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November Book Review:  I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai

“Let us pick up our books and our pens. They are the most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world.” These are the words of Malala Yousafzai, spoken in 2014 in Oslo, Norway, as the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Yousafzai, a Pashtun Pakistani, is a courageous, compassionate, exemplary and determined young woman on a mission to bring education to every girl and boy in every town, province, city, and country in the world.  Her memoir, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, is a rich, beautifully-written, compassionate and inspiring story that explains her past, her passion, and her life mission.

i-am-malala

Yousafzai begins her memoir with anecdotes about growing up in Mingora, in the Swat Valley in northwest Pakistan, a lush, mountain region full of breathtaking rivers, waterfalls and gorgeous valleys. She describes life as a Sunni Muslim, her love of Allah, and the customs in Mingora. Her book explains the poverty she and her family endured – no running water, no stove, no heat, very little food at times, for example. She explains how poverty and tradition in the midst of paradise kept most girls from attending school. Her own mother could not read or write, for example. Her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, her hero and inspiration, is a fierce advocate for girls’ education, and after political opposition and financial problems, founded an all-girls school in Mingora where Malala attended.

In the second half of this memoir, Malala explains the fundamentalist beliefs of the Taliban and the extreme damage and fear they exhibited in her country. She writes stories about beheadings and public lynchings, suicide bombers, the bombing and destruction of hundreds of schools, general politics in Pakistan, the horrific damage and tyranny and eventual ruin of Mingora caused by the Taliban, and more.  As outspoken advocates of education for girls (which the Taliban was against), Malala and her father eventually became targets. Malala was shot in the head by a member of the Taliban and survived. Her recovery is nothing less than remarkable. Her story has garnered worldwide attention, which has caused a nonstop collaboration of many individuals and countries for the fight of education for all girls everywhere.

I highly recommend I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai to anyone who is curious about Pakistani life and customs, about Islam, or about the Taliban and the damage they have inflicted in Pakistan. I especially recommend this memoir to human and women’s rights activists. It is an incredible story that left me speechless, in awe, and at times, in tears!

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Opening Malala Yousafzai’s All-Girls School near the Syrian border in 2015.

A bit about the author, Malala Yousafzai:

Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for female education. She is known mainly for human rights advocacy for education and for women in her native Swat Valley of northwest Pakistan, where the local Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school.

Malala has received many awards. The 2013, 2014 and 2015 issues of Time magazine featured Malala as one of “the 100 most influential people in the world“. She was the winner of Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize and the recipient of the 2013 Sakharov Prize. In July that year, she spoke at the headquarters of the United Nations to call for worldwide access to education. In 2014, she was nominated for the World Children’s Prize in Sweden, and in May of the same year, Malala was granted an honorary doctorate by the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Later in 2014, Malala was announced as the co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, along with Kailash Satyarthi, for her struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.  Today, Malala is founder of the Malala Fund, a nonprofit organization that advocates at the local, national and international levels for resources and policy changes needed to ensure all girls, worldwide, have the right to twelve years of schooling.

To learn more about Malala Yousafzai and her work, visit: Malala.org.

To purchase I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai, visit: Amazon.

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com. Musings and Inspiration for Abundant Living for all Beings from One Creative Being 

 

 


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February Book Review: DEconverted: a journey from religion to reason by Seth Andrews

Deconverted In DEconverted: a journey from religion to reason, author Seth Andrews describes his journey from Christian to atheist. Born the son of Christian ministers and raised since a very young age to follow Christ, Andrews relates his life experiences chronologically and demonstrates how he eventually embraces full atheism and becomes the creator of one of the largest atheist online communities. He explains some of the fallacious thinking exhibited by Christians as well as some of the discrepancies or contradictions in the bible, and as a result, comes to the conclusion that both reason and faith in the Christian god cannot be reconciled. He also summarizes the unfair characterizations and assumptions exhibited by society in regards to atheists.

I found DEconverted: a journey from religion to reason by Seth Andrews an easy, comical (although at times, very serious), informative and pleasant read. Even though I did not agree with all of author’s conclusions in some areas, I recommend this book to anyone who is curious about one man’s journey from Christianity to atheism or to those who are struggling to make logical sense of the Christian faith. This book is an encouragement to those who hear that never-ending, small voice of doubt that says, “This doesn’t make sense.”

A bit about the author, Seth Andrews:

Seth Andrews Seth Andrews is the creator of The Thinking Atheist, a community website dedicated to emerging and long-time atheists. The website includes resources, podcasts, videos and more to enlighten and educate the public on atheism. It is one of the most popular freethinker communities on the internet today. He is also the author of Sacred Cows: A Lighthearted Look at Belief and Tradition around the World.

To learn more about Seth Andrews, or to purchase his book, DEconverted: a journey from religion to reason, visit TheThinkingAtheist.com.

