Tag: book

Friends of Anne Frank Throw Her 90th Birthday Party in Her Apartment

Birthdays never stop being special; even when we grow tired of them, the people in our lives do not. Someone almost always shows up with a gift—socks, shirts, Doritos (thanks mom). It’s the thought that counts right? Pleasant reminders that we are not in the world alone. But, let’s be honest, sometimes the best gifts are the ones we personally pick out ahead of time. This was most definitely the case for young Anne Frank.

 

Image Via Mentalfloss.com

On June 11th, 1942, a day before her thirteenth birthday, Frank chose a gift. While browsing through a bookstore with her father, Anne Frank laid claim to a blank, red and checkered autograph book—Anne called this book “maybe one of my nicest presents [ever].” And it was. This book, which Anne famously used as a diary, would  become (arguably) the most important book—no, the most important object—of the entire twentieth century.

The day after that fateful browse, many of Anne’s friends attended a birthday party at her family’s modest apartment. It was a gleeful day courtesy of a seemingly endless supply of cookies (not so much) and black and white movies. A day that accomplished the gargantuan feat of distracting Amsterdam youth from the grim reality of World War II. Unfortunately, Anne would never experience a birthday like that again. Three weeks later her family was forced into hiding…and three years after that, in a Nazi concentration camp, Anne died.

Anne’s father Otto, was the only family member to survive the war and went on to publish Anne’s diary. The Diary of a Young Girl is among the best-known books in the world.  One of the most monstrous and discriminatory periods of human history documented through the eyes of a young girl—Anne Frank. Today, Anne is not only remembered by the billions of people who cherish the MANY translations of her diary, but also by the surviving attendants of her thirteenth birthday party. In her diary’s introduction, Anne expressed a desire to acquire a  “truest friend” with whom she could confide her innermost thoughts and feelings; she names Jacque Van Maarsen as a potential candidate.

 

Image Via Amazon.com

 

Jacqueline van Maarsen is now ninety-years-old. On Wednesday, Van Maarsen, along with Albert Gomes de Mesquita (who went to school with Frank), threw Anne a ninetieth birthday party. In the same tiny apartment (now restored), with a familiar looking autograph book and the same seemingly endless supply of cookies.

 

Jacqueline van Maarsen, center left, and Albert Gomes de Mesquita, center right, school friends of Anne Frank, pose for a photo with students from the International School of Amsterdam during an event to mark what would have been Anne Frank's 90th birthday, in Amsterdam on Wednesday, June 12, 2019.
Image Via Time.com

Also in attendance were students from the International School of Amsterdam. Elbow to elbow, Van Maarsen and Gomes de Mesquita did their best to answer as many questions as they could. The pair were asked about everything from survival to general advise. How does one proceed in an unforgiving world?

 “I think you have to learn things from what happens. I’ve been helped by so many different people and they were Roman Catholic, Protestant, atheist, communist, rich, poor,” said Gomes de Mesquita. I’ve slept in twelve different places during hiding and my lesson is: Good people can be found everywhere.”

One student was particularly moved when Van Maarsen talked about how other people who endured the same hardships as Anne aren’t given the same amount of attention or appreciation.

“It was really incredible to meet them, not only as Anne’s friends but as survivors of the war,” said thirteen-year-old Sietse Munting. “I really tried to think about that and tried to think; ‘it’s not only Anne,’ he said. “Sure, we remember Anne because she’s very important — and we should remember her — but there were also many, many others who also faced this time.”

Although Anne Frank’s life may not have been long, what she was able to accomplish in her fifteen years of life, changed the world. Memoirs like hers make it impossible for us to ignore bigotry and violence. In a bittersweet way, the “truest friend” Anne desired came in the form of a gift she had chosen for herself. A gift that she shared her inner most thoughts and feelings with, and in doing so, confided in all of us.

 

Forever reminding us that we are not alone as long as we have a book.

 

Featured Image Via Time.com

Graffiti Vandals Sentenced to Read Books

Two and a half years ago, in September 2016, Prosecutor and Deputy Commonwealth Attorney Alejandra Rueda dealt with a case where five teenagers between the ages of sixteen and seventeen were arrested for spraying offensive, racist graffiti such as swastikas on an old schoolhouse in Virginia. The schoolhouse taught black students during the era of segregation. The teenagers pleaded guilty to one count of destruction of private property and one count of unlawful entry.

 

image via bbc

 

When Rueda heard what was going on years ago, she decided to investigate it further, and when she realized it was the teenagers, she took matters into her own hands.

