Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Different Kind of Daughter: The Girl Who Hid from the Taliban in Plain Sight by Maria Toorpakai with Katharine Holstein

I never expected A Different Kind of Daughter: The Girl Who Hid from the Taliban in Plain Sight by Maria Toorpakai with Katharine Holstein to give me a greater insight into who I am at my core, but it did. I expected it to shine light on a culture I've never experienced instead it reminded me just how alike human beings are no matter where they live. Toorpakai doesn't shy away from the uncomfortable parts of her story. She goes into vivid detail about her journey to become her best self. She talks about breaking with the societal norms and expectations and her family's struggle to fight against the inequality in Pakistan. Her salvation didn't come from education but rather from first weight lifting and then squash. For someone like me who values education, this part of the story was hard for me to read. Her inability to sit in a classroom challenged my beliefs while gently coercing me to feel compassion for her circumstances. Her desire to live as a boy in a society where girls' participation in society is severely restricted challenges ideas about gender roles from around the world. As Toorpakai searches for a way to survive, to escape, and to protect her family, her strength and her family's love and openness shine through in the refusal to compromise who she is or sacrifice her for their own safety. A Different Kind of Daughter is not only the story about a daughter who is different but about the family who is different enough to buck societal norms and risk losing everything to honor their values and teach their children to be proud of who they are even if society doesn't understand them. I laughed, I cried, I cheered, I winced, I pleaded as I followed Toorpakai and her family on this journey to find a place in the world where she belonged.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming by Naomi Oreskes & Erik M. Conway

I read Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming by Naomi Oreskes & Erik M. Conway because a friend recommended it. I started reading with a sense of skepticism, but found the presentation of facts, history, and science compelling. Merchants of Doubt used facts and science to illustrate how people have twisted science for corporate greed, political agendas, and personal greed. Oreskes & Conway showed the documentation to back up their claims. They made the excellent point that science itself isn't biased; however, people with agendas are. Oreskes & Conway not only discuss the science, but how and why it was manipulated in a clear, easy to comprehend manner that is at once fascinating, enraging, enlightening, and frightening. They emphasize time and again the reality that facts and science don't change just because people choose not to believe them. Read Merchants of Doubt if you want to better understand how the government, the media, and corporations manage to manipulate the general public to believe things that support corporate interests but go against the interests of all Earth's inhabitants.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Switched On: A Memoir of Brain Change and Emotional Awakening by John Elder Robison

When I started reading Switched On: A Memoir of Brain Change and Emotional Awakening by John Elder Robison, I hoped to gain insight into Asperger's and what it's like to live with Asperger's. Robison writes a memoir that is at times shockingly honest in that he doesn't present himself as a very sympathetic character. I cringed at some of his interactions with others imagining what it must have felt like for those people. Switched On details Robison's journey to decide to participate in an experimental brain therapy called transcranial magnetic stimulation or TMS. He wrote about how this experiment awakened him to not only emotions of the moment but of memories and the emotions attached to those memories. When he describes his reaction to a song after one of his early treatments, I felt like he was describing a hallucination. I found it hard to wrap my head around his experience, and I'm a highly emotional person. He also explored how the therapy opened his eyes to emotional truths he wasn't quite ready to face and how that changed his relationships. There's a sense of detachment and vulnerability that rides just beneath the surface throughout Switched On that oddly kept me engaged during some of the more technical parts of the book. Overall, Switched On is a fascinating examination of the brain, emotions, and humanity.

 

Friday, November 4, 2016

Stories from Generation Z by Tammy Ruggles


Stories from Generation Z by Tammy Ruggles explores teenage angst in this collection of heart-wrenching short stories. A thread of hope flows through even the most painful moments of these stories that address issues including abuse, self-harm, and suicide. Ruggles manages to write about real life issues in a way that immerses the reader in her characters' emotional journeys. Stories from Generation Z reminds the reader how easy it is to dismiss the pain of others, particularly young adults, as something that will pass, especially when dealing with our own issues. Ruggles paints a picture of a world where young adults struggles are never dismissed as growing pains while she offers hope they can be overcome.