Book Summaries: Around the World in 120 Days, Week Six, Day One

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Book Summaries: Around the World in 120 Days, Week Six, Day One

This is the sixth week, day one of the book summaries for Around the World in 120 Days for The Invisible Mentor’s Virtual Literary World Tour. Last week, we stopped our Tour in New Zealand with Ngaio Marsh’s A Man Lay Dead from the Inspector Roderick Alleyn series. This week we are traveling at the same pace on the Tour as we did last week. For Day One of Week Six of Around the World in 120 Days, in my opinion, the most difficult book to read was Popol Vuh because the names are in a language that is foreign to me so they were difficult to process. It’s a creation story and it was also very hard to keep track of the many characters. And Ficciones was the most inventive book I have read during the four months I dedicated to read the books for the Virtual Literary World Tour.

Around the World in 120 Days, Week Six, Day One

  1. Ficciones (English Translation), Jorges Luis Borges, Argentina
  2. Love in the Time of Cholera , Gabriel García Márquez, Colombia
  3. Popol Vuh: The Mayan Creation Myth(Popol Vuh), Guatemala
  4. The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway, United States
  5. The Catcher in the Rye, J D Salinger, United States
  6. Slaughterhouse-Five: A Novel, Kurt Vonnegut, United States

Book Summaries: Around the World in 120 Days, Week Six, Day One

Ficciones by Jorges Luis Borges

Ficciones is a collection of 17 short pieces by Argentinian writer, Jorge Luis Borges. Ficciones is divided into two parts and is often on the list of the best books of all time. While reading the first piece, Tlön Uqbar, Orbis Tertius, I couldn’t help asking myself, “What the heck is this?” Before I tossed the book aside, I decided to give it a fair try before I judge it harshly. By the end of the piece I was laughing.Ficciones

To be able to write such a book as Ficciones, the writer has to be well read, and Jorge Luis Borges is that. And he also has to be very knowledgeable about a lot of subjects – literature, mathematics, philosophy to name a few. I have never seen any work such as Ficcones, and it is very difficult to classify the seventeen pieces. Some are philosophical musings, and others are stories that are evaluations of the work of other writers. Ficciones demonstrates the inventiveness of Jorge Luis Borges.

In Tlön Ugbar, Orbis Tertius, which I mentioned before, Bioy Casares is having dinner with the narrator when he mentions an article in an encyclopedia on Uqbar. When the two research Uqbar using a variety of different spellings, they cannot find any information. Later Bioy brings the encyclopedia that had the entry about Uqbar, he and the narrator discover that the one with the entry has 921 pages, instead of the 917 pages the one they were both searching in has.

So much time is wasted trying to gather information on Uqbar, when the narrator discovers that a secret society created the country Tlön and members always get others to continue their work. Centuries later, one of the present member of the secret society was conversing with the millionaire, Ezra Buckley, and he asked why invent a country, why not invent a planet, and that’s how Uqbar came into being. There are many memorable entries in Ficciones.

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez

Love in the Time of CholeraAt age 13, what does one know about romantic love? Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez is another one of those books that is always on the list of must-read books. The story starts off with Dr. Juvenal Urbino falling off a ladder and dying while he is trying to catch his pet parrot. His wife, Fermina Daza, to whom he was married to for over 50 years is devastated. Her first love, Florentino Ariza makes sure that he attends Urbino’s funeral and declares his love to her again. Love in the Time of Cholera is a love story and Márquez takes us on a journey into the past as he unfolds the story of the love between Fermina Daza and Florentino Ariza and the path each take to where they are now. The issue of class is very prominent in the story.

Love In The Time Of Cholera Official Movie Trailer Video

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Popol Vuh: The Mayan Creation Myth

Popol Vuh: The Mayan Creation Myth is a mixture of history and myth, and is one of the most bizarre, yet entertaining creation stories that I have ever read. It’s believed that a group of people wrote it and remained anonymous because they feared for their lives. Although it is a short book, it takes a lot of time to read because, as someone from the English speaking world, I had great difficulty with the names of people. And there are many characters, so it takes a lot of energy to keep track of who is who in the myths. In addition, the way the book is written, you are constantly taken back and you cannot even call them flashbacks, because they aren’t. It’s like the reader learns something, and then they are taken back to learn what they just learned in more detail. Popol Vuh: The Mayan Creation Myth is a great adventure story, but it’s not one that you can quickly sail through. Two central characters in the story are Hero twins Hunahpú and Xbalanqué.

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway 

The Sun Also Rise by Ernest HemingwayThe Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway is considered to be one of his masterpieces. The story starts off with the narrator talking about his friend Robert Cohn, who was born to a wealthy Jewish family. Cohn is engaged and has never been in love. His fiancé, Frances, convinces him to go to Paris. At first you get the impression that the story is about Robert Cohn, but it isn’t. It’s about the narrator, Jacob Barnes (Jake), one of Cohn’s two best friends, and Lady Brett Ashley. The story takes place just after World War I in the 1920s.

Jake is in love with Lady Ashley who is going through a divorce and intends to marry a Mike Campbell when the divorce finally goes through. You get the sense that they were involved before and things didn’t work out – Jake is also impotent as a result of an injury sustained in the war. Lady Ashley is the kind of woman that men are smitten with. Cohn is also smitten with her and no longer wants to marry Frances Clyne. And Count Mippipopolous is also smitten with her and offers to pay her a tidy sum to travel with her. Lady Ashley is a drunk and you cannot help but wonder what made her the way she is now.

The story is about reputation management, and Jake loses the reputation he worked so hard to build over the years because Lady Ashley seduces a young bullfighter, and the result has a devastating effect on the young man.

