World in the Wisconsin Dells.
Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures–Kenneth Cain, Heidi Postlewait and Andrew Thomson. Everyone should read this.
The Eaves of Heaven: A Life in Three Wars–Andrew X. Pham. Good Vietnam reading.
First They Killed My Father–Loung Ung. Cambodian genocide memoir through the eyes of a child. Sort of like the Cambodian “Night”
Lucky Child–Loung Ung. Post-Cambodian life.
The Gate–Francois Bizot. More Cambodian genocide reading, this time from the perspective of a captured Frenchman before the genocide.
Holy Cow–Sarah MacDonald. Light reading about the different religions in India by an Australian who lived in India for two years.
India: From Midnight to the Millenium and Beyond–Shashi Tharoor. Non-Fiction modern history of India. Informative, mostly interesting, at times a bit dense.
Sarah’s Key–Tatiana De Rosnay. Holocaust lit for adults. Made me kind of hate France.
Freedom in Exile–The Dalai Lama. Autobiography of the Dalai Lama. Really amazing book. Reminded me of the evils of the Chinese government. Also made me realize that I am obsessed with the Dalai Lama. Heschel has some competition.
God in Your Body–Jay Michaelson. This was the perfect book to read in Rishikesh the so-called Yoga capital of the world. It really helped me connect my Jewish practices with the meditation and yoga I’ve been trying out. I probably highlighted half of this book on the kindle, and I definitely will buy it in paperback when I get back to the US. Highly recommended.
The Energy of Prayer–Thich Nhat Hanh. I wanted to connect with the messages in this book, but it was not really speaking my language. The meditations at the end are interesting.
The Dalai Lama’s Book of Love and Compassion. No explanation needed. But again, I do love the Dalai Lama.
The White Tiger–Aravind Adiga. Enjoyed the first half of this book about modern day India and their classist culture.
Arresting God in Kathmandu–Samrat Upadhyay. Short stories that take place in Kathmandu.