Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide
By Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (2009)
This book takes a world-wide view of what they claim to be our era’s most pervasive human rights violation – “the oppression of women and girls in the developing world”. Each chapter tackles a specific topic and begins with a story of an individual girl, which is followed by a discussion of the chapter’s topic. The result is a book that manages to be both engaging and educational.
The book explores a human trafficking, rape, education, maternal morality, family planning, women’s rights, micro-credit and more. In addition to discussing the problems, the authors address how helping women can help make the world a better place – how women invest income in their family and education, how women can be an important part of the economy, and how creating oppertunity can help fight terrorism. While the book honestly acknowledges and addresses many of the difficulties faced by people attempting to help women, the authors remain optimistic about the future. This is essential reading for anyone interested in the developing world, as it provides a wonderful and compelling introduction and overview of the issues.
This book was first mentioned to me as suggested reading by a committee my mother was involved in. I remembered the name, and when I found myself in a discussion with a friend of a friend, the other girl was so excited she bought me a copy of the book the very next day. In addition to having my book club read this, I have been recomending left and right and am constantly hearing the title pop up in unexpected places. I highly recommend this book.
Although they don’t carry used books, Kramer is a truly great independent book store. As much as I love any bookstore that has a bar, I think I love Kramer even more just for its book selection. The two front rooms of the store are ideal for browsing, with lots of interesting books arranged on tables so you can see many of them without getting totally overwhelmed. I would describe their selection as the bookstore equivalent of an independent movie house – lots of new, interesting, slight different (or quirky) selections, and always something interesting.
The place is always full of people, and because its a bar too, is open late. One of my favorite places to meet up with people because I can happily explore the books and don’t mind if my friends are late. Even when I am not stopping in, I always walk by when passing through Dupont Circle just to see what is in the window. Definitely my favorite bookstore in Washington DC, and in the top three for all-around favorite bookstores.
Kramerbooks & Afterword Cafe : http://www.kramers.com/
1517 Conn. Ave
Washington DC 20036
(Across from Dupont Circle Metro Q St. Exit)
(visited in November 2011)
Bright and Distant Shores, by Dominic Smith (2011)
First Line: “They were showing the savages on the rooftop – that was the word at the curbstone.”
In 1897, Hale Gray, baron of the insurance industry, opens his new building. This tower, tallest in Chicago, is the jewel of the city, and the envy of his rival, Marshall Fields. To top it all off, he wants to decorate it with tribal artifacts, complete with a native village on the roofdeck. He enlists Owen Graves to join an expedition and travel to the southseas to collect a specific list of items. Hale sends along his son, Jethro, with the intention of making a man out of the boy. Owen has sailed before, but embarks on this mission with the specific intention of earning his fortune so he can ask for the hand of Adelaide.
I happened across this book in the library and was intrigued by the cover and delightfully surprised by the story within. Mr. Smith has written a wonderful novel. The characters are unique and well developed in this obviously well researched book which travels from Chicago to the South Seas via life on a ship. I really enjoyed this book, and look forward to reading Mr. Smiths two earlier novels.
If you enjoyed the adventure of a distant land reached by sailing ship, check out: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet
For another novel in which a character treasures novels, check out: Shadow of the Wind (Carlos Ruiz Zafon)
The Shadow of the Wind – by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (2004).
Daniel has always loved books – he works in his fathers used book store, and is delighted one day when he is taken to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. There, he is introduced to his new favorite author, Carax, a promising talented young writer who disappeared many years ago. To add to the mystery, someone has been trying to erase his existance – they are buying up and destroying all existing copies of his work.
As Daniel ties to learn more about this author he meets more and more obstacles, and discovers young love, and finds himself pursued by the mysterious man who has hunted down Carax under the name of one of Carax’s own character. This is a page turner set in Barcelona of 1945, and involving a satisfying amount of intrigue, suspense, ancient feuds and spooky old mansions. An excellent and highly reccomended book, the shadow of the wind was orignally written in Spanish and has been wonderfully translated into english. The original street names evoke a diffent city, but the story grabs the reader and takes them there.
