I love reading "chick lit". No, not romance novels, but I do enjoy Elizabeth Berg, Susan Isaacs, Marisa de los Santos. You know, the "older woman's chick lit" genre. But I try to intersperse some more "redeeming" books in between. Currently I'm reading "Desert Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell: Adventurer, Advisor to Kings, Ally of Lawrence of Arabia" by Janet Wallach. So the title is long and so is the book but it is absolutely fascinating. I had no idea when I started reading this for my book club that I would be mesmerized both by her and by the history it contains.
She was a Victorian era woman who both followed and defied the conventions of the times. Headstrong, and occasionally (no, more than occasionally) annoying, she had a amazing knowledge and understanding of the culture and politics of the Middle East and was integral to the creation of modern day Iraq. This book provides the historical perspective on why countries were created (oil was clearly the big issue then as it is now), how leaders were chosen, and why we are continuing to fight wars that were started hundreds of years ago. I recommend it. You'll impress your friends, enjoy a good read, and get more history of the Middle East than I ever got in school. I think you'll also end up depressed as it is clear that the path we are pursuing in the Middle East is not going to solve anything.