Sunday, October 16, 2016

Brona's Salon: Elie Wiesel's Memoirs

Brona's Salon is a new meme which aims to gather a group of like-minded bookish people 'under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine the taste and increase the knowledge of the participants through conversation.'

[Brona] provides a few prompts to inspire our conversation.  However please feel free to discuss your current read or join in the conversation in any way that you see fit. Amusement, refinement and knowledge will surely follow!

What are you currently reading?
I am reading Elie Wiesel's All Rivers Run to the Sea, which is one of his memoirs.  Wiesel and his family were forced into concentration camps during WWII.  His parents and a younger sister died in the camps. He was fifteen when he was liberated.

How did you find out about this book?
It is the last book on my Well-Educated Mind Reading Challenge biography list.

Why are you reading it now?
I am reading it for my Well-Educated Mind Reading Challenge.

Elie Wiesel in the death camp

First impressions?
In college I read Night by Wiesel, the short memoir about the author's survival in the concentration camp, in Poland.  It is raw and brutal and angry, and I do not fault his tone.  

All Rivers Run to the Sea is a completely different experience, written after Night.  It is composed and long and sometimes rambling.  He tells of his youth and the time leading up to deportation. Then he writes briefly about incidents with his father, inside the camp, and then quickly jumps to liberation and being cared for as an orphan.  

He does not write in detail about his suffering like he does in Night, and that puzzles me, though I know there is a reason why he avoids talking about the horror.  (Maybe because he already had written about it in Night.)  And I was also curious why he instantly clung to his religion, when in Night I felt his anger and rage toward God. I am only half way through this particular book, so things may change, and I may find the answers to my questions.

Which character do you relate to so far?
Wiesel is my main character, and I obviously do not personally relate to him, but I do draw from his experiences.  I try to look to others in order to learn or be encouraged about how to survive adversity. And when I complain excessively about small things, I think about Wiesel and people like him who endured war, poverty, hatred, and hell.  Then I feel pathetic for whining.

Elie Wiesel, 15, right before deportations 

Are you happy to continue?
Yes, I am happy to continue.  I wish it were a little less rambling, but I appreciate that he has to tell his story.  I am willing to listen and believe it is an important story to understand.

Where do you think the story will go?
Good question.  Right now he is still pulling himself from the ashes of sorrow and pain, he is no longer a minor, and he is finding his place in the world - as a writer.  Ten years after liberation, he has decided to write about his experience in the concentration camp.  It is a painful journey, but he felt it was necessary to tell the truth.  

I think the story will continue to move upward, and Wiesel is going to benefit from exposing the personal side and truth of the Holocaust - which up to that point had been avoided or quiet - and it will gain a lot of international attention.  Sometimes the most difficult choices we make are the most beneficial and life-changing.

Elie Wiesel, 1928 - 2016
Be sure to visit Brona's Books to join the Salon.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

On the Way Home by Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane

On the Way Home
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Published 1962
Little House RAL

This book is 120 pages short.  It is the diary of the 650-mile journey that Manny, Laura and Rose (7-years old) made from DeSmet, South Dakota, beginning on July 17, 1894, to their arrival at Mansfield, Missouri, on August 30, 1894.  Laura wrote her entries in a little notebook, and Rose -later, as an adult - added the setting before they left DeSmet and filled in the details of what happened after they arrived at Mansfield.  

Farms were devastated by seven years of drought back in DeSmet, and Manny and Laura lost everything.  They decided to move their little family to the land of the Big Red Apple, which I thought was New York City, but that is the Big Apple; Missouri is the Big Red Apple.  They worked at odd jobs and saved all their money until they had $100.  Then they packed up what they had and left with another family, in covered wagons.  

Laura wrote every day but one, keeping record of what she saw and who they met along the way. They passed through Nebraska and Kansas, of which Laura had not much good to say about the land.  It suffered from the drought, and it was rocky and dusty.  However, the people leaving Missouri that they met and talked to did not always have positive things to say about that state either.  

Nonetheless, when they arrived in Missouri, Laura seemed very pleased with Mansfield.  That is where her record ended and Rose continued.  The family remained in a camp until Manny and Laura could find land to purchase with their $100 bill.  When they found the perfect place, they were overjoyed, until something awful happened (again, I won't say), as Rose relives the nightmare.   But it only curtailed their plans a short time, and eventually they bought the farm.  Yay!

This was Rocky Ridge, the place they made their home.

