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?

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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?

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?

Diversity on TV

I feel like it’s been a really good year in terms of diversity in television shows on primetime networks. Considering it’s 2015, I would say it’s about time! Along with Jane the Virgin (which I talked about previously), I’ve recently started watching and enjoying Fresh Off the Boat and Black-ish.

Fresh Off the Boat is about a Taiwanese family and the struggles they face trying to achieve the American Dream. It’s devoid of cultural stereotypes (for example, one of the kids loves rap music), accurately portrays the confusion many immigrants face, while also being hilariously funny. Another thing I enjoy about this show is that it’s based in the 90s, which feels like an ode to the greatest decade.

It’s a relatable show for any immigrant or children of immigrants. In this week’s episode the oldest son is forced to be friends with the only other Chinese guy in his class, except they have nothing in common. It’s really refreshing to see a show that doesn’t portray all minorities as similar.

Black-ish is about an African-American family that is trying to keep the Black culture alive with their children. Again, it’s a show devoid of stereotypes (the mother is a doctor and the father is high up at an advertising agency) but maintains its authenticity. It’s pretty awesome to see the mother wear her hair au naturale and curly. (It was only after reading this article that I realized we usually only see straight-haired women on TV!)

Do you enjoy Fresh off the Boat and Black-ish? What are some similar types of shows out there? I’d love to know so I can check them out!

Pop Culture, with a Twist

It’s been a while since I updated this little old blog of mine..I’ve always had the intentions of writing a post but was going through a bit of a writers block. Anyway, I’m back and talking about some of my recent favorites in the media/entertainment/pop culture realm.

Jane the Virgin

I’m ashamed to admit that I dropped the ball on this show and only started watching it over the holidays. Jane the Virgin is the story of a twenty something woman (and a virgin) who gets artificially inseminated at a routine gyno check up. I know the plot sounds like a telenovela and that’s half the fun. The show pokes fun at its dramatic, telenovela ways many times.

More than that, what I love about the show is that the cast is mostly people of color and one of the main characters (the grandmother) speaks only Spanish! It’s a smart, refreshing, and funny show. Not at all something I expected from the CW but I am pleasantly surprised. Oh yeah, and who can forget when they mentioned immigration reform and urged the viewers to look it up?

I missed the Golden Globes this year but when I heard that Gina Rodriguez (who plays Jane) won for Best Actress, I immediately looked up her speech.

“This award is so much more than myself..it represent a culture that wants to see themselves as heros.”

I need more people I know to watch it so I can gush with them about it. So get to it!

Chrissy Teigen

Okay, this girl is one of my all time favorites. She rose to the top of my list pretty quickly..pretty much after one day of me following her on Twitter and Instagram. She’s smart, absolutely hilarious, amazingly witty, and always has a comeback to those that are downright rude or mean to her on social media. She’s a model that loves to eat (!) and she seems to have the best relationship ever with her husband, John Legend. See what I mean? She doesn’t shy away from hot topics like gun control but never takes herself too seriously.

There’s something really refreshing about a woman (a supermodel no less who are generally paid to shut up and look pretty) speak her mind without any hesitation.

Gilmore Girls

There are no words to describe how much I love this show. Most of my friends know this already to the point that I had multiple people inform me when Netflix decided to finally add it to Instant. I watched it the day it came out (October 1st, best day ever) and I’m still making my way through the series (for the second time).

It is weird..I was Rory’s age when I watched the show for the first time and now as I’m watching it again I’m closer in age to Lorelai. I remember relating so well to Rory when it came to high school drama, the whole college admissions process, and moving away from home for the first time. Now I find myself in a similar boat as Lorelai (minus the having a kid bit) what with wanting to figure out her career and working on settling down. I think this really speaks to how well made this show is that I can watch it 15+ years later and still have it speak to me, albeit in a completely different way.

Not everything has changed, though. I am still gushing over Jess and Luke like I did when I was 16 and I still don’t want to talk about season 6. Not now, not ever.

Are you watching Jane the Virgin or Gilmore Girls? I’d love to hear your take on the shows!

The Mindy Project

I’ve long since been a fan of Mindy Kaling, from her work as Kelly Kapoor on The Office to her recent book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me. But what I’m most excited about is her newest venture, The Mindy Project, where she is the first Indian American to star AND write in her own show. That is a pretty huge deal!

I’ve been lucky enough to grow up in an area that is tolerant, liberal, and open-minded but that doesn’t mean I didn’t get asked some inane questions like “Do you speak Indian?” or my personal favorite “No, but like where are you really from?” after I mention that I was born in the US.

Even though it premiered last night, I caught the pilot online a few weeks ago. I loved it and I found it especially refreshing that it represented Indian Americans exactly as we are: just like everyone else. No we don’t have accents nor do we have arranged marriages.

Did you see the pilot? What did you think? If you haven’t seen it yet or read her book, I highly recommend that you do!

Mindy Kaling has made it in an industry where there are so few minorities and women, which is not an easy feat.

And because this video says it better than I ever could: