Every Wednesday we will each share two books that caught our eye from that week’s Mailbox Monday.
We encourage you to share the books that caught your eye in the comments.
The Last Thousand: One School and the Future of Afghanistan by Jeffrey E. Stern @ Bermudaonion.
The Last Thousand unfolds during America’s final year of military occupation in Afghanistan. The stakes of war are explored through the intertwining lives of six members of the Marefat School, an institution in the Western slums of Kabul built by one of the country’s most vulnerable minority groups, the Hazara, as the school community prepares for the departure of foreign troops. Marefat’s mission is to educate its community’s youth- both boys and girls – and introduce them to a secular curriculum, civic participation, and the arts. The Marefat community has embraced the U.S. and flourished under its presence; they stand to lose the most when that protection disappears.
The Last Thousand tells the story of what we leave behind when our foreign wars end, presenting the promise, as well as the peril, of our military adventure abroad. Through the eyes of these characters, Stern presents a nuanced and fascinating portrait of the complex history of Afghanistan, American occupation, and the ways in which this one community rallies together in compelling, heartbreaking, and inspiring detail.
“This sounds fascinating.”
On its 10th anniversary, a gift edition of this classic book, with a forward by one of history’s greatest explorers, and eight pages of color illustrations.
Anyone alive in the eighteenth century would have known that “the longitude problem” was the thorniest scientific dilemma of the day–and had been for centuries. Lacking the ability to measure their longitude, sailors throughout the great ages of exploration had been literally lost at sea as soon as they lost sight of land. Thousands of lives, and the increasing fortunes of nations, hung on a resolution.
The scientific establishment of Europe–from Galileo to Sir Issac Newton–had mapped the heavens in both hemispheres in its certain pursuit of a celestial answer. In stark contrast, one man, John Harrison, dared to imagine a mechanical solution–a clock that would keep precise time at sea, something no clock had ever been able to do on land. Longitude is a dramatic human story of an epic scientific quest and Harrison’s forty-year obsession with building his perfect timekeeper, known today as the chronometer. Full of heroism and chicanery, it is also a fascinating brief history of astronomy, navigation, and clock making, and opens a new window on our world.
“It seems I’m on a nonfiction kick. This also sounds fascinating.”
Gloria Steinem had an itinerant childhood. When she was a young girl, her father would pack the family in the car every fall and drive across country searching for adventure and trying to make a living. The seeds were planted: Gloria realized that growing up didn’t have to mean settling down. And so began a lifetime of travel, of activism and leadership, of listening to people whose voices and ideas would inspire change and revolution.
My Life on the Road is the moving, funny, and profound story of Gloria’s growth and also the growth of a revolutionary movement for equality—and the story of how surprising encounters on the road shaped both. From her first experience of social activism among women in India to her work as a journalist in the 1960s; from the whirlwind of political campaigns to the founding of Ms. magazine; from the historic 1977 National Women’s Conference to her travels through Indian Country—a lifetime spent on the road allowed Gloria to listen and connect deeply with people, to understand that context is everything, and to become part of a movement that would change the world.
“This is my kind of memoir. Steinem is someone who has fascinated me for some time.”
My Mother’s Kitchen is an enchanting place filled with promise, change and good food. If the weathered walls of this magical room could talk they would tell the story of Meena and her childhood life. Each chapter is a slice in her young life and depicts her spunk and youthful spirit. A visit to the local Fruit and Flower Show becomes an adventure as told by Meena. Her distress at finding out about her aunt’s dark secret or her joy of making a new friend are all told in her naive, yet pure voice. Her mother is a central character in her life and it is no wonder that the kitchen is a special place of healing and rejuvenation, not only for Meena but for other characters like Kashi and Ayah.
“I love novels that include recipes! This was not to be missed by me this week.”
Chinese-American assistant professor Eileen Chen specializes in folk religion at her San Francisco college. Though her grandmother made her living as a shamaness, Eileen publicly dismisses witchcraft as mere superstition. Yet privately, the subject intrigues her.
When a research project takes her to the Canary Islands—long rumored to be home to real witches—Eileen is struck by the lush beauty of Tenerife and its blend of Spanish and Moroccan culture. A stranger invites her to a local market where women sell amulets, charms, and love spells. Gradually Eileen immerses herself in her exotic surroundings, finding romance with a handsome young furniture maker. But as she learns more about the lives of these self-proclaimed witches, Eileen must choose how much trust to place in this new and seductive world, where love, greed, and vengeance can be as powerful, or as destructive, as any magic.
Historian Lia Carrer has finally returned to southern France, determined to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. But instead of finding solace in the region’s quiet hills and medieval ruins, she falls in love with Raoul, a man whose very existence challenges everything she knows about life–and about her husband’s death. As Raoul reveals the story of his past to Lia, she becomes entangled in the echoes of an ancient murder, resulting in a haunting and suspenseful journey that reminds Lia that the dead may not be as far from us as we think.
Steeped in the rich history and romantic landscape of the Languedoc region, In Another Life is a story of love that conquers time and the lost loves that haunt us all.