Library Corner

Posts Tagged ‘Alcohol

A History of the World in Six Glasses – Tom Standage

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This is light, though not an easy read.  It is literally the history of the world through the six beverages, beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea and coca cola.  Like the other members of our book club, I found the concept of charting history through these drinks unique and plausible.  I did find it difficult to read in the beginning and must confess, if not for the book club, I would have given up half way through the first chapter on beer.  I persevered, and was glad I did as it did ‘pick up’ although not greatly.  I found the stories of great thinkers such as Plato coming together in Symposiums, which developed all around the world as a result of new beverages, very interesting.  For me, the chapter on Tea was the most captivating.  This is probably because, 1) I am a devoted tea drinker 2) The beginning of Twinnings Tea to fulfil the gap in providing women ‘access’ to the equivalent of coffee houses, was just remarakable.  The different civilisations, the ‘great powers’, the (British) East India Trading Company as well as the Opium Wars, were interesting to read about through this different approach to history.  It is a book that made me feel pleased that I had read it, once I had finished it.

Written by Um Yousef

17 January 2009 at 5:35 pm

A Million Little Pieces – James Frey

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This is a story of a man with addiction problems.  It traces his history from the beginning of his first alcoholic drinking (which started at sipping drinks at parties at the age of 6 or so) to the point of near-death by addiction and then recovery.

James Frey received much criticism for presenting the book as his true journey when in fact he had altered some of the details of what actaully he went through and what actaully happened.  He does begin by explaining this challenge and does well to defend himself.

The story is well written and descriptive, sometimes even too descriptive that I had moments where I skipped paragraphs to avoid being sick myself.  One thing James Frey does very well is provide a deep insight into what addicts actually go through, the things they experience, the feelings that overwhelm them and the suffering that goes with having an addiction.  I thought the characters were quite typical of those you find in Total Institutions; some survivors such as Frey himself and Leonard and some victims such as Lilly.

It was a book I enjoyed reading and one that provided enough scope for discussion in our book club.

Written by Um Yousef

9 March 2008 at 10:00 pm