Nearing the End/Beginning Anew

I am 2 books away from completing my goal of reading and reviewing 75 books in the year 2012. I am currently reading the following, so expect a review of them within the coming weeks (or, in the case of the second title, December 31st…hopefully):

A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz: Essentially a study of human life, told from the perspective of a sardonic sociopathic narrator and his curious yet lazy son. I am listening to this 21-disc audiobook, and am only on disc 11. Be patient with me.

War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy: I read Anna Karenina in 2009 and have seen the Russian film version twice (the one with the stunning acrtress Tatyana Samoylova). I saw the Keira Knightly version on Sunday, which reminded me that I had yet to crack open the War & Peace sitting on my bookshelf. I hope to have it done by Christmas.

But no worries! I will read others. I just requested the new Jo-Ann Mapson (I just loved her book Bad Girl Creek), and hope that the library gets Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor (sequel to Daughter of Smoke & Bone) in soon.


In other news (the “Beginning Anew” portion of this blog post’s title), I read an article in the Nov/Dec American Libraries that really shook me. The article is Terror Has Not Withdrawn: daily life for librarians in Iraq by Leonard Kniffel, and states that although the war is technically over, the killing and daily anxiety are not. But amidst that, many Iraqis are trying to rebuild their lives, and this includes the library and education system.

Because of the security situation, a decade’s worth of children were either not sent to school or were able to attend only sporadically so they need to play catch-up…

This is not just an issue for Iraq. This is a global issue, and a critical one at that. We know from studies conducted on our own criminal justice system that many criminals are uneducated, so if we apply this to the current generation of young people in Iraq, we can expect many of them to lead lives in crime. And the types of crime that young Iraqis can get involved with are, as we all know, deadly on a large scale. An entire generation of educated, poor (because they are uneducated and cannot secure good jobs) Iraqis with no where to go but a life of crime?

So what can we do? Anything? Should Oprah go set up a school for girls? Should we open our public school doors to Iraqi immigrants to try to un-do the damage done to them, educationally and mentally? The article in American Libraries mentions re-building Iraq’s National Library and Archives, but this is not a “build it and they will come” situation. The young people might know a library and archive exists, but do they know how to utilize those materials? Do they have mentors who will help them learn, grow, and push themselves educationally? We helped arm them with weapons, now can we arm them with education and a way to a better future than they are currently looking towards?

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