The World Deserves My Children – Natasha Leggero
When Natasha Leggero got pregnant at forty-two after embarking on the grueling IVF process, she was over the moon. But once her feelings of bliss dissipated, she couldn’t help but shake the lingering question: Am I doing this right? And then, Should I be doing this if the world is about to end?
In The World Deserves My Children, Natasha explores themes like “geriatric” motherhood, parenting in an environmental panic, fear and love, discipline (and conflicting schools of thought on how not to raise a brat), and more. Ultimately, Natasha determines that motherhood is worth it. After all, where do you think the next five generations of humans will be if the only people who are having kids don’t believe in science? The world deserves my children.
Stars Between the Sun and Moon: One Woman’s Life in North Korea and Escape to Freedom – Lucia Jang and Susan McClelland
Born in the 1970s, Lucia Jang grew up in a common, rural North Korean household—her parents worked hard, she bowed to a photo of Kim Il-Sung every night, and the family scraped by on rationed rice and a small garden. However, there is nothing common about Jang. She is a woman of great emotional depth, courage, and resilience.
Happy to serve her country, Jang worked in a factory as a young woman. There, a man she thought was courting her raped her. Forced to marry him when she found herself pregnant, she continued to be abused by him. She managed to convince her family to let her return home, only to have her in-laws and parents sell her son without her knowledge for 300 won and two bars of soap. They had not wanted another mouth to feed.
By now it was the beginning of the famine of the 1990s that resulted in more than one million deaths. Driven by starvation—her family’s as well as her own—Jang illegally crossed the river to better-off China to trade goods. She was caught and imprisoned twice, pregnant the second time. She knew that, to keep the child, she had to leave North Korea. In a dramatic escape, she was smuggled with her newborn to China, fled to Mongolia under gunfire, and finally found refuge in South Korea before eventually settling in Canada.
With so few accounts by North Korean women and those from its rural areas, Jang’s fascinating memoir helps us understand the lives of those many others who have no way to make their voices known.
The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun – Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon in the unlikeliest of places: a city bus. “The days are long, but the years are short,” she realized. “Time is passing, and I’m not focusing enough on the things that really matter.” In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project.
In this lively and compelling account, Rubin chronicles her adventures during the twelve months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. Among other things, she found that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that money can help buy happiness, when spent wisely; that outer order contributes to inner calm; and that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference.
I Was Told to Come Alone: My Journey Behind the Lines of Jihad – Souad Mekhennet
“I was told to come alone. I was not to carry any identification, and would have to leave my cell phone, audio recorder, watch, and purse at my hotel. . . .”
For her whole life, Souad Mekhennet, a reporter for The Washington Post who was born and educated in Germany, has had to balance the two sides of her upbringing – Muslim and Western. She has also sought to provide a mediating voice between these cultures, which too often misunderstand each other.
In this compelling and evocative memoir, we accompany Mekhennet as she journeys behind the lines of jihad, starting in the German neighborhoods where the 9/11 plotters were radicalized and the Iraqi neighborhoods where Sunnis and Shia turned against one another, and culminating on the Turkish/Syrian border region where ISIS is a daily presence. In her travels across the Middle East and North Africa, she documents her chilling run-ins with various intelligence services and shows why the Arab Spring never lived up to its promise. She then returns to Europe, first in London, where she uncovers the identity of the notorious ISIS executioner “Jihadi John,” and then in France, Belgium, and her native Germany, where terror has come to the heart of Western civilization.
Mekhennet’s background has given her unique access to some of the world’s most wanted men, who generally refuse to speak to Western journalists. She is not afraid to face personal danger to reach out to individuals in the inner circles of Al Qaeda, the Taliban, ISIS, and their affiliates; when she is told to come alone to an interview, she never knows what awaits at her destination.
Anu: The Nomad Years – Shabnam Vasisht
When Anu married a Hindu of the highest caste, she entered a world far removed from her Christian roots.
This, the second part of Anu’s biography, covers her marriage years. She followed her army husband across the length and breadth of a newly-independent India.
Anu’s adventures took her from the bustling capital city of Delhi to the scorpion -infested Ahmednagar; from the mosquito-ridden Patna to the lotus lakes of Kashmir; and from the campsite of Udhampur to the hills of the Western Ghats.
Along the way, she bore three children and wrestled with a marriage that swung from one extreme to another. Eventually, Anu made a decision that would dramatically change her life again. But that’s another story …