A haunting memoir of teaching English to the sons of North Korea’s ruling class during the last six months of Kim Jong-il’s reign
Every day, three times a day, the students march in two straight lines, singing praises to Kim Jong-il and North Korea: Without you, there is no motherland. Without you, there is no us. It is a chilling scene, but gradually Suki Kim, too, learns the tune and, without noticing, begins to hum it. It is 2011, and all universities in North Korea have been shut down for an entire year, the students sent to construction fields—except for the 270 students at the all-male Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), a walled compound where portraits of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il look on impassively from the walls of every room, and where Suki has accepted a job teaching English. Over the next six months, she will eat three meals a day with her young charges and struggle to teach them to write, all under the watchful eye of the regime.
Life at PUST is lonely and claustrophobic, especially for Suki, whose letters are read by censors and who must hide her notes and photographs not only from her minders but from her colleagues—evangelical Christian missionaries who don’t know or choose to ignore that Suki doesn’t share their faith. As the weeks pass, she is mystified by how easily her students lie, unnerved by their obedience to the regime. At the same time, they offer Suki tantalizing glimpses of their private selves—their boyish enthusiasm, their eagerness to please, the flashes of curiosity that have not yet been extinguished. She in turn begins to hint at the existence of a world beyond their own—at such exotic activities as surfing the Internet or traveling freely and, more dangerously, at electoral democracy and other ideas forbidden in a country where defectors risk torture and execution. But when Kim Jong-il dies, and the boys she has come to love appear devastated, she wonders whether the gulf between her world and theirs can ever be bridged.
Without You, There Is No Us offers a moving and incalculably rare glimpse of life in the world’s most unknowable country, and at the privileged young men she calls “soldiers and slaves.”
Augusten Burroughs - Dry
Fans of Augusten Burroughs's darkly funny memoir Running with Scissors were left wondering at the end of that book what would become of young Augusten after his squalid and fascinating childhood ended. In Dry, we find that although adult Augusten is doing well professionally, earning a handsome living as an ad writer for a top New York agency, Burroughs's personal life is a disaster. His apartment is a sea of empty Dewar's bottles, he stays out all night boozing, and he dabs cologne on his tongue in an unsuccessful attempt to mask the stench of alcohol on his breath at work. When his employer insists he seek help, Burroughs ships out to Minnesota for detoxification, counseling, and amusingly told anecdotes about the use of stuffed animals in group therapy. But after a month of such treatment, he's back in Manhattan and tenuously sober. And while its one thing to lay off the sauce in rehab, Burroughs learns that it's quite another to resume your former life while avoiding the alcohol that your former life was based around. This quest to remain sober is made dramatically more difficult, and the tale more harrowing, when Burroughs begins an ill-advised romance with a crack addict. Certainly the "recovered alcoholic fighting to stay sober" tale is not new territory for a memoirist. But Burroughs's account transcends clichés: it doesn't adhere to the traditional "temptation narrowly resisted" storyline and it features, in Burroughs himself, a central character that is sympathetic even when he's neither likable nor admirable. But what ultimately makes this memoir such a terrific read is a brilliant and candid sense of humor that manages to stay dry even when recalling events where the author was anything but.
Henry David Thoreau - Walden (angol)
Walden (first published as Walden; or, Life in the Woods) by Henry David Thoreau is one of the best-known non-fiction books written by an American. Published in 1854, it details Thoreau's sojourn in a cabin near Walden Pond, amidst woodland owned by his friend and mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson, near Concord, Massachusetts. Thoreau lived at Walden for two years, two months, and two days, but Walden was written so that the stay appears to be a year, with expressed seasonal divisions. Thoreau did not intend to live as a hermit, for he received visitors and returned their visits. Instead, he hoped to isolate himself from society in order to gain a more objective understanding of it. Simplicity and self-reliance were Thoreau's other goals, and the whole project was inspired by transcendentalist philosophy. As Thoreau made clear in the book, his cabin was not in wilderness but at the edge of town, not far from his family home.
