November 27, 2016

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I am not a very good blogger. I was supposed to co-host a book club linkup on Friday for our bloggers’ book club, Beyond Words. Instead I got on a plane and flew to  New York, the book club completely skipping my mind! To all my friends who enjoy this linkup, I am sorry for the delay in getting this post up.

We’re going to skip a book club linkup in December, which I think will be for the best since the holidays already seem to be so busy. We are going to send out a poll this week to vote on January’s book so that we can start choosing books two months in advance. We noticed that we tend to choose newer or popular books that sometimes take a long time to get from the library waiting list and we want to make sure everyone gets the chance to participate. If you want to join the book club click here!

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1. The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi

Ashley from The Wandering Weekenders recommended this book, and I am so glad she did. The novel alternates between the stories of two women, Rahima, and her great-grandmother, Shekiba, in Afghanistan. The two women are separated by 100 years but fight similar battles. 

Rahima is able to fight the oppression that women face for a few years when her family turns her into a bacha posh. A real and common practice in Afghanistan, a bacha posh is a girl who dresses and lives as a boy before she goes through puberty. Dressed as a young man, Rahima is able to go to school, run errands, escort their sisters around town, and even go to work and play with boys in the streets.

All of that must stop when Rhamia is changed back into a girl and married at the age of 13.

Throughout the years, her aunt tells her the story of her great-grandmother, Shekiba, who also lived as a boy for a few years, although for a different reason. Hearing the story of her great grandmother gives Nahima strength and courage throughout her life.

I don’t want to say much more about this book because the twists and turns of the two women’s lives, and their responses, are what make it so gripping.

Although there are so many different layers to this book, I found the bacha posh aspect the most interesting. In Afghanistan, girls have such few freedoms. But many families who only have daughters need a son to run errands or escort their sisters around town, so they have a daughter take on the role. Even though everyone knows that bacha poshes are girls, people are willing to look the other way as long as they are dressed as boys. They can wander the streets with friends, go to school, and run errands. But as soon as puberty hits, they have to start living as women again, all of the freedoms they enjoyed suddenly ripped away from them as they are married.

I can’t imagine what it would be like to have so much freedom ripped away from me and then sent away to live with a strange family at 13 years old. I have so much respect for the strength, wisdom, and endurance of Rahima and Shekiba.

If you like this book, I highly recommend The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan, a nonfiction book about real women who were turned into bacha poshes by their families.

2. The Circle by Dave Eggars

Think 1984. Mixed with computers and the Internet. Think totally creepy. I couldn’t put this book down.

I like books that make me uncomfortable, that challenge what I believe, that make me think twice about what I’m doing with my life or how I go about certain things. This was one of those books.

Mae begins working at The Circle, the largest internet company in the world, with all of the Google-like perks. With the mission, statement, “all that happens must be known,” the company seeks to know everything that you do, everything you want, and everything you think — all for the sake of making the world a better place.

As Mae gets deeper into the company, it becomes clear that The Circle wants to control every aspect of her life. Again, I don’t want to give away too much about the plot, but as she wants to become a better employee at The Circle, she begins to lose herself while forging meaningless relationships, posting online as much as she can so that she can maintain her image and sharing everything she does.

What is so brilliant about this book is how slow the takeover is. As the reader, you’re not thrust into a crazy dystopian society taking over every aspect of your life from page 1, like you are when you read 1984. The takeover begins innocently, both for the reader and for Mae. It begins with small things that really do seem to benefit people. Thats how they get people to adopt their technology and get on board with everything they do, to willingly participate. If you liked 1984, you have to read this book.

This book made me think a lot about what kind of information we share online and how much information companies like Facebook gather on us. How many times do you see advertisements that are so specific to you? How much does the internet really take over our lives? How far is too far?

The movie with Emma Watson is coming out in April 2017 and I can’t wait to go see it.

3. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by JK Rowling 

I wanted to read this 50-page book before I went to see the movie that just came out. If you are a Harry Potter fan, it’s a cute, quick, fun read. But if you’re not, you’re not missing out on much. Have you gone to see the movie yet? What did you think? I love Harry Potter and I thought that the movie was cute. But, I thought that there were so many different possibilities the plot could go and the writing and plot just ended up being lazy. This movie was about the life of the man who wrote Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them! There were so many different directions it could go in. But instead, it was like, “the beast got out of the bag and I have to go find it.” I’ll probably go see the next two movies, but it just wasn’t as good as I was hoping.

