What It Is Like To Go To War by Karl Malantes

What It Is Like To Go To War by  Karl Marlantes; 2011; $25.00; 256 pages; Atlantic Monthly Press; New York, NY; 978-0-8021-1992-6; purchased from Multnomah County Library’s Title Wave Used Bookstore; 9/9/16-9/17/16

Why did I ride this?   I first read this in December of last year and was so moved by it that I nominated it for the book group I am part of.  So I reread it with a slightly different eye so that I could lead the discussion.

I read Karls’ first book, Matterhorn, back in 2010 and so when a veteran and good writer writes something with a title like this I decided to read this.  This is a look at how we as a society can better prepare people to be warriors and then support them better when they return from warfare.  He looks at things in a physical, metaphysical, spiritual, psychological and practical sense.  This is a book that should be read by everyone.  It can be a difficult read as it has some frank discussions about what the author has experienced in combat.



My First two bookmark book

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus; A Devout Muslim’s Journey to Christ by Nabeel  Quershi; 2014; $8.99; 296 pages; Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; 978-0-310-54502-9;checked out from Multnomah County Library, Central; 1/26/16-1/31/16

Nabeel becomes friends with a young man who builds a friendship with him and they become friendly enough to challenge each others beliefs.  Nabeel challenges Davids’ belief in Christianity, as he attempts to educate David in the ways of Islam.  Nabeel finds himself questioning some of the things he believes.  He applies a critical, reason based investigation to the tenets of Islam.  As he does he finds himself moving away from his long held beliefs.  He presents his logical, rational arguments as he moves through his investigation.  He also presents his emotional journey as his moves through his investigation.  This is a clear and concise critique of Islam by someone who was deeply invested in it.


Did I learn anything?  I learned so much about Islam and even some things about Christianity.  I have ordered a copy of this from Amazon so that I can re-read it and mark it up. I will read it again before March when our book group will be discussing it.

What is with the title of the review?  There were so many footnotes and words that I didn’t know that I had one bookmark where I was in the book and one in the footnotes and glossary section of the book.

Life in isolation and pain

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Steadman; 2012; $16.00; 343 pages; Scribner, New York, NY; 978-1-4516-8175-8; purchased from Amazon.com; 12/20/15-1/2/16

Tom Sherbourne is a World War I veteran and lighthouse keeper where two oceans come together off the coast of Australia.  On one of his visits ashore he meets and falls in love with Isabel.  She moves to the lighthouse with him and they have an idyllic life, spending time alone together.  Isabel has three difficult pregnancies and miscarries each time.  One day a boat washes ashore with a mans body and a small baby aboard.  Isabel talks Tom into keeping the baby against his better judgment for a little while.  Isabel grows close with the baby and enlists Tom in her deception that the baby is theirs.   As the baby grows Isabel grows more and more desperate to keep her, even when they find out that she may be the child of another woman from Isabel’s hometown.  Tom is conflicted and attempts to let the mother know that her child is alive anonymously.  Things go from bad to worse and one time when they are ashore Tom and Isabel are confronted by the consequences of their actions.

Grade C

Did I like it?  I was struck by the insensitivity of the Isabel and her selfishness and her inability to see anyone else’s perspective.  I liked some of the authors depiction of the setting but could not get past Isabel’s personality.

What is with the title of the review? Isolated on a rock with just one other person for many years and suffering through the pain of three miscarriages gives Isabel a skewed perspective on life.


They are still carrying things

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien; 1990; $13.95; 246 pages; broadway books, New York, NY; 0-7679-0289-0; purchased from Amazon.com; 5/3/15-5/5/15

Why did I pick this up?  We are reading this for our May meeting of the Corner Reading Society.  We are reading this in place of another book that there was some controversy about the veracity of the stories.

What is the story?  In a series of short stories Tim O’Brien uncovers the truth of the Vietnam experience through his eyes and those of those he served with.  He tells stories of some experiences in country and in the aftermath of the war.  The stories mingle humor, violence, friendship, faith and incompetence just like life.

Grade A

Did I enjoy it?  Yes, many of the stories reminded me of the camaraderie that I experienced while I was in the Navy.  He conveys a depth of love for his compatriots that only those who have served together can know.

What is with the title of the review?  All of these guys are still carrying things around with them, in their heads and and souls.

The Road to Hell is Paved With Good Intentions

Pastures of Heaven by John Steinbeck; 1932; $9.95; 207 pages; Penguin Books, New York, NY; 0-14-018748-0; purchased from Amazon.com; 1/27/15-1/29/15

The Munroe family is continually trying to help the other families in their community of Pastures of Heaven, however it usually doesn’t end well.  Steinbeck has situated a valley called the Pastures of Heaven near Carmel Valley, California and tells the stories of those who have settled there.  They are a diverse bunch of people who all have different reasons for settling there, temperaments that range from angelic to devilish.  It is an interesting collection of 12 stories of the people of the valley.


Did I enjoy it?  Yes I am glad any time that I can read John Steinbeck.  Thanks, Larry for nominating this for the Corner Reading Society.

What is up with the title of the review?  There is a family in the Pastures of Heaven that often times think they are helping when they are actually making things worse.