Courtney Robertson - Deb Baer - I Didn't Come Here to Make Friends
She was the villain The Bachelor fans loved to hate. Now Courtney Robertson takes us along on her journey to find love and reveals that "happily ever after" isn't always what it seems... Courtney Robertson joined season 16 of The Bachelor looking for love. She fit the casting call: She was young, single, a working model, and a natural in front of the cameras. Although she may have been there for all the right reasons, as the season unfolded and sparks began to fly something else was clear: She was not there to make friends. Courtney quickly became one of the biggest villains in Bachelor franchise history. She unapologetically pursued her man, steamrolled her competition, and broke the rules - including partaking in an illicit skinny-dip that sealed her proposal. Now, Courtney tells her own story - from her first loves to her first moments in the infamous Malibu mansion. She dishes on life before, during, and after The Bachelor, including the tabloid frenzy that continued after the cameras stopped rolling. Complete with tips, tricks, and advice from your favorite Bachelor alumni, I Didn't Come Here to Make Friends is packed with all of the outrageous stories and details Courtney fans and foes alike want to know.
Mark Owen - Kevin Maurer - No Easy Day
For the first time anywhere, the first-person account of the planning and execution of the Bin Laden raid from a Navy Seal who confronted the terrorist mastermind and witnessed his final moment From the streets of Iraq to the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips in the Indian Ocean, and from the mountaintops of Afghanistan to the third floor of Osama Bin Laden’s compound, operator Mark Owen of the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group — commonly known as SEAL Team Six — has been a part of some of the most memorable special operations in history, as well as countless missions that never made headlines. No Easy Day puts readers alongside Owen and the other handpicked members of the twenty-four-man team as they train for the biggest mission of their lives. The blow-by-blow narrative of the assault, beginning with the helicopter crash that could have ended Owen’s life straight through to the radio call confirming Bin Laden’s death, is an essential piece of modern history. In No Easy Day, Owen also takes readers onto the field of battle in America’s ongoing War on Terror and details the selection and training process for one of the most elite units in the military. Owen’s story draws on his youth in Alaska and describes the SEALs’ quest to challenge themselves at the highest levels of physical and mental endurance. With boots-on-the-ground detail, Owen describes numerous previously unreported missions that illustrate the life and work of a SEAL and the evolution of the team after the events of September 11. In telling the true story of the SEALs whose talents, skills, experiences, and exceptional sacrifices led to one of the greatest victories in the War on Terror, Mark Owen honors the men who risk everything for our country, and he leaves readers with a deep understanding of the warriors who keep America safe.
Helen Macdonald - H is for Hawk
Winner of the 2014 Samuel Johnson Prize. 'In real life, goshawks resemble sparrowhawks the way leopards resemble housecats. Bigger, yes. But bulkier, bloodier, deadlier, scarier, and much, much harder to see. Birds of deep woodland, not gardens, they're the birdwatchers' dark grail.' As a child Helen Macdonald was determined to become a falconer. She learned the arcane terminology and read all the classic books, including T. H. White's tortured masterpiece, _The Goshawk,_ which describes White's struggle to train a hawk as a spiritual contest. When her father dies and she is knocked sideways by grief, she becomes obsessed with the idea of training her own goshawk. She buys Mabel for GBP800 on a Scottish quayside and takes her home to Cambridge. Then she fills the freezer with hawk food and unplugs the phone, ready to embark on the long, strange business of trying to train this wildest of animals. 'To train a hawk you must watch it like a hawk, and so gain the ability to predict what it will do next. Eventually you don't see the hawk's body language at all. You seem to feel what it feels. The hawk's apprehension becomes your own. As the days passed and I put myself in the hawk's wild mind to tame her, my humanity was burning away.' Destined to be a classic of nature writing, _H is for Hawk_ is a record of a spiritual journey - an unflinchingly honest account of Macdonald's struggle with grief during the difficult process of the hawk's taming and her own untaming. At the same time, it's a kaleidoscopic biography of the brilliant and troubled novelist T. H. White, best known for _The Once and Future King._ It's a book about memory, nature and nation, and how it might be possible to try to reconcile death with life and love.
