Book review – I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb

Malala

‘I come from a country, which was born at midnight, when I almost died, it was just after midday.’

–   Malala Yousafzai

Also known as ‘The girl shot by the Taliban’, and now the youngest recipient of Nobel Peace Prize ( a Nobel Laureate at an  age of 17) for her inspirational battle against the dreaded terror group and for her contributions in the field of promoting female education, Malala has become  a household name. She has rightly become the face of international activism for education for girls which is a right that many of us take for granted. But it takes stories like that of Malala to make us realize that even a right as basic as education is a privilege, as there are people in some parts of the world who are fighting the good fight simply to be able to go to school.

This autobiography penned by Malala in association with Christina Lamb is an account of an ordinary girl and her ordinary life in her beloved ‘Swat valley’ with her family comprising of her parents, two younger brothers and two pet chicken. She talks about her parents, how her father named  her ‘Malala’ after the Afghan warrior princess ‘Malalai’, the beauty of her ‘Swat Valley’, her Pashtun ancestry, her school friends, her everyday struggle from going to school to studying to competing with her best friend in school, her desires and wishes for a bright future,  her father’s educational activism, the gory capture of her town  by Taliban, atrocities inflicted on people under the seize, moving out of her town with her family for safety, living in a constant fear yet advocating girl’s educational rights, her father receiving death threats from Taliban over radio, getting shot and her miraculous recovery, her new life in Birmingham – it is an extraordinary account of a girl who has seen far enough for a teenage girl. It is evident from the book that Malala’s father has greatly influenced her daughter’s mindset making her fearless and instilling in her extreme sense of regard and pride for her motherland. She has grown up watching her father struggling to build a school and convincing girls to attend it – something that is condemned in their valley, hence it is not surprising that Malala values her  education and is ready to fight for it. She dreams of becoming a politician and alleviating the political situation in Pakistan.

The poignant recount of the ill-fated day when she was shot keeps the reader on the edge of the seat right up to the day when she wakes up in a London hospital –showing the world how a miraculous escape from the bullet can turn the table on terrorism. The bullet that was meant to silence the voice made it even louder and now she has evolved as the face of an international campaign for female education.

The book does not give a detailed account of the initiatives taken by her to promote female education worldwide, neither does it explore further on the subject of female education and its current status in the world. But what it provides is the story of a brave, teenage girl written with great simplicity and innocence who has become a role model  for every girl in the world. The book is replete with pictures from her past, her post recovery days and her new life in Birmingham.

All in all, a great book that will leave you with a sense of deep regard for the education you have received, and a compelling desire to do your bit for educating the less – privileged ones  around you .

To buy this book, plz visit : http://fkrt.it/IvVOn!NNNN

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Book Review : Impatient Optimist – Bill Gates in his own words by Lisa Rogak

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‘This is how I see the world, and it should make one thing clear: I am an optimist. But I am an impatient optimist.’

                                                                                                          –   Bill Gates

A biography but not in the usual sense of the word, this book attempts to give us a glimpse into the life and personality of one of the world’s richest businessmen who spearheaded the digital technology revolution as the CEO of his brainchild and  tech-giant Microsoft. After dropping out of Harvard University in the junior year  and later co-founding  the company  with his friend Paul Allen in 1976, there was no turning back for this ingenious scientist who at a young age of 31, became the youngest self-made billionaire in the world.  This book tries to explore various aspects of his life – from his decision to step down as CEO and engage in philanthropic work, his relationship with Paul Allen, his successor Steve Ballmer and Apple’s Steve Jobs, the nature of his philanthropic work and his foundation, his take on business, future trends in technology, his family, his legacy and his attitude towards various things in general.

His take on success –

‘Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.’

Now the surprising element of the biography is that it is not in text format. Lisa Rogak has experimented with the conventional  style , and has presented the biography as a collection of quotations by Bill Gates  collected from various sources –print media , public interactions, conferences and business events, online journals etc. At first, it is hard to realize how a book replete with his sayings can be helpful  in providing an insight into the mind of this venerated personality – but as one reads through the pages –the words  indeed prove to be the words of wisdom and open the doors of  enlightenment. As the pages are turned, the reader himself can make a sketch of his character. The process is very much similar to real life – we hear/know what people say on the basis of which we form a portrait of the person in our mind. This approach also eliminates any prejudice or bias – a figment of author’s mind – which can set in the minds of the reader if he reads through the author’s lens. All in all, a commendable effort by Lisa Rogak, I must say. A possible drawback could be that this format does  not give a detailed description of his life or incorporate third person’s views about him. The quotes are also not arranged chronologically but categorically. It does provide a list of his significant life events in brief at the end – but it is very similar to the way we list events in history matched with its year.

If you are looking for an inspirational, light reading or are simply interested in his life– this book is a good bet. But if you want a detailed description of his life, this book might disappoint you. My suggestion to the readers – go for this book for the innovative style of writing.  It will be a refreshing change. The inspiration and wisdom which you would get out of it could be the icing on the cake.

You can buy the book here :  http://fkrt.it/Iv2HT!NNNN

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