Reading Russia: The Reindeer People

It took me close to a year to read this book. Not because of anything negative but because I wanted to really absorb it, to get to know it.

The older I get, the more obsessed I’ve become with The North. I want to travel above the Arctic Circle, I want to watch the Northern Lights, and see a polar bear where polar bears live. Not sure why this fascination has become so strong…maybe as the planet gets warmer, the cold feels like powerful magic?

But why try to explain it? Just jump in and learn instead. This book, The Reindeer People: Living With Animals and Spirits in Siberia by Piers Vitebsky, is excellent immersion in a world few of us will ever get to see. You’re introduced to an amazing cast of characters, and it’s easy to develop a deep bond with just about the whole crew, the reindeer, and the natural world that dominates their lives. Highly recommended, and I feel certain you will finish it much faster than I did!

Reindeer Pulling a Sledge
Reindeer Pulling a Sledge (image by Elen Schurova from Moscow, Russia via Wikimedia Commons)

Reading Russia: Nothing is True and Everything is Possible

It’s been awhile since I last posted. The Holidays were busy, I traveled quite a bit after the first of the year, and now…there’s a pandemic.

Life is something, huh? There are endless things to say about it all, but this is not the place even though it might be the time. Plus, I’ve been drinking rum for a few hours and I have nothing of real value to offer you.


So, let’s talk about Russia! I had big plans: I was going to read across the wide expanse of Russian literature, from the classics to modern rule-breakers, but I stalled out. As is my style I found my way to some non-fiction titles, because real life is often just as interesting as any novel.


That’s certainly the case with this book: Nothing is True and Everything is Possible by Peter Pomerantsev. Written before The Age of Trump, it now reads as an eerie foretelling of the future we Americans willingly (at least some of us) walked right into. Truth means nothing. Cheap emotions are everything. Everything is for sale.

It’s a bleak story but it is fascinating and, for me, an absolute must-read. Learn about the world you now live in, and maybe find your way through.

The skyline of modern Moscow
The skyline of modern Moscow (Image by Deensel via Wikimedia Commons)

Reading Barbados: Sugar in the Blood: A Family’s Story of Slavery and Empire

Such power, words on paper have. They can change you, in an instant; knock you clean off the ground where you’ve felt pretty good standing. You think you know, but you don’t REALLY know.

I’ve encountered quite a few such experiences in my journey with this blog, but the book I read for Barbados…an absolute lightening bolt of knowledge. I honestly feel like everyone, everywhere would benefit from sitting down with it. The title would help, huh? Sugar in the Blood: A Family’s Story of Slavery and Empire by Andrea Stuart is what I’m telling you about here.

Ms. Stuart draws a portrait of the history of Barbados via her family tree, which includes European immigrants who came to the island by choice, and African captives who most certainly did not. She fleshes out the story of what those different experiences and circumstances wrought in one particular place, and gives the reader a platform to understand how all of it very much affects the world we live in now, particularly in the Western hemisphere.

The culture that surrounded the maintenance of slavery created a toxic intimacy between people who had freedom and people who had no escape; no one was left undamaged. It fundamentally altered the humanity of all it touched, and we’re still grappling with that today. This book is a step towards real understanding, and I genuinely hope you’ll check it out.

A Beach, Barbados
A Beach, Barbados (image by Berit from Redhill/Surrey, UK via Wikimedia Commons)

Reading the Marshall Islands: Melal: A Novel of the Pacific

There are so many personal benefits to working on this blog; one of the foremost is just having the good fortune to meet so many great books. That might seem like a basic thing to say, since this whole exercise is about READING BOOKS, but if you really think about it…you don’t know what you’re going to get when you turn the first page. It could be engaging and worth your time…or not. You just have to trust the process. And so far, I’ve experienced more wins than losses.

That lucky streak continues with the the book I read for the Marshall Islands, Melal: A Novel of the Pacific by Robert Barclay. Heads up, Global Reader readers…this is a really good book. Strong characters, a fully-realized narrative, some very illuminating history; I’ll take it.

As usual, that’s all you’re going to get in terms of plot or analysis. Just view me as a what-should-I-read-next suggestion generator, and then you’ll never be disappointed!

Side note: The Marshall Islands are at the forefront of feeling the effects of climate change. The people there are experiencing real-time problems, and working on solutions. Lots of info out there about how they are facing this massive challenge, but here’s one article to get you started on finding out more…

Image of Majuro atoll Majuro Atoll
(image by Christopher Michel from San Francisco, USA via Wikimedia Commons)