Czesław Miłosz - Native Realm
Before he emigrated to the United States, Czeslaw Milosz lived through many of the social upheavals that defined the first half of the twentieth century. Here, in this compelling account of his early life, the author sketches his moral and intellectual history from childhood to the early fifties, providing the reader with a glimpse into a way of life that was radically different from anything an American or even a Western European could know. Using the events of his life as a starting point, Native Realm sets out to explore the consciousness of a writer and a man, examining the possibility of finding glimmers of meaning in the midst of chaos while remaining true to oneself. In this beautifully written and elegantly translated work, Milosz is at his very best. Czeslaw Milosz was awarded the 1978 Neustadt International Prize in Literature and the 1980 Nobel Prize in Literature. Since 1962 he has been a professor, now emeritus, of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of California, Berkeley. Among his recent publications are Striving Towards Being: The Letters of Czeslaw Milosz and Thomas Merton and Road-side Dog. He lives in Berkeley, California, and Krakow, Poland. In his compelling autobiography, Native Realm, Nobel laureate Czeslaw Milosz offers a vivid account of his early life in his homeland and elsewhere in Europe, from his childhood days to the early 1950s. As a witness to immense social and political upheaval, Milosz examines the development of his own moral and intellectual history against the backdrop of many of the defining events of the twentieth century. These reflections lead him to question the possibility of finding glimmers of meaning in the mist of chaos while, at the same time, remaining true to oneself. Native Realm: A Search for Self-Definition traces the inimitable efforts of one of the twentieth century's greatest literary figures to define himself, his work, and the world around him. Elegant and eloquent, this vibrant autobiography stands as one of Milosz's most important work. "Amazingly creative . . . Native Realm is an ambitious attempt at an autobiography told as social history."—George Gomöri, World Literature Today "Lucid, graceful and not lacking a sense of the absurd . . . [A] brilliant memoir."—Robert Taylor, The Boston Globe
Stephen Fried - Thing of beauty
At age seventeen, Gia Carangi was working the counter at her father's Philadelphia luncheonette, Hoagie City. Within a year, Gia was one of the top models of the late 1970's, gracing the covers of Cosmopolitan and Vogue, partying at New York's Studio 54 and the Mudd Club, and redefining the industry's standard of beauty. She was the darling of moguls and movie stars, royalty and rockers. Gia was also a girl in pain, desperate for her mother's approval—and a drug addict on a tragic slide toward oblivion, who started going directly from $10,000-a-day fashion shoots to the heroin shooting galleries on New York's Lower East Side. Finally blackballed from modeling, Gia entered a vastly different world on the streets of New york and Atlantic City, and later in a rehab clinic. At twenty-six, she became one of the first women in America to die of AIDS, a hospital welfare case visited only by rehab friends and what remained of her family. Drawing on hundreds of interviews with Gia's gamily, lovers, friends, and colleagues, Thing of Beauty creates a poignant portrait of an unforgettable character—and a powerful narrative about beauty and sexuality, fame and objectification, mothers and daughters, love and death.
Jamie Zeppa - Beyond the Sky and the Earth
In the tradition of Iron and Silk and Touch the Dragon, Jamie Zeppa’s memoir of her years in Bhutan is the story of a young woman’s self-discovery in a foreign land. It is also the exciting début of a new voice in travel writing.When she left for the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan in 1988, Zeppa was committing herself to two years of teaching and a daunting new experience. A week on a Caribbean beach had been her only previous trip outside Canada; Bhutan was on the other side of the world, one of the most isolated countries in the world known as the last Shangri-La, where little had changed in centuries and visits by foreigners were restricted. Clinging to her bags full of chocolate, hair conditioner and Immodium, she began the biggest challenge of her life, with no idea she would fall in love with the country and with a Bhutanese man, end up spending nine years in Bhutan, and begin a literary career with her account of this transformative journey.At her first posting in a remote village of eastern Bhutan, she is plunged into an overwhelmingly different culture with squalid Third World conditions and an impossible language. Her house has rats and fleas and she refuses to eat the local food, fearing the rampant deadly infections her overly protective grandfather warned her about. Gradually, however, her fear vanishes. She adjusts, begins to