CB Reads : David and Goliath + I Am Malala

Pretty good haul for mama at the library too! #johnsoncountylibrary #librariesrule #malala #malcomgladwell #read

During the past few months I’ve turned into a bit of a bookworm. Our open summer schedule meant many, MANY trips to our local library to beat the heat and gather up some new reading material. Lucy is a speed-reader who goes through several chapter books at a time, so we ended up spending A LOT of our summer hours curled up with our stories. Not only does my local library have an amazing selection, it also offers ebooks, which I can download on my iPad. I’m such a nerd-face, you should’ve seen me when I realized I could get books for FREE! It’s like I forgot how libraries work in this land of Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I ended up mirroring my daughter, going through a ton of books, and staying up all night reading. It was pretty awesome.

One of my favorites was David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell. I had heard about this book from a few people, and had even attended a seminar where the speaker based his argument on stories included in this collection. The book is a series of essays by Gladwell, a New Yorker columnist and author of a ton of other incredible reads (more here), focusing on the underdogs of society and how they overcame adversity. More specifically, it hones in on how underdogs, in reality, are sometimes nothing of the sort. In the titular essay, Gladwell writes about David, the young shepherd boy who slayed the giant Goliath in the famous Bible story. But was David really an underdog? Or was he smarter, faster and more prepared than Goliath? Did his size work for him, instead of against him? Gladwell is a wonderful writer, and this book was no exception. The section on the Civil Rights Era and the Irish-Catholic resistance against the British are both very intriguing and relate very much to what’s happening in the news right now. I highly recommend it for underdogs (and giants) everywhere.

I also recently finished the autobiography, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot By the Taliban, by Malala Yousafzai. It tells the story of Malala, who was 15 when her school bus was pulled over by Taliban fighters, who climbed aboard and shot her. Malala was the writer of an online journal for the BBC, which told of her struggles in trying to continue attending school after the Taliban took over her home in the Swat Valley of Pakistan. Her story is definitely worth reading. This book reminded me a bit of Anne Frank, the journals and memories of a young girl living thru a war, with stories about fights with friends and being angry at her brothers mixed in with tales of Taliban fighters roaming her town and threats against any girls attending school. It is heartbreaking and uplifting, as Malala continues to fight for education for girls, even after surviving such a terrifying ordeal.

The world is a scary place today. I watch the news and see the happenings in Ferguson, Missouri and Mosul, Iraq. I don’t know what to make of a world where an unarmed boy is shot by police or children are murdered for their religious beliefs. I don’t know how I can help or what I can do. But books like these make me think a better world is possible, and there are people that are working to get us there. When I read, I am growing, and with growth, I believe I can be inspired to find a way to help. Let’s keep learning, friends. Let’s keep growing.

Turning Strangers into Friends


(Chris and Amaira by Richard Renaldi via CBS News)

I came across this story recently and loved it so much, I had to share. The images are magical and the idea behind the project is just lovely. A photographer in New York City grabs strangers off the street and then asks them to pose intimately, as if they are lovers, friends or family members. The results are stunning.

(Thanks to Rachel for the heads up on this story!)

Dreaming of the Quiet Zone

I heard this story the other day on NPR about an area in West Virgina where cell towers and WiFi signals are banned due to a giant telescope in the area. Radio, cell and other high frequency signals will mess with the telescope’s systems, so there is 13,000-square-mile area that covers the eastern half of West Virginia, which is a designated quiet zone. In this part of the country, people still go to the local library to use dial-up internet, and phone booths are common. There are actual police that will write you a ticket for using any banned device.

One resident made a comment in the piece that really spoke to me:

“It’s nice to be able to pull something out of your pocket and send a message to someone and get a response within 30 seconds or so. But I don’t know that it’s that necessary. At least it’s not around here.”

Is it weird that I’m dreaming of such a place? It’s probably even weirder, considering I make my living writing online and doing online marketing for an IT company…but I can’t help it. The thought of a disconnected life is giving me goosebumps.

What do you think, could you ever live in a place where you couldn’t have a cell phone or wireless internet? Do you want to start a commune with me? I promise, I’m less strange than I appear!

(Not.)

Photo via John W. Poole for NPR, sourced here

A Gentlemen’s Debate

How much do I love, LOVE this video…so freaking much. I am personally a horrible debater, I tend to get way to emotionally involved and frazzled until I start saying things like “I know you are, but what am I!” like a fourth-grader. What I wouldn’t give to be as eloquent, funny and smart as these dudes.

(A Debate Between an Atheist and a Christian via Upworthy)

Rumination’s on Being a Second Grader

I remember second grade so very well. It was the year things changed for me. Until that year I’d been “normal.” A little odd and silly, perhaps, but a girl with a lot of friends and a happy little life. I was a lot like my little Lulu is now, sunny and funny and sweet. But in second grade my parents decided to move me to a private religious school in order for my brother, who had some learning issues, to get more attention than they thought he’d get at a public school.

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From that year until well into junior high, I was considered a bit of a weirdo. Kids were mean and unwelcoming, and the teachers didn’t seem to notice, or care. My mom still recalls going to a parent teacher conference where the teacher informed them I never had a partner at computer time. “Why not?” my parents questioned. Well, it seemed that no one wanted to be my partner, but I told the teacher it was okay, and I didn’t mind working by myself, so there I sat all year. Alone.

Now, I should be clear that none of these kids were inherently mean, just scared of someone different and following the pack, as many kids (and adults) tend to do. I also should point out that so much good came out of this situation. I eventually found a wonderful tribe of misfits and those people were some of the best friends a girl could ever ask for. Still are. I also know that I wouldn’t have become who I am today without these experiences, and I think I’m pretty rad. I don’t know if that means I’m happy I was bullied, I just know that I was blessed that I found a path that didn’t crush me or send my self-esteem to a point of no return. Many aren’t so lucky.

So today when I sent Lu off to second grade, I looked at her happy skipping body and her smiling eyes and found myself praying to the universe or God or whatever is out there that she is held safe these long school days. I told her she is loved beyond compare and that will never change, regardless of the number of awards she wins or friends she has. I told her about my experience, in the hopes that if she sees someone suffering, she will reach out. Those people who reached out when I was in second grade? They saved me. I think of them often and silently thank them for every gesture of kindness they bestowed upon me.

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I have big hopes for this girl. Not hopes for straight A’s or medals or trophies, but hope that her light can reach someone that needs it this year. I hope her smile or kind words from her lips will make a small difference to someone. I may not know much, but I know my hopes will be fulfilled.

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