Friday Finds: 14th Aug 2009


First of all, Happy janmashtami to those who celebrate it.

As regular readers of my tiny blog know that I LOVE memoirs. For today’s Friday Finds I want to highlight only memoirs.

The first 2 were found on Sherry’s blog and the next 2 on Alyce’s blog. They sound absolutely fantastic to me. The Vietnam books looks more like a Travelogue but now a days I feel Travelogue’s are part memoirs too.

Hitchhiking Vietnam by Karin Muller

From GoodReads: For seven months Karin Muller traversed Vietnam–sometimes by motorbike, often by foot–covering 6,400 miles from the Mekong Delta to the Chinese border. Along the way she survives 52 motorbike breakdowns, 14 arrests, and one awful bout with scurvy. She plants rice with farmers, saves a few leopard cubs from the black market, learns to drive a passenger train, and gets to know a lot of people on her Ho Chi Minh Trail trek. Told honestly and humorously, the culture, pace, land, scents, problems, and beauties of Vietnam are evoked as Muller and Vietnam interact. Snippets of letters home (like “I traded some of my antihistamines for Tampax yesterday. What a relief” and “Am I really blood type A? It’s important”) highlight the details, while the strong narrative holds them together. Her pictures are excellent, the story riveting, and the writing a pleasure–good reading for a flight to Asia or a day at the beach.

When Broken Glass Floats by Chanrithi Him

Publisher’s weekly Review: Born in Cambodia in 1965, Him lived from the age of three with the fear of war overflowing from neighboring Vietnam and suffered through the U.S.’s bombing of her native land. However, thanks to her loving and open-minded family, her outlook remained positive–until 1975, when the Khmer Rouge seized control and turned her world upside down. (According to a Cambodian proverb, “broken glass floats” when the world is unbalanced.) Armed with a nearly photographic memory, Him forcefully expresses the utter horror of life under the revolutionary regime. Evacuated from Phnom Penh and and shunted from villages to labor camps, her close-knit family of 12 was decimated: both parents were murdered, and five of her siblings starved or died from treatable illnesses. Meanwhile, the culture of local communities was destroyed and replaced with the simple desire to survive famine. Yet for all their suffering throughout these years, the surviving Hims remained loyal to one another, saving any extra food they collected and making dangerous trips to other camps to share it with weaker family members. Friendships were also formed at great risk, and small favors were exchanged. But by the end of the book, Him finds herself surprised when she encounters remnants of humanity in people, for she has learned to live by mistrusting, by relying on her own wits and strength. When the Khmer Rouge were overthrown, Him moved to a refugee camp in Thailand. Today she works with the Khmer Adolescent Project in Oregon. This beautifully told story is an important addition to the literature of this period.

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi

From GoodReads:

In this profoundly affecting memoir from the internationally renowned author of The Caged Virgin, Ayaan Hirsi Ali tells her astonishing life story, from her traditional Muslim childhood in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, and Kenya, to her intellectual awakening and activism in the Netherlands, and her current life under armed guard in the West.

One of today’s most admired and controversial political figures, Ayaan Hirsi Ali burst into international headlines following an Islamist’s murder of her colleague, Theo van Gogh, with whom she made the movie Submission.

Ultimately a celebration of triumph over adversity, Hirsi Ali’s story tells how a bright little girl evolved out of dutiful obedience to become an outspoken, pioneering freedom fighter. As Western governments struggle to balance democratic ideals with religious pressures, no story could be timelier or more significant.

Whatever You Do, Don’t Run by Peter Allison

From Amazon: Whatever You Do, Don’t Run is a hilarious collection of true tales from top ¬safari guide Peter Allison. In a place where the wrong behavior could get you eaten, Allison has survived face-to-face encounters with big cats, angry ¬elephants, and the world’s most unpredictable animals—herds of untamed tourists and foolhardy guides whose outrageous antics sometimes make them even more dangerous than a pride of hungry lions!

Join Allison as he faces down charging lions—twice; searches for a drunk, half-naked tourist who happens to be a member of the British royal family; drives a Land Rover full of tourists into a lagoon full of hippos; and adopts the most ¬vicious animal in Africa as his “pet.” Full of lively humor and a genuine love and respect for Botswana and its rich wildlife, Whatever You Do, Don’t Run takes you to where the wild things are and introduces you to a place where every day is a new adventure!

In 1994 Peter Allison set off for a year-long stay in Africa. More than a dozen years and hundreds of adventures later, he’s still leading safaris and collecting stories. Allison’s safaris have been ¬featured in National Geographic, Condé Nast Traveler, and on television programs such as Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures.

Do you have any memoirs/ Travelogue’s suggestions? I would love to hear them.

20 thoughts on “Friday Finds: 14th Aug 2009

Add yours

  1. Thanks for sharing all of these – I saw Alyce’s yesterday and really want to read both of those and Hitchhiking Vietnam and When Broken Glass Floats sound good too.


  2. I have to admit, I don’t search out memoirs on my own, so I’m so glad you shared some great ones with us! I especailly like the sound of “Whatever you do, don’t run”


  3. These all sound good. I like reading memoirs now and then. I’ve heard of Infidel, but the others are new to me. I’ll have to check those out. Thanks for bringing them to my attention!


  4. I’ve just finished reading The Infidel, i can unquestionably say its one of the best books i’ve reed within last few years,…it’s a definitely a must read book.


    1. Oh yes, I watch his show ‘No Reservations’ on the Discovery channel. It’s awesome. I didn’t know he’d a written a book. Thanks for letting me know 🙂


  5. I’m listening to The Father of All Things by Tom Bissell and it’s described as a travelogue thru Vietnam (and some memoir in Wisconsin) and I just finished Population 485 by Michael Perry which is about a volunteer firefighter in a small town (review soon.)


  6. I can’t believe I missed this post the first time around. Then I looked at the calendar and realized what a busy day/week that was for me. It was right as our vacation started. The first two books look great – I love memoirs and travelogues. Thanks for linking to me regarding the books you found on my site!


    1. I’m surprised you can remember what you were doing back then, you really are very organized 🙂

      I have added a few more books from your blog but these are the only ones I remember mentioning on my blog since I don’t do a lot of Friday Finds.


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