Book review: I am Malala

Better late than never, I finally read I am Malala and I am finally blogging about it!

I am Malala

Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani teenager who was shot in the head by the Taliban on her way to school in 2012. The Taliban did not approve of Malala encouraging girls to go to school to get an education. Thankfully she survived and now resides in the UK. She still campaigns for women’s rights and girls’ education. Her work earned her a Nobel Prize in 2014.

Reading Malala’s own words was fascinating to me. I was surprised to realize that Malala has not been back to her hometown of Swat Valley and her house since the day she got shot. Logically it was something I assumed happened but only by reading her words did I realize the magnitude of how her life changed on that fateful day. Even now, 4 years later, it is not safe for her to return to her country, her home. I can’t imagine what that must feel like.

I don’t know if others are like this, but if you are let me know! When I get into something, I must learn everything about it. Once I finished I am Malala I was on Wikipedia researching Swat Valley, the Taliban’s invasion of Swat, watching videos of Malala, reading articles of hers, and so on. I was fascinated and needed to know everything there was to know. Do any of you guys do this too?

Autobiographies aren’t usually my favorite things to read, but I really enjoyed I am Malala. The cause of women’s rights and education is something that I am passionate about. It was eye-opening to read in Malala’s words the things she went through just to be able to go to school. It makes me very thankful for the opportunities I’ve been given. There’s so much in my life I’ve just been given and didn’t even have to ask for that I realize how much of a blessing that is. Growing up education always felt like a chore, but now I realize that to many it is a privilege. It shouldn’t be that way. Everyone should have the opportunity to go to school regardless of their gender, where they live, their skin color, etc.

It was really nice to see interviews of Malala where she comes across like a normal teenager who makes fun of her brothers, get stressed about school, and what not. It made me respect her even more, to read what she has gone through and how she doesn’t let it change her in a negative way.

If anyone is interested, The Malala Fund is doing great work and is a worthy cause to donate to.

Have you read I am Malala? What did you think?

The Mindy Project and Authenticity

My love for Mindy Kaling is pretty obvious to those that know me. My brother, a recent parent, emailed me this article which discusses how The Mindy Project has been handling parenthood this season. While it was a good read, I did not find myself agreeing with the author. It made me think about the way women and parenthood are depicted on television.

Though there has been a recent trend of authentic shows, The Mindy Project strives to be anything but real. Mindy Lahiri has always been a little bit ridiculous and just out there. If Mindy and TMP wanted to portray parenthood accurately, it wouldn’t be authentic to the show itself. For a real take on parenthood, the author should be looking at dramas like Parenthood. Don’t look to a comedy show about a woman who is trying to find the Kanye to her Kim to be authentic about a lot.

Personally I found TMP’s take on parenthood to be refreshing. As someone who isn’t a mother, it was quite nice to see a woman become a parent but not let it change or consume her. Mindy is still the same person she was before she had Leo, just that she has a little human she is responsible for.

Ultimately at the end of the day people turn to television as form of escapism. I know I don’t want to watch a show about a woman that goes to work and watches Netflix at night. That is the life I live so when I turn to TV, I want something that takes me to another world.

This season of The Mindy Project has been my favorite by far. I’ve loved to see the way Mindy, who wants nothing more than to find her happily ever after, is handling her new role as a single parent. Her life has taken turns she has never imagined and while she is struggling and hurting, she is learning to overcome and come to terms with her new life. It’s still a comedy show, but there have been a few heavier moments which the show has handled impeccably.

Have you been watching The Mindy Project? What do you think about TMP’s take on parenthood?

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Taliban Cricket Club

My good friend, Pari, and I have been wanting to start a book club for ages. We made an honest attempt to start one a few months ago and so far we’ve both read I am Malala and The Taliban Cricket Club. We haven’t had a chance to meet solely to discuss the books, but we have talked about what we thought about them over text or gchat..better than nothing I guess, right?

TCC

So the most recent book we read was The Taliban Cricket Club by Timeri N. Murai. The book takes place in Kabul, Afghanistan, a city which is being ruled by the Taliban. In an effort to come across as more personable and well-liked with other nations, the Taliban wants to start an Afghan Cricket Club. The main protagonist, Rukhsana agrees to teach her brother and cousins cricket so that they may try out for the team. The team would be sent to Pakistan for training which was a perfect way to escape the Taliban.

While Rukshana teaches the boys cricket, we learn a lot about her family, such as how she returned to Kabul from Delhi to take care of her dying mother. There are flashbacks to her time in Delhi, the people that she had met, and how her life had changed once she returned home to Kabul and the Taliban.

Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres and so I liked this book quite a bit. The book talks about what Kabul used to be like pre-Taliban (Rukhsana’s grandmother never wore a niqab before the Taliban came into rule — she had quite the collection of gowns and dresses). We also witness, through the eyes of Rukshana, a public beheading. It shows the viewers just how much the Taliban changed the life of Afghans to the point where they are living in constant fear.

Rukshana was a great main character. She was strong, caring, thoughtful, and brave. She was an aspiring journalist and wrote articles about the Taliban (under a pseudonym) and continued despite the Taliban threatening her to stop.

I was happy the book ended the way that it did, but I wish the events leading up to the end were handled differently. So vague, I know..but I don’t want to spoil anything!

One of the cool things about our pseudo book club is hearing about the different ways we all take in the same information. I pictured Rukshana to be looking like this, while Pari was thinking something like this.  That’s one of the things I like about books —  a lot of it is open to our interpretation or imagination. By discussing our thoughts with others we get to broaden our initial insights on the book and learn something we may never thought of in the first place.

It’s inspired me to start my own book club on Meetup.com..my book club will be South Asian focused – from authors, characters, to where the story is based.

Are you a part of any book clubs? What is your favorite part about them?

JoJo Moyes

This year was the year I discovered JoJo Moyes. Moyes is a British author who has penned countless romance novels.

In the span of a few months, i’ve read three of her books and I’ve enjoyed each one more than the last. I like to describe her books as “chick lit with depth”.  Her books are the perfect summer reads – you know the kind of book that you pull up on your kindle while you’re poolside sipping on a pina colada. There’s quirky characters, engaging plots, and underlying deeper message that stays with you long after you finish the book.

Me Before You tells the story of a young sheltered girl who goes to work as a nurse for a man in a wheelchair. The man, Will, is now living a semblance of the life he used to live – one that used to be life will adventure, determination, and spontaneity. Together Lou and Will teach each other about life and love. While sometimes light-hearted and comedic, the book also touches on a darker medical issue which I won’t go into because of spoilers. The book became so popular that there is now a movie in the works set to be released in 2016.

mebeforeyou

Moyes also published the sequel, After You, in September of this year. I devoured both books, but I must admit Me Before You was my favorite.

While waiting for the sequel, I read One Plus One, another Moyes book. One Plus One tells the story of a single mom living a busy, chaotic life trying to make ends meet. When her daughter becomes eligible for a scholarship at a prestigious university, the family embarks on a road trip where they meet a strange man who helps them out. What follows next is a comedic yet touching romance and look at what family really means.

If you’re looking for an easy read that still stimulates the mind, stars a strong female lead, and makes you feel the warm fuzzies, then JoJo Moyes is your go-to author.

Have you read any of Moyes’  novels? Who is your go-to author for a good read?

Book Review: Modern Romance

I figured I would reviwe another book by an Indian American author – Aziz Ansari’s, Modern Romance. I picked up the book when I was in Portland earlier this summer on a visit to the amazing Powell Books. I was excited to read it as I like Aziz and the topic is very relatable.

aziz

When I think about how much technology has changed the way we do, well everything, in just the last five years I get a little taken aback. So much has changed in such a short amount of time! Dating has essentially been the same since the beginning of time, so these last few years have basically changed the game. People are still trying to understand the “rules” (spoiler: there are none) so Aziz’s book is very timely.

Modern Romance focuses on the dilemma facing millennials everywhere: with so many apps and websites that make it easier to meet others, why are people still struggling to find a partner? It’s never been easier to meet people than it is now, so why are people settling down later or not at all? There are lots of reasons for this, such as the changing role and expectation of women in recent years. Now it is considered normal for women to live alone and work outside the home, focusing on their career, whereas just twenty years ago that would have been unheard of.

Aziz also focuses on the illusion of choice and how maybe having too many options isn’t the best thing. He uses the example of an average looking guy who stumbles across the dating profile of a good looking girl, who is smart, funny, basically the whole package yet he decides not to message her. When Aziz’s questions the guy, he responds that the girl is a Red Sox fan whereas he isn’t.

Knowing so much information about a person is nice because you can make sure you’re looking for the same things, but it is also a double edged sword. We place a lot of emphasis on little details that essentially have little to no value in determining compatibility. This is interesting to me — people are layered individuals with many different qualities and characteristics. And yet we place so much value on what people say online. We read a person’s Facebook or OkCupid profile and think we know them when we are probably just scratching the surface.

I was actually very impressed with the way Aziz wrote Modern Romance. It’s a leap for a comedian to write such a book, but he did it very well. In true Aziz fashion there are some jokes sprinkled here and there throughout the book. The thing I loved the most was how well researched it was. Aziz enlisted the help of Eric Klinenberg, a sociologist who teaches at NYU. It’s rich with data and stats if you like that sort of thing (I do) as well as personal anecdotes from people around the world.

