I’m not a big book reader. Sure I read a ton every day. But I really struggle to sit down long enough to read a book. I’d rather do something. Kristen pokes fun at me because I had Master and Commander on my nightstand for almost three years before I finally mercifully finished it. Each night I’d read a paragraph or two before falling asleep. Meanwhile, she devours 4-5 books per week.
But this year I’ve found myself on a lot of planes and reading is a good way to pass the time. Consequently, I’ve read several books from cover-to-cover.
Here’s what I’ve read: (from most recent to furthest away)
The Road of Lost Innocence
Somaly Mam’s story of slavery in the brothels of Cambodia, her escape, and her life since simultaneously inspired me by her strength and horrified me that there are places in this world where a mother will sell her daughter’s virginity for $50. If Somaly Mam doesn’t piss you off to action… nothing will.
Heart of Darkness
Joseph Conrad’s 19th century novel about Charles Marlow’s trip up the Congo River as an ivory trader and the horror he discovers provides a glimpse into our imperialistic past. I found Conrad’s descriptive language enchanting, actually overpowering the story itself.
Girls Like Us
I adored this book. Rachel Lloyd’s story of falling into and escaping from sexual exploitation in Germany and her new life helping sexually exploited children in the United States provides a glimpse into our own Heart of Darkness in America. The role of her local church in her healing left me inspired and hopeful that Jesus’ bride can help become the answer.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
This book was a blast. An intimate look at high school life, coming of age, and the desperate need to fit in from the vantage point of Charlie. If you work with teenagers and want to reconnect with what’s it’s like to be in high school, you need to read this book.
Half the Sky
Every man ought to read this book. New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof takes you on a journey to reveal the role of women in ending gender-based oppression in the developing world. Half the Sky is full of three things. Facts, stories, and evidence-based solutions.
Life of Pi
If Twilight stole your hope in the future of contemporary fiction, Life of Pi will restore it. My expectations for this novel were so low. But I was wrong. This book provides a unique, provocative storyline that leaves readers wondering what really happened. While the movie was good, worthy of best picture honors at the Academy Awards, the book is so much better.
The Power of Fear
It’s not hard for me to see the thread between all of the books I’ve read this year. There is a fear in each. A monster that must be overcome, demolished, spat on, and its skull crushed.
For Somaly Mam that monster is the $500 million child prostitution industry in Cambodia. For Charlie, his monster lives in the lies he believes about himself. For Pi, the monster is the loss of his family and the reality of starting over in Canada. For Nick, it is the systemic self-mutilation of devaluing women in the developing world. Charles Marlow’s monster is madness. And for Rachel, her monster is the spineless pimp who convinces twelve year old girls to sell their bodies at the Holiday Inn Express in Toms River, New Jersey.
In all of these stories, the heroine punches fear in the throat and moves on. In all of these stories, hope overcomes fear.
I can’t tell you what my monster is. And I certainly don’t know what your monster is. But I do know that monsters live to be feared.
Fears can be overcome.
Your story can resolve.
And the better part of your story begins when you start disrespecting what scares you the most.