Our Shared Shelf discussion

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Sep/Oct - Half the Sky (2016) > The Most Important Book in Our Club

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message 1: by Kressel (new)

Kressel Housman | 436 comments I'm only in the middle of this book, but I think it's the most important book we've read all year. Whatever problems we Western women may have, they're NOTHING compared to what these women in the developing world are facing. Anyone ready to discuss?


message 2: by Anita (new)

Anita | 87 comments I agree with you Kressel. It is certainly an eye-opener.


message 3: by Hali (new)

Hali (dreamslikediamondss) | 12 comments I actually think I agree with this - I absolutely love this book and I feel changed simply by reading it, now its a matter of trying to put those feelings into action and do what I can to help!


message 4: by Cath (new)

Cath Lyders | 5 comments It is wonderful - such important all-encompassing issues but also delivered in warm and passionate way - without being too heavy. Inspired.


message 5: by Winston (new)

Winston | 180 comments I haven't read the book (I've fallen off a little of keeping up with the reading. So many books, so little time.)

But! if you like Kristof's writing, his NYT columns are always great and I highly recommend!


message 6: by Kressel (new)

Kressel Housman | 436 comments So glad to see everyone reacting! Is anyone inclined to visit a developing nation, just like the authors suggested?


message 7: by Emmyjo (new)

Emmyjo (thebookslayer77) | 6 comments I'm still trying to find this book in my area. I may have to wait until the next book to join in


message 8: by Ann (new)

Ann Girdharry (anngirdharry) | 89 comments Kressel said, '...I think it's the most important book we've read all year...'

I agree. It's a powerful read and a difficult one too.


message 9: by Kressel (new)

Kressel Housman | 436 comments Bri wrote: "I really would love to do this at some point over the next few years. My only issue is that I have a severe food allergy so being somewhere that is potentially far away from medical help and where I don't understand the language or know what I'm eating could be a big problem."

I have a similar problem. I keep kosher, and I don't know how I could do it while away from a Jewish community. There IS an organization called "Jewish Heart for Africa," but I think their volunteers are all Israeli. There's also a Haitian diaspora group in my town, so I wonder if I could join them on their next trip. At least then I'd stay in the Western Hemisphere.


message 10: by Anita (new)

Anita | 87 comments I was very impressed with this choice. Now I'm curious about next month's selection! Maybe we will get to some fiction again.


message 11: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Patrick Majerowicz | 3 comments This book is life changing. There are so many issues I was unaware of that I now pay close attention. It's required reading for my high school women's history class and I can truly say my students are better people for having read it. A lot of my graduates keep in contact with me and tell me how much it changed their lives. One of my students graduates this year and has decided she wants some kind of career that helps women!


message 12: by Abbey (new)

Abbey (abbeylee11) | 5 comments I just finished! I watched the documentary a couple years ago for a gender studies class, and this book club finally made me pick the book up off my shelf! The best part about this book in my opinion (and why I find it even more powerful than the documentary) is how it matches each chapter with a way someone has acted out to help, either locally in the impoverished area or globally. It really emphasized how many ways there are to contribute, even in a small way! So glad I finally read this!


message 13: by Ross (new)

Ross | 1444 comments Taking the book in context with the others it seem the oppression of women is different only in degree the inequality is sanctioned in different places and cultures the causes however are the same. A male mind set that women are inferior and can be treated however is expedient.

That for me is the thread running through all the books we have reviewed showing there is in fact a common theme to the unequal treatment of women.


message 14: by Ann (new)

Ann Girdharry (anngirdharry) | 89 comments Abby said, 'it matches each chapter with a way someone has acted out to help... It really emphasized how many ways there are to contribute...'

Hi Abby, yes, I agree and I really like this about the book too.


message 15: by Cheylyn (new)

Cheylyn  Brown | 3 comments I love the way the book emphasizes the power of education for young women. As the authors point out, there is only so much westerners can do, despite good intentions. But the power of an educated mind is truly incredible. It gives young women a broader view of the world, opening their minds and facilitating change. I'm not saying that it is solely up to women to make the difference for themselves-- it takes a shift in the thinking of both men and women to truly initiate change. But the self empowerment afforded by education is truly powerful.


message 16: by Gabriella (new)

Gabriella | 7 comments I loved the book! I already informed my family that they will receive a copy as christmas gift. The problem is: this book is hard to find in my language, but I'm up to the battle.

One of the thing I most loved in the book was that the womens were realy far away, diferent country, language, culture, but in the same way was too close home (I'm from development country, you can get that from my not so good english - sorry). All the time I was thinking about womens in my country that were not far away from the ones in the book. And this get me, because they don't have faces, i don't know nothing about them, but we speak the same language, we are in the same country, and i know nothing about them. Actually the north of my state it is not that different from all the countries in the book, at all.

the book Realy, REALY, made me think.


message 17: by Riley (new)

Riley Thompson | 2 comments This was definitely an amazing book to read! It shed a light on what women experience all over the world - which is something we may take for granted in the US. There are obviously issues that need to be improved in the US, but on a whole, women have it pretty good here. That was what made this book so intense - the fact that such awful things happen to women and the conditions in which they must survive. I think the main take away for me was the importance of education and empowering women to be agents of change in their own communities. This book will definitely stay on my bookshelf for many years!


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

This book should be read in schools and universities to raise awareness and more importantly show that it is possible to be active even at a younger age.

I am halfway through the book and it already changed by live. I decided that for my next birthday I want all my friends to make a donation to a charity that is mentioned in the book instead of giving me a present. Raising awareness and actually doing something is now even more important to me than before!


message 19: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Stainer | 5 comments This is such an amazing book to read. It's a really eye opening and heart wrenching read at times but really inspiring too, seeing the strength of these women. I'm tempted to get some of my A Level students to read it.

