I read a bit more than usual when I am over here. My published author friend Kate is a great source of wisdom about what to load up on my trusty Kindle. She got me on to Olive. I have raved to anyone who would listen about the magnificent Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. It’s a book up there in my top ten ever. I loved it.
Thanks to Kate, I also enjoyed The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey and When God was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman. In an interview Sarah Winman said:
People are the most wonderful, fallible, damaged, loving, brave, fearful, loyal creatures, all searching for something, and that something isn’t always clear. But to me, the searching in this book, was to be able to start again – to start again armed with a little more knowledge, and to live a better life…..
This is so evident in the characters she has peopled her book with. One of my favourites was Arthur, a man she described as having no real answer to life except the living of it. He sees the darkness, the humour of it all, the absurdity of it. But he still keeps going because, ultimately, for him, life is a gift….
I loved that.
People who know my dad, Les Higgins, know that he is passionate about the power of nature to heal, restore and rejuvenate; and equally passionate about our need to immerse ourselves in nature for our own well being. His e-book, Claim Your Wildness (and let nature nurture your health and well being) has just been published. He says we are born to be wild, so to speak! He also gives very practical suggestions for how, in our increasingly nature deprived world, we can maintain that wildness, that connection with nature that is so vital for us.
Every month or so in her newsletter, a New Zealand human rights activist and writer, Marianne Elliott, shares links to what she has been reading. Without fail, her list contains thought provoking and challenging reading – often with a focus on international development work, do – gooding ( her words), storytelling and such.
This month, she talks about the potential appropriation by the Western world of Malala Yousafzai, the remarkable and courageous young Pakistani school girl shot by the Taliban.
I know that here in Birtamod, I spend my time with courageous young women, all of whom have experienced violence against them, who want changes in their communities. They all believe that violence against women is totally wrong, and should never be ignored. They don’t believe that women should be advised ( when they are finally desperate enough to go to Police) to go back and give an abusive husband one more chance. These young women agitate for change, living lives that challenge the status quo, sharing their stories to inspire and empower others, in spite of being accused by some of threatening the fabric of society with their talk of women’s rights and choices. By telling their stories, they know they are not alone in their society in believing in every girl’s right to education, and to living a life free from violence.
Knowing these incredibly strong, courageous, determined and resilient young women is why a comment by Zeynep Tufekci resonated. She said if you think Malala is rare that is because you have probably not spent much time in such countries. Most Malalas remain nameless, and are not made into Western celebrities.
I write none of this taking a single thing away from Malala. She is truly remarkable and in our office as we made our polymer beads, we read and discussed her speech to the United Nations. She is such an inspiration to us. The ladies recognise her as coming from a society like theirs. Last year Demi Moore visited Nepal to support and recognise the work of Anuradha Koirala of Maiti Nepal. Most sincerely, I say Good for you, Demi. Interestingly, none of the ladies here had ever heard of Demi Moore but they all know about Malala.