Rocky Ridge Farm today
What I liked at all about this book is Rose's voice.  I thought she seemed a little bratty and sarcastic describing her childhood experience, but I get the feeling she was a lot like her mother: independent, feisty, and mature beyond her years.  I also love how she illustrated Laura - in her beauty, in her joyful moments, and in her disappointments, as well.  It is a lovely perspective.  Maybe I would like to read more from Rose Wilder Lane, someday.  : )

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf

A Room of One's Own
Virginia Woolf
Published 1929

A Room of One's Own is like reading a sliver of one of the world's complex literary minds.  I say a sliver because the book is quite thin, and complex because it is not without deep contemplation (common for Woolf), on the subject of women writing fiction, or writing in general.

This essay was given as a series of lectures at women's colleges, and was later published in book form.  Woolf was concerned with the art of writing, and why women may not have been able to be serious contributors (at her time - post WWI) to literature.

Woolf presented several problems for women that may have prevented them from writing.  Women were poor, mainly because they had children instead of outside work.  They were also married young and, with so many children, never had any privacy.  (I can attest to that.) Women were also more likely than men to miss out on educational opportunities.  Money and a room of her own would have provided women with occasions to be contemplative and creative.  The female voice, the reality of women's thoughts, was absent from the literary world.  She hoped to encourage and witness that change one day.

She wrote,
Therefore I would ask you to write all kinds of books, hesitating at no subject however trivial or however vast.  By hook or by crook, I hope that you will possess yourselves of money enough to travel and to idle, to contemplate the future or the past of the world, to dream over books and loiter at street corners and let the line of thought dip deep into the stream.  For I am by no means confining you to fiction.  If you would please - and there are thousands like me - you would write books of travel and adventure, and research and scholarship, and history and biography, and criticism and philosophy and science.  By so doing you will certainly profit the art of fiction.  For books have a way of influencing each other.
While much has changed for women since Woolf gave her lectures,  A Room of One's Own should still be read.  A woman may have her own financial means and even a private room in her home, but she may need to be encouraged to write and find her voice.

A Room of One's Own resonated well with me.  If you opened my copy, you would observe plenty of underlinings, stars, and words of affirmation.  I thought it was wonderful.  Furthermore, I think I enjoyed it more so because I listened to an audio version (read by a woman with a British accent), while I followed along in my book.  It added emotion to the context, and I felt like Woolf was reading it privately to me.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Fall TBR List

Via The Broke and the Bookish
Books On My Fall TBR List

Let's try this again.  I totally messed up my projected summer reads and only finished maybe a third.  I had to remove several books from my reading challenges, too.  There was no way I was going to start them, let alone finish them.  But now I hope to be more realistic with a list of my fall reads.  Here are the top ten I BETTER start and finish before winter comes:

The Belly of Paris - Emile Zola

A Room of One's Own - Virginia Woolf
(Actually just finished this one yesterday.)

On the Way Home - Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Kite Runner - Hosseini

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God - Jonathan Edwards

West From Home - Laura Ingalls Wilder

All Rivers Run to the Sea - Elie Wiesel

Pioneer Girl - Pamela Smith

Death Comes for the Archbishop - Willa Cather

A Room With a View - E. M. Forster

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Road From Coorain by Jill Ker Conway

The Road From Coorain
Jill Ker Conway
Published 1989

All I want to do is gush over this book, and convince you to read it, as opposed to write a detailed narrative about it.  I will do my best to do a little of both, without the details.

Because I did not know who Jill Ker Conway was, I did not purchase a copy of this book to keep forever; instead, I borrowed a copy from the library.  Sheepishly, I admit, I marked (in pencil) all over its pages, and before I return it, will need to erase each evidence of my excitement and pleasure and agreement.

Jill Ker Conway was born 1934, and grew up in the outback of Australia.  She had two typical older brothers and loving parents.   Her parents owned thousands of acres of land and raised sheep for their livelihood. Theirs was a life of isolated loneliness, hardship, and disappointment because they were distant from civilization and continuously at the mercy of the rough environment and unforgiving climate.  In addition, they lived through WWII.  Readers of the West will experience a different perspective of the war from the eyes of an Australian.  It was quite frightening.  

Nonetheless, Jill's mother educated her young daughter, providing her with the tools to become self-sufficient, independent, and intelligent.  She immersed Jill in literature and history.  When Jill was eventually sent to school, she was far beyond the education of her peers; but she was also socially inept.

Then tragedy struck their family, not once, but twice - it was heartbreaking and shocking.  (I won't say what; you'll have to read it yourself).  