What are you reading lately?

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14 responses to “What I read in November”

  1. Emma says:

    All of these sound fascinating – and there is such an interesting selection across genres too!

  2. Audrey says:

    AH! Oh man… we’re usually on the same page but I totz disagree about ‘Fantastic Beasts…’! I think they were laying the groundwork for the trilogy- especially since there’s no read literature context to pull content from. I LOVED it. I thought it was perfect- I’m so curious at where they’re going with Grindelwald!

    • Carolann says:

      I didn’t think about that. That makes sense. I guess I wasn’t expecting it to be about Grindelwald. I didn’t watch any trailers or read anything about the movie before it came out. I mean, I’m sure a lot of crazy and interesting stuff will happen with him in the next two movies, but we already know the basic story of what happens. I wanted more of the story to be about Newt and the beats and the relationships between the beasts and the wizards, and between different kinds of beasts. I think Eddie Redmayne is such a great actor, so I am definitely going to see the next two movies. I hope that you are right and they will get more interesting and complex!

  3. I’m totally going to add The Underground Girls of Kabul to my list! It sounds so interesting, and I would love to hear from real girls that went through the bacha poshes in real life! I’m so glad that you ended up loving The Pearl That Broke Its Shell! I don’t know why, but it’s been so interesting to read about the Afghan culture lately, and I definitely can’t wait to read more books, including A Thousand Splendid Sons which so many people have recommended to me, including you! The thing that really struck me about The Pearl That Broke Its Shell is how these bocha poshes were given freedom and then ultimately forced back into a life of submission. I don’t think that I would have been able to handle that at all! I can’t wait to see what book we choose for book club next!

    So I have to confess that when we read 1984 in school, I didn’t like it all, but I think that’s because I was so young. The Circle sounds really interesting though, and I think that I’d appreciate a book like that now!

    • Carolann says:

      If you’re in the mood for nonfiction, I really think that you would like The Underground Girls of Kabul. Hearing from women who were given a taste of freedom and how it impacted the rest of their lives was so moving. I feel like I’ve learned so much about the Afghan culture from reading all of these books lately and I have a new respect and appreciation for the women who endure so much.

      I read 1984 a few years ago for the first time, and I loved it. But I don’t think I would have liked it or even have been able to finish it in high school! The Circle is much easier to read and I think that if you are in the mood for something like that, you would like that one too. I love Emma Watson and I can’t wait to see her in the movie!

  4. Carly says:

    So glad there will be two months for the next book pick (I just got this months, so I skipped over that review for now). I have never seen the HP movies– I’ve tried to watch the first one or two, but thought they were kind of boring? Maybe if I had watched them when they were released I’d feel differently, but for some reason Fantastic Beasts looks intriguing to me (I haven’t read it). I think I’ll definitely wait until it’s out for free to watch though!

    • Carolann says:

      I started reading the Harry Potter books when I was really young so I always liked them. But now that I’m older I do think that the movies and the books both are a little boring until you get around #4. If you have the patience to get to them, I think that the fourth movie and on are good. Fantastic Beasts is fun but it’s definitely something you want wait to watch until it’s free.

  5. I’ve heard such good things about The Circle! I didn’t know they were making a movie!

    • Carolann says:

      It’s such a good book and I think it’s going to be a great movie too! If you get the chance I highly recommend it.

  6. Rachel G says:

    I saw the Fantastic Beasts movie, but not the book. I don’t know anything about the Harry Potter “universe” so I think probably some references went over my head, but I enjoyed the film. It was a little simple/formulaic–but as a Johnny Depp fan, I was completely surprised/happy when he suddenly showed up.

    • Carolann says:

      I had no idea Johnny Depp was going to be in the movie! He’s great. I purposely didn’t read about the movie before I went to go see it. It was a cute, fun movie. It’s not my favorite story out of the Harry Potter universe, but I had a good time watching it and I’m curious about where they are going with the next two movies. The book is basically just a guide book about all the different kinds of magical creatures in the Harry Potter universe, so it’s something you can skip if you’re not completely obsessed with Harry Potter.

  7. Susannah says:

    Adding these books to my to-read list!

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