"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Friday, December 30, 2011

December Books

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi -- "a memoir in books"; see previous post

At a café run by an Armenian in Iran -- "...forever I shall see on the glass door next to the name of the restaurant, which was in small letters, the compulsory sign in the large black letters: RELIGIOUS MINORITY.  All restaurants run by non-Muslims had to carry this sign on their doors so that good Muslims, who considered all non-Muslims dirty and did not eat from the same dishes, would be forewarned."  (pg. 180)

"'Both Yassi and I know that we have been losing our faith. We have been questioning it with every move. During the Shah's time, it was different. I felt I was in the minority and I had to guard my faith against all odds.  Now that my religion is in power, I feel more helpless than ever before, and more alienated.' She wrote about how ever since she could remember, she had been told that life in the land of infidels was pure hell. She had been promised that all would be different under a just Islamic rule. Islamic rule! It was a pageant of hypocrisy and shame. She wrote about how at work her male supervisors never look her in the eye, about how in movies even a six-year-old girl must wear a scarf and cannot play with boys. Although she wore the veil, she described the pain of being required to wear it, calling it a mask behind which women were forced to hide. She talked about all this coldly, furiously, always with a question mark after each point."  (pg. 328)

The Global Soul by Pico Iyer -- The author discusses our world of globalism and multiculturalism by visiting and reporting from airports (focus LAX), the "global marketplace" (Hong Kong), "multiculture" (Toronto), the Olympics (focus Atlanta), the Empire (focus on England) and "the alien home" (his life as a guy with Indian heritage who was born in England and grew up some there and California living in Japan with his longtime girlfriend and her two children. Oh, and his first name is after an Italian guy....so there.)

"To many I know from the New World, the Japanese response to every setback, from terrorists to burning houses to long hours, crowded trains, and sudden deaths - Shikataganai, or 'It can't be helped' - sounds fatalistic and too ready to surrender power to the heavens. But to me, coming from a California where it sometimes seems as if everyone is restlessly in search of perfection in his life, his job, his partner, and himself, it feels bracing to hear of limits that imply a sense of past as well as of future. A republic founded on the 'pursuit of happiness' seems a culture destined for disappointment, if only because it's pursuing something that, by definition, doesn't come from being sought: a culture founded, however inadvertently or subconsciously, on the First Noble Truth of Buddhism - the reality of suffering - seems better placed to deal with sorrow, and be pleasantly surprised by joy.  In a world that's overheating with the drug of choice and seeming freedom, Japan, for all its consumerist madness, suggests, in its deeper self, a postglobal order that knows what things can really be perfected (streets, habits, surfaces) and what cannot."  (pg. 284)

Two Birthdays in Baghdad by Anna Prouse -- The author is an Italian journalist and emergency medic and this book was translated from Italian. I liked reading her thoughts on people she met in Iraq - both natives and foreigners. Her thoughts on Iraqi inbreeding (pg. 38) and Iraqis' thoughts of Americans jogging for the fun of it (or health benefits pg. 48) were interesting.  Also she told how the nursing profession was looked down upon for women (pg. 90) and I questioned again why the Americans allowed the people to ransack everything. Even IVs were ripped out of people's arms! How could (1) the Americans allow this and (2) the Iraqis do this?  (pg. 94)  The story of Saba being assassinated was sad. I enjoyed her trip to visit Iranian resisters who were given sanctuary in Iraq. These were people Saddam supported because they were against their leaders. The Americans didn't send them back because they would be imprisoned or killed.  I didn't know they existed inside Iraq. I also liked the trip to Kurdish Iraq to celebrate the Persian new year festival.

My Prison, My Home by Haleh Esfandiari -- A rather interesting account of a sixty-seven year old grandmother's time in solitary confinement after the Iranian government decided she was working to overthrow the Islamic Republic.  Years prior to the revolution, she had married a Jewish man. She admitted this was an oddity even then, but not criminal as it was under the new leadership. It was interesting to me how her interrogators brought up this fact and her thoughts on this being equivalent to adultery and would she then be stoned?  This book made me see how evil the Iranian regime is.

Iran Awakening by Shirin Ebadi -- Oddly enough this lady was the lawyer of the lady in the previous book. I didn't realize that when I checked out both books. This book was great. I really really enjoyed reading of this Nobel Peace Prize winner who has fought for human rights in Iran from Iran (she didn't leave her country to fight from abroad).  I was dismayed as she reported of how she was stripped of so many rights and even her job as a judge once the Islamic Republic was founded. She was no shah-lover and was fine with his removal, but she quickly found out that the Islamists taking over was not good for women.  She has some great thoughts throughout the book. It's one of the best I've read lately.; see previous post for more on this book

Words to Live By; has no author listed just from Bethany House Publishers -- this is a book with 60 words: "reflections and insights on the most life-changing and thought-provoking words in the Bible" - I must say the one on worry was excellent and really spoke to me; I read this one to Samer - one word per day but not every day as we started this book back in May and only finished it this month!

Unveiled: Nuns Talking by Mary Louden -- the author interviews a few nuns from several different orders talking about their growing-up years, their reasons for becoming nuns, their outlooks on life and more; see previous post for a few quotes

A German Jewish lady speaks of leaving Germany for England at age 12 to escape the horrors of Hitler.  In England she learns and speaks only English because being German is suspect there during the war years. She observes later in life: "I didn't belong anywhere, and also, in terms of language, I stopped learning German by the time I was twelve and so never developed an adult vocabulary, and yet I don't feel that English is my own language."  (pg. 66)

My Guantanamo Diary: the Detainees and the Stories They Told Me by Mahvish Rukhsana Khan -- I've had this library book on my list for a few months now and I finally decided to read it. I had always thought the Gitmo prisoners were hard-core bad guys, but now I come away thinking maybe most of them are guys who just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time - like at a time when turning in political enemies would give you a handsome reward!  When Mahvish told, for instance, that the per capita income of Afghanistan in 2006 was $300 or 82 cents a day and a US bounty was $5,000 to $25,000 - she said in US dollars that was like the average American household (which made in 2006 $26,036) getting a $2.17 million reward!  And she points out that tribal alliances and religious conflicts make for easy enemies in that part of the world.  One Gitmo prisoner was turned in by his own cousin because the two had been fighting the night before. So yeah, I came away wondering how many innocent folks are being kept there. Such a horrible situation and bad thing for the US to be doing.

Walking to Vermont by Christopher S. Wren - Upon retiring from the New York Times at age 65 Mr. Wren walks from Times Square in New York City to the Green Mountains of Vermont much of it along the Appalachian Trail. He has a dry sense of humor, tells tales of the people he meets - complete with trail names like Storyteller, Knute, Flash, Seven States, introduces me to trail magic and more. A good, easy, end-of-the-year read.

I also liked reading this because last year when we went to Damascus, Virginia, we saw some of those hard-core trail people getting supplies and also we stood on the Appalachian Trail as it passed through a playground near where we were staying.

I found the picture of me on the App Trail!

Tomorrow is the last day of 2011. I wish you all a joyful 2012!


Rebekka @ Becky's Kaleidoscope said...

Wow, so many interesting books, I've said it before, I'll say it again, how do you find the time to read so much?

Susanne said...

I think I was addicted last year. So far in 2012 I am going at a MUCH slower pace. I'm trying to take some time for other things instead of being a reading fanatic. :)

Rebekka @ Becky's Kaleidoscope said...

Well I've been going slower than 2010, but faster than 2009, I find it changes a lot, also depending on how much else I've got going on in my life. I think once I graduate at the end of this month, I'll get a lot more reading done over the next few months, until I start my masters degree :)