Review Tuesday: One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter

It’s been a long time since I did a Review Tuesday, and it’s not like I stopped reading books (I’ve read 47 so far this year), it’s just that I got super lazy. But, I’m trying to kick the lazy-ness. So, I’m back with the Review Tuesday. And first book I’m back with is One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul.

From Goodreads:

A collection of essays about growing up the daughter of Indian immigrants in Canada, “a land of ice and casual racism,” by the cultural observer, Scaachi Koul.

In One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter, Scaachi deploys her razor-sharp humour to share her fears, outrages and mortifying experiences as an outsider growing up in Canada. Her subjects range from shaving her knuckles in grade school, to a shopping trip gone horribly awry, to dealing with internet trolls, to feeling out of place at an Indian wedding (as an Indian woman), to parsing the trajectory of fears and anxieties that pressed upon her immigrant parents and bled down a generation. Alongside these personal stories are pointed observations about life as a woman of colour, where every aspect of her appearance is open for critique, derision or outright scorn. Where strict gender rules bind in both Western and Indian cultures, forcing her to confront questions about gender dynamics, racial tensions, ethnic stereotypes and her father’s creeping mortality–all as she tries to find her feet in the world.

This is one of my favourite books of the year. I’m usually not a big fan of essay-style books, but I fell in love with this one. I truthfully found out about it through a Facebook ad where the ad copy was something along the lines of “my boss told me I have to market this book even though one day we’ll all be dead and none of this will matter,” and it made me laugh, so I had to look up the book. (Well done marketing person).

The one thing that I loved about this book was that it was written from a completely different perspective from my own. I’m a middle class white female. I’ve never experienced racism before – I’ve definitely experienced sexism, (which she also talks about) but not racism. So it was interesting to read about someone close to my age who experiences it on a fairly regular basis. Interesting and disturbing. Her version of Canada is different from mine, and I wasn’t happy that she was experiencing – and is experiencing – something so awful. But, it was good to read about it because I needed to know. And every Canadian needs to know that this happens. Nothing can change if we don’t all frankly talk about what we experience.

Racism was one of the big things that Scaachi talked about, but she also talked about sexism (Good Lord I hear ya on that), and just other life experiences that she’s had. I also really enjoyed her essay about the perpetual fear that she lives in – only because I also have that going on (though to a lesser degree).

Overall, this was a very smart, funny, and engrossing book. I loved that it made me think, made me reevaluate things that I thought I knew, and just made me laugh. The writing is brilliant and engaging and I couldn’t put it down. I also LOVED that it was Canadian. I’m starved for Canadian content.

If you haven’t read this book you definitely should. It’s not one that you can miss.

Advertisements

5 Things: walks, books, musicals, and colouring

My 5 Things this week, is as ever, inspired by Emily and Cupcakes and Cashmere.

IMG_2849

Last weekend I hung out with my friends Carmen and Sarah, and we went to the east end of Toronto to have lunch, do a little shopping and to take a nice walk. This picture is from our walk in Glen Stewart park. It’s completely gorgeous and very peaceful.

IMG_2851

Last weekend I also went and saw Matilda the musical with my mom at the Ed Mirvish theatre. It was very cute, and I loved the story that Matilda told about the escape artist and the acrobat. The girl can definitely tell a tale. It also makes me want to read Matilda.

IMG_2852

The best boyfriend in the world (aka Doug) order me the new Harry Potter for my birthday back in March. He picked it up for me while I was at Matilda and dropped it off at my place, along with a chocolate glazed donut (my favourite), with a note on the bag that said, “because power reading needs a little energy xoxoxoxo.” How awesome is he?! Also, my review of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is coming on Tuesday!

IMG_2878

I know that some people find adult colouring ridiculous, however, I find that it really helps me when my anxiety kicks in. This is one that I’ve been working on for a night or two, and I do it while I watch tv. I find that it gives my brain something else to concentrate on (because sometimes tv isn’t enough to keep my attention) and it also gives my hands something to do. It’s incredibly relaxing.

IMG_2879

My two books that I’m currently reading! I’ve just started both of them, and I’m excited for them. They should be really good!

Review Tuesday: Nemesis: The Battle For Brazil by Misha Glenny

When I heard about Nemesis: The Battle For Brazil by Misha Glenny, I was immediately interested for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that I knew next to nothing about Brazil, the second reason is that the world’s attention has been on Brazil the last couple of years what with the World Cup, the Olympics and now the zika virus, and the third reason is because it just seemed really fascinating. Everyone likes stories where the main character isn’t simply good or evil, and Nem definitely lives in a world of grey – though after reading this book I feel like you could say that Brazil itself also lives in a world of grey.

