Monday, December 7, 2009

If you only read one book this Advent...

I am reading a book that I will not wait until I finish to recommend to you. I read about it in the Oregonian a few weeks back, where the reviewer sort of guaranteed you would not finish it without wanting to do something about it. After reading a hundred pages, I would be worried about anyone who does not want to do something about it.

Half the Sky is by husband and wife journalists Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn, and is about the varied plights of millions and millions of the world's women, and the horrors they face simply because they are women, and the greater horror that much of what they suffer is not even considered worthy of the notice of their communities and the wider world...because they are women. I suppose I should not tell you this, because it will probably put you off from reading it, and I really don't want anyone not to read it.

Extremely well-written, and never boring, it has lots of heroic stories about women overcoming victimhood as trafficked sexual slaves and rape survivors (rape is a systematic form of terrorism/war weapon in many places, and a way of acquiring a wife you can't afford in other places, and a way of punishing a man or a boy in a girl's family for something the man is thought to have done in other places). But it also deals with other issues, and is just now getting into the problem of maternal mortality.

Their main thesis seems to be, of course, that the world needs to act as a matter of morality, but also that the world's economic and terrorism problems will not be solved without elevating the situations specifically of women and girls in the world. But they also have loads of information on what works to do this. Please get hold of this book and let me know what you decide to do with it. I'll let you know what I decide, too.

One interesting aside in the book is the fact that research shows that people will give more readily and generously to something that they are told will help just one child than to something they are told will help eight, or millions. Generosity is personal, apparently. Generous friends, all--check out this book.

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