|Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China
by Jung Chang
narrated by Joy Osmanski
|I Am Malala: The Girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban
by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb
narrated by Archie Panjabi
|I would normally give this book 4 stars for writing and interest level, but since it’s such an important topic, it gains an extra star.|
2012 Book 112: I Shall Not Hate, by Izzeldin Abuelaish (7/23/2012)
Reason for Reading: Reading Globally Middle Eastern theme read
In this heartbreaking (yet strangely uplifting) memoir, Abuelaish relates his life—growing up in poverty in a Palestinian refugee camp, slaving so that he could raise enough money to go to medical school, and his rising career coincident with his growing family. Despite losing 3 daughters and a niece to an Israeli military action, Abuelaish preaches that love, not hate, is required to bring peace. Abuelaish’s story is engrossing and tragic, yet I couldn’t help but think about all of the suffering Palestinians who don’t have a voice. If life is so hard for someone who has powerful connections, what must it be like for those who have no one to help them? This is a must-read for people who think Palestinians are all about terrorism and throwing rocks—people who likely wouldn’t touch the book with a 10-foot pole. It’s also a fantastic read for someone who is sympathetic to both sides of the conflict, but who wants to hear a personal story. I DO wish I could read the story of someone who isn’t highly connected, but this is a fantastic start. And Abuelaish’s enduring message of love make a monumental memoir.
2012 Book 21: Catch Me if you Can, by Stan Redding (2/1/2012)
This is the autobiography of Frank Abagnale, Jr. a con-man and counterfeiter who made millions passing fraudulent checks all around the world and, meanwhile, posed successfully as a Pan Am pilot, a pediatrician, and a lawyer. I enjoyed the movie based on this book so I hoped the book would be better. Although the book certainly provided more information about the scams and how he got away with it, Abagnale himself was much less charming in the book. He was too much of a womanizer and a…well…con-man. Emotions weren’t expressed (other than relief at escaping one or another of his women), making it difficult to empathize with him. Also, the adult Abagnale (who took part in writing the book) didn’t seem to feel much remorse about his activities. He rationalized: “I never conned a square John out of money,” but ignores the emotional strain that he must have put on many of his victims. Also, I am a little skeptical of the “true” part of this “true crime” story. I believe that the basic idea is true, but there were just too many convenient coincidences for his story to be entirely accurate. He must have taken bits and pieces of different escapades and pasted them together into a unified story, and over-emphasized his own cleverness. Clearly, he’s a genius, but I still would have liked a little more “oops, that was stupid” in his story. It would have humanized him. Not even a genius can be clever all the time! 3/5 stars
2012 Book 3: The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch (1/4/2012)
When Randy Pausch found out that he had terminal cancer and only a few months to live, he decided to give a “last lecture” providing insightful life advice about achieving goals and remaining optimistic. Everyone I have spoken to about this book absolutely loved it. Indeed, I found it very inspirational. He seems to have achieved all of his childhood dreams and managed to remain optimistic when he only had a few months left to live. However, it fell a bit short for me because his goals were so very different than my own. He was a self-proclaimed workaholic—ALL of his achieved goals were career driven. Apparently despite the wishes of his wife, he decided to spend a lot of time during his final months preparing this final high-impact lecture. The lecture was indeed a success. Good for him—clearly it was something he needed to do. But I hope I am never so focused on my career that I would spend the final months of my life working instead of spending time with my family and loved ones. Perhaps I am just pessimistic, but I seem to be the only one who found his story outwardly inspiring, but for the wrong reasons. I gave this book 3.5/5 stars.