Wednesday, August 3, 2011

30 Day Book Challenge: Day 30

"And now, the end is here
And so I face the final curtain...."

Here we are, the last day of our 30 Day Book Challenge.  Gianna cried into her Honey Nut Cheerios this morning when she realized it.  I'm trying to drown my sorrows in a bottle (of Diet Coke, naturally).

Day 30: Favorite Coffee Table Book


Speak Truth to Power: Human Rights Defenders Who Are Changing Our World
Introduction by Kerry Kennedy Cuomo
Photographs by Eddie Adams
Edited by Nan Richardson

Emily Bruce (one of the outstanding Random House sales reps and friend) told me about this book years ago, and since then I have kept it in my living room. I am a fervent believer in speaking truth to power, but in my little world what is at risk really? Thumb through this book and you see face after face of what bravery, ingenuity, and resilience really mean. Some of my favorite quotes:

Digna Ochoa
Human Rights

“Anger is energy, it’s a force. If an act of injustice doesn’t provoke anger in me, it could be seen as indifference, passivity. It’s injustice that motivates us to do something, to take risks, knowing that if we don’t, things will remain the same.”

Fauziya Kassindja
Togo/United States
Female genital mutilation and immigration abuse

“On Thursday they said I’d be married. On Friday they told me they’d cut me. At midnight I escaped.”

Vaclav Havel
Czech Republic
Free Expression

“You don’t want to become involved with the dirt that is around you and one day, all of a sudden you wake up and realize that you are a dissident, that you are a human rights activist.”
Maria Teresa Tula
El Salvador
The Disappeared

“We held a press conference telling the public about the work…As a result, a death threat appeared in the newspaper threatening all members of Co-Madres that if people did not obey they would be disappeared or decapitated one by one.”

Kek Galabru
Political Participation and Children’s Rights

“The authorities push the family to take poison, so they die, the mother, the father, so many children, at the same time.”

Anonymous (pictured on cover of book)
Human Rights

“We are helping the people. The problem is that the government doesn’t want this type of help. It is certainly to the government’s benefit that people don’t know much about laws because then people will not demand any rights. This is one reason why it would be difficult for me to reveal my name.’ - (Remember this book was published in 2000 and this was the only place that they were asked to not publish the identity of the defender that is how bad the situation was even then…)

Speak Truth To Power, a pretty great book to end the 30 Day Book Challenge.

1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die
This book isn't perfect for the coffee table because it's an oversized photography or art book; it's perfect because it serves as a reminder of how many voices compose our literary history and it encourages engagement with stories that have the power to move, entertain, enlighten, and enrage.  I turn to it when I'm in a reading rut, or when I burn out on reading just the assigned books that are a (normally thrilling) part of my job.  I am even nerdy enough to keep track of which books I've read and what percentage of the 1001.  This book is a reminder of why I'm even in this business.  There is a magic in sharing great books with friends, strangers, booksellers--anyone who shows an interest.  I am, admittedly, a wee bit socially awkward, but I speak the language of books.  1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die is written in the language I love most and it inspires me to keep going.
Speaking of keeping a thing going....
Gianna and I have decided that there are so many more topics we haven't touched upon with this 30 Day Book Challenge that we're going to keep a (probably regrettable) thing going.  So, beginning tomorrow, we're attacking our own categories and keeping the conversation going for another month.  I'm severely sleep deprived and probably crazy; I'm not sure why Gianna agreed to continue, though.  This should be a hoot.

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