86. One Day of Life by Manilo Argueta:
Awesome for the authenticity of its vernacular style and the incandescence of its lyricism, One Day of Life depicts a typical day in the life of a peasant family caught up in the terror and corruption of civil war in El Salvador.
5:30 A.M. in Chalate, a small rural town: Lupe, the grandmother of the Guardado family and the central figure of the novel, is up and about doing her chores. By 5:00 P.M. the plot of the novel has been resolved, with the Civil Guard's search for and interrogation of Lupe's young granddaughter, Adolfina. Told entirely from the perspective of the resilient women of the Guardado family, One Day of Life is not only a disturbing and inspiring evocation of the harsh realities of peasant life in El Salvador after fifty years of military exploitation; it is also a mercilessly accurate dramatization of the relationship of the peasants to both the state and the church.
Why you should read it: Quite simply, a deeply moving, deeply heartfelt story.
"No one forgets his pain, that’s a lie. It’s buried there in memory and remains in you forever."
"If I’m called on to shed my blood, it doesn't matter because it's for the good of everyone else.”
87. Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth's Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa by Mark Mathabane:
Mark Mathabane was weaned on devastating poverty and schooled in the cruel streets of South Africa's most desperate ghetto, where bloody gang wars and midnight police raids were his rites of passage. Like every other child born in the hopelessness of apartheid, he learned to measure his life in days, not years. Yet Mark Mathabane, armed only with the courage of his family and a hard-won education, raised himself up from the squalor and humiliation to win a scholarship to an American university.
This extraordinary memoir of life under apartheid is a triumph of the human spirit over hatred and unspeakable degradation. For Mark Mathabane did what no physically and psychologically battered "Kaffir" from the rat-infested alleys of Alexandra was supposed to do -- he escaped to tell about it.
Why you should read it: This was a book were were required to read in my freshman history class. There aren't words to quite describe this, except to say... you've never really thought about how good you have it until you've read this book - or how terribly people are capable to treating others.
“Let us not rest until we are free to live in dignity in the land of our birth.”
88. Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia by Jean Sasson:
Because she is a woman, she is considered worthless -- a slave to the whims of her male masters. She has watched sisters, cousins and friends sold into marriage as young girls to men five times their age and brutally murdered for the slightest transgression, in accordance with cruel and ancient religious law. Now bestselling author Jean P. Sasson offers a shocking glimpse into a world of opulent splendor and horrific oppression -- and presents the real-life story of a courageous modern Saudi princess... who has risked her very life so that the truth may finally be told.
Why you should read it: Another book from my freshman history class. It's one of those books which leaves a mark on you - though, bear in mind, while it says it's "true," it's true in the same way The Tudors is a historical drama: the parts of it are all there, but it's been mixed together to make a better story. Granted, the things done to these women are horrific, but... there is some sensationalism to it. Also bear in mind that, as a princess, the narrator has privilages that others do not. Regardless, however, it is a powerful, powerful book.
"How true is it that humanity refuses compromise during prosperity, and reaches out for arbitration when weak."
89. Readng Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi:
Every Thursday morning for two years in the Islamic Republic of Iran, a bold and inspired teacher named Azar Nafisi secretly gathered seven of her most committed female students to read forbidden Western classics. As Islamic morality squads staged arbitrary raids in Tehran, fundamentalists seized hold of the universities, and a blind censor stifled artistic expression, the girls in Azar Nafisi's living room risked removing their veils and immersed themselves in the worlds of Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, and Vladimir Nabokov. In this extraordinary memoir, their stories become intertwined with the ones they are reading. Reading Lolita in Tehran is a remarkable exploration of resilience in the face of tyranny and a celebration of the liberating power of literature
Why you should read it: Granted, having read Lolita, I can't see why you'd go to all the trouble of sneaking around to read it - but that's not the point. Which is, This is another one of those deeply unsettling but powerful memoirs you just have to read.
"It takes courage to die for a cause, but also to live for one.”
“Empathy lies at the heart of Gatsby, like so many other great novels--the biggest sin is to be blind to others' problems and pains. Not seeing them means denying their existence.”
90. Animal Farm by George Orwell:
Animal Farm is the most famous by far of all twentieth-century political allegories. Its account of a group of barnyard animals who revolt against their vicious human master, only to submit to a tyranny erected by their own kind, can fairly be said to have become a universal drama. Orwell is one of the very few modern satirists comparable to Jonathan Swift in power, artistry, and moral authority; in animal farm his spare prose and the logic of his dark comedy brilliantly highlight his stark message.
Taking as his starting point the betrayed promise of the Russian Revolution, Orwell lays out a vision that, in its bitter wisdom, gives us the clearest understanding we possess of the possible consequences of our social and political acts.
Why you should read it: There are many reasons to read this book, but the one I'm most fond of is the fact that it may be the one fiction book my father has read that he actually remembers anything from. Mainly, in that he's fond of telling our cats when they start meowing at the door, "Four legs good, two legs better.” Granted, this may not be the best arguement for reading a book ever, but if he can take something away from the book, so can anyone else.
“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”