The bulk of the Jill's story is about her struggles - struggles with her social awkwardness; her overbearing, overwhelming mother (yes, the one who provided her with such independence, determination, and necessary survival skills); her own personal rebelliousness; and later, her struggle with society, as it was in her time.   It was a world that told her there was no place for her kind - an intelligent, independent, serious woman. Society (both men and women) did not know what to do with her, how to treat her, how to speak to her, or where to place her.

The one thing she was determined to do most was to write about the true history of Australia; but Australia was not ready (according to Jill) to listen to an intelligent woman.  They did not expect her to know.  Yet, this was a turning point in her adult life.  The wonderful determining spirit of Jill Ker Conway thought: if I can't do what I want here (in Australia), I will find the place where I can; and she went to Harvard, in America, leaving the land she loved, tearing away from her mother's grip, in the process.  On the day of her departure, Jill said to herself,
I was leaving because I didn't fit in, never had, and wasn't likely to.  I didn't belong for many reasons.  I was a woman who wanted to do serious work and have it make a difference.  I wanted to think about Australia in a way that made everyone else uncomfortable.  I loved my native earth passionately and was going into emotional exile, but there was no turn of political or military fortune which could bring me back in triumph.  I was going to another country, to begin all over again.
While this is the end of this particular autobiography, it is only the beginning of Jill's story.  She goes on to accomplish great works, and her ideal of being taken seriously as an intelligent woman, with something to contribute to the world, comes to fruition.  I greatly admire her because her kind of feminism is one of determination and purpose. Even through her hardships, obstacles, and defeats, she remained firm and resolved.  Oh, yes, she was angry - frustrated by her circumstances - but she knew her capabilities and her worth. When she was not taken seriously, she moved on.  Her purpose was to accomplish what needed to be done, even though it meant leaving the place she loved.  

When I finished this book, I ordered my very own copy; yesterday it arrived.  This is one story I will gratefully read again.  

Portrait of Jill Ker Conway, by Sarah Belchetz-Swenson, 1987

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The First Four Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The First Four Years
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Published 1971

Laura Ingalls Wilder died in 1957.  Afterward, her manuscript for The First Four Years was found, and it was decided by the publishing company and a close family friend to publish this final story of The Little House series.  It has an incomplete and melancholy feeling compared to the previous eight books, but my third read settled on an optimistic closure to Laura's stories.  

The First Four Years began a retelling of Laura's and Almanzo's wedding day, in 1885.  Laura expressed that she did not want to marry a farmer.  Proverbs must have been popular in those days because Manly, Laura's nickname for Almanzo, used them like Pa and Ma: "Everything is evened up in the end . . ."  He claimed, "Farmer's are independent," and he promised that if the farming failed after three years, he would quit and do whatever Laura wanted.  

Manly provided a ready-to-move-in home for Laura, and she "looked the place over with the pride of possession."  Often times, when Laura felt anxious about the finances or the farming or the trees not growing, she reminded herself not to worry; Manly didn't.  

Laura did not always agree with Almanzo.  For example, he lent every tool that a needy neighbor asked for, even knowing the borrower may never return it.  When Laura thought the same neighbor would ask for a hog to scald, Laura sarcastically thought she would give it to him if he asked because she knew Manly would have given it.  When a terrible hail storm struck, Manly suggested they make ice cream.  Laura facetiously asked her visitor if she felt like celebrating, and the woman replied, "No!  I want to get home and see what happened there.  Ice cream would choke me." And later, Manly purchased a beautiful clock during a time when Laura was adding up doctor bills and costs for medicine.  She questioned his judgment, but he was not concerned.  

In their second year of marriage, Laura had a baby girl, Rose, whom she absolutely adored. Nonetheless, there was still plenty of concern about expenses.  Laura did not agree that they could afford a new stove, though she resigned that to be "Manly's business."  That's what I say, myself, when I disagree with my husband's purchases: "It's on him."   

At one point Almanzo and especially Laura were very sick with diphtheria.  Rose was spared and remained with Laura's mother.  But Almanzo suffered a stroke soon after because he overexerted himself before he was fully recovered.  Thereafter, Laura needed to help Manly with his work until he could use his hands again.  

Now there were more doctor bills, and those stupid trees weren't doing very well.  They needed more cultivation and babysitting.  Almanzo had to sell the homestead to a buyer, and he and Laura moved back to the tree claim.  Then they got into the sheepherding business.   Apparently, it was an election year and a Democrat was likely to win the White House.  "Mr. Whitehead, being a good Republican, was sure the country would be ruined.  The tariff would be taken off, and the wool and sheep would be worth nothing."  They sold Laura's colt to help buy 100 sheep, with cousin Peter, who shepherded the sheep on their property.   

