Black Hawk Down

What are you reading?

Black Hawk Down". I saw the movie a while ago and wasn’t that interested, but a friend of mine who’s big into war books — fiction and nonfiction — gave it to me and said, ‘You really need to read this book. It’s much better than the movie.’”

What’s it about?

“Basically, there are these warring clans in Mogadishu, in Africa, and the UN is trying to supply the people there with food, and the warring clans are trying to intercept the food so they can control the people, and it’s about the U.S. military interceding. They go in, and something goes wrong. It’s about one single afternoon of battle, and it’s really interesting. The Americans went in thinking they were this superpower, and basically, a small militia shot down four Black Hawk helicopters in a single battle. It’s about a small group of men relying on each other. One of the things that got lost in the movie is that the author went back to Mogadishu and interviewed Somalis who had gone through it, so you got two sides to the story. You can see why they were scared and a little bit of why they vilified the Americans. They didn’t understand what was going on, and they were trying to defend their land.”

Who’s your favorite person in the story?

“There are bits of personal things that go on, but I don’t think there’s any one person that sticks out. I do think I have a newfound respect for the Delta Force men, and people who do special ops in the military.”

Compare this to other books that you’ve read.

“It’s a complete departure for me. I usually read science fiction and fantasy novels. But I’m really enjoying it.”

What book has been most life-changing for you?

“I don’t know if there’s a book that’s had that profound an effect. This is going to sound silly, but I just reread the Harry Potter series, and I started thinking about the time when I first started the books, back when I was a little kid. Now, I can see myself growing with the series, as the series progresses and changes. I think it was one of the first books that taught that little kids can read big books and understand them and be confident about their reading skills.”

Who are some of your favorite authors?

“Thomas Hardy and Madeleine L’Engle. I love Hardy’s Far from the Maddening Crowd. Madeleine L’Engle wrote A Wrinkle in Time, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and A Wind in the Door. I like the scientific edge that L’Engle brings to her books. She had big, interesting subjects, and like J.K. Rowling, she knew that kids did have the ability to comprehend them. It helped me feel confident that I could read bigger books with bigger concepts. Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials tirlogy did that, too.”

What magazines or newspapers do you read?

Dwell, which is a modern architecture-and-home-furnishings magazine, and Game Informers. I’ll read anywhere from 5 to 15 articles to the end.”

Do you talk with friends about reading?

“Definitely. We have little book clubs where we’ll sit outside and talk about what we’re reading. One of my friends is into the fantasy fiction stuff that I like. Another reads those war books. My boyfriend is really into comic books and graphic novels. We’re big on loaning and borrowing — if you like it, give it out to someone.”

Tell me about graphic novels.

“I think some of the best literature that’s come out in the past 20 years has been in graphic novels. Alan Moore has brought a new level of readership — I got one of my friends who swore he’d never read a comic book to read one of Moore’s. There’s so much substance — I would recommend V for Vendetta to anyone who hasn’t read one. And they’re turning Stephen King’s The Stand into a graphic novel series, and it’s really good.”

Name: Julia Wright | Age: 23 | Occupation: Barista
Neighborhood: Golden Hill | Where interviewed: Kensington Coffee Company

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