By Daniel Lopez
Being stuck at home doesn’t have to suck. The human imagination — the ability to think beyond one’s own time and place, and to dream about the future and to reflect on the past — is what brings us together as a human family. So, transcend the walls of your room/house and take a break from Netflix/Stan. Grab a book and have an adventure. Not sure where to start? Then check out this handy little list.
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Escape to a different place — Eastern Nigeria. Escape to a different time — the late 1960s. And enter a bloody and tragic time period when a young country, ravaged by colonialism, was tearing itself apart in the Nigerian Civil War. Ngozi Adichie weaves together the stories of three distinct but intimately connected characters to capture the sense of despair, chaos and lost opportunity that imbues her novel. Her characters try to escape this brutal war, but at the cost of their love for one another and their hope for the future. This narrative-driven story is one that you surely won’t be able to put down.
Image Credit: Cover of Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie from Penguin Random House
Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami. Murakami is a master storyteller and this brilliant and beguiling novel exemplifies the very best of his imagination. A lonely portrait painter moves into a mysterious home nestled in the Japanese forests. But the home is filled with sinister secrets and unsatisfied desires, and the painter is put on a path that he neither chose nor can escape. The surrealism that Murakami is so known for then takes hold, with endless plot twists, mythical characters and a hint of horror. The novel explores the themes of parenthood, alienation, bravery, and above all — art. It is an exploration into the world of an artist, whether it be music or portraits, and what happens when that fragile world is turned upside down.
Image credit: Cover of Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami. Murakami from Penguin Books
No Friend But the Mountains by Behrouz Boochani. While we put up social walls to keep people alive, walls have also been used as instruments to keep people out. This book is a penetrating meditation on the deliberate exclusion of asylum seekers and refugees from Australia’s political concern and moral life. Boochani exposes the horrors of Australia’s overseas detention centres in its rawest form. He describes in excruciating detail everything from its putrid and revolting living conditions to the invisible systems of insidious control that strip away one’s own sense of identity. The narrative is punctuated with stanzas of poetry written in the Kurdish-Iranian tradition, giving it a surreal and almost magical quality. This is a consciousness raising autobiographical fiction book that captures its characters’ futile attempt to transcend the walls imposed around them.
Image Credit: Cover of No Friend But the Mountains by Behrouz Boochani from Pan Macmillan Australia
Who Owns History? by Geoffrey Robertson QC. Colonialism is one of the few historical processes that continues to have an enduring impact. Geoffrey Robertson brings this to the fore in his new book, where he lays bare the ahistorical, unsubstantiated and illogical justifications of almost-exclusively Western and wealthy museums which refuse to return stolen artefacts to their rightful owners. He takes as his central case study the British Museum’s refusal to repatriate the marbles of the Athenian Parthenon to Greece. While he focuses on this act of blatant vandalism and unconscionable theft to demonstrate the injustices of the past, he also looks towards the creation of a human rights approach to the repatriation of stolen artefacts and the creation of a more just world where institutions such as the British Museum cease to be instruments in the process of recolonisation.
Image Credit: Cover of Who Owns History by Geoffrey Robertson QC from Goodreads
Client Earth by James Thornton and Martin Goodman. While the Earth cannot speak out, there is a firm of lawyers who are speaking up. Enter ClientEarth — a global legal charity that holds governments and companies to account on behalf of the Earth and the environment. This book, co-written by ClientEarth’s CEO and founder, traces the development of global environmental law and advocacy from the 1970s to the present. It is filled in intriguing anecdotes about small local campaigns to larger reflections on the global structures that place profits above the environment. This is compulsory reading for anyone who wants to understand how the law can be used to effect positive change in favour of those without a voice — whether it be the Earth or its future and yet-to-be-born inhabitants.
Left Image Credit: Cover of Client Earth by James Thornton and Martin Goodman from Scribe Publications
Right Image Credit: Pictured: Married James Thornton (Left) and Martin Goodman (Right), Alaska 2015 from Martin Goodman’s website
Check out more of Daniel’s book recommendations on his instagram @daniel_lolpez