Tag Archives: Politics

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Overview
Becoming by Michelle Obama - Reading Guide: 9781524763138 -  PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books

Title: Becoming
Author: Michelle Obama
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Memoirs, PoliticsRace
Dates read: 18th September – 11th October 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Penguin Viking
Year: 2018
5th sentence, 74th page: She had a wide-open smile and a slight island lilt in her voice that became more pronounced anytime she was tired or a little drunk.

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Synopsis

There’s a lot I still don’t know about America, about life, about what the future might bring. But I do know myself. My father, Fraser, taught me to work hard, laugh often, and keep my word. My mother, Marian, showed me how to think for myself and to use my voice. Together, in our cramped apartment on the South Side of Chicago, they helped me see the value in our story, in the larger story of our country. Even when it’s not pretty or perfect. Even when it’s more real than you want it to be. Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.

Thoughts

I am just completely, totally and utterly flawed by the awesomeness that is this book. To be honest, there aren’t many books on a political figure that draw me in so completely. And ones that feature a woman? That’s pretty much unheard of for me… partly that’s my own “issue” where I just don’t enjoy politics, politicians and anything of the sort all that much. But its also often hard to find something that is just so well written…

Obviously as the wife of Barack Obama, and the First Lady to his POTUS for so long, Barack was going to take a bit of attention and centre stage in this novel. But, what I really appreciated and loved was that he didn’t take all of the spotlight. Even once Michelle gets to the part of her book in which she starts to explain their courtship and such… it’s about her, not him. Which, in my opinion, is just how it should be – after all, the book isn’t really Barack’s book (I’ve read one of them, it’s good).

Although this is fairly centred around the American political system (which, as an Aussie I just find fucking WEIRD), I loved how it talked about women and their many different hats and roles that they must juggle. Michelle is no different to many working mothers – alright, there’s extra scrutiny and security… but still. I love how she talks about that path to finding what you love. How you juggle that with two young children, an incredibly driven husband… all of the things that I think many women often come up against. I know that these are issues that I seem to be facing in my life at the moment…

As I said before, I find American politics, culture, and pretty much everything super weird. Although you could probably say that people think the same thing about Australian culture… but the way that Michelle writes her memoir makes it somehow that much more accessible. I may still have zero interest in ever setting foot in the country, but at least Michelle’s words made it feel somehow more “real”….

<- The Fish LadderRosa Parks: My Story ->

Image source: Penguin Random House

Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

Overview
Image result for long walk to freedom book cover

Title: Long Walk to Freedom
Author: Nelson Mandela
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Biographies, PoliticsRace
Dates read: 1st – 21st February 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Abacus
Year: 1994
5th sentence, 74th page: Your father’s letter mentions nothing about a brother.

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Synopsis

The riveting memoirs of the outstanding moral and political leader of our time, Long Walk to Freedom brilliantly re-creates the drama of the experiences that helped shape Nelson Mandela’s destiny. Emotive, compelling and uplifting, Long Walk to Freedom is the exhilarating story of an epic life; a story of hardship, resilience and ultimate triumph told with the clarity and eloquence of a born leader.

Thoughts

I was actually a little disappointed by this. I’m absolutely fascinated by Nelson Mandela, and I looked forward to finding out a little bit more about the man behind the power and story. I didn’t really get much of that from this story. To me, it was mostly about politics, not actually about the journey and the story of the man. Not exactly my cup of tea.

Don’t get me wrong, this entire thing was very well written. And gave fantastic insight into the challenges faced in South Africa. The political landscape, the segregation, the ways in which Mandela’s Xhosa ancestry and life was structured. Everything was so beautifully detailed and told. But I wanted to know about the people that the man loved. The people that he cared about. The emotions. You just don’t get that in this story.

Alright, I know that Mandela was a politician, so I expected this to be mostly about politics. And law. And human rights. What I didn’t expect was it to just be about this. And that’s where I was a little disappointed. Whenever someone influential is mentioned, their characteristics aren’t discussed. It’s their political acumen and knowledge that is described. I wanted to know much more about the person behind this.

This is an interesting read, and one that I would suggest to others in the future. However, it’s not really my favourite read. I got through it all because the writing was really good, but it took me a lot longer than I had expected because I just couldn’t quite sink my teeth into it…

 <- The Blind Side ReviewCobain Review ->

Image source: Brotherhood Books

The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X

Overview
Image result for book cover the autobiography of malcolm x"

Title: The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Author: Malcolm X
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Biographies, Politics, Race
Dates read: 3rd – 27th January 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Year: 1965
5th sentence, 74th page: Sophia could get away only a few nights a week.

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Synopsis

One of Time’s ten most important nonfiction books of the twentieth century

In the saring pages of this classic autobiography, originally published in 1964, Malcolm X, the Muslim leader, firebrand, and anti-integrationist, tells the extraordinary story of his life and the growth of the Black Muslim movement. His fascinating perspective on the lies and limitations of the American Dream, and the inherent racism in a society that denies its nonwhite citizens the opportunity to dream, gives extraordinary insight into the most urgent issues of our own time. The Autobiography of Malcolm X stands as the definitive statement of a movement and a man whose work was never completed but whose message is timeless. It is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand America.

Thoughts

This is probably the single most intense book that I’ve ever read. Like I just sat there in shock not just after I finished it, but at multiple points throughout. It is intense, confronting and impossible to put down. It will also make you feel ridiculously uncomfortable. But I would still recommend that everyone read it. Even, if, like me, you’re not an American. And I’ve been talking the ear off of my poor family and friends telling them about how amazing this biography actually is.

