I'm going to answer my own challenge by posting about the books I've read recently or am reading.
Climbing the mango trees : a memoir of a childhood in India / Madhur Jaffrey. London : Ebury, 2005.
This is Ms Jaffrey's autobiography, at least the first volume anyway. I really enjoyed it. She writes in an engaging manner, and I found the differences in her life growing up very interesting. Don't read this one when you're hungry though... I had to make indian food for most of the week while I was reading it. One part of the book covers her experience of the division of India into Pakistan/India. I never thought much about the affect of Partition on the general population in India. It's not something we study at school here so I've not had much exposure to that time in history in that area. That part of the book made me think a little about how effective it is for outside nations to try and solve the problems of anothers.
The last days of Dogtown: a novel/Diamant, Anita.
New York : Scribner, 2005.
From the author of The Red Tent. I found this one harder to engage with. The story is about the characters from a dying town in "the sticks" and their interactions. It's well written in terms of language and all, but I just found I didn't really engage with it. The characters were interesting and there was sufficient conflict to keep my attention, but at the end of the book I was thinking, "So, what was the point?". Perhaps the plot went over my head. Having said that, I'm now reading another of her books called Good Harbour ( Rockland, MA : Wheeler Pub., 2001) which I'm enjoying much more. It's about the relationship between 2 women. One of them has been diagnosed with breast cancer and is undergoing treatment. There's a few other skeletons lurking around her life too. The other is a writer struggling with writing, her teenage daughter and her marriage. I'm finding it a much more engaging read.