Welcome to the next installment in my Around the World in 80 Books Challenge! It’s exactly what it sounds like: I’m trying to read 80 books from 80 different countries/cultures around the world, and to add a frugal spin, I’m trying to do it all for under $20.
Here’s my running tally so far:
$0- Library books: Russia, Norway, Sweden, Mexico, Sierra Leone, Spain, Italy
$0- Free eBooks: Scotland, England
$0- Gift: Turkey, Pakistan
$0- Won in a Giveaway: Jerusalem
$1.99- eBook: Basque Country
$0- Paid, and interesting, review: Financial Inclusion at the Bottom of the Pyramid
Grand Total: $1.99
Unfortunately, I think that number’s going to go up. I was dumb and turned in the Italy book late to the library without renewing. So I’m probably going to have some fees. I’ll update when I know what they are.
The good news is that today’s book was free! When I first started the challenge Savvy Working Gal recommended checking out BookBub for free and low-cost eBooks. I did. And I downloaded a lot of good stuff. Then I forgot about it. Most of the titles were written by Americans, or were repeats of countries I already had lined up.
I was browsing through them a few weeks ago and found this one. Turns out the author is from Portugal. So I read.
Side Note: Since I signed up, I’ve been getting daily emails mostly filled with smutty romances. Needless to say, I haven’t had as much success. I should probably see what’s going on with my preference settings.
If you’ve ever read (or watched) Life of Pi, you’re familiar with the question he poses at the end. As the reporter is wrestling with whether to believe Pi Patel’s story or not, Pi asks him which story he likes better. The idea is that it didn’t matter which one really happened, as they both had the same ending.
That’s the kind of mindset you have to approach Barrento’s book with, as well. In fact, it may be his entire point.
Barrento weaves his own tale of creation. He creates a raison d’etre that will make you stop and think. He puts a unique spin on what happens to us after we, along with everything else, are gone. He does it by integrating Buddhism with Christianity, Greek mythology with metaphysics, and then adds a little mysticism just for good measure.
How could I not love it?
The story itself is obviously not written to become the dogma of a new religion. It’s an enjoyable novel that, from my reading, is meant to be read as fiction. If anything, it makes you look at all those stories that exist, explaining what we do not know about one of our most burning sets of questions: Why are we here? Where did we come from? What will we be after we die?
And it reinforces the point that Martel made over a decade ago: which story we choose to believe does not matter. We can each believe whatever brings us solace. This is an insertion of my own beliefs, but as long as we arrive at a conclusion of peace, love, and goodwill, the backdrop that we put around it does not matter.
Have a recommendation for what I should read next? Leave it in the comments! Here’s what’s already in my queue:
Canada: The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be by Farley Mowat recommeded by Messy Money
Afghanistan: The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg recommended by Savvy Working Gal
Nigeria: Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta
Philippines: May Day Eve and Other Stories by Nick Joaquin recommended by Guiltless Reader
Iceland: Scarcity in Excess by Arna Mathiesen & Thomas Forget
Sudan: The Wedding of Zein by Tayeb Salih recommended by Kate Wilson
Kenya: Out of Africa by Karen Blixen recommended by Christine from The Wallet Diet
China: Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China by Leslie T. Chang
Japan: Totto-Chan: The Little Girl at the Window by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi recommended by Suburban Finance
Ethiopia: The God Who Begat a Jakal by Nega Mezlekia recommended by Based On a True Story
French Antilles: Victoire: My Mother’s Mother by Maryse Conde recommended by Based on A True Story
Suriname: The Free Negress Elisabeth by Cynthia McLeod recommended by Based On A True Story
Costa Rica: The Ticos: Culture and Social Change in Costa Rica
France: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr recommended by Our Next Life
Germany: In the Garden of Beasts or Devil in the White City by Erik Larson recommended by Emi from AIP Around the World
Haiti: All Souls Rising by Madison Smartt Bell recommended by Tre from House of Tre
Jamaica: A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James recommended by Jana of Jana Say
South Africa: Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton recommended by Emily from The John & Jane Doe Guide to Money & Investing