I’ve been really interested in stories about race and discrimination, particularly over the past year. I desperately want to broaden my knowledge of this topic, and I’m slowly doing so. Actually, the past two years I’ve just been obsessed with memoirs and biographies, so this kind of falls under the topic. The Autobiography of Malcolm X is the most angry biography I’ve ever read. And I don’t say that in a bad way. It is unapologetically honest, completely forthright and doesn’t politely sugar coat the atrocities that the black man in America has had to face. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes the language and words used made me feel seriously uncomfortable, but I kind of think that that’s the point… where would we be if everyone just wrote something that would make others feel comfortable?

I’m not overly interested in the politics of America, I try to focus a little more on our own home politics here… however, it is good to get a brief understanding. After all, we are still tied to them. This book gave me a far more in depth insight into these politics than I was expecting. I’m glad that I’ve read a few other books before this which touch upon the subject, and even watched some movies. Because this was seriously confronting. And it made me stop and think repeatedly about our own Indigenous peoples who are constantly facing similar issues of racism.

This is a life changing book. It is one that I will constantly think about and has seriously made me sit back and think. I’m completely floored by the experiences that Malcolm outlines in his book. And, since it is written from his own words and not sugar coated, somehow, everything that I was vaguely aware of is far more real and intense. I had to reach for a happy, innocent book when this was finished…

 <- The Jane Austen Writers’ Club ReviewChinese Cinderella Review ->

Image source: Amazon

The Greatest Trick by Steve Vernon

Overview
Evolve

Title: The Greatest Trick
Author: Steve Vernon
In: Evolve (Nancy Kilpatrick)
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Politics, Vampires
Dates read: 3rd March 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Edge
Year: 2010
5th sentence, 74th page: He didn’t have that much in his wallet.

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Synopsis

We all know that politicians are blood suckers. But what happens when a vampire wants to become one too?

Thoughts

I’m not really into politics. Or politicians or really anything of the sort. I think that I should be a little more involved, but realistically, it’s just not going to happen. Which made it kind of fun to read a story about a bloodsucker going into politics. Literally.

The entire way throughout this story I was waiting for the punchline. There had to be some kind of evil, ulterior motive to a vampire running for office. Which there is. In the very final paragraph. And it led me to heave a sigh of relief and gratitude when I turned the final page. There just wouldn’t have been something right about this story if there wasn’t any kind of punchline…

 <- A Murder of Vampires ReviewSoulfinger Review ->
Image source: Goodreads

The Pagan Bride by Patricia Grasso

Overview
Image result for the mammoth book of scottish romance book cover

Title: The Pagan Bride
Author: Patricia Grasso
In: The Mammoth Book of Scottish Romance (Trisha Telep)
Rating Out of 5:  5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: PoliticsRomance,
Scottish romance
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: Avril could have throttled her brother.

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Synopsis

Avril is on her way to meet the man she married when she was five years-old. Luckily, for her, he might be the man of her dreams, not so luckily, there are deadly politics of play as she holds court with Mary, Queen of the Scots.

Thoughts

I was honestly annoyed at the beginning of this story. Avril was married to a man ten years her senior when she was five years-old. Now, as an adult she is returning to his estate and taking her place as a wife. And he’s quite rude from the very beginning – leaving her waiting, assuming that he gets his “husbandly rights”… he’s kind of a douche. But, he gets better, and even though I don’t actually like him at the end of the story, I do like their relationship.

It took me a little longer than I would have liked to realise that this story featured Queen Mary of the Scots (or something like that), the woman who was imprisoned and executed in England after being one of Henry’s infamous wives (I believe). Even this, I’m not 100% sure of. But I loved the way in which a touch of the “other” (in the form of the Sight), works its way seamlessly into the machinations of a political court that was completely real.

The marrying of real life political intrigue and events with a fantastical romance worked really well here. I loved being able to imagine that this actually did happen way back when… that Avril’s descendants are happy and healthy somewhere in the world.

 <- Highland Heart ReviewWolfish in Sheep’s Clothing Review ->
Image source: Hachette Australia

Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama

Overview

Dreams From My FatherTitle: Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance
Author: Barack Obama
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: History, PoliticsRace
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: The Canons
Year: 1995
5th sentence, 74th page: I seen you tear ’em up on the playground, no contest.

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Synopsis

Dreams From My Father is a refreshing, revealing portrait of a young man asking big questions about identity and belonging.

The son of a black African father and a white American mother, President Obama recounts an emotional odyssey. He retraces the migration of his mother’s family from Kansas to Hawaii, then to his childhood home in Indonesia. Finally he travels to Kenya, where he confronts the bitter truth of his father’s life and at last reconciles his divided inheritance.

Thoughts

I had no idea what to expect from this book. I simply bought it because I needed a political memoir to complete the Popsugar reading challenge. I don’t like politics. I have no interest in conspiracies. And I’m an Aussie. So most of our politicians… well, lately, I don’t even know who’s in power anymore (but that’s a whole OTHER conversation). And, really, Barack Obama was one of the few politicians who doesn’t make me mad or annoyed. And, man am I glad that I picked this up.

I am fascinated with discourses on race and racism. Especially in countries and places that I haven’t seen. Australia has many issues of racism, and I know that it is something that is prevalent across the world. So reading the words of a man who has experienced displacement and prejudice due to his skin colour. It touched me and hit me in a way that nothing else ever has. Maybe just the fact that it is so far removed from my everyday life that there is both a morbid fascination, and a feeling of horror at my white privilege.

Before reading this book, I knew next to nothing about Obama, other than the fact that he was America’s first black president. Now I can understand just how he was so compelling. In fact, I want to read more of his books. You can hear the politicians’ voice coming through the words, but you can also feel the genuine meaning and the greater picture that he paints as you go on a journey with him.

 <- Jane Austen: Obstinate Heart Review The Jane Austen Writers’ Club Review ->
Image source: Bookworm