Elias Pelcastre

Summer Reading Inspiration

I have been fortunate enough to be blessed with some spare time in the past few weeks and have picked up some books that I have been wanting to read for a while. For those heading off on holiday and looking for something a little more meaningful than the average beach book; I recommend giving these a read:

Prisoners of Geography – Tim Marshall

This book is absolutely for those interested in geopolitics. As I read this book, I realised that wars, political events, and revolutions could all be attributed to the geography of the country. The difference in living standards across the globe is largely influenced by where we sit in the world.

The book is broken up into ten sections and contains a wealth of geographical knowledge: Why was Putin desperate to clinch Crimea? Why is India so much better placed than Pakistan? But throughout this exploration, he does not accuse leaders, but merely tries to understand how geography has influenced their actions. Simply, I have never read a book that explains the world situation so well.

Asking for It – Louise O’Neill

I don’t feel I read this book; I endured it. It clawed out the most shameful, sexist aspects that exist in the Western word today and puts them on a platform for us all to recoil at. How is it that a girl can be gang raped and urinated on, yet incur the wrath of everybody at her school, while the “boys” end up looking like victims? How you may ask. The answer is simple: as a byproduct of our inherently patriarchal society.

My favourite thing about this book: the main character is distinctively unlikeable. She is cold, often rude to her friends and doesn’t naturally attract sympathy from readers.. which makes you realise how bad the situation it is if your heart is breaking for her throughout much of the novel.

Desert Flower – Waris Dirie

This account is based on a true story and outlines the scale of the horror of FGM from personal experience. After enduring this barbaric practice in rural Somalia, Waris, a child nomad, was forced to flee to Mogadishu and leave her family to escape a forced marriage. Her story is a mix of inspirational and surreal. She defies all of the odds and ends up a high-end model in Europe and America.

The way she tells her story is full of humility, and I love how honestly and simply-put she tells her captivating tale. Although it is all about her, it isn’t, there isn’t an ounce of self-indulgence in what she says. With a little effort, she puts into harsh perspective the problems those in the Western world would consider earth shattering. As a woman, it made me feel part of a powerful collective; I understand now that we are bound by a duty to raise our voices and stop FGM throughout the world.

The Red Pencil – Andrea Davis Pinkey

This book is beautifully written; set out as a series of free-verse poems, it captures the naivety of a young girl whose life is blighted by the brutality of an Arab militia in Darfur. It is inspiring how her innocence remains, despite all of the tragedy she faces, and how the author manages to see positive in even the most desperate of situations.

This book is also incredibly important as it tells the undersold story about one of the most horrific genocides that are taking place in our history. It does it in a way that is friendly to younger readers while maintaining the dignity of the victims.