5 books to read at leisure time


Americanah (by Chimamanda Hgozi Adichie)


A powerful, tender story of race and identity by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun.

Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland.

Americanah is licensed for publication in 29 languages.

Half of a Yellow Sun (by Chimamanda Hgozi Adichie)

A masterly, haunting new novel from a writer heralded by The Washington Post Book World as “the 21st-century daughter of Chinua Achebe,” Half of a Yellow Sun re-creates a seminal moment in modern African history: Biafra’s impassioned struggle to establish an independent republic in Nigeria in the 1960s, and the chilling violence that followed.

With astonishing empathy and the effortless grace of a natural storyteller, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie weaves together the lives of three characters swept up in the turbulence of the decade. Thirteen-year-old Ugwu is employed as a houseboy for a university professor full of revolutionary zeal. Olanna is the professor’s beautiful mistress, who has abandoned her life of privilege in Lagos for a dusty university town and the charisma of her new lover. And Richard is a shy young Englishman in thrall to Olanna’s twin sister, an enigmatic figure who refuses to belong to anyone. As Nigerian troops advance and the three must run for their lives, their ideals are severely tested, as are their loyalties to one another.

Epic, ambitious, and triumphantly realized, Half of a Yellow Sun is a remarkable novel about moral responsibility, about the end of colonialism, about ethnic allegiances, about class and race—and the ways in which love can complicate them all. Adichie brilliantly evokes the promise and the devastating disappointments that marked this time and place, bringing us one of the most powerful, dramatic, and intensely emotional pictures of modern Africa that we have ever had.


The Spy (by Paulo Coelho)

Mata Hari was executed by firing squad in Paris on October 15, 1917, accused of being a spy, a double agent for Germany and France during World War I. “The Spy” is a fictionalized account of her story. The story is told from two perspectives: first from Mata Hari’s perspective, in the form of a letter written to her lawyer, and second, from her lawyer’s perspective.

Mata Hari was born Margaretha Zelle, in Leeuwarden, Holland. Her parents were well to do, until her father went bankrupt. She was sent off to a boarding school where she was raped by the school principal (as were numerous other of her classmates) and rapidly grew bored, dreaming about marrying up and traveling. She tells her story from a distinctly feminist and sometimes narcissistic perspective. When the rapist principal was ultimately found out to have molested many of his students over the years, Mata Hari observes that “The principal had already retired, and no one dared confront him. Quite the opposite! Some even envied him for having been the beau of the great diva of the time.”

She met her husband, Rudolph MacLeod, by responding to a newspaper advertisement from a military officer looking for a wife. The ad was posted as a joke by MacLeod’s friends, yet upon meeting her he was smitten and they were married. They were stationed in Indonesia, where they had two children, a daughter and a son. The household had many servants and their son was poisoned by his nanny. MacLeod was abusive and paranoid about the fidelity of his younger and beautiful wife and ultimately she leaves him.

After leaving MacLeod, Zelle changed her name to Mata Hari and became famous as an exotic dancer. She describes her path through life as “opportunistic”, acquiring wealth and position by manipulating men of power and strength.  In her letter to her lawyer, she says that she was never a spy, that she became unwittingly enmeshed in the tug of war between France and Germany only through her opportunistic approach to survival and that the accusations against her were in retribution for being a strong woman and following her dream. “We all know I won’t be killed because of this stupid allegation of espionage, but because I decided to be who I always dreamed. And the price of a dream is always high.”

From the perspective of her lawyer, who was in love with her, she also was not guilty. He concluded that her execution was simply a convenience, to distract from the times and to punish her for being an unconventional woman. “You were not merely a person unjustly accused of espionage, but someone who dared to challenge certain customs. And for that you could not be forgiven.”

The novel is a quick, enjoyable read (a rainy afternoon will do it) and made me want to learn more about Mata Hari. The novel can be reserved at the Cuyahoga County Public Library by clicking on http://encore.cuyahoga.lib.oh.us/iii/encore/record/C__Rb11232061__Sthe%20spy__P0%2C4__Orightresult__X7?lang=eng&suite=gold

Big magic: Creative Living beyond fear (by Elizabeth Gilbert)

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Gilbert offers insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.


Hero (by Rhonda Byrne)- From Rhonda Byrne, creator of the international bestselling movie and book, The Secret, comes Hero, her latest world-changing project and the most important to date.


What is your true calling and why aren’t you already living it?

Imagine if there was a map that showed you step by step how to get from where you are now to your true calling and the life you were born to live—the most brilliant, rich, fulfilling, and dazzling life you could ever dream of. You are holding in your hands such a map. Hero is the map for your life.By following the journeys of twelve of the most successful people on the planet today, you’ll learn how to use your inner powers to overcome obstacles and to make impossible dreams come true. You’ll be inspired to find your own calling and start taking the steps toward making the life of your dreams an everyday reality. Be the hero you are meant to be.


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