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Our June 2020 Book Recommendations

Hello everyone! To start off the month of June our PISA Executive team wanted to recommend some of our favourite books that relate to politics, history and/or international studies. All of these are great reads that will educate the reader while giving you insight into a life far different from your own. We hope you take the time to read our recommendations and hear why we suggest these books in specific. Most of all, we hope you are staying healthy and safe during this time and we can not wait to see you all in September, in whichever format that is. Have a great June! 

Maia Lugar (PISA President):

My book recommendation for June is a memoir titled The Education of an Idealist, by Samantha Power. It’s a great book for any politics OR international studies student, but, in my opinion, it’s a great read for women who are interested in entering the male-dominated field that we are studying. Samantha Power is an Irish immigrant to the United States, who decided to go to Bosnia during the height of the Bosnian war in order to be a war correspondent, something she had absolutely no experience in. When she returned from Bosnia, she wrote an 800-page analysis of the American involvement in Bosnia, and the issues surrounding interventionism. This book catapulted her towards then-Senator Barack Obama, and from there she worked on his Presidential campaign, sat on the National Security Council, and then became the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. The Education of an Idealist details her journey from her own perspective, showing her confidence and at times her insecurities; she writes about the difficulty of having to represent a government that she at times disagreed with, as well as the difficulty of raising kids while working in such a demanding (and at times dangerous) job. As someone who is interested in pursuing a similar career path as Samantha Powers, and as someone who has grappled with interventionism and militarism and the overbearing power of Western voices, this book gave me an inside look at how decisions regarding a state’s actions in the international community are made. I would highly recommend reading Powers’ memoir if you’re looking for some not-so-light reading to transition from the spring semester into the summer!

Marie Pier Allard (Vice-President):  

Hello Everybody, my book recommendation for this month is “I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban” by Malala Yousafzai. This book is an inspiring and empowering autobiography that will introduce you to a different reality of what we know of education for women. Malala is a young woman that was born in a small village in the North of Pakistan occupied by the Taliban. She was raised by a father who was himself an owner of a school, and who pushed his daughter to fight for her right to be educated. At only 15 years old, Malala stood up for herself and many other girls and was shot by the Taliban for standing up for education. In her book, she explains how living under Taliban domination affected her life since she was born. From writing under a fake name in the BBC Newspaper daily documenting her life in Swat Valley to being the youngest Nobel Prize recipient in history, I am Malala is a book that is reminiscent of a time when women were objectified and ignored within society. As a woman who studies in politics and someone who was born in a country where I never felt like my education was put at risk, I thought this book was really empowering. Malala has become an important female activist for education and I believe she embodies both perseverance, courage  and for these reasons she is a true inspiration. Her story is uplifting and I would strongly suggest anyone take a look at this book. 

Carrie Robinson (Director of Communications:

Hi everyone! My book recommendation for June 2020 is The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity and my Fight Against the Islamic State by Nadia Murad and Jenna Krajeski. It is an autobiography of the life of Nadia Murad, a young Yazidi woman.  Split into three sections, it details her life before ISIS, while in capture and her escape from captivity. It is an amazing account of what life was like in the Middle East at the height of the Islamic State’s power and shows how truly brutal the group was. Before going further into my recommendation, I do want to add a warning that this book deals with sexual assault, rape and other cases sexual violence. Nadia was sold into sex slavery when ISIS commited genocide on her people. She was forced to convert to Islam, sold from militant to militant within ISIS and repeatedly assaulted. She had no idea if her family members were alive, or where they were, and was one of the few Yazidi women to escape ISIS capture. It is a tough and emotional book to read, but definitely worth it in my opinion. Since her escape, Nadia has become a human rights activist and has worked with Amal Clooney to spread her message. She preaches religious tolerance and tells her story to bring attention to how bad the situation still is for women and other minorities in parts of the world. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 for her efforts. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Middle Eastern affairs, women's rights, terrorist regimes, human rights, or anyone who seeks a better understanding of how far we have to go to reach global equality. 

Victoria Perak (Director of Events):

Hello everyone! My June book recommendation is one of my favourite books of all time- Number The Stars by Lois Lowry. This novel is based in Denmark during World War 2 and is the story of a young girl named Annemarie. In her city, Jewish business and synagogues were vandalized, Jewish people and families disappeared and her best friend Ellen’s Jewish family was targeted by the Nazis occupying the area. Annemarie quickly becomes intertwined with resistance efforts during the war where her choices are constantly tested. Several run ins with Nazi officers will show the risks she will take in order to protect Ellen and her family from harmsway. The courageous Annemarie makes the reader question, to what lengths would we go to protect family or friends? A consistent question throughout the novel is, would you die for what you believe in? Annemarie comes to find this answer after learning more about her older sister’s sudden death and truly understanding what she was risking to protect those around her. Although Annemarie is a fictional character, many of the events, stories and experiences are based on historical events. This is a great novel for any politics, international studies or history student however, I think that the mix of adventure, coming of age and history is a great read for anyone! Learning about the events of World War 2 is an important way to remember the millions of people that were brutally murdered and tortured. As well, this book shines some light on the often overlooked stories of the resistance groups that played a vital part helping the War come to an end. Overall, if you are looking for an easy read that will be hard to put down, this is definitely the book for you!

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