Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Trip Planning and Reading Roundup and Podcast Update

Things have been quiet lately, as I think everyone is just trying to wrap up their errands and shopping and tasks before the holidays and the new year.  For my part I have had a very satisfying bit of Christmas shopping, both for others and myself (couldn't help it), despite how challenging Hong Kong makes it.  I do love finding a good gift for someone!
We have just about put the finishing touches on our Sri Lanka vacation, though last night Michael and I were scrabbling through news and google archives regarding air safety and aviation disasters in Sri Lanka as we contemplated the possibility of death in an uncertified small turbo prop aircraft.  We are still trying to decide whether we should charter a flight (and if so, with which company) for the long and arduous car trip from Colombo to Yala.

It also turns out that typhoid vaccinations are recommended for Sri Lanka and we kind of did not consider that.  I was weighing the pros and cons of getting the vaccination, but it turns out you really need the vaccination 10-14 days before your trip for it to be effective.  Oops.  But on the other hand, typhoid is a recommended vaccination for a lot of places we have already been, for example, Laos.  That's not exactly a good reason to forego the vaccination, but, well, maybe the same rules apply - be very careful about raw fruit and vegetables, ice and water generally.

On to my reading roundup - in addition to packing for Sri Lanka (or, more accurately, stockpiling insect repellent and generally putting into piles clothes and supplies that I want to bring for the trip), I have been preparing myself with a lot of books and podcasts, in case I have to keep myself entertained during airport delays or traffic.  I am already bracing myself for quite a bit of that during this trip.

Books I have read and enjoyed recently:

-- League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions, and the Battle for Truth, by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru.  I love a good cover up story, especially when it delves into the strategic machinations of wealthy, interested corporations.  Oh, hello, National Football League.  Unlike other books to film where I usually try to stay away, I intend to watch the movie produced by Frontline.  I really wonder about the future of football - I've said it for years, but football is the American gladiator sport and at some point everyone, not just the league, but also the fans, the spectators, the tailgaters, the families of players... are all going to have to reckon with the consequences of their part in this dangerous and devastating sport.

-- We Never Asked for Wings, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.  So good, so heartbreaking, so mesmerizing.  I could not put this book down.  I stayed up late to finish it in one sitting.  I thought the subject matter wouldn't interest me, but actually, this is proof that a good writer can write about anything and make it engrossing.

-- Bull Mountain, by Brian Panowich.  A bit slow at first, but really amazing once the story starts moving.  I am not entirely comfortable with the violence (and I think the story glorifies all of the abuse and violence, just by how explicitly the author depicts it all) but the plot is brilliant (until it gets a little unbelievable) - but overall, such a wild and engrossing ride.

--If You Only Knew, by Kristin Higgans.  I love everything this woman writes.  Oh sure, it's probably classified as chick-lit or women's fiction or something light and fluffy.  But the fact remains that her novels consistently deliver with believable characters and heartwarming story lines.

Books on my Kindle for the trip (so far):

--The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen
--Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt
--The Hypnotist's Love Story, by Liane Moriarty
--Moonwalking with Einsten: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, by Josh Foer
--Dead Wake, Eric Larson

As for podcasts, I'm sure you all know that Serial season 2 is out.  For my part I have also been madly downloading the treasure trove of This American Life archives.  Some episodes are great, some are a little off, but overall they are very entertaining.  Podcasts have made walking to work and around this generally incredibly hectic city so much more soothing and, well, simply better.

No comments:

Post a Comment