Book Review: Part One

I read all the time on this trip: on trains, waiting for the bus, eating alone in restaurants, in parks, before bed, waiting in line at museums. Books have always been my friends and I was happy to dive back into fiction when so much of my “normal” life is dominated by news (which I also love just doesn’t provide the same escapism).

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Secular Friday in Istanbul

On Beauty, Zadie Smith
Lizzie rating: A+
I bought this book on a lonely night in Istanbul. I was still getting used to the whole solo travel game and finding an English language bookstore was a huge boon. Smith’s storytelling is a well honed craft and I absolutely inhaled this book, finishing it in less than 36 hours. The plot revolves around a family falling apart slowly under the strain of infidelity and growing children. The beauty (pardon the pun) of this book is in the details Smith both includes and omits, I got lost in a well constructed story and deeply human characters.

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Enjoying a cool(ish) evening in Athens

Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
Lizzie rating: A-
Melanie passed this book along to me when we parted in Greece and it ended up being the only book I got for free on the trip. The book is a classic for a reason, serving as a warning for both unrelenting capitalism and the Stalinized “socialism” that provided the other world power at the time. The world Huxley creates is alarming in its scope and yet clearly possible (the leaks exposing PRISM and the extent of government spying came out after I finished the book). Reading this book was a bit like watching the Texas legislature, you can’t believe it’s happening but you desperately want to know more. Luckily, this is still fiction.

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Taking a break at the Vatican

Women, Race and Class, Angela Davis
Lizzie rating: A+
This was my homework. The book I couldn’t bring home unfinished. But that makes it sound like a chore when I was, in fact, giddy to read it. For all my news and current events reading I don’t have/make a lot of time for political theory. Davis’ contributions to the way serious activists think about organizing for all women have been remarkable. The section on broadening our arguments for reproductive justice to include support for women that want to have children but are publicly raked over the coals (single moms and women receiving public assistance come to mind) is so important. I’m really looking forward to putting these ideas into practice when I get back.

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