Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Book # 5 - Letter to My Daughter

Letter to My Daughter
by Maya Angelou, 2-CD recording
Finished 1/19/2012

There are distinct voices that I love - James Earl Jones, Morgan Freeman and Maya Angelou. Maya speaks to all women who take the place of the biological daughter that she never had.

In Letter to My Daughter, she imparts the wisdom of her years. In the chapter entitled "Commencement," I almost felt that she was right there at my college graduation, speaking to me.

Book # 4 - Girl in Translation

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
Audiorecording narrated by Grace Wey

This is an amazing love story between a mother and a daughter through their struggles as recent immigrants from Hong Kong. They expected the glamor of Broadway, but instead were thrust into the sweatshops and slums of Brooklyn.

Jean Kwok writes so eloquently that I count her as one of my favorite writers. I experienced the same love for a writer with Khaled Hosseini, who wrote The Kite Runner. He wrote so beautifully that I found myself stopping to re-read entire passages.

Being an immigrant myself, I closely related to this book. Unlike Kimberly and her mother, I spoke English fluently when I immigrated to the United States. However, there are certain immigrant experiences that are unique, the first of which is the culture shock of America's wastefulness and lack of respect to elders. I understood the value of filial piety which demands total love and respect for elders and family.


Book # 3 - The Bookseller of Kabul

The Bookseller of Kabul - by Asne Seierstad
Finished reading 1/19/2012

A western journalist dons a burqa and documents the life of a family in Afghanistan as the Taliban loosens its hold on the country. For an entire year, she lives with the family of Sultan Khan, the bookseller of Kabul. She follows each member of the family, observing the pains and struggles that they encounter.

This is plain journalism, told without any sugarcoating. Truth is indeed ugly, but it does not diminish the value of this book.

I would had enjoyed the book more if the author included her personal interactions with the family members.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Book # 2 - Sky of Red Poppies

Sky of Red Poppies, finished 1/6/2012
Zohreh Gharemani
301 pages

This is the first of the three selections for 2012 One Book, One San Diego, a literacy campaign sponsored by San Diego Public Library and the public radio station KPBS.

I read this book with a coworker of Persian descent. She and I read the book in a day. Her first comment to me was, "It is like I wrote the book, except that I wasn't rich." This book tells the story of friendship that crosses the barriers of religion and economic class in the time leading to the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

Movie # 1 - Iron Lady, watched 1/13/2012

It was my husband and my anniversary, and we make sure that we have a dinner and movie date (my one guaranteed movie date night per year). So sad, but given the prices of movie tickets, we'd rather rent movies when they come out on DVD. I love Meryl Streep, have followed her career most of my life. I loved her as Julia Child in Julie & Julia and as the Mother Superior in Doubt. What a contrast of characters!

I've always admired strong women, regardless of their politics. I own two books about Margaret Thatcher - The Downing Street Years and The Path to Power, so it was natural for me to want to see this movie.

Two thumbs up! I could not believe the amazing transformation. Was truly glad last night that Meryl Streep won the Oscar for Best Actress!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Book # 1 - The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt

The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt, finished 1/3/2012
439 pages

Eleanor lived through very interesting phases of the country's history - World War I, World War II, the suffrage movement, and the Cold War to name a few. She played a significant part of her husband's presidency, being FDR's eyes, ears and legs, so to speak.

I read this book because it was used heavily as a source in Noelle Hancock's "A Year with Eleanor." Hancock was an entertainment blogger who got laid off. One day, she read a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, "Do one thing every day that scares you." She took a year off to deal with her third-life crisis, and Eleanor's inspiration guided her through her "Year of Fear."

Eleanor continues to be on my list of strong women whom I admire. She said, "I am not a gifted person...I had only three assets: I was keenly interested, I accepted every challenge and every opportunity to learn more, and I had great energy and discipline."

Taking on the challenge

I can easily do 50 books, but 50 movies? Someone has to tie me down to the couch!

This happens to be the year that I decided to keep a book journal. I still remember my fifth grade teacher say, "You will never be lonely if you have a book." This year, I am excited to discover other worlds through books. I also love listening to audiobooks. I find that my stress level diminishes, especially in bad traffic, when I am engrossed in a good story.