Around the World in 80 Books: Pakistan (Pashtun)

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Welcome to the next installment in my Around the World in 80 Books Challenge!  It’s exactly what it sounds like: I’m trying to read 80 books from 80 different countries/cultures around the world, and to add a frugal spin, I’m trying to do it all for under $20.

Here’s my running tally so far:
$0- Library books: RussiaNorwaySwedenMexicoSierra Leone, Spain
$0- Free eBooks: ScotlandEngland
$0- Gift: Turkey
$0- Won in a Giveaway: Jerusalem
$1.99- eBook: Basque Country
$0- Paid, and interesting, review: Financial Inclusion at the Bottom of the Pyramid

Grand Total: $1.99

Today’s book was another birthday gift, so more freeness! Hopefully I won’t still be working on the challenge for too many more birthdays, but as long as I am, I’m loving that I’m getting these as gifts. The giver knows me well and always picks perfect reads, so if you’re reading this, THANK YOU!

Pakistan (Pashtun)

If you haven’t heard of Malala Yousafzai yet, she is a girl from Swat, a region in the northern part of Pakistan. She is Pashtun, which is the same people as a large part of Afghanistan. When the Taliban started moving into her region, she and her father were very vocal about not restricting education. Her focus was not restricting education for girls. While everyone else was rightfully scared to speak out, she did it anyways.

As a result, she was shot. In the head. By some miracle, combined with a lot of medical expertise, she survived. She woke up in Birmingham, England without her family. They were still in Pakistan trying to secure proper documentation for her mother and brothers before they made the trip. They are still in England today, and Malala continues to be vocal about girls’ right to education not just in Swat, but in all parts of the world.

After I read this book, I read some reviews on Goodreads. It looks like a lot of people weren’t too happy with the coauthor’s role in this book. The consensus seems to be that she threw in a lot about Pakistani history and politics, and it made the ride uneven.

That wasn’t my experience. I’ve honestly always been confused about Pakistan. It seems like they’re our ally. And then it seems like they’re not. And that’s just about all I knew. Apparently, it can be just as confusing over there. There have been dictatorships and assassinations. Seizures of power and, not so long ago, essential kings or walis. The government isn’t always watching out for the people, but then sometimes they are. In Malala’s view, we’ve also been confusing, as we’ve been talked about as allies and then bombed parts of their country.

The relationship is a mess. So having background on it was not only enlightening, but felt necessary to the story as Malala’s mission is so heavily intertwined with politics and couldn’t have been properly understood without reading a bit about the region’s history.

Malala herself is the epitome of bravery. You know that quote that says, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing?” Read it with “men” being representative of any gender. Because Malala is one of those good human beings, bringing the quote to life. A large part of what happened in her part of the world could be attributed to very few standing up and saying, “No.” But she stood up and said it anyways. There were very real potential consequences. She said it anyways. There were very real consequences that came to fulfillment. She continues to say it anyways.

She doesn’t need my endorsement. She’s won the Nobel Peace Prize. The youngest person ever.

But she’s going to get it anyways. Highly, highly recommend this one.

As for what’s next, I may have to swing by my local library to find out. I’ve got a long list of recommendations to choose from. Want to add one of your own? Leave it in the comments!

Canada: The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be by Farley Mowat recommeded by Messy Money
Afghanistan: The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg recommended by Savvy Working Gal
Nigeria: I Do Not Come to You by Chance by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani recommended by Guiltless Reader
Philippines: May Day Eve and Other Stories by Nick Joaquin recommended by Guiltless Reader
Iceland: Scarcity in Excess by Arna Mathiesen & Thomas Forget
Sudan: The Wedding of Zein by Tayeb Salih recommended by Kate Wilson
Kenya: Out of Africa by Karen Blixen recommended by Christine from The Wallet Diet
China:  Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China by Leslie T. Chang
JapanTotto-Chan: The Little Girl at the Window by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi recommended by Suburban Finance
EthiopiaThe God Who Begat a Jakal by Nega Mezlekia recommended by Based On a True Story
French AntillesVictoire: My Mother’s Mother by Maryse Conde recommended by Based on A True Story
SurinameThe Free Negress Elisabeth by Cynthia McLeod recommended by Based On A True Story
Costa Rica: The Ticos: Culture and Social Change in Costa Rica
France: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr recommended by Our Next Life
Italy: If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino recommended by Middle Class
Germany: In the Garden of Beasts or Devil in the White City by Erik Larson recommended by Emi from AIP Around the World
Haiti: All Souls Rising by Madison Smartt Bell recommended by Tre from House of Tre

