My March reading list is coming along a bit slowly, but while I'm working on longer blog posts I've put together some of the things I've read recently that I recommend.
- Já Matei por Menos: Here's an explanation of how I came to follow Juliana Cunha's work. Her book was a quick and delightful read, a compilation of some of her blog posts dating back to 2008. One of the reasons I like Juliana's work is because she's a brutally honest, a no-BS kind of writer. No "homem cordial" (or rather, mulher cordial) here. Some of my favorite stories are about how she managed to get a steady stream of newly released books when she was young; the stereotypes of Bahians she's encountered in São Paulo; her favorite things about Salvador; her observations about her neighborhood; and her idea for a personal trainer for freelancers.
- 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus: Without a doubt, this is one of the most fascinating books I've read in a long time. It presents theories about the indigenous population in the Americas before European colonization, claiming that these civilizations were much bigger than previously estimated, with even more sophisticated societies than thought. It covers a large portion of the Americas, but the parts about Brazil and the Amazon are really interesting. It discusses the formations found in parts of the Amazon, and introduces a theory that parts of the rainforest were actually planted by humans.
- 1565: Enquanto o Brasil nascia: As expected, this book provides an intriguing look at Rio de Janeiro's early history. It really gives you a better sense of the importance of indigenous tribes in the city's founding and development. There's a lot more about the city's original inhabitants and their lasting impact on the city than in other books I've read about the city. It also provides interesting insight into the attempted French conquest of Rio. Other cool facts: where the word Copacabana comes from, how Botafogo got its name, and how the Angolan queen N'Zinga impacted Brazilian history.
- Why Everything Costs So Much in Brazil: This Superinteressante article brings together a lot of the numbers and facts you've probably heard before about why things are expensive in Brazil. But it does so in an engaging and coherent way, and gives a good, simple overview. It's available in Portuguese and English.
- Cars Made in Brazil Are Deadly: An excellent piece of investigative work on Brazil's car industry by the Associated Press. That cars made and sold in Brazil are less safe than in other countries is not exactly a revelation, but this is the kind of piece that has the potential to have an impact and inspire a movement for higher safety standards.