In the fourth year of marriage - the year of grace, Laura called it - the crops were mostly failures.  The treacherous wind storms were a problem for the sheep, as they would roll over and over, unable to get up.  Then Laura found out she was pregnant again, which was never a pleasant time for her. Thankfully, a neighbor brought over a load of books for her to read, which was like medicine for her condition.
And now the four walls of the close, overheated house opened wide, and Laura wandered with brave knights and ladies fair beside the lakes and streams of Scotland or in castles and towers, in noble halls or lady's bower, all through the enchanting pages of Sir Walter Scott's novels.
She forgot to feel ill at the sight or smell of food, in her hurry to be done with the cooking and follow her thoughts back into the book. 
The grief of farm life continued, although she must not let her pride be a burden.  The trees were mostly lost, and Manly could not "prove-up"; he had to pre-empt the land.  Soon after, Laura delivered her baby boy, who died three weeks later.  She described the days that followed as "mercifully blurred."   Another day, a fire started in the kitchen of their claim shanty, which consumed their house and almost everything in it.  Laura felt like a failure.

Some pages back, Laura lamented how she hated farming.  During a time of weakness, she thought,
How could [I] ever keep up the daily work and still go through what was ahead.  There was so much to be done and only [myself] to do it.  [I] hate the farm and the stock and the smelly lambs, the cooking of food and the dirty dishes.  Oh, [I] hate it all, and especially the debts that must be paid whether [I] work or not.
Now after some painful suffering, and at the end of four years of farm life, Laura pondered:
It would be a fight to win out in this business of farming, but strangely she felt her spirit rising for the struggle.
The incurable optimism of the farmer who throws his seed on the ground every spring, betting it and his time against the elements, seemed inextricably to blend with the creed of her pioneer forefathers that 'it is better farther on' - only instead of farther on in space, it was farther on in time, over the horizon of the years ahead instead of the far horizon of the west.
She was still the pioneer girl and she could understand Manly's love of the land through its appeal to herself.
"Oh well," Laura sighed, summing up her idea of the situation in a saying of her Ma's: "Well always be farmers, for what is bred in the bone will come out in the flesh." 
I must admit that I literally was grieved for Laura and wanted her to return to her little girl days of times past - to return to the comforts and securities of home, with Ma and Pa; but Laura, being more mature and responsible than I was at 19, was proud to be the mistress of her own domain and optimistic about the future.  

This may be the end of The Little House series, but it is not the end of Laura's and Almanzo's story, that we know. She left journals and articles and letters beyond the first four years on that first farm in South Dakota.  My family and I visited their homes in Mansfield, Missouri.  Unfortunately, you cannot take pictures inside the homes, but it was wonderful and exciting.  If you ever are in the neighborhood, don't miss the opportunity to experience it.

Home of Almanzo and Laura Ingalls Wilder:

My daughter, standing under one of the
many surviving apple trees
that the Wilder's planted on their property.

Rocky Ridge , the home that Rose had built for her parents:

This is a little ice house that Almanzo built
on a stream that ran through their property.
It still stands today.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriquez by Richard Rodriquez

Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez
Richard Rodriguez
Published 1982

In honor of Richard Rodriquez, though I did not know it, yet, I checked his autobiography out of the library.  

Richard Rodriguez was born (1944) in San Francisco, California, to Mexican immigrant parents. As a six-year old child with limited use of the English language, he was disconnected from the American public.  That changed when he attended Catholic school, and Irish nuns forced (and his parents encouraged) him to learn and speak English publicly, even privately at home; this altered his life drastically.  He traded his private life for a public one.  He ceased being a minority, in a cultural sense, when he decided to use his public voice and take advantage of his educational benefits.  

Mr. Rodriguez covers quite a few major social topics in his book : 
public v. private lives, 
minority status (class v. race), 
religion (Catholicism and Protestantism), 
Affirmative Action programs, 
and (my favorite) 
Reading through his autobiography was like having a pleasant conversation with Mr. Rodriguez about these issues.  As he presented his experiences and ideas and opinions, I thought about them and most of the time agreed with him. Yet, even if I did not agree, I still appreciated the conversation.  