laugh, and is captivated by the pristine mountain scenery and the kind students in her grade 2 class. She also begins to discover for herself the spiritual serenity of Buddhism.A transfer to the government college of Sherubtse, where the housing conditions are comparatively luxurious and the students closer to her own age, gives her a deeper awareness of Bhutan’s challenges: the lack of personal privacy, the pressure to conform, and the political tensions. However, her connection to Bhutan intensifies when she falls in love with a student, Tshewang, and finds herself pregnant. After a brief sojourn in Canada to give birth to her son, Pema Dorji, she marries Tshewang and makes Bhutan her home for another four years. Zeppa’s personal essay about her culture shock on arriving in Bhutan won the 1996 CBC/Saturday Night literary competition and appeared in the magazine. She flew home to accept the prize, where people encouraged her to pursue her writing. Her letters from Bhutan also featured on CBC’s Morningside. The book that grew out of this has been published in Canada and the United States to ecstatic reviews, followed by British, German, Dutch, Italian and Spanish editions. Although cultural differences finally separated Jamie and Tshewang in 1997 while she was writing the book and she returned to Canada, she will always feel at home in Bhutan. Zeppa shares her compelling insights into this land and culture, but Beyond the Sky and the Earth is more than a travel book. With rich, spellbinding prose and bright humour, it describes a personal journey in which Zeppa acquires a deeper understanding of what it means to leave one’s home behind, and undergoes a spiritual transformation.From the Trade Paperback edition.
Fatima Bhutto - Songs of Blood and Sword
In September 1996, a fourteen-year-old Fatima Bhutto hid in a windowless dressing room, shielding her baby brother while shots rang out in the streets outside the family home in Karachi. This was the evening that her father Murtaza was murdered, along with six of his associates. In December 2007, Benazir Bhutto, Fatima's aunt, and the woman she had publically accused of ordering her father's murder, was assassinated in Rawalpindi. It was the latest in a long line of tragedies for one of the world's best known political dynasties. _Songs of Blood and Sword_ tells the story of a family of rich feudal landlords - the proud descendents of a warrior caste - who became powerbrokers in the newly created state of Pakistan. It is an epic tale full of the romance and legend of feudal life, the glamour and licence of the international political elite and ultimately, the tragedy of four generations of a family defined by a political idealism that would destroy them. The history of this extraordinary family mirrors the tumultuous events of Pakistan itself, and the quest to find the truth behind her father's murder has led Fatima to the heart of her country's volatile political establishment.It is the history of a nation from Partition through the struggle with India over Kashmir, the Cold War, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan up to the post 9/11 'War on Terror'. It is also a book about a daughter's love for her father and her search to uncover, and to understand, the truth of his life and death. It is a book about a family and nation riven by murder, corruption, conspiracy and division, written by one who has lived it, in the heart of the storm. _Songs of Blood and Sword_ is a book of international significance by a young woman who has already established herself as a brave and passionate campaigner.
Susan Maushart - The Winter of Our Disconnect
For any parent who's ever IM-ed their child to the dinner table - or yanked the modem from its socket in a show of primal parental rage - this account of one family's self-imposed exile from the Information Age will leave you ROFLing with recognition. But it will also challenge you to take stock of your own family connections, to create a media ecology that encourages kids - and parents - to thrive. When journalist and commentator Susan Maushart first decided to pull the plug on all electronic media at home, she realised her children would have sooner volunteered to go without food, water or hair products. At ages 14, 15 and 18, her daughters and son didn’t use media. They inhabited media. Just exactly as fish inhabit a pond. Gracefully. Unblinkingly. And utterly without consciousness or curiosity as to how they got there. Susan’s experiment with her family was a major success and she found that having less to communicate with, her family is communicating more. At the simplest level, The Winter of Our Disconnect is the story of how one family survived six months of wandering through the desert, digitally speaking, and the lessons learned about themselves and technology along the way. At the same time, their story is a channel to a wider view - into the impact of new media on the lives of families, into the very heart of the meaning of home.