 

“The graffiti was racially charged – they had spray-painted swastikas and phrases like ‘White Power’ and ‘Brown Power’. But there were also images of dinosaurs, women’s breasts and penises. And I thought, ‘This doesn’t look like the work of sophisticated KKK people out to intimidate – it looks more like the work of dumb teenagers.'”

 

image via bbc

 

Reuda saw this as a learning opportunity since she believed that the children did not know what they were doing, especially when it came to spraying painting a swastika.

The judge endorsed the prosecutor’s order that the teenagers should be handed down a “disposition” as a sentence known for juvenile cases. Alejandra Rueda made a list of thirty-five books and ordered the offenders to choose one title a month for a year and to write a book report on each of the twelve books they wanted. Rueda explained that they had to write twelve assignments and 3,500-word essay on racism and what they had done.

 

Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou

The Tortilla Curtain – T.C. Boyle

The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

12 Years a Slave – Solomon Northup

The Crucible – Arthur Miller

Cry the Beloved Country – Alan Paton

My Name is Asher Lev – Chaim Potok

Exodus – Leon Uris

The Color Purple – Alice Walker

Night – Elie Wiesel

 

Volunteers painted over the graffiti and the old schoolhouse was opened to the public in 2017.

 

image via bbc

 

image via bbc

 

All five of the teenagers completed their reading and writing assignments and completed their mandatory visits to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and the Museum of American History’s exhibit on Japanese American internment camps in the US. Two years later, the teens were unwilling to give an interview, but one of them agreed to share their final essay. “We have to educate kids out of ignorance,” says Alejandra Rueda. “And with children, our focus has to be on rehabilitation and not retribution if we want results,” the prosecutor said.

 

The final paragraph, the conclusion of the essay said, People should not feel less than what they are, and nobody should make them feel that way. I think especially awful after writing this paper about how I made anybody feel bad. Everybody should be treated with equality, no matter their race or religion or sexual orientation. I will do my best to see to it that I am never this ignorant again.

 

Check out more of the story from BBC, reported by Emma Jane Kirby and you can hear Emma Jane Kirby’s report on the World at One, on BBC Radio 4.

 

Featured Image via Photo by Kelli Tungay on Unsplash

Julianne Moore Talks Gloria Steinem’s ‘My Life on the Road’ Adaptation

Gloria Steinem is a powerhouse; the kind of person possessed by an innate desire to change the world for the better. She’s a writer, activist, feminist organizer, editor…and a laundry list of other things. She has founded or helped found organizations such as the Women’s Action Alliance, the National Women’s Political Caucus, the Women’s Media Center, Voters for Choice, Choice USA (now URGE) Ms. Foundation for Women, (which is basically the reason we have Take Your Daughter to Work Day), Equality Now, Donor Direct Action and Direct Impact Africa.  She also co-founded New York Magazine and Ms. Magazine, for which she still remains an editor.

 

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IMAGE VIA TWITTER.COM

Basically, this women walks into a room and organizes ways in which to make that room better. If she were a citizen of Westeros, Missandei would quit her job as resident title announcer for Daenerys of House Targaryen in favor of Gloria of House Steinem. Reading her resume is equal parts exhausting and motivating—she’s been adorned with everything from writing accolades to the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Sir Obama—the highest civilian honor. My only fear in writing this article is that I fail to give Gloria Steinem the recognition she deserves; therefore, I will simply say: she’s achieved more than I could possibly mention here.

 

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IMAGE VIA THECHERIEBOMB.COM

In 2015, Steinem’s book  My Life on the Road became a New York Time Bestseller; it was praised by everyone, including Oprah. Below is a synopsis of the memoir from Steinem’s website:

When people ask me why I still have hope and energy after all these years, I always say: Because I travel. Taking to the road—by which I mean letting the road take you—changed who I thought I was. The road is messy in the way that real life is messy. It leads us out of denial and into reality, out of theory and into practice, out of caution and into action, out of statistics and into stories—in short, out of our heads and into our hearts.

Gloria Steinem had an itinerant childhood. When she was a young girl, her father would pack the family in the car every fall and drive across country searching for adventure and trying to make a living. The seeds were planted: Gloria realized that growing up didn’t have to mean settling down. And so began a lifetime of travel, of activism and leadership, of listening to people whose voices and ideas would inspire change and revolution.

My Life on the Road is the moving, funny, and profound story of Gloria’s growth and also the growth of a revolutionary movement for equality—and the story of how surprising encounters on the road shaped both. From her first experience of social activism among women in India to her work as a journalist in the 1960s; from the whirlwind of political campaigns to the founding of Ms. magazine; from the historic 1977 National Women’s Conference to her travels through Indian Country—a lifetime spent on the road allowed Gloria to listen and connect deeply with people, to understand that context is everything, and to become part of a movement that would change the world.

