Pass: In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park and Maryanne Vollers
This is the first book in a while to send me into book coma. I finished listening to it, and then had to sit for a couple of hours, processing it.
I went into it knowing nothing about Korea ouside of what I’ve gleaned from the Kdramas on Netflix. We didn’t study the Korean War in school, my generation being too young to have personal knowledge of it, but too old for it to be in our schoolbooks.
Yeonmi’s harrowing journey to freedom is alternately heartbreaking and heartwarming. The woman herself is incredible in all she has achieved.
From starvation, a corrupt government, and human trafficking, this book covers so many aspects of the darker side of human nature, but
Sub-Genre: North Korea, autobiography, memoir
Page Count: 288
Fail: Conquests and Cultures by Thomas Sowell
Like most of the books I grab from the library, I didnt know much about the book or the author before diving in. The first 3/4 of the book were really interesting, covering history we did not discuss when I was in school (including Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Asia), but around the 3/4 mark when he began to discuss North America, I started scratching my head, and wondering about the accuracy of the information presented at the beginning of the book. Then I just got pissed off as he began not only defending racism, but then arguing that it doesn’t exist (I’m sorry…how can it be both justified and nonexistent?). I would avoid this book unless you enjoy doing things like watching Donald Trump rallies, since it’s pretty much his entire platform on race, immigration, income inequality, etc, all bound up nicely.
Sub-Genre: race, religion, history
Page Count: 516
Promise: I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb
I’ve been meaning to read this book since it came out, and I finally sat down and listened to it. Like In Order to Live, it was the type of book to hit you right in the gut.
Vacillating between rich imaginary and clinical detail, I learned a lot from this book. I know very little about Islam, Pakistan, or the middle east in general, but found the background information provided here to be fascinating and relatively easy to understand (I think it would have been easier for me to keep some of the names straight if I’d been eye-reading instead of listening, but I got the general picture and was able to follow along).
Aside from that, Malala herself is a fascinating person, who has been involved in politics from a very young age. After reading her accounts of life in Pakistan and how she hopes to change it for the better, I look forward to hearing more about her activism.
Sub-Genre: Pakistan, history, autobiography, memoir
Page Count: 327