In the spirit of my blog title, reading is definitely one of the things making me "jump up and down" right now. In fact, about a week ago, I cautiously let the word "bibliophile" escape my lips when describing myself and Ryan didn't argue. So, I'm going to start sharing some book reviews. I like to read all sorts of things, so I've decided that I will share one non-fiction, one fiction, and one children's book in each review. If you want to keep up with everything I'm reading , feel free to friend me on Goodreads.
"In the nineteenth century, the central moral challenge was slavery. In the twentieth century, it was the battle against totalitarianism. We believe that in this century the paramount moral challenge will be the struggle for gender equality around the world."
I feel like this book is a must read, especially for anyone who wants to make a difference in the lives of women on a global level. I learned so much from the honest discussion of issues. The authors, Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn are husband and wife journalists who compiled their collective experience and stories of women from many different countries in this book to demonstrate that there is still much to do to advance the equality of women worldwide. The writing was superb - well researched statistics accompanied by inspiring stories of real-life women experiencing the reality of gender inequality. I felt fully engaged in each story, but was most effected by the stories of women who spend days in labor without medical help because their husbands and families do not feel it is warranted. If they do not die first, they develop fistulas that forever change their lives for the worse, isolating them from their families and taking away their future. Other topics covered were sex trafficking, prostitution, rape, honor killings and the education of girls. I loved that each chapter ends by suggesting what we can do to help - Kristof and WuDunn emphasize micro loans and financing girl's education on a grassroots level. It inspired me to start donating via Kiva. There were so many times while reading this book when I felt like I was being spoken to on and individual level. Here are a few more quotes that opened my eyes:
"More girls were killed in the last 50 years, precisely because they were girls, than men killed in all the wars in the 20th century. More girls are killed in this routine gendercide in any one decade than people were slaughtered in all the genocides of the 20th century. "
"The equivalent of 5 jumbo jets worth of women die in labor each day... life time risk of maternal death is 1,000x higher in a poor country than in the west. That should be an international scandal."
"During World War I, more American women died in childbirth than American men died in war. ... When women could vote, suddenly their lives became more important, and enfranchising women ended up providing a huge and unanticipated boost to women's health"
I am a huge historical fiction fan. Pope Joan is definitely on my top ten list of best historical fiction novels. This story is based on the legend of a girl, born in the ninth century, who as the daughter of a priest has some accidental exposure to reading and writing and lets that knowledge grow into a love of learning and logical thinking that defines her and drives the destiny of her life. The title is a spoiler, so I will say that she makes her way to be Pope, but how she gets there in this fictional story is engaging and completely believable (a must for me to earn my stamp of approval when it comes to historical fiction). I loved the references to common, yet erroneous, beliefs of the Dark Ages where Joan used her logic and scientific reasoning (although she didn't know that this was what she was doing) to figure out the truth. There aren't many books that can keep me from falling asleep when I'm tired, but this one did.
This was a book that I listened to - I've been listening to books while I do housework, sew, and drive the 40 miles to and from Peter's speech appointments to be able to fit in a few more. Is that cheating? I hope not. I just load them on my phone and it's so easy.
Anyway, this was a delightful listen. It's a few centuries behind Pope Joan, and written for children, but still in the historical fiction genre. It won the Newbery Award in 2008 and is a compilation of seventeen monologues from young people in an English village about 1255. Laura Amy Schultz, a school librarian, wrote it to use as a class play. She wanted something where each student had an equal part and opportunity to shine. The rhythm of life in the village touches people of every class and Shultz educates and entertains. Expect to hear about falconry, the three field system, anti-Semitism, poverty, child abuse, short life expectancy and much more, all in the skillfully crafted voices of endearing, true to life characters. I would love to see this performed.