Monday, March 26, 2007

Recent Books

Are you ever suddenly struck by the realization that there's an unconscious pattern to your reading?

For a person who used to read voraciously there's been a noticable lack of books in my life until recently. I've missed their companionship. Since the new year began some time has been devoted to reading.

This book caught my eye shortly before Christmas. I bought it rationalizing I'd give it to someone. I end up with it.

Dancing Under the Red Star: The Extraordinary Story of Margaret Werner, the Only American Woman to Survive Stalin's Gulag was written by Margaret's son, Karl Tobien, just a few years before her death in the late 1990's. It was a quick read, one I could hardly put down.

Persian Girls: A Memoir by Nashid Rachlin was a birthday gift from my daughter. I read it in February. It's a fascinating look into a young girl's life as she grew up in the 1950 - 60's in Iran; a strong willed girl who was expected to unquestioningly follow her parent's wishes.

This book on the New Book display shelf at the public library caught my eye.

Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza

Immaculee spent 90 days hidden inside the small bathroom while the holocaust was rampaging just beyond the wall.

Two of the books are autobiographies, the other a biography by the woman's son. These are the stories of women who lived through tragedy and hardship. But what struck me is the fact that all three women were optimists who tended to view others in the best light possible, inspite of some horrendous conditions. Nashid's strong determination and focus of breaking free from the stifling domination lead her towards freedom.

Margaret and Immaculee were thrust into circumstances where the only thing they had control over was how they reacted to their individual situations. Margaret, an American citizen, spent almost 10 years in a Siberian Gulag on trumped up charges. She refused to give up the hope of someday returning to her mother, and ultimately to America. (Margaret's story is a fast read with almost a Pollyanna feel.)

All the people in Immaculee's immediate family, except her eldest brother who was attending school in a different country, were brutally murdered within a few miles of where she hid.
Throughout their ordeals these two women maintained a strong faith that God would protect them. Both developed a great capacity for love and forgiveness, understanding that evilness is not overcome by fighting back in anger but by seeking to bring out the best in people. The Quakers call it, "Seeing the Christ Light in every person." Don't get me wrong, I know there are some people who have are ruled by evil.

Strong women living their lives the best they know how, always looking forward with hope, and expectation, maintaining their faith in God, reaching out in love and never giving up.

Sorry about the lousy picture; red is hard to take at night but I wanted to get it while the needles were still in the stitches.
The body of the Red Sweater is finished!!! Remember the sweater that started back in November? The bottom was ripped back when it suddenly dawned on me, after determinedly knitting away for a couple hours, that it was too long, and sloppy. Four inches were ripped out and I dropped a size to #8 circs found in my stash. These blue aluminum circs have a story of their own, but that's for another day. The bottom is knit in seed stitch to tie in with the seed stitch at the neck. There's about 3 inches left on the right sleeves then down the length of the left sleeve and the sweater will be done. Perhaps in time for summer? :-)

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Blogger Charity said...

These all sound fascinating - I especially like the sound of Persian Girls. My step-father is from Iran, and there is so much about the culture I just don't understand.

The red sweater is coming along - how nice to be so close to the end! :0)

10:57 PM  
Blogger Artis-Anne said...

What a great list of books. I too used to be an avid reader until I had problems with my eyes ( part of the delights of Crohn's Disease )and I gave up reading and all my crafts for a long time. Thankfully after treatment my sight is better but I don't read as much as I would like to.
The red sweater looks good , will have to track back to see if you have a photo of the pattern :) but it sounds lovely, keep at it :)

5:12 AM  
Anonymous Gayle said...

I'm reading "Dancing Under the Red Star" right now! It is an amazing and thought provoking story. I like the Quaker concept of "seeing the Christ light." It serves as a good reminder that we are all created in His image and all people deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Helps me think more peaceably about those folks I'd really like to throttle because they have wronged or inconvenienced me.

6:09 AM  
Blogger Marianne said...

I'll be checking my library for these books, thank you so much. I do believe I saw on a documentary about the story of Immaculee's time hidden inside the small bathroom, wasn't she with a great many other women also? What incredible courage in these women.
I remember the red sweater with great fondness, and I can't tell you how tickled I am that it's so close to being finished, and that I'm not alone in knitting winter things just in time for Summer!

9:01 AM  
Blogger Fiberjoy said...

Charity, have you seen the Iranian movies, "Children of Heaven" or "The Color of Paradise" directed by Majid Majidi? Must see films!

Anne, the red sweater is something I'm just kind of doing as I go.

Gayle, yes, the book is very thought provoking on several levels. Ed read it and says everyone should read this book which shows how readily people want to believe the best about gov'ts but yet how quickly that can become a nightmare.

Marianne, you're correct in the beginning there were five other women confined to the bathroom, joined by another woman later on. Seven women in one bathroom, two of whom were girls! Observing absolute silence throughout the entire 91 days with only occasional whispers/communication with the pastor hiding them.

10:16 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

Amazing stories - but testament to the strength we sometimes don't know we have until it's called on, and a faith which can stand us in good stead.

2:29 PM  

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