In prose that is revealing and rich, Gloria reminds us that living in an open, observant, and “on the road” state of mind can make a difference in how we learn, what we do, and how we understand each other.”

 

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IMAGE VIA AMAZON.COM

All of that being said, it should come as no surprise (hopefully) that the book has been adapted into a screenplay by Sarah Ruhl and stars Julianne Moore (another legend) as Gloria of House Steinem, Breaker of Chains. As a leader/pioneer/hero of modern feminism, Steinem is the refreshing type of hero we deserve to see on the silver screen. The film will be entitled The Glorias: A Life on the Road and is being directed by Julie Taymor of Frida fame. The story chronicles her life as a legend and will no doubt depict the impact she has had on so many lives.

In an interview with Page Six, Moore opened up about the project:

“Alicia Vikander plays one version of Gloria. Two girls, one nine, one twelve, play her younger. It explores her growing up days and her place in the women’s movement. Bette Midler has the role of Bella Abzug. Julie Taymor directs. The screenplay’s also by women.”

Filming of the biopic began in January of this year and a release date has yet to be announced.

 

 

Featured Image Via Harpersbazaar.com

Non Fiction Reading Challenge 2019

5 Non-Fiction Books You Need to Read Right Now!

As 2019 continues on, we have a lot of book releases to look forward to. Heck, if you want to see the list of the top three books I can’t wait for, check out this list.
Thank you for clicking on that.

Now you might notice that one of those books, Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and The Last Trial of Harper Lee, is non-fiction. That book has not come out yet, but in honor of my anticipation here are five non-fiction books that have come out this year and are, above all, wonderful, eye opening, great reads.

Stephanie Land beside a cover of "The Maid"
Image Via Inlander
Released on January 22nd, Stephanie Land’s autobiography beautifully describes her life, post-eviction, as she recalls being tossed onto the street, working as a maid in houses she could never afford just to make ends meet and struggling with poverty. With dreams of moving to Montana, attending college, and becoming a full-time writer, Land’s life-long goals are always just out of reach, pushed back by childcare fees, heating bills, and rent. It’s a memoir that takes you through the underbelly of America. Gritty, soul-crushing, this is one for the masses to take heart.
Don’t believe me? Well, look at how the Nation states, “[i]n the end, her life does take a turn that sets her on the path to becoming a published author. But it is not a kind of fairy-tale twist so much as a gradual confluence of good luck.”
Cover of "When Death Becomes Life: Notes from a Transplant Surgeon" by Joshua D. Mezrich
Image Via Amazon
Released January 15th, Joshua D. Mezrich’s autobiography describes the tribulations and hardships of being a surgeon. Questions like “How much risk should a healthy person be allowed to take to save someone she loves?” or “Should a patient suffering from alcoholism receive a healthy liver?” are questions he faces on a daily basis, but nonetheless they are life changing.

A transplant surgeon by trade, the book opens with Dr. Mezrich, ferrying organs, getting aboard a small plane that winds up getting caught in a violent thunderstorm. The drama speaks for itself: not only are the passengers on the plane in danger, but the people who desperately wait for those organs are in danger of dying thanks to a storm they are far away from.

What’s going to happen? Read the book, but know that on CSL’s website Kevin Kovaleski, CSL Behring’s Senior Director and Therapeutic Area Strategy Team Lead-Transplant, said, “Mezrich’s book sheds light on a critical area of medicine, one that’s ready for advancements, innovations and breakthroughs”.

 

3. Becoming by Michelle Obama

Cover of "Becoming" by Michelle Obama

Image by Amazon

Despite its release on November 13, 2018, Michelle Obama’s autobiography is still going strong, and for good reason. The Guardian calls it “frequently funny,” Vanity Fare states, “surprisingly candid, richly emotional, and granularly detailed that it allows readers to feel exactly what Michelle herself felt at various moments in her life,” while the The New York Times noting that the book is more about motherhood than politics.

But I know what you’re asking: What’s my opinion? It’s great!

 

2. The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays by Esmé Weijun Wang

Esme Weijun Wang beside her book, "The Collected Schizophrenias"

Image Via The Paris REVIEW

The New York Times writes that “[i]n Wang’s kaleidoscopic essays, memoir has been shattered into sliding and overlapping pieces. . . . Her multifaceted arguments can be gratifyingly mind-expanding” and this book truly is mind-expanding. Winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize, this collection of essays has stories that will break your heart, make you cry, and teach you about living with mental illness, as noted by The Paris Review which writes how it “examines schizophrenia from historical, medical, social, and emotional perspectives, and looks at the myriad ways it is misunderstood, including by the psychiatric community and schizophrenics themselves.”

