Reading Ukraine: Borderland by Anna Reid

What a world we live in. So much we don’t know…but we can try to learn. Books are one of the best weapons in the battle to gain knowledge, especially something like Borderland, my selection for reading about Ukraine. Written by Anna Reid, a British journalist with work and family ties to the country, it’s an informative, well-researched, and very readable dive into the history and politics of a darkly complicated part of the world. It’s perhaps not the most in-depth resource out there but it’s an approachable one, and that’s a win when it comes to a place buried in tangled webs.

Written in 1997, it goes without saying that much has transpired since but after absorbing this book, you’re in a good spot to find out what’s happened next. Bonus for Americans: it’ll give you insight into the shenanigans of Paul Manafort and some other folks currently under investigation, and of Putin’s motives; it won’t make you feel any better, but at least you’ll have a solid framework of understanding…

View of Carpathian National Park from Hoverla. Carpathian National Park, Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast, Ukraine
View of Carpathian National Park from Hoverla. Carpathian National Park, Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast, Ukraine (Image by Balkhovitin via Wikimedia Commons)

 

 

Reading Uganda: Tropical Fish, Tales from Entebbe

The book I chose for Uganda was Tropical Fish, Tales from Entebbe by Doreen Baingana.

Such a good book! Well-written, great characters, a super solid sense of place; it’s everything you hope to find in a work of fiction, but so often don’t. I really enjoyed it, and highly recommend it.

The story is told through the viewpoints of three sisters. Their experiences of the world are all very different, but one common thread is that they are growing up during a time of conflict, doing the best they can to bring some normalcy to chaos. The setting is during Adi Amin’s rule, but the crazy-making by the people “in charge” could apply to anywhere, anytime.

Like now, for instance.

“The change was gradual and the result normal, like many other thing’s about Amin’s time, including the every day fear in the air. She remembered how everyone had laughed in astonishment then got used to it…
Everyone adjusted to the upside-down week, the upside down life, including other unbelievable and ugly things she didn’t want to think about. The bad smell had become familiar.”

Mount Khadam, Uganda
Mount Khadam, Uganda
(Image by Eright via Wikimedia Commons

Reading Honduras: Don’t Be Afraid, Gringo

My choice for reading about Honduras: Don’t Be Afraid, Gringo by Elvia Alvarado.

I had a draft post all set up and ready to go, but I just scratched it.

I’m an American, living in the USA, with the government of my country stopping people from Honduras at our border right now, ripping their children away, with no regard or understanding for what brought them here.

So, especially fellow Americans, here’s a book that you should read. It’s a story, straight from the source, about life in Honduras and the struggles that women face everyday as they fight for a more equitable existence. It gives you a direct, unfiltered line to meet someone’s humanity, at a time when the powers-that-be are trying very hard to turn you away from that.

So you Americans who really want to help the poor have to change your own government first. You Americans who want to see an end to hunger and poverty have to take a stand. You have to fight just like we’re fighting—even harder. You have to be ready to be jailed, to be abused, to be repressed. And you have to have the character, the courage, the morale, and the spirit to confront whatever comes your way.
– Elvia Alvarado
Honduran Girl
Honduran Girl (image via pixhere.com)

Reading The Gambia: The Sun Will Soon Shine

Though she be but littleshe is fierce.” – William Shakespeare

The Sun Will Soon Shine by Sally Sadie Singhateh is all the proof  you’ll ever need that a powerful story can be told with the slightest of touches.

Clocking in at just over 100 pages, this slim book packs a serious punch with a protagonist you love right away; you deeply feel her pain, and her triumphs.

A Woman Walking, Gambia
A Woman Walking, Gambia