Is this not the coolest and most gorgeous tote bag you have seen in a really long time? I think so, anyway. I could not resist it, particularly since the Book Riot store was (is? ) having a 30% off sale. I read Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude (and loved it) quite a few years ago (well before my blogging days). This even inspired me to dig out my copy of the book (which was no easy feat since it was at almost the very bottom of a pile of books stacked against the wall (with other stacks in front of it). I definitely need to try and reread the book this year. I am also into anything about solitude these days (but that is another project for this year, too, and more about that later on as well).
The changing political climate has left me worried and disturbed and very saddened. I find this most recent ban on refugees from certain specific countries entering the US particularly shameful. I learned to weave from a group of refugee women from Myanmar (the Karen ethnic group) and know how difficult it is to even get refugee status. I have been fortunate to work with these ladies and talk with them and I know how much better their lives are here than in the camps where they lived (in some cases for many years). To shun people who are fleeing oppression and wars and simply trying to make a better life for themselves and their families seems anathema to me in a country where we all more or less started out as immigrants. I've asked them if they would ever want to return or if they miss "home" but the reply was always that this is home and it is a much better life for them.
I have been slowly trying to find books to read and make sense of the world we are living in now. My most recent source was this list of books by Arab women from which a number of these books came from. My buying has been pretty haphazard, but I will keep adding to my pile as topics come up that I want to read more about. Reading for me is a way to understand the world, particularly people and places in the world that are mostly unknown to me. It is a way to build understanding and empathy and broaden my horizons. I think more of our leaders need to read more books about people enduring these tragedies. Or maybe they need to go out and talk with them and get their perspectives.
So this is my starting place and any suggestions you might have (so now I guess reading about Muslims and people in predominantly Muslim countries will be of special interest) are most welcome.
The Unwinding: Thirty Years of American Decline by George Packer -- I have started reading this one already and it is quite readable and very fascinating as it is made up of personal histories/narratives. It is social history and I wouldn't mind finding more books like this one. I happen to have the UK paperback (it was cheaper at the time I bought it), so the subtitle is slightly different than the US edition, which reads The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America. Very interesting the different takes on the same title, don't you think?
It's What I Do: A Photographer's life of Love and War by Lynsey Addario -- More social history of a sort? I do like memoirs. Addario is a photojournalist who has worked in Iraq, Darfur, the Congo and Libya among other places. It includes three inserts of color photos, too.
The Crossing: My Journey to the Shattered Heart of Syria by Shamar Yazbek -- This is likely what I will pick up next (or maybe sooner) given the timeliness of the topic. I read an interview with the writer in WLT last fall. Yazbek now lives in Paris, but she traveled back into Syria clandestinely several times (she had been forced into exile by Assad's regime).
The Weight of Paradise by Iman Humaydan -- This is a novel translated from the Arabic. The story has parallel threads set in 1990s Beirut, Lebanon about a woman who finds a suitcase while making a documentary and the woman of whom the suitcase belonged. It looks really interesting.
Absent by Betool Khedairi -- This is also translated from the Arabic. It is set in a Baghdad apartment and told from the perspective of a young woman. The story is "a haunting portrait of life under restrictions, the fragile emotional ties among family and friends, and the resilience of the human spirit."
The Search for Sana by Richard Zimler -- This is a cross between fact and fiction as it is inspired by or based on true events. It is about a friendship between two women, one Palestinian and the other Israeli which in some way resulted in a crime. I'm intrigued but I don't quite know details--then again, I hate to know too much about a story before I start reading.
It is not a terribly varied pile of books so far. There need to be some about African countries, or maybe memoirs by refugees. Personal narratives are always very enlightening. This pile sits next to my bed and I will keep adding to it.