Who out there is an armchair adventurer? Most of the time, I am, with a few exceptions. I love to read travalogues and live vicariously through the adventures that other people experience. But daily life can be its own adventure, especially for people who experience great hardship, dangerous or traumatic events, or simply those people whose culture is so vastly different from ours that it is difficult to comprehend.
Here are a few biographies and autobiographies to get you started – there are extraordinary people in our world. Some we will meet along the way, others we can read about in books, but the stories these people have to share with us will change the way you think of the world.
The Bite of the Mango, Mariatu Kamara with Susan McClelland
Kamara grew up in a small village in Sierra Leone, during a conflict that created hundreds of thousands of refugees. In her small village, the rumors of rebel attacks were just that – no one had seen them first hand, no one believed they were really happening. Until one day, when Kamara was 12 years old. She set out for a neighboring village and she never arrived. Heavily armed soldiers kidnapped her, tortured her, and cut off both her hands. She survives, makes her way to Freetown, and becomes a beggar to keep herself alive. Today she lives in Toronto, Canada, but it was a long road and her story shows just how resilient she is.
Hole in My Life, Jack Gantos
Gantos is an award-winning author of children’s books and lives with his wife in Massachusetts. In this book, he tells readers about the biggest mistake of his life – the time when he needed adventure so he agreed to sail a yacht loaded with hasish from the Virgin Islands to New York City. Once there, he was to sell the drugs but would retain ten thousand dollars for his trouble. Unfortunately for Gantos, federal agents knew what was going on and busted him and his partners at the Chelsea Hotel. Gantos servied six years in prison. This is the story of those years and how his youth ended in the tiny cell and how the entire experience made him into the writer he is today.
The Other Side of the Sky, Farah Ahmedi with Tamim Ansary
A childhood in Afghanistan is no picnic, much less for Farah Ahmedi. As a child, she grew used to the sound of gunfire and the sight of falling bombs, even when they took her family from her. Escaping death when she stepped on a landmine was one of only a handful of blessings that was bestowed upon her. Finally it becomes too much for her to bear and she flees her beloved country to refugee camps in the mountains before making a journey to the United States. Her tale is remarkable and inspiring, forcing us all to examine our own lives and the problems we are so sure we have, realizing they are nothing compared to some of what she suffered.
Rachel’s Tears: The Spiritual Journey of Columbine Martyr Rachel Scott, Beth Nimmo and Darrel Scott
There isn’t a lot of information I can give about this book without taking away something from the reading. Rachel Scott was a very typical teenage girl, except for her strong faith in God. She struggled, as many do, she learned, she believed in the depths of her heart. And then, on the 20th of April in 1999, she was shot and killed at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. This book uses her journals and the words of her parents to explore her life and give us a window into her faithful soul.
The Unwanted, Kien Nguyen
Nguyen is the son of a Vietnamese woman and an American man and spent his early childhood in Vietnam with his mother, the co-president of a bank. His house was large, his mother threw parties, they had servants, everything a child could have ever wanted. Until the night it changed. Amidst the destruction of the old politicos, the family loses everything and Nguyen and his mother are forced to Saigon, into an apartment and a community where they don’t fit, especially Nguyen with his mixed blood. A very emotional book, Nguyen does an excellent job pulling us into the desperation his life becomes before he manages to immigrate to the United States in 1985.
Warrior Princess, Princess Kasune Zulu with Belinda Collins
Princess Kasune Zulu began her life by the shores of Victoria Falls, living a very privileged life in Zambia. Life was idyllic until a mystery ailment claimed the lives of her parents, her brother, and her baby sister. The disease would become known as AIDS and it wasn’t until she turned 21 that Princess Kasune Zulu learned that she was also infected. That realization took her from Zambia to the White House and the United Nations. She has earned international acclaim for her work as an ambassador for vulnerable children and her passion for her work is unequaled. Her life may be uncertain, but she is not wasting one single minute of it.
SRP Update: SRP activities are finished, but reading for prizes will continue until August 31 – we’ve got some great prizes, so keep reading!
PAFL Update: Pipestone Area Friends of the Library is looking for members – anyone who is a friend to Meinders Library is welcome to join! The Friends group works hard to promote the library, raise money for projects, and organize their yearly book sale, in addition to the HUGE amount of support they provide throughout the year. Call for the date of their next meeting.
If you have questions or have a book you’d like to reserve or renew, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at (507) 825-6714. The summer hours for Meinders Library (starting Memorial Day weekend) are Monday through Thursday from 10 AM – 8 PM, and Friday from 10 AM – 5 PM and Saturday from 10 AM - Noon. Meinders Community Library is located at 1401 7th Street SW, on the south side of the high school.