NY Times Review available here.
Also by Carol Ruiz Zafon
- The Angels Game
- The Prince of Mist
One of the aisles at the Ithaca Used Book Sale
The Friends of the Tompkins County Public Library Used Book Sale is a twice-a-year event, and is one of my favorite used book “stores”, and is allegedly the third largest event of its kind in the US.
I had the good fortune to live in Ithaca for several years, and as such was a frequent attender of this event. In addition to finding a number of books that I had been meaning to read for very low prices, I have also found some interesting gems, including an autobiography of Andrew Carnegie from the early 1900′s. The used book sale is held over a series of three weekends, with prices declining as the sale goes on. For example, Hardcover books are $4.50 the first day, $4.00 the second, declining down to $0.10 on the second to last day (the last day is all the books you can fit in a shopping bag – preferably a reusable one – for $1.00). Many people swarm in on the first weekend to get the best selection, but I find the lines and crowds to be too much. Personally, I like to wait until the second weekend when it is a little quieter, and usually try to go back the last weekend to pick up some great deals.
I wish I knew more about the history of the sale, but at some point it found a permanent home in a warehouse just off of downtown Ithaca (located on Etsy Street, in the middle of where Rt. 13 splits). The warehouse (see their website for a photo) is divided into aisles, and a map shows what is where – the tradebacks are located on the far left side, and I like to start there. Once you finish browsing around (careful, this could take way longer then you were planning on), you go to the front section where usually a team of nice little old ladies (and sometimes men) first fill out a card of what kinds of books you have (Hardcover, softcover, etc – there are 4 pricing categories), and ring you up.
This has one of the best traits of a used book sale – its absolutely charming – and if you find yourself in upstate New York in either May or October, I highly recommend stopping by.
The Forest People by Colin Turnbull (1961)
Colin Turnbull spent three years living with the Mbuti pygmies in the forest of the Congo forest. In this delightful book he describes daily life and important rituals as well as social interactions and the cultures of this tribe. His memoirs bring the subjects to life and leave you wanting to crawl into a hut and wait out a rainstorm while laughing at jokes and enjoying life. I first read this book as part of an anthropology class in high school and it has remained one of my favorite books ever since.
Captain Cook, by Alistair MacLean (1972)
First Sentence: “James Cook, who was to become a Post-Captain in the Royal Navy and the greatest combination of seaman, explorer, navigator and cartographer that the world has every known, was born in 1728 in an obscure village in Yorkshire.”
Captain James cook would sail around the world and become one of the great explores of his time before his death in Hawaii in 1779. Bold and courageous, he was a much-loved leader who looked out for his men, and lead them around the world on three epic sea voyages. This well-written biography walks the reader through the adventures without going into painful levels of detail, and, supplemented by several images and pictures results in a wonderful read.
I came across this book at the Strand in NYC, having recently traveled to Hawaii and wanting to learn more about Captain Cook. I had not previously heard of Ms. MacLean who has written a number of best selling novels. He writes a good story and here writes in a pleasantly informal tone that makes the book all the more fun to read. (see one of my favorite quotes below).
Opening Chapter 3: Charting New Zealand. “It is customary, if not obligatory, I have observed, for the biographers of Captain Cook who have accompanied him as far as his first landfall of Tahiti to halt there awhile then sit back and rest for about twenty pages while they go on rhapsodizing about the beauties and wonders of this sun-drenched tropical paradise, about the blue skies and bluer seas…. …. Moreover, everyone has his image of Tahiti, the most romantically famous island in the world: if he hasn’t heard of it then he’s obviously illertate and wouldn’t be reading this book anyway. Let us, then, take Tahiti for read.” (p.51)
Finally, this book is equipped with a large map clearly marking Captain Cooks routes in the back pages. I am astonished at how often this essential feature of any decent travel book is missing, and it’s presence here only makes me more fond of this book.