Updated Book List

I just wanted to add two more books to my list of those which have been particularly influential in my life. You should read them.

-The Lemon Tree
I hate to admit, before I read this book I had only a superficial understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is so difficult for anyone to take a neutral stance on this issue, and Sandy Tolan gives the best effort I can imagine. He doesn't take sides or convey biases, but rather leaves the reader to draw their own conclusions instead of leading them down a path of his own personal feelings. It acheives two ends: it humanizes the conflict through the story of a Palestinian longing for the right to return home and a first generation Israeli girl who moved into his "abandoned" house, but it also explains all of the political posturing that took place, giving thorough accounts of various resolutions that were passed and individual conflicts that occurred.

-The Memoirs of Cleopatra
I chose this book for my flight back to America in December because it was 1500 pages and I figured if anything could sustain me through 24+ hours of travel, 1500 pages could. Granted, I didn't touch it on my flight because I was too deep into my complimentary wine-induced stupor and subsequent passing out, but I did turn to it when I started to get homesick for Egypt at my parent's home in Huntsville. The end result is that I am now completely obsessed with Cleopatra. She was a mother, a lover, a wife, a queen, a daughter, a warrior, and so much more. She is a strong, independent woman whose sole goal in life is to live on her own terms and preserve her country above all else. She handled difficult situations with grace and poise, and her creative strategies always gave her an edge. Even in her suicide, she was creative and fearless, outwitting the conquering Caesar Augustus. She always tried to take the high road, choosing dignity and honor above courses of action which would be easier for her own person. Even after growing up surrounded by deceit and treachery, she maintained a high moral character til the very end. Aside from that, she bedded two of the most powerful men in history: Julius Caesar and Marc Antony. A real go-getter, that Cleopatra.

So, that's that, my dears. If you have any extra time, both of these books are incredible. Plus, for all of my friends back home, an understanding of conflict in the modern Middle East or of ancient Egypt could prove enlightening. Just sayin. Enjoy.

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