Sunday, March 5, 2017

Read These Books

Recommendations from the last six months of reading:


Passages Through Pakistan: An American Girl's Journey of Faith by Marilyn Gardner

In her introduction, Marilyn Gardner writes of visiting, as an adult, her childhood home in Pakistan:

"[My traveling companion] looked at me, measuring her words.  'A compound like this must have made life as a child in Pakistan at least somewhat bearable,' she said.

I stood still and stared at her in shock.  Bearable?  Bearable?  I repeated the word to myself.  I said it aloud.  'Bearable?  It was more than bearable.  My childhood was extraordinary.'"

In this beautiful memoir, Gardner exquisitely captures the life of a third-culture kid.  She spent her entire childhood in Pakistan, went off to boarding school 800 miles away at age 6, struggled through furloughs in America, battled to find her identity, yet looks back with wonder and awe.  She brings her readers into the sorrow and joy of boarding school; she is deeply honest in her assessment of her younger self; she poignantly expresses the tension of growing up between worlds.  I highly recommend this memoir to anyone who wants to better understand the TCK experience.

*half of the proceeds from this book go to help refugees



Seven Women:  And the Secret of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxas

I had mixed feelings about this one.  I really enjoy biographies (especially by Eric Metaxas), and I appreciated that he chose some well-known, and some lesser-known women for this book.  Like his other books, it was filled with well-researched, fascinating detail.  All the subjects he chose were women of faith; however, while venerating each woman, he failed to grapple with the somewhat convoluted and even disturbing aspects of some of these women's theology.  Of course, I am interested in reading the biographies of women of all beliefs, but I'm not necessarily going to endorse their theology--yet that's what it felt like Metaxas was doing.



Most Dangerous:  Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin

I picked up this book because my education on the Vietnam War pretty much consisted of what I had seen in Forrest Gump.  I'm a college graduate, yet this very important part of America's history had never been covered in any class.

Wow.  This book had a slow start, but once I got into it, it was riveting.  By telling the story of the man who leaked the truth about the Vietnam war to the American people, Daniel Ellsberg, I learned so much about the Cold War, the four U.S. presidents involved in Vietnam, and the massive lies each of them told the American public.  Of course, the climax was Watergate and Nixon's resignation.  It was eerie to read a story that parallels so much of what is happening in today's political world.



Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

This was my Christmas break novel, and though it wasn't the best I've read, I really enjoyed what it taught me about the Japanese internment during World War II.  A delightful historical fiction novel with some substance.



Saving My Assassin by Virginia Prodan

Though this is not the best-written book, the story itself is astonishing.  This memoir takes place in Romania during the Cold War, and the author describes how she first became a lawyer, then a Christian, and fought for the rights of Christians in the Communist courts.  After unsuccessfully trying to shut her up, the government sent an assassin to her office.  The events which lead up to this event and what happened after it are nothing less than Providential.  Truly an inspiring story.




The Price of Privilege:  How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids by Madeline Levine

This book is a few years old now, but still just as relevant.  The take away?  Your kids need your relationship more than they need your stuff.  They need to develop character more than they need to be the best athlete, student, or musician.  Protecting them from all of life's hard things doesn't produce happy kids--it actually does the exact opposite.  An important book for today's parents.

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