© 2016, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.comMusings and Inspiration for Abundant Living for all Beings from One Creative Being

 

 


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July Book Review: Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light by Valerie Tarico

“Rigid beliefs that are above question often inhibit or even prohibit the sublime objectivity needed for truth-seeking.” – Valerie Tarico

Trusting Doubt, Valorie TaricoValerie Tarico in Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light relays her personal thought-journey from a born-again, fundamentalist Christian to an unapologetic atheist. She examines the authenticity of the bible and the Christian’s assumption and unwavering belief that the bible is the inerrant, inspired word of God. She points out some of the bible’s many errors and contradictions and blatant violence while explaining the historical and cultural context in which the “good book” was compiled. Tarico demonstrates how without this examination and understanding, the bible can be seen by the individual as well as by groups of people as the “timeless, perfect word of God” and rigid adherence to its commands can provide a substitute for nuanced moral judgment.

What makes this book different than the many other books that thoroughly explain the irreconcilable problems with the character of the god of the bible and with the bible’s textual errors and contradictions is the author’s education, experience and unique perspective. As a counseling psychologist, Valerie Tarico examines the reasons we believe what we believe and how that pertains to Christian beliefs specifically. Each chapter of this book begins with an explanation of basic Christian doctrines and is then followed by a “to consider” section, a short recap of the elements in the chapter and very thought-provoking questions for further study and contemplation. I found the organization in this book easy to follow and the author’s voice enjoyable.  In addition, it is well researched.

Essentially, Tarico, in Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light, asks the question (as it pertains to religious belief) that all of mankind needs to answer in order to create more workable and congruent communities, and I quote, “Where is our greatest loyalty – to our ideology or to our shared ideas? And which wins when the two are in conflict?” How do we build upon the philosophical wisdom from those before us while remaining vigilant about the (sometimes very tragic) errors of our past? This book is a logical, very thought-provoking exploration of these questions.

Valerie Tarico

A bit about the author, Valerie Tarico:

Valerie Tarico, Ph.D., is a former fundamentalist Christian and graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois. She holds a doctorate in Counseling Psychology from the University of Iowa and has completed post-doctoral studies at the University of Washington. Dr. Tarico writes for ExChristian.net, for The Huffington Post, and also hosts a television series in Seattle, Washington, on “moral politics.” She promotes interfaith and shared values that link all humanity and speaks to churches and groups on topics such as moral development, the psychology of belief and wisdom convergence.

To learn more about Dr. Valerie Tarico, visit: ValerieTarico.com.

To purchase Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light, visit: Amazon.

© 2015, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com, Inspiration for Abundant Living for all Beings From One Creative Being


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November Book Review: A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry

“Monumental…Few have caught the real sorrow and inexplicable strength of India, the unaccountable crookedness and sweetness as well as Mistry.” – Pico Iyer, Time Magazine

Absolutely stunning and one of my favorite all-time, award-winning novels is Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance. Set in 1975 in India in an undisclosed city by the sea, this is a story about four strangers unexpectedly forced to share a very crammed apartment in times of political turmoil twenty five years after India’s outlawing of its caste system (a Hindu religious and social institution where people are grouped in different social hierarchies). Coming from different castes or “jadis”- Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Sudras, and Pariahs (the untouchables or the “outcastes”) – and forced to live together, they inevitably learn to trust each other despite their beliefs and customs. Their life stories unfold as the reader discovers the painful truth about Indian culture and religion.  (One wonders if the origins of the English word “outcast” has anything to do with India’s Pariahs.)

I highly recommend Rohinton Mistry’s, A Fine Balance, as a beautiful and engaging read, especially if you are curious about India’s history, culture, religion, politics and the discrimination that still continues (but has diminished since 1950) even today. The author produces a fantastically-written work of fiction that depicts the engrained (and sometimes unchangeable) beliefs of its people. Written in brilliant, illuminative prose, this thick book’s realism is, in my humble opinion, nothing less than masterful. I learned a great deal about India by submersing myself in this book.

Rohinton Mistry, Vilma Reynoso

A bit about the author, Rohinton Mistry:

Rohinton Mistry is an Indian-born Canadian who writes in English. Born in Bombay, he is also the author of several novels including Such a Long Journey, Family Matters, The Scream, and Tales from Firozsha Baaga among others. Mistry is the recipient of many prestigious awards for his books and writing including the Scotiabank Giller prize for A Fine Balance, the Neustadt International prize for Literature, Governor General’s Award for English-language fiction, the Los Angeles Times book prize for fiction, and while studying at the University of Toronto, he won two Hart House literary prizes. He practices Zoroastrianism and belongs to the Parsi community.

Rohinton Mistry, Vilma Reynoso

To purchase a copy of this magnificent novel, please visit Amazon.

To learn more about Rohinton Mistry, visit Wikipedia.

Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com, Inspiration for Creative Health. Abundant Life.