Mr. Rodriguez thought it was personally unfair for him to be considered a minority - and receive benefits through Affirmative Action programs - simply because of his Mexican heritage, when he had more opportunities than those who were living in poverty, including poor non-minorities.  People, he said, are stuck in poverty because they are not taught to use their public voice; opportunities are not available to them because they remain immoveable in their private lives, kept apart (in order to preserve their identity) from the rest of the American culture.  Instead, they must be encouraged to mix publicly, in language and culture, rather than being stuck in their own private worlds.

Speaking of mixing, he does not like racial labels either because he believes we are all a little bit like one another.  If we study our histories deeply, we find that our stories are intertwined, not separate; maybe we are not all that diverse after all.  

On a personal note, for example: when I read early American history (when American colonists were British), I cannot help but feel a kin to Britain, even though my Italian ancestors did not come to America until the late 1800s and early 1900s.  British history is my history, too. And when I read Russian lit, I feel a little Russian.  What connects us all together is the human story that we relate to.  We are all connected - and I would add, we are all mixing.  Today there are no names for these mixed races and cultures and histories, and yet some want to label people with words that do not even describe us anymore.

Mr. Rodriguez related his personal struggle with skin color, especially because his mother was most conscientious of his dark complexion.  It reminded me of how my brother and I were teased for our dark complexion, where we grew up in a predominately Irish neighborhood in Brooklyn.  It did not really bother me, but today every one seems extremely sensitive at the mention of their skin color or race.  To repeat: we are all mixing anyway, and soon there will be no names for us anymore.  

One final point about Mr. Rodriguez that I like most is his love for literature.  When he mastered the English language (at an early age), he read voraciously for information.  Yet, when he matured, he developed a love and appreciation for literature, unlike reading for information.  

In 1998, he gave a speech on University of California TV about books and learning.   He said, "You are not alone when you are reading a library book.  Think of all the people who have read that book. Library books are about connecting lives."  And finally he said (in reference to his youthful quest for knowledge), 
"Books are written, one on top of one another.  Books are relational, intimate, personal, and are about the soul, . . . not about information."
If you want to delve more into these topics, pick up a copy of Hunger of Memory, by Richard Rodriguez, and join the conversation.    

Richard Rodriguez

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Back-to-School Freebie: Ten Books for Required Reading

Back to School Freebie: Ten Books for Required Reading
(for higher education)

I've done something like this before, but I didn't look at my previous list; therefore, I am sure I came up with some different books this second time around.  So you understand, I have a bent toward Western-Civ, and if you're in my classroom, there's a lot of traditional Westernized-classic lit and history going on here.  


Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe
Stowe gives everyone in America a good scolding 
over slavery and Christianity.

All Quiet on the Western Front - Erich Maria Remarque
The most important WWI fiction you should read.

Pride and Prejudice or Persuasion - Jane Austen
Either one will do.

Gone With the Wind - Margaret Mitchell
The War and Peace of the American Civil War Era.

Far From the Madding Crowd or Return of the Native - Thomas Hardy
Hardy wanted to be a poet.  You can tell.

Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoevsky
Makes you want to read Russian lit.  

"The Crucible" - Arthur Miller
Yeah, why did Miller really write this, 
and why did he pick on the Puritans?

A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
A joyous story about forgiveness and redemption.

The Age of Innocence or The House of Mirth - Edith Wharton
Just read Wharton.

1984 - George Orwell
One of the BEST in dystopian lit.


Germinal - Émile Zola
Dare to read this one.


Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl - Harriet Jacobs
Harriet Jacobs' amazing autobiography of determination 
to escape slavery and save her children.

The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass - Frederick Douglass
Another autobiography from an ex-slave who stood up to injustice.

Up From Slavery - Booker T. Washington
Born into slavery, Washington went on to be a voice for freedom and liberty.

Walden - Henry David Thoreau
Maybe a little self-centered, but definitely an introspective, quiet book.

Confessions - Augustine
Augustine's life story about his struggle with sin and conviction.

Bonhoeffer - Eric Metaxas
WWII pastor and spy, accused of plotting to kill Hitler.  
Is it ever right for pastors to plot to kill?

The Four Voyages - Christopher Columbus
Everyone hates Columbus, and they don't even know why.  
That prejudice is based on lies.  

The Gulag Archipelago - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
A Russian soldier survives the Gulag and writes about it.

The Journals of Lewis and ClarkMeriwether Lewis & William Clark
Find out what it takes to run a tight ship.

