Review: My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

15451058¬†As I mentioned in my previous post, this year I want to branch out from my typical genres. I want to explore books that others recommend to me, and not just those that I stumble across in my travels. On that note, I joined a book club set up by Emma Watson on GoodReads, and the first book on the shelf was this one. I don’t read a lot of non fiction. In fact I’m pretty sure the non fiction books I have read I could count on both hands. I didn’t go into this book club expecting anything other than having my mind and perspective opened up a little bit, and that’s exactly what the book did.

It’s a telling of the life of Gloria Steinem, and it just so happens to take place during a time in the world when the movement for equality was just starting out. What I found fascinating about this book was not the particular details about her life, nor her history growing up – but her interactions with others. Some of the sections of the book really made me think about things in a different way, see a new perspective, and that’s what I loved about it.

In one section that really moved me and opened up my mind, Gloria is talking with the American Indian and Alaskan Native Caucus.

“As one Native delegate said, “Other Americans have histories and families and gene pools in their home countries. If French or Arabic is forgotten in America, it’s still being spoken somewhere. We have no other country. If our languages are wiped out, they can’t come back. If we disappear here, that’s it.””

This quote really stood out to me. It was something I had never thought of before, and clarified why being able to keep their culture was such an important thing. The next moving quote is when Gloria is describing the lives of the various taxi drivers she had listened to over the years. This entire chapter was particularly moving for me, but one conversation stood out from the rest. She’s driving around New York City after 9/11 and talking with a taxi driver.

“There were also anonymous graffiti that had appeared as if by contagion all over New York with the same message: Our grief is not a cry for war. “Thats how New Yorkers feel,” the driver said. “They know what bombing looks like, and they know what hell it is. But outside New York, people will feel guilty because they weren’t here. They’ll be yelling for revenge out of guilt and ignorance. Sure, we all want to catch the criminals, but only people who weren’t in New York will want to bomb another country and repeat what happened here.””

Wow. Now, I know this quote probably doesn’t capture how 100% of New Yorkers felt, but that quote is so incredibly powerful and spoke to me on a level that I hadn’t anticipated.

It’s hard to describe how I felt as I read through this. It reads less as an autobiography and more like a novel, if that makes sense. It didn’t feel like what I was reading could possibly be real, or have possibly happened, and yet, it did. She teaches us to take the time to listen and makes the point time and again that ‘listening circles’ are powerful. All in all it was not what I was expecting (but then again, what was I expecting is hard to pin down) and quite an enjoyable read that really made me think.

4/5 stars

Advertisements

The Wild Truth, By Carine McCandless

20828370

 

Like many others, I started reading this book expecting a more in-depth look at Chris (you may remember him, he became famous after the story behind his death was published by Jon Krakauer in the book “Into the Wild”. That book deeply touched and moved me, which is why I picked this one up.

I almost wish I hadn’t purchased it (except I really enjoy reading, so of course I did). The book offers very little new information at all about Chris, and is instead a very narcissistic read about his sister and her family troubles. It’s well written and of course a page turner (sort of like that accident that you can’t look away from) but no where in the entire book does she ever take the blame for anything that befalls her, in her entire life. Even the portions of the book that were supposed to focus on Chris instead put Carine front and center. She came across as the one who never made mistakes (even three marriages later), who was never at fault, who could never be blamed for anything. I’m not excusing an abusive childhood (or adulthood), but the book paints her as being incredibly materialistic, and constantly thinking of herself. She mentions numerous times that she waits for her parents to come around, for their views to change, for them to change – but never does she mention changing herself, growing up, or moving forward in a mature fashion. Instead she clings to the past and the pain she has suffered – and the book shows just how much she wants her family to be punished for her hurt.

 

2/5 Stars

Review: I am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai

17851885

I knew even before I started this book that I was going to love it. The story is about Malala, a girl who was shot in the face by the Taliban because she wanted an education. She stood up for things that most of us take for granted. The whole book was incredibly powerful and served as a constant reminder to me about how life is so very different across this world. It reminded me that not everyone has what I have. It made me feel grateful for my life, for my education, for the things that I have.

When I was reading reviews a lot of people seemed to dislike the political and historical turns that the pages brought, but I actually enjoyed those parts the most. I loved learning about the Swat Valley and how it has changed over the years. I liked reading about the political history of Pakistan, and I found that it was woven into the story of Malala very well.

It was one of those books that made me think the entire time I read it, made me feel anger, happiness, sadness, fear, all of these emotions ran over me as I made my way through the pages. While the book is certainly a far cry from my ‘typical’ choices, I’m glad I branched out. I don’t want to spoil the actual book because I feel that it’s one of those books you really have to read for yourself. Keeping in mind that the novel was written by a young girl (a very well spoken one) may help overcome some barriers readers might face.

5 / 5 stars