Book Reviews

The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad

If you wish to even begin to understand Afghanistan, you must read this very fine book. Previously, I had read A Thousand Splendid Suns, which was excellent (even better than The Kite Runner), but The Bookseller of Kabul, written in a simple straightforward manner, gave me a more clear picture of life in that country.

This is a non-fiction account of a springtime author Norwegian journalist Asne Seierstad spent with one family in Afghanistan. She was able to spend time alone with the women, something no male journalist would have been allowed. Just as it was in Khaled Hosseini’s novel, we find a story of women horribly oppressed by their own religion and society.

Though, Sultan Khan’s family is well off by the living standards of his country, they still live without electricity, a television, or even a radio. There is no furniture; a hole in the floor is their toilet. A twelve year old son works seven days a week, twelve hours a day. Indeed, the crushing poverty of Afghanistan oppresses them all.

Smoothly translated into English by Ingrid Christophersen, this is a fast enjoyable, but most importantly, an informative read. Highly recommended.

 

Hot Lights, Cold Steel: Life, Death and Sleepless Nights in a Surgeon’s First Years by Dr. Michael Collins

I read this after reading  “Blue Collar, Blue Scrubs which was written after  “Hot Lights…”  so I didn’t enjoy it quite as much. It wasn’t  the best idea to read two books by the same author covering fairly similar territory, however I can still say “What a great book…what an awesome person.”

It’s people like Dr. Collins that we should be honoring  – people of merit –

not pop stars and airhead  celebrities who are famous without ever accomplishing anything.

Dr. Collins, the workaholics workaholic,  tackles some of the more complex ethical  and emotional situations doctors face such as the classic: the operation was a success but the patient died .  Instead of reading that line as a bad joke, the reader begins to understand the true implications.

Inspiring, funny and moving – this book has got it all.

Between these two books Dr. Collins has taken us on the journey all the way up to the moment he enters a prestigious and successful practice.  I hope he will write one more book detailing the years that follow and maybe explain  why a hairstylist who pays $11,000 a year for medical insurance still has to pay $153 out of pocket just to speak to a doctor. I mean that quite literally –  a five minute conversation, no examination, $153!