Unbroken - Laura Hillenbrand
The true story about WWII hero, Louis Zamperini.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

The Dressmaker of Khair Kana
Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
Published 2011
Book Club

I read this book for my local (in person) book club.  It was a true story (written in story format) about a family of sisters living in Afghanistan, at a time when the Taliban came into power in their part of the country.  Laws changed drastically overnight, for women and girls, of course: they could no longer attend school, work outside of the home, leave the house without an escort (usually a male), and they had to wear the stupid chadri in public (see image).  

Chadri (Afghanistan)*
 *Don't tell me women WANT to wear this.  
Why don't men put a sheet over their head and try to live!  
Sorry, I'm inserting my emotions again.

To earn an income - essentially, to EAT - the main character, Kamila, turned her home into a shop and employed her sisters (and even a few neighborhood women and girls who needed work to earn a living, too) as seamstresses.  Kamila was instantly successful in finding shopkeepers in town to buy their dresses and suits, and soon she had a reputation as a savvy businesswoman.  

One day a bridal party, needing a wedding dress and bridesmaid dresses in only a few days, urgently approached her.  The bride was to marry a Taliban member.  Kamila understood that the Taliban now knew what she was doing in her home, and that they had accepted it, so long as she continued to keep a low profile and followed the rules for women. 

In addition to the political changes, several anxious events occurred during this time: Moussad, military leader of the Northern Resistance in Afghanistan, was assassinated, and September 11th, 2001, happened.  The assassination of Moussad meant the Taliban had a stronger hold on the country; and when the Taliban did not turn over Osama bin Laden, the United States began military attacks on Afghanistan.  Kamila and her family lived and worked anxiously under these conditions.

But there was a good turn of events, too.  Due to Kamila's clever and courageous entrepreneurship, U.N. Habitat, an institution in Afghanistan seeking to recruit women for a work project, approached her.  With permission by the Mob - I mean, Taliban - the organization would be able to teach girls the value of work (after the Taliban prohibited it).  Kamila's family was against her working with Habitat because . . . FEAR.  Rules changed every day, and one never knew when the Taliban would lash out at a woman for breaking a law that was suddenly altered.  

Once she was stopped at a checkpoint while traveling to Pakistan with Habitat.  Because they did not have a male escort, the Taliban threatened them with arrest and questioned their loyalty as Muslims.  With an AK-47 pointed at her forehead, Kamila used her cleverness to talk their way out of the predicament.  Her experiences had taught her that the Taliban could be reasoned with, "as long as one was polite, firm, and respectful."

Well, because of the attacks in Afghanistan by the U.S., the Taliban were on the run, and many cities were freed from their stronghold.  For some reason, men immediately shaved their beards, but women were still apprehensive about ditching the chadri.  FEAR.

Kamila continued her work with Habitat in her country, but next moved to international outreach within the United Nations and with global aid, Mercy Corps.  She was invited to participate in a two-week MBA program for Afghan businesswomen in the United States, and she even met Condoleezza Rice, who invited her to Washington D.C., to tell her own story to members of Congress, business people, and diplomats.  

Condelezza Rice and Kamila Sadiqi

But Kamila's desire was or has always been to help the people in her country, to educate them and create job opportunity, especially for women.  She said,
Money is power for women.  If women have their own income to bring to the family, they can contribute and make decisions.  Their bothers, their husbands, and their entire families will have respect for them.  It's so important in Afghanistan because women have always had to ask for money from men.  if we can give them some training, and an ability to earn a good salary, then we can change their lives and help their families.
It is a good story; unfortunately, it isn't riveting storytelling.  Nonetheless, I am really glad I read Kamila's point of view.  She is a remarkable woman.  She could have lived in utter FEAR, but she did not.  She stood out.  However, I do wonder about all of those women who do live in FEAR, under those regimes, whose stories are not being told?  I wish someone would tell those stories, too.

Kamila Sadiqi, 2005

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books That Have Been on My (TBR) Bookshelf Forever!

Ten Books That Have Been on My (TBR) Bookshelf Forever!
(And they look the part.)

The Sherlock Holmes Mysteries - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea - Jules Verne

Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stevenson

Ivanhoe - Sir Walter Scott

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame - Victor Hugo

The Republic - Plato

The Last Days of Socrates - Plato

Politics - Aristotle 

The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway

Idylls of the King - Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Wuthering Heights - Emily Brontë

Of these ten, I will read Treasure Island with my kids, later this year, for our Exploration school year, and The Republic is part of my WEM Reading Challenge; but other than that, is there one I should move up on my TBR list?