The Underground Girls of Kabul- in search of a hidden resistance in Afghanistan

Jenny Nordberg tells a secret side of Afghanistan culture, the bacha posh. In The Underground Girls of Kabul – In search of a hidden resistance in Afghanistan, Nordberg explores a culture that devalues girls and oppresses women, and what happens when there aren’t enough boys. Jenny Nordberg covers Afghanistan when she learns the little boy of her interviewee is actually a little girl. When investigating why, she uncovers so many cultural norms that restrict girls and condemn families without and sons. Afghanistan is a country that’s been at war for more years than not in recent history, but no matter who’s in charge, women are the lowest of society. So what’s a family to do to gain respect, to help run their family story, to run errands when the husband is at work? They often turn little girls into boys, who have more freedom and power than the women of the households.

This was such an interesting book. And such a strange world where a fake boy is better than a real girl. Its heartbreaking for the bacha posh who want to stay as they are. Its heartbreaking for the sisters and mothers to see a bacha posh be treated better than they are. And more heartbreaking is that I don’t know if there’s any help for these women and girls in a culture that seems to hate them. Its hard to understand how a society can hate half the population. Even the women seem to bring the other women down.

Read January 2019

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I’ll Be Gone in the Dark- One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark – One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer, by Michelle McNamara tells the story of the Golden State Killer and his rampage across multiple areas of California. Originally listed as separate killers in different areas, DNA evidence began to link the crimes showing a spree that lasted from 1974 through 1986 when the crimes suddenly stopped. Michele McNamara traced his killings, rapes, and burglaries around the state and met with the police as well as amateur sleuths.

While McNamara died before finishing this book, her editors and collaborators helped finish her work. Unfortunately, she also died before DNA traced the crimes to Joseph James De’Angelo who was arrested in April 2018.

Fascinating and horrible read. The crimes committed scared entire regions of California and ruined many lives. Very well written, filled with facts and personal anecdotes to push the reader along.

Read June 2018

What Happened

What a depressing read. To realize that someone who can articulate so many complex issues and see fault with themselves and find ways to improve could’ve been President. Hillary Rodham Clinton really dives into what she believes went wrong with her 2016 Presidential campaign. Whether its completely accurate, I cannot say, but she has many strong arguments about why she lost the election.

While I agree with Mrs Clinton herself when she says she’s not the best about speaking about herself, she is quite good at talking political points and telling other people’s stories. While clunky in parts, the book went through so many different topics that affected her campaign and her career leading up to it.

Important read. Read February 2018.

10% Happier

10% Happier- How I tamed the voice in my head, reduced stress without losing my edge, and found self-help that actually works- A True Story, by Dan Harris, tells his own story of how he came to mediation but it also serves as a reference for many other religious or self-help books. He includes brief synopsis of what the main teachings are for many of the teachers out there.

I found this book after spending a weekend at a meditation retreat. It was recommended for beginning meditators by several different participants. I was able to read it faster than any other book in the last couple of months. It helped clarify some aspects of meditation that I was working on, like clearing my mind, how to get comfortable, how difficult mediation can be, etc. He includes many helpful types of mediation and I really enjoyed the compassionate meditation, where you focus your compassion on others as part of your practice.

I really enjoyed how honest Dan Harris was about his approach to meditation and how others in his life viewed this new passion of his. He’s helping mainstream meditation and showing how meditation can help with real life challenges.

Great read and exactly what I need in my life right now. Highly recommend for anyone having a hard time turning off their inner voice.

Read November 2016.

A Walk in the Woods

I loved this book! Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods makes me want to take a couple months off from life and venture into the wild. When the only thing that matters from day to day is getting to the next camping spot. He documents the frustrations and challenges, but the beauty of just walking sounds wonderful.

The information about the Appalachian Trail and how nature is being destroyed in places and preserved in others, is an honest discussion about how Americans use their wild spaces. In such a large country its good to know that there are people working hard to save the woods as close to what they were before America happened. On the other hand, I’m not surprised at the inefficiency of bureaucracy and government as well as the opportunists who want to make some money without worrying about the destruction they may be causing.

This was a well-written book about a very interesting topic. I’m not usually a fan of non-fiction, but there’s something about this book, and also Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, that help me realize how hectic my normal life is and how nice it is to think about escaping from it all.

Read June 2016

Primates of Park Avenue

Primates of Park Avenue, by Wednesday Martin, was a hard book for me to read. Martin is a humorous writer and her quirky anthropologic observations of Upper East Side (UES) women amused me. But there’s just something hard for me to stomach about how much these women invest in their appearance and their children, which just seem to an extension of their appearance.

At one point Martin roughly calculated what an average UES women spend yearly on their appearance…$95,000. Which is insane!! These women are highly educated, run charitable organizations, and are married to extremely powerful men and they value how they look more than any work they can do. And the men are ok with this. The worst is that the women don’t seem to be enjoying themselves after spending this much money on themselves.

This novel made me value the people I surround myself with so much more. If I wear the wrong yoga pants, or do the wrong work-out, or really choose to sit around and get fat, no one will judge me as harshly as these women judge each other and themselves. Again, these are highly intelligent women who get lost in their crazy world and just don’t seem happy. Or maybe they are. I really hope they are.

Interesting read.

Read April 2016