So, if you’ve ever wondered why he hasn’t texted you back in 2 days or why she just texted you a pizza emoji, then this book is definitely for you. Don’t expect Aziz to solve your problems, but rather find comfort in the fact that you’re not alone!

If you like reading about how people meet and communicate with each other, then you should pick this book up as well! I don’t do audio books, but if you enjoy them you listen to this book since it’s voiced by Aziz himself.

Have you read Modern Romance? What did you think?

Why Not Me?

I’ve only been waiting for Mindy Kaling’s second book to come out the minute I finished her first, Why is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns). So I was pretty excited when Why Not Me? finally released on September 15th. I received the book in the mail on Thursday evening and by Friday evening, I had finished. It was a fun, easy read with a variety of essays that I felt I could relate to on many levels.

So those that know me, know that I am a Mindy Kaling fan. I love her show and basically anything she does. I suppose this doesn’t come as a surprise as like Kaling, I am an Indian-American woman with immigrant parents. Seeing someone that looks like you and has had a similar upbringing become a prominent figure in American media is pretty cool. It’s not something I was able to see on my TV when I was growing up, so it makes me happy that younger Desi girls have someone like Kaling on their screens.

While her first book focused on her life story and how she made it in the television industry, her second book is really all over the place, but not in a bad way. It feels like you’re actually reading her diary or meeting up with her for drinks. The essays range from what you should bring to her dinner party (if she ever has one), a hilarious look at what her life would be like had she not become a writer/actress, a motivating piece on confidence, and a day in the life of Mindy Kaling (with pictures!).

It’s an in-between kind of book, for this in-between time in her life. She talks about the success she’s encountered since the last book (namely The Mindy Project), but she also touches on the fact that many of her friends are now married and having kids while she isn’t. It’s something I could definitely relate to (sadly, not the part about having a hit TV show though!).

I suppose it’s cliche for an Indian girl like me to like Kaling, but reading her book just made me realize why I like her so much and it isn’t entirely because of our shared background. She’s real and honest. She knows that she does not fit the ideal Hollywood standard of beauty and she definitely knows some people despise her because of that fact. She admits how it bothers her, as she is human after all, and how she has days where she feels very low. That kind of openness is very refreshing to read and not something a lot of actresses or people in general will share.  It’s especially nice to read because in Desi culture a lot of “taboo” things, like failure and low self-confidence are not really discussed.

Kaling can admit to feeling down but also share her recipe for confidence and neither statement negates the other. Being vulnerable and sharing the good and the bad only emphasizes how normal these feelings are. It’s also okay to not fit the mold and to be different. There’s value in that.

When Kaling talks about her confidence, the line that struck out to me the most was: Work hard, know your shit, show your shit, and then feel entitled

It often feels like entitlement is a bad word or quality to have, and while I agree that I try to steer clear from feeling entitled, in this scenario it makes so much sense. Many young women often feel like even if they have worked hard, they shouldn’t feel entitled to anything. But if you really know what you are talking about and have proved your expertise, you should absolutely feel entitled. Entitlement means having the confidence and belief in knowing what you deserve and going after it – something that I think young women (including myself) can never hear too little of!

While I highly recommend reading the entire book, if you are interested in hearing more about Kaling’s thoughts on confidence and bravery, check out this expert that was post on Glamour a few weeks ago.

Have you read Why Not Me? What are your thoughts on the book?

UnREAL

To say I was hesitant to watch a Lifetime show is an understatement. But wherever I turned I was seeing the buzz for UnREAL, especially upon it’s renewal for a second season. Since I was in the need for a new summer show (I had been rewatching Parks and Rec, #amiproblems?), I decided to give UnREAL a REAL shot. Besides I’ve been a Shiri Appleby fan since Roswell, so I knew I had to watch for her alone.

 The setting is a fictional reality show dating competition (think The Bachelor) and the characters are the cast and crew. It’s a smart look at the reality show industry. You realize how the contestants are manipulated to act certain ways that will result in the biggest drama and therefore the higher ratings. Each contestant is immediately given a persona by the production crew, ie the virgin, the villain, the single mom, and so on.

UnREAL is an eye-opening look at the brutalities of reality shows.  It’s cruel, calculating, and probably not too far-fetched to imagine that similar things happen on actual reality shows. There’s also moments of sharp humor and wit to balance out the drama.

I would say I am enjoying UnREAL so far. It’s a smart show with a gripping underlying message – reality isn’t always what it seems. Have you been watching UnREAL this summer? What are your thoughts?