Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mini Reviews (Part 5)

Letters from the Land of Cancer (Walter Wangerin Jr.)
I was hoping for more from this title.  A memoir of his journey through cancer treatments, the book is a series of letters to friends and family, with a few reflections interspersed.  I think that I was hoping for a more intimate account of the day to day struggles, and this isn't what was provided.  That said, towards the end of the book, I was moved to tears as I sat on the bus and read the closing of his account.  It's not the easiest read, not particularly flowing, and perhaps even a bit dense - like reading the correspondence of a stranger, without any emotional attachment.  So, not a stellar recommendation, but definitely not a wasted read.

In the Land of Invisible Women: A Female Doctor's Journey in the Saudi Kingdom (Qanta A. Ahmed, MD)
This was an absolutely fascinating read, and one which I will likely re-read at some point in the months to come.  It is the personal account of a single female British Muslim doctor, who, after training in the United States, suddenly found herself without a visa, and accepted a position in Saudi Arabia.  It explores medicine, her experiences as a woman, and as a Muslim.  I was particularly captured by her description of her experience of hajj, and of encounters with the religious police.  As I read I found myself making a list of questions, to be answered with further reading and research.  A book that captures me with narrative and leaves me with challenging questions for further reading and study is pretty much my definition of a great read.  For those interested in Islam, the middle east, memoir, culture, or even women's issues, this is definitely worth the time spent reading, and as I said, I expect to re-read it later in the year.