- Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl – Where I grew up this wasn’t required reading in school (or at least I don’t remember that it was, but I did read it as a pre-teen. I remember that this book made me angry for Anne, made me cry & definitely made me think – think about the war, about the inhumane way that people treat each other, about the fear that Anne must have been feeling. And, mostly about what an amazing person Anne must have been, to have lived through what she did & still have the courage & strength to write her diary. I would have loved to have met Anne. I recently bought The Diary of Anne Frank to re-read, but haven’t as yet picked it up. I do think it’s a book everyone should read & I’m interested to see if, once I do re-read it, I am as impacted now as I was then.
- Chicken Soup for the Canadian Soul – Chicken Soup for the Canadian Soul is a series of short inspirational stories written by Canadians, for Canadians. It came out 2 years after I moved to the UK from Canada. I’d read several other “Chicken Soup” books & loved them, but always wished that they published stories about Canadians. Don’t get me wrong – the other books are great, but there was almost never a Canadian element to them. Chicken Soup for the Canadian Soul came out at a very poignant time for me – I’d been away from home for 2 years & was terribly home sick. I was so excited when it arrived in the mail & I devoured the stories. It was like wrapping myself in Canadian-ness, like being back with those who loved me. I don’t think I have ever read a book that has made me so proud to be Canadian & has made me cry so much – both with pride & homesickness. I’ve just seen on Amazon that there’s a new edition coming out in November – I cannot wait!
- Murphy’s Boy – I first read Murphy’s Boy when I was 11 or 12. My Mom was in college studying to be a Human Service Counsellor & this was part of her required reading. That year in school we had a competition to see who could read the most books (we had to write a book report about every book we read) & that was a pretty pivotal year for me. I don’t remember how many books I read (I came second to a guy named Craig Sears), but that was the year that it sunk in to me that I didn’t really fit in with the other people in my class, that I didn’t really fit it anywhere. I think I identified a little bit with Kevin (who the story is about) & this book has really stuck with me over the years. I’ve re-read it several times & every once in a while feel like digging it out again.
- Even Silence Has an End: My Six Years of Captivity in the Colombian Jungle – I followed the story of Ingrid Bettancourt over the years from her initially being kidnapped to her eventual rescue from the FARC (The Colombia Gorilla group). You don’t hear much about what is happening in Colombia, which was why I wanted to read Bettancourt’s recount of her six years being held captive by the FARC. It was an amazing story about an unbelievably strong woman who went through hell for six years and managed to survive with her dignity, her sanity & her soul intact. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have done any where near as well. Amazing woman & an amazing story!
- A Thousand Splendid Suns – If you haven’t read A Thousand Splendid Suns, you should. It’s fictional, but not, if you know what I mean. It follows the plight of an Afghani woman name Miriam who grows up in Afghanistan during the Taliban. She suffers through the abuse inflicted against women by the Taliban & by a particularly heinous husband. This is the kind of story that sticks with you – forever.
Finding a book written by an Afghani (is that the correct spelling?) author was surprisingly (at least to me, anyway) easy. I’d seen A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini in Waterstones quite a few times & had even previously picked it up with the intention of buying it, but never did. Seeing that the Author was from Afghanistan made me decide that this would be my first book in my global reading challenge. A few strokes of the keyboard later it was purchased from Amazon & winging it’s way to my flat.
From Amazon: “Mariam is only fifteen when she is sent to Kabul to marry Rasheed. Nearly two decades later, a friendship grows between Mariam and a local teenager, Laila, as strong as the ties between mother and daughter. When the Taliban take over, life becomes a desperate struggle against starvation, brutality and fear. Yet love can move a person to act in unexpected ways, and lead them to overcome the most daunting obstacles with a startling heroism.”
Reading A Thousand Splendid Suns was a pleasure. I sailed through it in no time at all & loved it. Miriam is one of those characters in a book that you just know exists all too frequently in real life. What chance did she stand, coming from the parentage she did, in the Afghanistan of her childhood? Not much of a chance, really. The writing in the book is surpurb & while the ending is somewhat “Americanised”, it didn’t ruin the book. I would heartily recommend this book to anyone & look forward to reading the Kite Runner (by the same author), which is sitting in my desk at work!