AbeBooks Review: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

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The Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger and Slaughterhouse-Five: A Novel by Kurt Vonnegut

The Catcher in the Rye by JD SalingerOf the 80 books that I read for the first Virtual Literary World Tour, The Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger and Slaughterhouse-Five: A Novel by Kurt Vonnegut are on the list of the most depressing books I read. People I have interviewed have mentioned that these two books had a profound impact on their lives. Hmmm! I am glad that I have read them, but I also believe that I could have done without them.

The Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger

The story is told from the perspective of 17 year old Holden Caulfield who is suffering from a nervous breakdown and is getting treatment in an institution. The story focuses on three days, and that is enough for us to understand Holden. He is not passionate about anything and Holden is constantly being expelled from schools for flunking. Holden has conversations with his deceased brother and the only person who understands him is his younger sister Phoebe. We see him leaving his school a few days early, staying in a hotel in New York City, and having an adventure.

 Slaughterhouse-Five: A Novel by Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut is one of those books that people say had a profound impact on their lives. The novel is about Billy Pilgrim, a chaplain’s assistant in World War II (1939–45) who is present at the bombing of Dresden, Germany. In Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut uses humor to deal with a difficult topic — war. The best books ever written reach that status because the author was knowledgeable about the subject matter. Kurt Vonnegut was a soldier (prisoner of war) in Dresden where 135,000 civilians were killed – fire bombed – he was devastated by the event. The bomb flattened 90 percent of the city.

Vonnegut’s experiences are tied to the experiences of his main character Billy Pilgrim. It is very clever the way Vonnegut chooses to unfold Billy Pilgrim’s stories in episodes of past, present and future events. Billy Pilgrim is “unstuck in time” so you never know where his mind will take him as the story unfolds, he could be in the present or venture into the past and the future. He never knows which part of his life he will experience next. There are times when he is hallucinating, remembering the horrors of his experience as a prisoner of war.

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut was his therapy for recovering from the horrors of war. I chose to read this book because it is one of those books that you are told that you have to read before you die. I have invested the time to read Slaughterhouse-Five and I did not enjoy it, but I am glad that I did. We shouldn’t shield ourselves from all the bad things that are happening in the world. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut is still relevant today.

Interview With Bhavin Ladva

Avil Beckford: What five books would you recommend to others to read? 

Bhavin Ladva:

  1. The Success Principles, Jack Canfield
  2. The 4 Hour Work Week, Tim Ferriss
  3. The Art of Happiness, the Dalai Lama
  4. A Recipe for Life, Antonio Carluccio
  5. On Leadership, Allan Leighton 

Avil Beckford: If you were trying to convince people to visit South Africa, what would you say to them?

Bhavin Ladva: Visit India. Visit the villages in Keshod, Gujarat for a taste of the real India. Visit Mumbai for the buzz and the noise.

Avil Beckford: What’s your favourite dish, and what is the recipe?

Bhavin Ladva: Okra curry (recipe too long to type but the site Show Me The Curry has this.

Avil Beckford: Who is your favourite musician from your birth country?

Bhavin Ladva: From India, this would have to be Pankaj Udhas.

Bhavin Ladva’s LinkedIn Profile

Interview With Giulia Falsetti

Avil Beckford: What five books would you recommend to others to read?

Giulia Falsetti:

  1. Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  2. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
  3. If This is a Man, Primo Levi
  4. Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  5. Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela

Avil Beckford: If you wanted to convince others to visit a country, what would your argument be?

Giulia Falsetti: Travelling for me is a top priority.  Rather than saving for retirement, for clothing, or for renovating my home, I’d rather travel instead.

I think everyone should travel, and not just in North America, but anywhere in the world.  Travelling is an education.  It’s the only experience – besides reading a book – where you will learn about language, culture, society, people, and geography.

My argument would be, go where you want to go because you will never, ever regret going on vacation to a foreign country. Seriously, I don’t think anyone on their death bed would ever say, “Gee, I wish I hadn’t gone to Turkey in 1984.”

I would go even further and say, go on vacation even if you don’t have enough money. I have gone on vacation by using money from my line of credit, and I have never, ever regretted it.

Avil Beckford: What places do they have to visit?

Giulia Falsetti: It all really depends on what your interests are.  Some prefer Europe over South America, or Australia over Southeast Asia.  Go where your soul tells you to go.

Avil Beckford: What’s your favourite dish, and what is the recipe?

Giulia Falsetti: Any kind of pasta that my mum makes.  Food from mum is love.

Avil Beckford: Who is your favourite musician?

Giulia Falsetti: No particular favourite, but I like jazz, pop, classical, rock – it’s all good!

Book List for Week Six, Day One: Around the World in 120 Days

  1. Ficciones (English Translation), Jorges Luis Borges
  2. Love in the Time of Cholera , Gabriel García Márquez
  3. Popol Vuh: The Mayan Creation Myth(Popol Vuh)
  4. The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
  5. The Catcher in the Rye, J D Salinger
  6. Slaughterhouse-Five: A Novel, Kurt Vonnegut
  7. The Success Principles(TM), Jack Canfield
  8. The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (Expanded and Updated), Tim Ferriss
  9. The Art of Happiness, 10th Anniversary Edition: A Handbook for Living, the Dalai Lama
  10. Antonio Carluccio: A Recipe for Life, Antonio Carluccio
  11. On Leadership, Allan Leighton
  12. Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
  13. A Suitable Boy: A Novel (Modern Classics), Vikram Seth
  14. If This is a Man (If This Is a Man and The Truce), Primo Levi
  15. Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela, Nelson Mandela

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