Before we go any further however we’ll get the description from Goodreads:

NemesisAn explosive vision of contemporary Brazil’s underbelly by one of our greatest investigative reporters.

This is a book about a man known as Nem; about Rocinha, the slum or “favela” he grew up in and came to run as a private fiefdom; about Rio, the beautiful but damned city that Rocinha exists in; and about the battle for Brazil. Nemesis pans in and out from the arc of Nem’s individual, astonishing trajectory to the wider story of the country that he exists in.

It’s about drugs and gangs and violence and poverty. It’s about a man who made a terribly dangerous and life-altering decision for the best and most understandable of reasons. And it’s about the wider forces at work in a country that is in the world’s spotlight as never before and is set to stay there. Those forces include the evangelical church, bent police and straight police, drug lords, farmers, TV magnates, crusading politicians, and corrupt politicians.

If this book was strictly about Nem I do not think that it would have the punch that it has. The book however, is about Nem, but it is also about Brazil and it highlights the massive problems that this country has. By the time I finished reading this book I was livid.

WARNING SOME SPOILERS BELOW

Nem gets into the drug trade because his daughter becomes deathly ill. He has a full time job, but he and his family are just making ends meet. He has no money to pay for her numerous hospital visits, for the medications, or for the tests that she requires. And Brazil has no health coverage. Nem and his wife and daughter go from living on their own to living with his mother in a tiny apartment, and still it’s not enough to make ends meet. So he gets a loan from the Don of Rocinha (essentially the drug lord who runs the slum/favela. It is a loan that he would never be able to pay back with the job that he has now. But his daughter gets better, and so Nem quits his job and goes to work for the Don to pay back the loan.

The story continues from there about Nem’s rise to power, about how a favela is run and operated, and more importantly about who runs and operates the favelas because it sure as hell is not the Brazilian government. A good Don, as I’ve learned while reading this book, provides jobs for the people, utilities, keeps violence down, listens to the people when they have problems, and acts as essentially a Lord of a fiefdom. What they say goes. And the people are okay with that (for the most part) because the Dons provide for them and in a way care about them (because providing for them and caring about them is good for business. When the people are happy, the drugs flow in and our of the favela smoothly).

What was interesting to me about the favela’s is how many people live in them, how many people living in them don’t have access to running toilets or water, windows, or good food, and how the Brazilian government has known about this for decades and has done nothing essentially. They have been happy to let the Dons run the favelas, and corrupt cops be on the take from Dons and they have spent money elsewhere – like on stadiums that they will never use again from the World Cup, or $50 million to bid on the Olympics (forgetting for a second that they also now have the Olympics) and yet the people in these favela’s have just about nothing. The only people who do care about them are the Don, (and care is relative).

I didn’t realize that Brazil was such a country of the haves and have nots. And when the Brazilian army and police forces swept into favelas a couple of years ago to take them over for the Dons, the people living in those favelas weren’t too happy about it. This is a government that has ignored them for 40 years. Why on earth would these people all of a sudden be happy to see the government? Why would they trust them?

There are so many problems in Brazil in regards to trust, and corruption. It’s an incredibly tangled web that Nem is only a small part of. And this book shows a country that is in serious trouble, and has serious problems, and is uses Nem to show all of that.

I loved this book. It was brilliant and insightful and taught me so much about Brazil. I’m definitely going to be reading other books by Misha Glenny, and you should definitely pick up this one. You will not be disappointed.

Review Tuesday: Vanity Fair

Now, usually my Review Tuesdays are about books. And next week’s will definitely be a book review. However, I do read more than books. I also really enjoy reading some magazines, so this Review Tuesday is showing some love to them.

One of the magazines that I read every month is Vanity Fair. I got into reading Vanity Fair a couple of years ago when I found out that the editor of Vanity Fair, Graydon Carter, is Canadian (we’re everywhere). I don’t usually care who’s featured each month, celebrity wise, because I find those articles not nearly as interesting as some of the other ones that they have. Vanity Fair Cover

It is true that a good chunk of Vanity Fair is very much about the who’s who in the world of celebrities, tech mongols, the rich and the famous. But sometimes it’s good to be in the know about these things. So I use Vanity Fair as my one stop shop on pop culture things.

However, another chunk of Vanity Fair is about interesting topics, and world issues. Some of my favourite articles have included reading about the NuvaRing, cyber warfare in Iran, and Kiva.

I find that reading Vanity Fair is a good way to take a break from the world of imagination and books and to step back into the real world. The real world is something that we need to be active participants in, and to engage in. We need to have an understanding and knowledge of what is going on in it and Vanity Fair is one the sources I use for that knowledge.

Some other magazines that I read – not as regularly as Vanity Fair but fairly often – are Wired and Monocle.

What about you? Besides books what do you like to read?