Wednesday, February 5, 2014

2014 Blogger Challenge #3: Reading About Real Life


For the first February Post of the 2014 Blogger Challenge, we're writing about books! And do I love books! Since I do write about books every once and awhile that I am reading and have read, I decided to do something a little different for this post. 

I have really been in love with non-fiction and memoirs the last few years. I really love to read about people's lives, especially those who are from different cultures and those who are brave enough to share themselves and their experiences with the world. It is really exciting and interesting to me to be able to connect with other people and share in their lives. 

Here are some books that I have really enjoyed that do just that:

The Glass Castle
by: Jeanette Walls


This is such an unbelievable memoir. It is well written and Jeanette's story is fascinating. She writes about her family life as she grew up. Her parents are much more concerned about a life of "excitement" than taking care of their children. At times, her father was kind and caring, teaching them about physics and geology; he was a very intelligent man. He taught them how to fearlessly embrace life. This did not last, however, when he drank. He would steal their grocery money and take off, not to be heard from for days. Her mother was much more interested in painting than making dinner for her children, so the four of them were often left to fend for themselves. Jeanette finds the courage to get out of this life, but still describes her family with love, affection, and compassion. This is an amazing story, a must read!

My Sergei: A Love Story
by: Ekaterina Gordeeva

I always loved figure skating when I was younger and followed it in the Winter Olympics. Ekaterina Gordeeva's love story with her husband, Sergei Grinkov, is truly magical and tragic at the same time. Her story follows their lives through meeting, life together as a skating pairs team and championships together, their fairytale romance and marriage, and then through the tragic heart attack that took Sergei's life. I love this book.

Stolen Lives
by: Malika Oufkir 

Stolen Lives is one of the first books that got me interested in world events, different cultures, human struggle, and the strength of the human spirit. I read this book before I had any idea that I wanted to become an ESL teacher, when I was still studying German. Malika, the author of this book, lived in Morroco and was born to the King's closest aide, General Oufkir. She was adopted by the King at the age of five. After her father tried to assassinate the king, Malika, her mother, and her five brothers and sisters were sent immediately into prison in the desert. After spending 15 years imprisoned, the last 10 of which, each family member spent in solitary confinement, the family was able to slowly dig a tunnel of escape with their bare hands. After being recaptured and going through tremendous turmoil for years, Malika was finally able to escape to freedom. This is her story.

The Story of My Life: An Afghan Girl on the Other Side of the Sky
by: Farah Ahmedi

The title of this book has changed and is now The Othe Side of the Sky.

This is, perhaps, one of my favorite books. Farah Ahmedi chronicles her life in Kabul, Afghanistan. She vividly describes her life during a state of war where bombs explode at all times of day and night and gunfire is the normal background noise. Bombs have taken the lives of some of her family, and Farah is left to find her way on her own in Afghanistan. She narrowly escapes death after stepping on a landmine. Even after this tragedy, Farah amidst war walks herself through mountains, across her country to refugee camps, and eventually ends up in America. Her story is one of human strength and determination and hope. She is amazing and an inspiration to me. 

Mistaken Identity

by: Don and Susie Van Ryn 
Newell, Colleen, and Whitney Cerak
Mark Tabb

I could not believe this story when I read it. It is the story of two young girls: Laura Van Ryn and Laura Cerak. One is buried under the wrong name and the other is being taken care of in the hospital by the wrong family, the lone survivor of a multiple-victim car accident wrongly identified. It took five weeks for the mistake to be realized. The story is written by Whitney, the survivor of the accident, her family, and Laura Cerak, the girl who did not survive the accident. They write about the accident and Whitney's recovery, writing much about their religion and faith and how this got them through their hardship.

Dwarf: A Memoir
by: Tiffanie DiDonato

Tiffanie DiDonato was born with dwarfism. Her arms were so short that she could not comb her own hair. She decided to undergo a series of painful bone-lengthening surgeries that gave her an extra 14 inches of height and a new-found independence. In her book, she explains her life before surgery, her decision to have surgery, and her life after surgery. It is a serious book of optimism and taking your life into your own control and getting what you want out of it.

My Life Deleted
by: Scott Bolzan and Joan Bolzan

Scott Bolzan, former pro football player, suffered permanent amnesia after a traumatic accident. He doesn't remember his likes, his dislikes, what football is, that he was a pro sports player, his name, his wife, or his children. This book is co-written my Joan Bolzan, Scott's wife, telling about how they begin to rebuild their life together after Scott has lost all of his memories of years past. This is such an interesting and intriguing story. It is also at times heartbreaking and heartwarming as you hope for Scott and Joan to rebuild their relationship as husband and wife. 

Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity
by: Kelly Cohen

Kerry Cohen's memoir is a cautionary tale for girls and women of all ages. She is a girl who wanted to matter at a young age and turned her attention to boys and sex, longing for love and affection. She spent a lot of her young life addicted to sex and attention from men, longing for intimacy and a life of meaning. Kerry thought that men could give that to her. This is the story of her journey towards her realization that she needed to be loved and love herself in return in order to have true intimacy instead of jumping from man to man, hoping to find love that is not there.

To read my other 2014 Blogger Challenge Posts on Inspiration and My Skincare Routine, click on the links :)

Have you read any good memoirs or non-fiction lately?

Love and happiness <3 Holly

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