The book shows that living with mental illness isn’t pretty, isn’t horrifying, but at its core is completely human.

 

1.The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington by Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch

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Image Via Amazon

Released January 8th, this book details the foiled plot to murder George Washington. George Washington, in case you didn’t know, was this General guy who became President or something.

I kid. It’s actually remarkable.

Back in 1776, the governor of New York and the mayor of New York City conspired to assassinate George Washington. It might have worked too, if it weren’t for that pesky would-be counterfeiter and that iron mill foreman. It’s exciting and is something straight out of a movie. It would be unbelievable, if it wasn’t true. (Here’s the SparkNotes-esque version on History Channel for those who don’t like to read)

Don’t believe me? (Why? I trust you, George) National Public Radio says, “The First Conspiracy is an excellent book, enthralling and beyond fascinating, and it’s sure to delight both fans of thrillers and American history.”
Check it out.
Also check out Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and The Last Trial of Harper Lee when it hits bookshelves May 7th.
Featured Image Via Bookbub
Color photo of Frankenstein's monster looking upwards

5 Differences Between ‘Frankenstein’ and the Film Adaptations

Frankenstein or, The Modern Prometheus, by Mary Shelley is hailed as the first real science-fiction novel. Following Dr. Victor Frankenstein, it chronicles Frankenstein’s journey to create life and his clash with his creation after he succeeds. Touching on themes of ambition, lost of innocence, revenge, humanity, responsibility and creattion,  Frankenstein is a dense but very worthwhile classic of its genre. However, it unfortunately has been largely displaced in the popular consciousness by its film adaptations. To celebrate its publication anniversary, here are five facts about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and its many differences to work that adapted its spooky tale.

 

Victor Frankenstein stands contemplating the sea in the cover to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
Image Via Goodreads

1. The Framing Device

The original novel uses a framing device to tell its story. Captain Walton, a sailor in the arctic, picks up Victor Frankenstein on the ice and brings him aboard his ship. There, Frankenstein tells the tale of how he got here, turning the entire book into one long flashback. The Creature confronts Captain Walton at the end, vowing it will destroy itself via funeral pyre. However, Captain Walton is a character who is very rarely adapted, the framing device being almost entirely omitted from films based on or inspired by the book.

 

Fritz, played by Dwight Fyre, threatens the Monster, played by Boris Karloff with a burning torch
Image Via Telegraph

2. There was no Igor

Dr. Frankenstein’s hunchbacked assistant, Igor, is purely a creation of popular culture. In the original novel, Frankenstein worked entirely alone, creating the monster in a hidden room at his college. He kept the experiment entirely secret and had no outside help at all. The character of an assistant first appeared in 1931’s Frankenstein film in the form of Fritz, before being codified, ironically enough, by Mel Brook’s spoof film Son of Frankenstein.

 

Frankenstein confronts his creation in a 1934 illustration from the novel
Image Via Goodreads

3. The Monster Speaks

The Monster is a very different character from the mute, lumbering brute that was made famous in the Universal Horror films. Although he begins as a borderline feral creature after his ‘birth’, the Monster slowly learns language and reasoning over the course of the novel. He becomes extremely intelligent and articulate, often spending pages contemplating his unnatural existence. He even learns how to make clothes and uses weapons to defend himself as he survives in the wilderness. Compared to his film counterpart, he’s a wholly different beast.

 

Victor Frankenstein and Fritz standing over the Monster on the slab, preparing to give it life
Image Via BBC

4. The Creation is Offscreen

Doubtlessly one of the most famous in cinema is the creation of Frankenstein’s monster. Everything about it is iconic, from the slab the monster rests upon to the flashing laboratory equipment to the bolt of lightning that brings him to life to Frankenstein proclaiming “Its alive, its alive!” But the sequence in question actually isn’t in the original novel! Yes, the creation of the Monster in the book is entirely offscreen and left to the reader’s imagination. Oddly, this makes it more compelling to the imagination…how did Frankenstein do it? We’ll never know but it certainly makes good food for thought.

 

Victor Frankenstein leans over the inert form of the monster in his lab
Image Via Collider

5. Frankenstein Dies

In the novel, Victor Frankenstein pays for his hubris. After trekking the Monster to the Arctic, he collapses on the ice and is rescued by Captain Walton. But it is too late for him and after telling the Captain his story, he expires. Subsequent adaptations have spared Frankenstein his untimely demise, doubtlessly to keep a relatively happy ending.

What are your favorite moments from the book that didn’t make it to the screen?

 

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