Teacher Man by Frank McCourt


I read Frank McCourt’s first book Angela’s Ashes when I was a teenager and loved it. I loved the writing and the story. I was disappointed when I red ‘Tis.I don’t think it was written as well as his first book. I came across his last book Teacher Man a few months ago. He describes his teaching career in some of the poorest areas in America. He was an English teacher in schools where most of the students didn’t like reading and writing but he came up with ways to engage and motivate them. Some of the things that he tried got him in trouble. He tried unique ways of engaging students like getting them to analyse their excuse notes (notes that students had forged for being absent from school or not doing homework).

I recommend this book to any teacher or anyone who wants to understand the education system in America.


Hate is Such a Strong Word by Sarah Ayoub


hate is such a strong
It’s the story of a Lebanese Christian teenager growing up in Bankstown, Sydney and coming to terms with her Lebanese and Australian identity. It reminds me of books by Randa Abdel-Fattah. Sarah Ayoub and Randa Abdel-Fattah discuss different points of views of migrants and Australians in their books without blaming one side.

I recommend this book to any teenager trying to understand the point of view of migrant groups in Australia.

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts


It’s the autobiographical novel of a convict who escaped from a prison in Australia and went to live in the slums of Mumbai in India. Then he got involved with the mafia and the war in Afghanistan.

It took me awhile to finish the book, it’s over 900 pages. It’s written well and it’s full of wisdom but in certain parts of the book, the writer goes on a tangent. I was going to add the book to the list of the best books I’ve ever read until I saw the wrong translation of several Dari words.

Looking for Alaska by John Green


I saw a teenager reading this book and she said it’s the best book she has ever read. I requested it from the library and waited in the long queue of other teenagers who also wanted to read it. I think it took a few weeks or months until I got the book. When I started reading the book, I was disappointed. It’s a about a boy who leaves home to live in a boarding house and then loses a friend. There is nothing unique about the story, themes or characters.

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


It’s the story of a Nigerian family suffering from the abuse of a religious father. It’s narrated by the fifteen year old Kambili. She describes the tension between her Catholic father and her grandfather who chooses to worship the gods that his ancestors worshipped. I enjoyed reading it and didn’t expect the twist at the end of the story.

In the Name of Honour by Mukhtar Mai


in the name of honour
Before I read this book, I was expecting Mai to be angry at her culture and religion just like it shows in the media but then when I read the book, I realized that she is not angry at her religion. She is still deeply religious and knows that what happened to her is not permitted in her religion.

Mai is an illiterate woman who lives in Punjab, Pakistan. Her 12 year old brother was accused of having an affair with a twenty year old woman and a tribal council decided that a woman from the boy’s family should be raped. Mai makes it clear that one of the reasons she suffered was because she is part of a lower-caste called Gujars and most of the council members and the rapists were the powerful and rich Mastois.

Her father chose her because she was divorced and known for her good character (she was a Quran teacher). She was raped by four men. The local mullah was against it and spoke out against it during Friday prayer. A journalist was in the congregation and he wrote about it. That was how the national and international media heard about it. She tried to prosecute the men but the Police and government officials tried to silence her by threatening her and giving her money. She didn’t let them scare her. She couldn’t read, write or speak Urdu (she speaks Saraiki) but she didn’t give up.

What I admire about her is that she never gave up and she doesn’t want to leave her village and her people. She tried to help other girls by starting a school and fighting for their rights.

Geisha of Gion by Mineko Iwasaki


I knew very little about Geishas until I read this book. The book is a biography of a geisha’s life in Japan. She was adopted by a geisha school and spent years training to be a geisha. A geisha’s job is to sing, dance and entertain men. The author emphasises the point that geisha’s are not prostitutes but they are entertainers. I learnt that the patterns in a kimono are symbolic and have meanings. Also, a geisha’s hairstyle shows her status. The writing and language of the book was a bit dry and boring but I enjoyed learning about the life of a geisha.