Bruce Hulse - Sex, Love, and Fashion
You may think you’ve heard everything about the modeling industry from Tyra Banks, but Sex, Love, and Fashion is the real behind-the-scenes scoop, from a true insider who is considered one of the top ten male models of all time. In the glamorous galaxy of modeling, Bruce Hulse was a supernova. Taken under the wing of famed photographer Bruce Weber as a fledgling model, Hulse went on to collaborate with the industry’s biggest names as one of the world’s top male models. In the 1980s and 1990s, the exciting world of top models was filled with sex, drugs, and countless other indulgences. Bruce Hulse is one of the most recognizable figures of that time; from his iconic Calvin Klein and Levi's ads to his appearance on the cover of GQ, his face defined an era. In Sex, Love, and Fashion, Bruce shares the true stories of his globe-trotting career working with some of the industry’s biggest names–Calvin Klein, Janice Dickinson, Herb Ritts, Elle Macpherson, Andie MacDowell, Paulina Porizkova, and Cindy Crawford among them–and also details the exhilarating successes and painful failures he experienced on his way to the top. Bruce Hulse pulls back the curtain on the life of an international supermodel and reveals everything the cameras don’t expose. Sex, Love, and Fashion is a dishy, sexy, and honest look at what really happens to beautiful people playing in the often decadent fields of fashion glory.
Leonard Nimoy - I am not Spock
To a watching world he is the logical, powerful, stalwart first officer of the Starship Enterprise – the adored object of millions of Star Trek fans. For 3 years, 12 hours a day, 5 days a week, he functioned as the half-human, half-Vulcan Mr. Spock, an extraterrestrial. He is not. He is Leonard Nimoy. An actor. A teacher. A writer. A father. A husband. A real flesh-and-blood human being. Now while the phenomenal popularity of Star Trek still grows, Nimoy doffs the pointy ears and placid face and reveals himself totally – his relationship with fellow actors; the backstage frenzies; the near-cancellation of Star Trek; the lean years; the loneliness, the battles and the ultimate struggle to survive his own success! IF HE IS NOT SPOCK, WHO IS? IF HE IS NOT SPOCK, WHO IS HE? WHAT IS THE LOGICAL ANSWER?
Angelina Jolie - Notes from my travels
Three years ago, award-winning actress Angelina Jolie took on a radically different role as a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Here are her memoirs from her journeys to Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Pakistan, Cambodia, and Ecuador, where she lived and worked and gave her heart to those who suffer the world's most shattering violence and victimization. Here are her revelations of joy and warmth amid utter destitution ... compelling snapshots of courageous and inspiring people for whom survival is their daily work ... and candid notes from a unique pilgrimage that completely changed the actress's worldview -- and the world within herself.
Philip Roth - Patrimony
Patrimony, a true story, touches the emotions as strongly as anything Philip Roth has ever written. Roth watches as his eighty-six-year-old father-- famous for his vigor, charm, and his repertoire of Newark recollections-- battles with the brain tumor that will kill him. The son, full of love, anxiety, and dread, accompanies his father through each fearful stage of his final ordeal, and, as he does so, discloses the survivalist tenacity that has distinguished his father's long, stubborn engagement with life.
Emma Jackson - The End of My World
Emma was just 13 when her happy childhood came crashing down. She had no idea the young lads she and her friends met every Saturday in the shopping mall weren't all they seemed. The boys were part of an organised gang targeting innocent young girls, grooming them for prostitution. Captivated by the ring leader, Emma didn't see the first brutal rape coming. From then on, her life was never her own ... This is the harrowing true story of how a nice girl from a good home found herself drawn into a trap of degradation and violence, frightened for her life and not knowing where to turn. But it is also the story of finding the courage and inner strength to risk everything, and escape.
