This one took a while, but it was really, really good. I would recommend it to most people, with a few conditions.
You don't necessarily have to be int...moreThis one took a while, but it was really, really good. I would recommend it to most people, with a few conditions.
You don't necessarily have to be into philosophy, but you need to be open to it. I'm not a big proponent of all those weird metaphysical philosophies like "the world is all in your mind," but if you've ever read some things like that and enjoyed all the weird trains of thought it sends you on, you would like this book. If you just think it's all retarded, then probably steer clear of this one. Also, the majority of this book is heavy stuff, philosophy and things like that. It really should be tackled in bits and pieces, and if you aren't in the mood for heavy stuff, read something else for a while. Otherwise it will all just seem tedious and annoying. That's why this took me a while to read; I needed breaks. :3
So! The narrator (who is the author; this is True Story) starts out on a cross-country motorcycle trip with his son. The book starts out with his wandering thoughts; you know how when you're doing something fairly brainless like driving, and your mind wanders everywhere? This is what his does. And sometimes it gets on some pretty deep topics, and he tackles some seriously hard philosophy, but makes it fairly accessible by comparing it to motorcycle maintenance. (I actually carried the metaphor to similar activities I do, like sewing, and really got what he was saying after that.) He also makes mention of an individual named Phaedrus, who had been pursuing the ghost of these philosophies and ended up driving himself mad. Turns out, Phaedrus is the narrator, who suddenly woke up in a hospital with no memory and was told he had gone insane. So, there is a ghost of a completely different person in his head, and random distant memories or disconnected thoughts surface occasionally. Okay, so maybe that's a spoiler, but you find out 90 pages into a 400+ page book, and if you don't know that's coming the first 90 pages are a little tedious and pointless.
Anyway, the book is three stories combined - the story of the narrator on the motorcycle trip with his son, the story of Phaedrus, his research, and his descent into madness, and the story of the narrator and Phaedrus trying to become one person again. It's just as fascinating as it sounds. But again, I must mention - if you can't handle the philosophy, the storyline won't save it. You have the understand the metaphysics when you read it or a chunk of the story won't quite make sense. But hey, I'm no philosophy student, and I got it. Not everything, but enough to really appreciate this book. I have already noticed some of the ideas in my regular life, and I've actually made some decisions differently based on what I learned about human nature and why we live how we live. Recommended.(less)
This was the last book in the Princess trilogy, written by a real-life Saudi Arabian princess. In it, Sultana's children are grown up, and she is left...moreThis was the last book in the Princess trilogy, written by a real-life Saudi Arabian princess. In it, Sultana's children are grown up, and she is left reflecting on her life - and feeling like she hasn't done enough. She struggles with alcoholism, which to be honest, I would have turned to at a much earlier point if I were living her life. Anyway, this is actually more of a story about her than a story about the things that happen to her, and it is her journey to discover that, while no one can save everyone who is in trouble, saving one person is enough. Take one trouble at a time, help all you can, and don't beat yourself up because you couldn't save everyone. The last chapter had me crying, not because it was sad, but because it was just so good. After reading three books, and finally seeing her get a handle on just how much she can do and who she can help, and then risking her own life to protect a helpless woman in dire trouble. It was very, very inspiring.(less)
The first chapter of this book actually starts when her father finds out about Princess and realizes that she must be the anonymous Saudi princess who...moreThe first chapter of this book actually starts when her father finds out about Princess and realizes that she must be the anonymous Saudi princess who wrote it (due to personal family events that are in it), and he calls a huge family meeting to throw the book at her face. Very intense. The majority of the book is about her three children - her son Abdullah, who she prays will grow to respect women and not treat them as objects, her rebellious daughter Maha, who suffers a mental breakdown due to the double-standard of the Middle East, and her younger daughter Amani, who throws herself into her religion and becomes extremist, saying that women are so inferior that they should be confined to the home all their lives. It's very tragic to see how even though Sultana and her husband try to teach the children that the way women are treated is wrong, the culture itself wreaks havoc on their minds and thoughts. However, it's not as depressing as it sounds; there is a lot of hope - especially with Abdullah, who risks everything to help a woman he knows be with the one she loves. A more inspiring book than the first, and you can actually start to see improvement in very small degrees.(less)
This is a memoir about the author as a young girl; as the subtitle says, "The Secret Story of an Unwanted Daughter." She was the youngest of her mothe...moreThis is a memoir about the author as a young girl; as the subtitle says, "The Secret Story of an Unwanted Daughter." She was the youngest of her mother's children, and her mother died giving birth to her, resulting in her siblings all disliking her. Then her father was remarried, and her stepmother disliked all her stepchildren, clearly favoring her own children over them.
The book itself is fairly depressing, and while it ends with things looking up, and it ends so quickly once things do look better that it's hard to really feel like things are better. The author actually wrote a book called Falling Leaves that was about her life, with her abusive childhood taking up only the beginning, and the rest about how she overcame it and became successful outside of China. Then she wrote Chinese Cinderella, which is just about her childhood and aimed at younger audiences. While interesting, the writing is clearly aimed at younger readers, but the subject matter seems too sinister for the age group it seems targeted at. And again, it's a book of misery with a little final chapter that says, "oh, and now I'm going to college in England! Everything will be great!" and then it ends. So it's hard to really feel that triumph when you hardly get a taste of it. I want to try mooching a copy of Falling Leaves and hopefully get a little closure.(less)
This book is very good. I do want to know more about customs and things in the Middle East, but I've found that a lot of books that talk about the opp...moreThis book is very good. I do want to know more about customs and things in the Middle East, but I've found that a lot of books that talk about the oppression of women are just an excuse to go into horrifying detail of crimes and sadism, to satisfy the morbid curiosity of people who use books like this as an excuse to read explicit accounts of sexual abuse and torture. This book doesn't do that. It doesn't go into repulsive detail, but it lets you know just how horrible things are.
This is actually an account of a princess of the royal family, given the pseudonym of "Sultana." The author met this princess and, after much begging on the princess's part, agreed to write her life story in an attempt to show the world what life was actually like for Saudi women. Sultana was the last of ten daughters (!!!) and one son; the first segment of the book shows her brother Ali turning into a monster as he observed the way his father treated his wife and daughters. Ali was given everything (including four Porsches when he turned 14, one for each palace they lived in throughout the year), while the daughters were rarely even looked at by their father. When Sultana's mother asked for the daughters to be given a chance to go to school, her father insisted it was a waste, that women weren't capable of understanding much other than cooking, cleaning, and the Koran, and that they would be overwhelmed and faint if presented with schooling. Thus the assumption that women were stupid and inferior was passed on from generation to generation.
This story chronicles her growing up, watching her sister married to a monster, the death of her mother, and the remarriage of her father to a fifteen-year-old girl (one year older than Sultana, who was the youngest child). It also includes stories she received from her servants and neighbors; including Filipino women who come to be maids and earn money for their families, but end up being sex slaves for the sons of the household they are in. Saudis consider women who are non-Muslim to be filthy anyway, so they allow men to do whatever they want to them.
All in all, very interesting and sad. I found it very informative and I learned a lot, and even though it sounds like a depressing book, I'm not left feeling depressed. If you're interested in women's rights or Saudi Arabia or anything like that, I definitely recommend this one. (less)
A graphic-novel memoir about the author's experiences growing up in Iran during the Revolution. Not typical fare for graphic novels, but the simple, s...moreA graphic-novel memoir about the author's experiences growing up in Iran during the Revolution. Not typical fare for graphic novels, but the simple, stark black-and-white images really accent the writing. I read this for a class on graphic novels as literature and it was one of the best ones I read, along with Maus.(less)