It has been a really great week. Last night I completed the longest read I have invested in, in a very long time. That book is Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts.
One day I was shopping for the baby, at our local Indigo Book Sellers downtown. I was going to Cold Call the book shelves. A practice I usually employ, when I want an adventure, or as our speaker said tonight … “A little escapism…”
The Sequel to Shantaram, The Mountain Shadow, made me stop and pick it up off the shelf, because of the Hard Cover Dust Ruffle. When the word, Sequel, appeared in the bio, I was like SHIT ! Now I have to read the first book.
I put the sequel down, and picked up Shantaram.
Knowing I was going to see Mama and the baby, and knowing that I would be seriously disconnected from the world, while I was there, Shantaram was a really good choice.
Over the past year, I have been sitting in South East Asia, Viet Nam, Saigon and India. It started when I read The Sympathizer, written by Viet Thanh Nguyen. That was the best book I had read, to date, after Donna Tarrt’s The Goldfinch.
That one book, took me on a journey to South East Asia, and then led me to India. Over the course of several books, that I began to read, but put down, because I just was not connecting, Shantaram had to pass the,
“I will commit to you, but you better deliver” thought.
Shantaram delivered in spades.
At 934 pages, it took me 27 days and nights to read it cover to cover.
Writers employ many tools to get you to read their books. And to this point, I was reading stories that were very heavy with visual writing. I can only take so much “filler” in my reads. At some point, I get annoyed with a writer who wants to explain the minutiae of a certain city, town or family.
I want a story, not chapter after chapter of filler …
Gregory David Roberts, is a master story teller. Once I started the read, I had to commit to the book until the last word of the book. Robert’s writing does just that.
India is a country that is wealthy in ways that the Westerner would not necessarily see unless he/she spent ample time, living, loving and loosing like the people of India, namely those in the city of Bombay. Or any city in India really …
A westerner would not necessarily insert themselves into a slum. Why would one do that?
Lin, the main character of the story, is an escaped convict from Australia, and he escapes prison in a brazen broad daylight escape. He is aided and a bedded by friends and fellows, until he finds his way to India.
The story that unfolds is Master storytelling.
Lin, goes from escaped convict, to Bombay resident, to Bombay slum resident/doctor/ healer/friend. He gets involved with Khader Khan. That’s all I want to say about him. The Khader Khan is an incredible character. To tell you anything more about him would say too much, that I would rather have you read for yourself.
Shantaram tracks literal history. Beginning in the time when Indira Ghandi is assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards. Roberts then mentions the Bhutto family, and progresses into the war between the Afghan Mujaheddin and the Russians, when the Russians invade and occupy Afghanistan. The Afghan war is a prominent section of the story.
I found this interesting because I am well versed in India’s history, and the Afghan wars, politically, religiously and sectarian-Ly. I have, in my library, several books that I had already read, each time a name was mentioned or historical event took place on our modern time line, I was familiar with each historical event or person. Which lent to my reading of Shantaram.
I love reading. Books are life, and a life without books, is no life at all …
The Mountain Shadow comes in at 871 pages.
Shantaram ends with several open threads.
One supposed thread, during the story, as it was written, that certain people and problems were finally “put to bed,” but when I reached the last chapter, the story began to unravel, and certain situations, now remain unresolved and new threads were introduced.
Shantaram is a teaching book.
There are many lessons to be learned from Robert’s story. If you are like me, I love knowledge just as much as the act of reading. Being sober, many of the lessons and themes were pertinent to me and made sense, and gave me certain perspective on life and on people in my life.
This book is not just a story to read, but teaches us about what really matters in India, and to her people.
Most Indian’s don’t have much in the way of wealth, unless you were born into wealth, married into wealth, or earned your way out of abject poverty, and had risen out of a slum, into the wider world at large.
Slum dwellers might not have much in “material wealth,” What they DO have is Love, Respect and they are loyal people. Indians have self respect and they are dignified. Lin arrives in Bombay, and ends up meeting a titular character of the story, Prabaker.
Prabaker turns Lin with his smile, and his love. Reading what Lin learns on this journey is very important. I think this story should be required reading for everyone who seeks love, respect and dignity for all men, women and children.
I loved this book, and you will too. What will be the story of YOUR life ???
American Idol runner-up David Archuleta surprised fans in 2011 when he announced that he was putting his music career on hold to serve a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In David Archuleta: Called to Serve, see the pop star proselyting on the streets of Chile, hear why he decided to serve, and how his faith directs every decision in his life.
David Archuleta: Called to Serve is an inspiring look into how serving others changed forever the life of one of the world’s brightest stars.
“Some things simply matter more than others,” writes Robert L. Millet in his foreword to this landmark book. “Even some doctrines, though interesting and fun to discuss, must take a backseat to more fundamental and foundational doctrines. It is just so with the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The Atonement is the central act of human history, the pivotal point in all time, the doctrine of doctrines.”
With The Infinite Atonement, Brother Tad R. Callister offers us what may be the most comprehensive, yet understandable, treatment of the Atonement in our day. He thoughtfully probes the infinite scope of this “great and last sacrifice,” describing its power and breadth and explaining how it redeems us all.
Using the scriptures and the words of the prophets, Brother Callister explores the Savior’s divinity and the depth of his love for mankind. He explains the blessings that flow from the Atonement, providing insight into the resurrection, repentance, and the gifts of peace, motivation, freedom, grace, and exaltation. He explains the relationship of justice and mercy and the importance of ordinances. Through discussing the effects of the fall of Adam and our individual sins, he reminds us in a powerful way of the incalculable debt of gratitude we owe Christ for his unparalleled offering.
“An attempt to master this doctrine requires an immersion of all our senses, all our feelings, and all our intellect,” Brother Callister writes, “Given the opportunity, the Atonement will invade each of the human passions and faculties….The Atonement is not a doctrine that lends itself to some singular approach, like a universal formula. It must be felt, not just ‘figured;; internalized, not just analyzed….The Atonement of Jesus Christ is the most supernal, mind-expanding, passionate doctrine this world or universe will ever know.”
With clarity, testimony, and understanding, The Infinite Atonement teaches us rich and wonderful truths about this “doctrine of doctrines.” and elevates our spirits as we contemplate the perfect love of Him who gave all that we might receive all.
As the latter days grow later and later, opposition, complacency, and uncertainty can cloud our view and bog down our steps. Whether we are new converts or lifelong Church members, sincerely trying to follow Christ in today’s fear-filled world can make us feel acutely aware of how far we have yet to go.
How, then, do we stand steady in such a world while continuing to move with surety toward the “better world” the Lord promises his true followers (see Ether 12:4)?
In this candid book full of personal stories and rich doctrine, Elder Bruce C. Hafen helps us think and feel in fresh, deep ways about faith, reason, and other elements of a well-anchored testimony — one that will stabilize, orient, and energize the disciple’s quest for that “better world” while “abounding in good works” in this one. The book shows how developing such faith is a process, not an event — a process that includes overcoming the snares and stagnations that punctuate our life’s paths.
Elder Hafen here teaches us how we can again feel movement and find joy in the journey, with both anchor and sail so well set that “the furious wind” that blows “upon the face of the waters” actually hastens us “toward the promised land” (Ether 6:5).
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This new order of Books and Movies are on their way to Montreal. I am really excited to read these two books and see David’s film. I am hoping to bring it to Family Night for our little group to see when it gets here.