Chris Kyle - Scott McEwen - Jim DeFelice - American Sniper
He is the deadliest American sniper ever, called “the devil” by the enemies he hunted and “the legend” by his Navy SEAL brothers . . . From 1999 to 2009, U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle recorded the most career sniper kills in United States military history. The Pentagon has officially confirmed more than 150 of Kyles kills (the previous American record was 109), but it has declined to verify the astonishing total number for this book. Iraqi insurgents feared Kyle so much they named him al-Shaitan (“the devil”) and placed a bounty on his head. Kyle earned legendary status among his fellow SEALs, Marines, and U.S. Army soldiers, whom he protected with deadly accuracy from rooftops and stealth positions. Gripping and unforgettable, Kyle’s masterful account of his extraordinary battlefield experiences ranks as one of the great war memoirs of all time. A native Texan who learned to shoot on childhood hunting trips with his father, Kyle was a champion saddle-bronc rider prior to joining the Navy. After 9/11, he was thrust onto the front lines of the War on Terror, and soon found his calling as a world-class sniper who performed best under fire. He recorded a personal-record 2,100-yard kill shot outside Baghdad; in Fallujah, Kyle braved heavy fire to rescue a group of Marines trapped on a street; in Ramadi, he stared down insurgents with his pistol in close combat. Kyle talks honestly about the pain of war—of twice being shot and experiencing the tragic deaths of two close friends. American Sniper also honors Kyles fellow warriors, who raised hell on and off the battlefield. And in moving first-person accounts throughout, Kyles wife, Taya, speaks openly about the strains of war on their marriage and children, as well as on Chris. Adrenaline-charged and deeply personal, American Sniper is a thrilling eyewitness account of war that only one man could tell.
Solomon Northup - Twelve Years a Slave
Twelve Years a Slave is the story of Solomon Northup, a free black man and resident of New York, who was kidnapped in 1841and sold into slavery. He was rescued in 1853 after spending 12 years as a slave. Northup tells the story of how two men approached him under the guise of circus promoters who were interested in his violin skills. They offered him a generous but fair amount of money to work for their circus, and then offered to put him up in a hotel in Washington D.C. Upon arriving he was drugged, bound, and moved to a slave pen in the city. He is sold as a slave and spent 12 years working on farms in the South. It is not until a white carpenter from Canada, Samuel Bass, arrives at the farm on which Northup works that he reveals his past of a free man. Bass would deliver letters to Northup's wife that would start the legal process of earning Northup his freedom. This classic of American history sheds light on slavery and the life of slaves in the mid 19th century.
John Banville - Prague Pictures
Prague is the magic capital of Europe. Since the days of Emperor Rudolf II, "devotee of the stars and cultivator of the spagyric art", who in the late 1500s summoned alchemists and magicians from all over the world to his castle on Hradcany hill, it has been a place of mystery and intrigue. Wars, revolutions, floods, the imposition of Soviet communism, and even the depredations of the tourist boom after the Velvet Revolution of 1989 could not destroy the unique atmosphere of this beautiful, proud, and melancholy city on the Vltava. John Banville traces Prague's often tragic history and portrays the people who made it: the emperors and princes, geniuses and charlatans, heroes and scoundrels. He also paints a portrait of the Prague of today, reveling in its newfound freedoms, eager to join the European Community and at the same time suspicious of what many Praguers see as yet another totalitarian takeover. He writes of his first visit to the city, in the depths of the Cold War, and of subsequent trips there, of the people he met, the friends he made, the places he came to know.
Alice Sebold - Lucky
Enormously visceral, emotionally gripping, and imbued with the belief that justice is possible even after the most horrific of crimes, Alice Sebold's compelling memoir of her rape at the age of eighteen is a story that takes hold of you and won't let go. Sebold fulfills a promise that she made to herself in the very tunnel where she was raped: someday she would write a book about her experience. With Lucky she delivers on that promise with mordant wit and an eye for life's absurdities, as she describes what she was like both as a young girl before the rape and how that rape changed but did not sink the woman she later became. It is Alice's indomitable spirit that we come to know in these pages. The same young woman who sets her sights on becoming an Ethel Merman-style diva one day (despite her braces, bad complexion, and extra weight) encounters what is still thought of today as the crime from which no woman can ever really recover. In an account that is at once heartrending and hilarious, we see Alice's spirit prevail as she struggles to have a normal college experience in the aftermath of this harrowing, life-changing event. No less gripping is the almost unbelievable role that coincidence plays in the unfolding of Sebold's narrative. Her case, placed in the inactive file, is miraculously opened again six months later when she sees her rapist on the street. This begins the long road to what dominates these pages: the struggle for triumph and understanding -- in the courtroom and outside in the world. Lucky is, quite simply, a real-life thriller. In its literary style and narrative tension we never lose sight of why this life story is worth reading. At the end we are left standing in the wake of devastating violence, and, like the writer, we have come to know what it means to survive.