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15 thoughts on “Around the World in 80 Books: Pakistan (Pashtun)

  1. Penny @ She Picks Up Pennies

    I Am Malala is great! It’s part of our curriculum since last year, and I love sharing it with my middle school students. They are so inspired by her. Multicultural literature is so important. I love that you’re pursuing this as a hobby and a goal. Can’t wait to keep following this series!

    1. femmefrugality

      I love that you’re using it in class! Talk about expanding your world view! And this region is so important with all of our involvement in the recent past. Reading+politics+general world awareness=awesome curriculum. In one book.

  2. Jana @ Jana Says

    This is an interesting reading challenge. There’s been talk of a lack of diversity in books and I love how this challenge takes that head on.

    I Am Malala has not been on my radar for whatever reason but I know that I need to read it, if for no other reason than I want my daughter to know about her.

    If you want one from Jamaica, A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James just won the Man Booker prize. I haven’t read it yet (it’s on my list). Also, if you take a listen to the All the Books podcast, they talk about some that take place in North Korea. The titles are escaping me right now.

    1. femmefrugality

      You will LOVE this then:

      Tanya (and Savvy Working Gal) are the ones who got me started on this challenge. The readathon is happening over the next two weeks, but it’s a part of a larger challenge called Travel the World in Books which you can find here:

      Totally adding your Jamaica suggestion to the queue in my next post! Thank you!!!

    1. femmefrugality

      She truly is incredible. I like to think of myself as someone who speaks up for what is right, but as I was reading her story, I found myself really questioning my own bravery, and standing in awe at hers.

  3. Prudence Debtfree

    I have set up a bulletin board at my school with the theme “Around the World in 80 Books.” “Great idea!” people have told me. “I got it from a blogger,” I explain : ) Staff and students have provided 3 book reviews and have committed to another 5 so far. We’ll try to hit 80 before the end of the school year. Thanks!
    We have 4 copies of I am Malala in our school library, and it’s almost always in circulation. Sometimes, a person comes along who is larger than life. I would say the Malala is one such person.

    1. femmefrugality

      THIS MAKES ME SO HAPPY! I’m so glad that you’ve implemented it and that people are doing it!!! I’d love to see a master list at the end of the year, or a few picks of all-time favorites from your people. Plus I’d love to know if anyone’s world view changes as a result. I know mine has in many ways!

      Thank you for letting me know. This seriously made my day.

  4. Thebooktrail

    Hi we’ve just done a map for this challenge but need more in certain countries so your list will be very useful! You have an impressive reading list there! What a great challenge

    Susan from the booktrail

  5. Savvy

    I am reading this one for the readathon. I am looking forward to learning more about her story and am happy they are including information about Pakistan. I always like learning more about the politics and history of the area I’m reading. If it isn’t included I usually do more research on my own.

    Great list of books. I looked up most of them. FYI – I couldn’t make it all the way through Factory Girls. It was too repetitive for me. Love to learn your thoughts if you read it. I did enjoy Poorly Made in China an Insider’s Guide by Paul Midler.

  6. Tanya @ Mom's Small Victories

    I am going to read this for Travel the World in Books Reading Challenge and it’s Nonfiction November’s readalong selection too. Picking up my copy today. My teen son wants to read it as well and I think it will prompt difficult but worthwhile discussion with him. Thanks for sharing with Travel the World in Books and supporting our readathon and challenge!!

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