March reading – 5 books

Kind of a whirlwind month, but still I managed to read 5 books.  The Other Einstein was actually borrowed from the library on my kindle and I didn’t finish it before the loan ended (something I rarely let happen!) so I had to wait for a couple weeks to finish it.  That was very hard and I eagerly read the end once I could.

We had our pool plastered (FINALLY!), and we spent the month of March tweaking jets and equipment.  It’s almost finished, though SG has gotten in already and had 2 swim lessons so far. (Pictures coming soon.)  Our handyman has been here installing outside lights, hanging the tv upstairs, and doing lots of garage storage projects.  We completed landscaping in the front yard and planted climbing jasmine along the driveway fence.  We got our storage unit delivered and emptied everything into the new garage or donated it.

I traveled to Charleston for a Sisterhood leadership conference,  had 7 Sisterhood programs/meetings, coordinated a 1600 piece mailing, had to get a cavity filled, went to the Houston rodeo, wrapped up the Girl Scout cookie sales and finances, among a bunch of other tasks.

We also traveled to Florida and then Austin for spring break to see family and friends.  I hope you are doing well out there… let me know what you’ve been up to lately.  🙂
The Other Einstein: A Novel by Marie Benedict

I enjoyed this fictional look into the story of Einstein’s wife, Mileva Maric, who was a physicist as well.  This account rewrites history as if she had developed the theory of relativity herself.  They truly did have a partnership of the mind as well as the heart, but Benedict writes the story as if Albert quickly took all the credit since she did not pass her final exams and she had begun caring for their family.  I loved the scientific discussions they had with each other in their early dating life, as well as the collaborations with friends.  Her story is probably similar to the many educated women who had to abandon their professional lives in favor of house and home.  Very interesting and easily readable in a couple days.  Recommend.

“The trusting part of me that had hardened during the Maschinchen patent omission solidified further, and the spark of hope that Albert and I might rekindle our scientific projects transformed into a flame of anger instead.”

The Cozy Life: Rediscover the Joy of the Simple Things Through the Danish Concept of Hygge by Pia Edberg

Hygge is a Danish idea about creating and enjoying simple, warm, cozy moments and includes a mental state of wellbeing and togetherness.  This book is divided into four sections; what hygge is, hygge foundations, the hygge lifestyle, and how hygge impacts your wellbeing. The goal of creating this is to feel like you’re at “home”—safe, happy, connected, and present.  I liked the music suggestions most of all.  I love the concept.

“I found that there were some common themes that made a situation hygge, such as how it feels, valuing simplicity, slowing down, the atmosphere, the company, how we host, the mindset, generosity, and the importance of authenticity. These all lead to enjoying life just a little bit more and making it richer and deeper.”

“Hygge is a simple concept, and it’s all about appreciating the little things in life. The Danes tend to be a lot less materialistic than other cultures. This is because they value experiences and connecting with friends and family, over accumulating vast amounts of stuff. The best things in life are free, and the most memorable activities can cost little to nothing, such as a picnic in a park or watching the snow fall with a cup of hot chocolate and a good friend. If everyone adopted a little more hygge in their lives, we’d have happier, more relaxed people and a more caring world.”

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures by Anne Fadiman

I learned of this book from a Facebook group string of recommendations and comments.  This is a true account of the Lee family, who are among the 150,000 Hmong who have fled Laos since their country fell to communist forces in 1975.  Really, this is a story about medical care in America and cross-cultural differences.  The Hmong did not fit any pattern most doctors are trained to deal with.  Their completely different belief system, the language barrier, and the uneasiness most Westerners feel about “the other” all combine into one patient’s disaster.  Truly, they have “a rich history, a complex culture, an efficient social system, and enviable family values.” I found this interesting, if not a bit long.  Recommend.

“To most of them, the Hmong taboos against blood tests, spinal taps, surgery, anesthesia, and autopsies—the basic tools of modern medicine—seemed like self-defeating ignorance. They had no way of knowing that a Hmong might regard these taboos as the sacred guardians of his identity, indeed, quite literally, of his very soul. What the doctors viewed as clinical efficiency the Hmong viewed as frosty arrogance.”

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

Kamila Sidiqi, a young dressmaker turned serial entrepreneur, is just one of many Afghan women who was unprepared to be the family’s breadwinner but succeeded nonetheless.Kamila started her first venture from the living room of her home in Khair Khana. She helped her family and many in her community and made a difference to service and education and the role of women in her society, despite the many risks.  In spite of confinement under Taliban rule, Kamila found a way to be productive.  Today she has trained more than nine hundred of her countrymen and women so that they, too, have the skills to build and grow their own businesses.  This is nonfiction that reads as fiction… a favorite of mine.  Recommend.

“What I found in Kabul was a sisterhood unlike any I had seen before, marked by empathy, laughter, courage, curiosity about the world, and above all a passion for work. I saw it the first day I met Kamila: here was a young woman who believed with all her heart that by starting her own business and helping other women to do the same, she could help save her long-troubled country. The journalist in me needed to know: where does such a passion, such a calling, come from? And what does Kamila’s story tell us about Afghanistan’s future and America’s involvement in it?”

The Witness Wore Red: The 19th Wife Who Brought Polygamous Cult Leaders to Justice by Rebecca Musser

Becky grew up in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  She tells her story so well that I felt like I was with her as she grew up and then became the 19th wife of her people’s prophet, 85-year-old Rulon Jeffs.  She escaped and started her own family, only to get pulled back in in order to protect other young girls in this fanatic cult.  Very interesting reading – highly recommend.

“As I learned more about choice, and looked over the extensive evidence in all of the cases I had testified in, I realized that what was happening in the FLDS was human trafficking — both for labor and for sex.  In mainstream society, money and lust are the currency.  In the FLDS, salvation and position are the currency, but the forced acts of labor and sex are the same — the very definition of slavery.  And whether greed of God is the currency, it is not right to own another’s free agency.”

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