I'm planning on travelling next year and teaching in developing countries in South America and South East Asia (I'm a teacher). But I definitely want to get more involved in public health and women's rights issues whilst I'm out there.


message 20: by Maria (new)

Maria Kadah | 1 comments I do agree that this is an immensely important book.
I had a really hard time finding it, so I ended up reading this book after finishing a book about "The Female Deity" and the origins of womanhood and how the world started women oppression. Of course the other book doesn't roughly get into the forms of oppression just the way it started.
But it gave "Half the Sky" a whole new perspective.
I live in Damascus,Syria and I can honestly say that I wasn't as horrified by the stories that I had read as much as I had actually felt hope. These strong women gave me such hope to continue no matter what the cause! I can count my blessings because I've never actually faced the education problems or the harsh oppression that many many women face everyday, but it's not as easy as I would hope!
This book actually made me more focused and sure about my decision to go to Law School. It reminded me that these aren't just stories you read, it's all around us all the time! And what's more important is that change takes time but it is actually possible.
This book should be taught in classes. Basic human rights should be taught to everybody. Reading this I realized how many women I know who actually don't have basic knowledge about their basic human rights!
To every woman mentioned in this book, I have great respect and admiration towards you! And to every woman fighting a battle, I hope you stand strong afterwards!


message 21: by Elfa Centauri (new)

Elfa Centauri (elfacentauri) | 8 comments Cheylyn wrote: "I love the way the book emphasizes the power of education for young women. As the authors point out, there is only so much westerners can do, despite good intentions. But the power of an educated m..."


I totally agree with you, Cheylyn; education is overriding in young women. We need education to evaluate our options and to make us stronger to life. Without it, we are simple people who can be easily cheated.

As many of you said, it should be a must-read for young students, because it will make more awareness and can help young people to be in touch with these kind of problems. This book makes me think a lot, and I believe thinking by yourself is the best way to be free and to reach that empowerment we need.


message 22: by Kristin (last edited Nov 04, 2016 01:26PM) (new)

Kristin (kristintravels) | 5 comments Kressel having lived and travelled in Africa quite extensively you can keep Kosher while traveling abroad. I have found rich Jewish culture almost everywhere I have visited and maybe besides the most remote of villages you can find the resources.


message 23: by MeerderWörter (new)

MeerderWörter | 2388 comments Gabriella wrote: "I loved the book! I already informed my family that they will receive a copy as christmas gift. The problem is: this book is hard to find in my language, but I'm up to the battle.

One of the thin..."

This book also made me think, but what is even more important is that it taught me a lot I would have learned hardly elsewhere. It especially changed my view on the U.S., which in Austria is always presumed to be this rich country where, apart from the politics, everything is kind of perfect, especially concerning health and education. I know that there are problems, but this book opened my eyes just how huge they were.
P.S.: Keep writing and reading here and your English will improve while doing so:) It did for me, too.


Cheylyn wrote: "I love the way the book emphasizes the power of education for young women. As the authors point out, there is only so much westerners can do, despite good intentions. But the power of an educated m..."
Education is the solution for more or less everything! That's why I hold education so dear to my heart. In educating all genders about their rights and helping them to reach their full potential, we can achieve so much more than we do now. I can only itinerate what a young activist wrote to Emma after her UN speech: A bird with a broken wing can't fly.
And right now we can't fly, because half humanity's broken and the other half isn't at their full potential either.

Ross wrote: "Taking the book in context with the others it seem the oppression of women is different only in degree the inequality is sanctioned in different places and cultures the causes however are the same...."
I think this is even more upsetting when we take into consideration that this wasn't always the case, as Gloria Steinem wrote it so visible in her book My Life on the Road, which we have read in January. (You've joined OSS back then already, didn't you?) MLOTR is the runner-up book or even winner in who is the most important book in our club in my opinion, it depends on the criteria you choose.


Jessica wrote: "This book is life changing. There are so many issues I was unaware of that I now pay close attention. It's required reading for my high school women's history class and I can truly say my students ..."
Probably every book (I argue for How to Be a Woman tho) is worth a read in high school or university. I wish my relatives would read more, but they don't read at all or so little that it's nothing, from my point of view. Only one aunt and my mum hold the stakes high.
Reading our books is important because in my opinion, if you read enough of them, they could change your brain's structure. (That would actually be interesting to investigate, wouldn't it? Does reading certain books change the brain structure? Very interesting question, I think yes, it does.)


Anita wrote: "I was very impressed with this choice. Now I'm curious about next month's selection! Maybe we will get to some fiction again."
As we know now it isn't fiction, but I hope so for January/February!
The last fiction book we read was Alice Walker's The Color Purple, and since I love fiction and I think is a perfect way to examine society, I hope we really get a fiction book next time.


Kressel wrote: "So glad to see everyone reacting! Is anyone inclined to visit a developing nation, just like the authors suggested?"
I don't know, maybe I take a gap year (took one already after graduating), and do something in a country in need. As long as it's not #voluntourism, I don't see a problem here. I could still remain within Europe, I'm sure there are some countries who need help.
As long as I can help people, I'm fine with it.
I'm probably too shy for it, but when I'm brave enough, I'll do it for sure.


message 24: by Arianne (new)

Arianne (elodiestone) | 6 comments I am SO LATE with this, I only just finished the book, but it's one of the most eye opening books I've read so far, in and out of Our Shared Shelf's context. I had some issues with the book but it tackles and informs on so many problems I didn't know or barely knew, I feel like my education has failed me specifically on feminist issues. It makes me want to get involved, and it gives resources to do so, which I find amazing.


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