The news from Kenya still distresses me greatly, but I am very pleased to see the coverage of the situation changing. Last night on ABC News Kenyans were personally interviewed in Nairobi and they had a chance to explain that their displeasure stems from the fact that they feel their democracy was threatened by the rigging of the elections. Thank goodness someone is finally sorting out the facts. I love it that my friends and family have asked me what I thought of the situation because once you tell someone the briefest history of post colonial Kenya, everything clicks and they say "Oh. Well that makes sense." Ironically enough a lot of Americans can absolutely understand the discontented feeling that follows a questionable election, but it's hard to wrap our minds around such violence. I think people are starting to understand - I just hope that the political leaders in Kenya well come to some sort of agreement because this violence needs to stop as soon as possible.
OK. Well that being said I've decided to put together a little book roundup. I a LiveJournal with a book challenge on it and was eager to copy it. Ha ha too bad I got it totally wrong. The person on LJ wanted to read 50 books in 2007, but I got all excited and mistakenly put 100 Books in 2007 on my blog. After I realized my mistake I figured "Uh, I might be able to get to 100." Not quite - but I did make it to 70 which is pretty cool. I think I'm forgetting some but I added the two I know I completed before the end of the year and I'm leaving it at that.
I tried to pick my top 5 books of the year, but I couldn't! It was much too difficult! I decided that I'd go with my top 7 instead. These books were chosen because they either made an impact on my life and made me want to change the world or because they touched me deeply, to the point where I will often think of them or reference them as I'm going about my daily life. Here they are:
Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder
If my friend Rachel is reading this, she will probably laugh because she found this book rather depressing. It is that, but I also found it inspiring. Perhaps it's because I'm naive and think that one person does have the power to make an impact on the world. While Paul Farmer is certainly difficult to like sometimes, I can't help but love his vision and his drive - if we all tried to embrace a cause with even 10% of the passion Farmer embraces his, who knows what we'd be able to do.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Ha ha this is the book I heard someone talking about on the train - "Worst book I've ever read!" the guy said "don't touch it, don't open it, it sucked, you'll hate it!" My internal reaction was "AHHHHHHHH!!!" It's a great little volume about a boy's life quest for greatness. You have to read it looking for the deeper meaning, and not to be a jerk, but that's clearly what the guy on the subway was missing.
Monique and the Mango Rains by Kris Holloway
This book is yet another work of non fiction that takes place in a developing nation and can at times, be quite depressing. To me though, this book was a story of the human condition, and how birth, death, and illness are things that we all have in common. It also was a wonderful example of how powerful and influential friendships between women can be, even if they're from completely different parts of the world.
Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
I'm not even sure what to write about this one - a coming of age tale that takes place in the Bronx. The way my life has gone and is going now I will never know the poverty that the women in this book faced, and by reading this book I still will probably never understand it, but now at least I can imagine. Reading about the lifestyles of the people in this book changed my opinion about a lot of things. Oft times I think of Random Family whether on the bus or subway or while watching a tv documentary. It really sticks with you.
Evening by Susan Minot
This book was positively haunting. It's one of the few works of fiction in my top 7 and ironically enough I can't put my finger on why I loved it so much. Perhaps because it's a somewhat morbid book filled with regret, or maybe because it was a love story, or a story of hope towards the end. I loved Susan Minot's stream of thought and abstract writing. Wish the movie could have been as good as the book.
Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
I can't even begin to express the extent f my admiration for this woman. By some act of I don't know what Ayaan brought herself from a life in front of an open fire in the deserts of Somalia to a member of the Dutch parliament and tells us every horror story along the way. While I have always been a person that said that true Islam does not preach violence and extremism, Ayaan explains how interpretations of it's teachings are used to make women submit to men. Her tale is also one of incredibly boldness and bravery as she leaves her family behind to pursue a lifestyle she believes (and is) her right.
The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
Some folks in I0wa must've picked up this book. Before I read this book, I was a disillusioned American. I was frustrated with politics because all I ever heard were people bashing our leaders (who deserve the criticism BUT) but never suggesting any sort of solution to our problems. I didn't feel like I could trust my president and my Congress was an absolute f*cking failure, I think they pissed me off even MORE! Our country, which I know is full of good and bright people with brilliant ideas, was stagnant. No politician seemed to care enough about Iraq and our troops, developing countries, humanitarian aid, global warming, oil dependency, poor people in our own home towns, pollution, health care or our reputation. And they expect me to be able to choose a president from the arena of politicians that stands before me? WTF? Then I read this book and thought "oh.my.God. Someone who gives a damn." I'm not saying that Obama has presented himself as the strongest candidate, but let me summarize by saying this: having read his book, I would walk barefoot to the polls in the snow to vote for this man because I think he can save our nation. I don't get passionate about politics because I am a suspicious, puritanical, individual New Englander, but good lord, do I love this guy. Not as much as Jamaal ;) but enough that I am putting my faith in him, I hope he does not let me down....
Well there it is peeps, my top 7 of '07. I'm going to save the list and take it down, cause I've already read 2 books in '08.
Finally I'll leave you with a video. A non-serial-killer-esque video (Jamaal said I looked like a mass murderer in the last one. Thanks a lot dude, you try filming in hideous light, ya jerk) that includes one cute little parakeet that we were pet sitting, Thunderbird. You can here my fabulous Boston accent when I say "Thun-dah-bird" as well as Lily screeching in the background from "lack of attention"