One of the most amazing things about reading is that for the moment your eyes attach to the words of your freshly opened book your mind and imagination becomes transported into a new world. Through books and stories, we are able to see the world differently, through the eyes of very different people.
Of course, we can always imagine what it may be like to be someone else. But in what different way can we truly look through the eyes of another life?
Walking in someone else shoes through books teaches us compassion on a different level, we can discover others emotions through words because it is a deep and intimate experience. Unlike movies, it is just us and the book. Just us and the writer’s soul.
Reading true stories, biographies, and other books written about life accounts has been the single most powerful tool for my personal transformation this year. My path has been lit by brave women, whose stories are often left silenced to louder voices of their time.
Women facing silent battles, dealing with the emotional dramas and restraints that have plagued this sex infinitely. Yes, the world has changed and from that change, great equality has emerged for women all over the world. But not everywhere, and not for the amount of time that we women deserve. Equality for women is still a struggle, women still face obstacles in society that set them apart, when it comes to the workplace and society standards.
I have been reading quite a bit this year and in that reading, I came across three books that truly moved me and made me proud to be women. They are not feminist tales, aimed to empower women and push the boundaries of society. No.
These stories are from women just like you and I. Lovers of books, fantasy, romance, who had dreams, fears, humor. Women who are separate only in the fact that they lived in extraordinary circumstances compared to many. Some of these women paved the way to greatness and change through sharing their stories and empowering others by sharing the truth of their life.
These women were faced with the difficulty of being women in their own time and place but also faced another set of limitations, religion, race, and war. Doubling their battles, and their hardships.
Reading these books inspired me to write, to be brave and to explore the true meaning of compassion and equality.
If you are looking to strengthen your womanly courage, expand your compassion, change your perspective and be inspired then these are the books for you.
Before a recent trip to Amsterdam, I decided I should pick up this book as preparation for visiting the Anne Frank House Museum.
It was so profound to me that this young girl remained so innocent. She shared feelings that I myself had as an adolescent girl, and her Diary sounded so much like my own at that age.
But there was a huge difference between us. She was in hiding because she was Jewish. This sweet innocent child no different than myself was hiding away in some attic in one of the most beautiful cities in the world because someone decided hundreds of years ago that being Jewish made you in some way different than the rest.
The unfairness and disgusting injustice of history struck me harder than I thought a book could.
When I finally did visit the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam I was overwhelmed with emotion. Tears filled my eyes the entire time we walked through little Anne’s hiding place.
I was not the only one. There were so many people struggling to hold it together and the mood was somber and silent. Hundreds of people walked through the museum with silent tears. It was in that moment that I realized that they had felt it too. That the message that Anne Frank left behind was a heavier deeper one than little old I experienced back home while reading her diary. It was a global sadness. Sadness for youth lost, kind souls silenced and sadness for the injustice that was felt during World War II.
Anne Frank’s is one of the thousands perhaps millions of people who endured. Reading her story taught me the power of kindness, opened to the beauty of positivity in the face of evil and most of all the unity of compassion.
This is a recent book that I read, about the life of American poet and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou. This book broadcasts Maya’s life growing up in the south during the 1920’s and 1930’s.
A time and place so riddled with racism and injustice that those prejudices still make headlines today.
Reading this book about Maya opened my eyes to the world that was very different than my own as a child. Being a woman was hard enough during that time, being an African American woman was even harder. Place that African American in the south of the United States and it seemed like all the odds that could face someone were there for the facing.
Never had I felt so in another’s shoes as I did while reading this book. It is beyond beautifully written. Taking me to a place I had never been with people I had never experienced. This book taught me compassion, removed my ignorance about history and gave me so much profound respect for the battles of the everyday women. No matter where or when she lived all have a story to tell and this book opened my eyes to those battles.
Afghanistan has been in the headlines in North America since I was in junior high when the news coverage all over the world showed an America hit hard by foreigner hate.
To me, Afghanistan was as foreign and strange as Mars. When I did hear about it, it would be talked about as a war zone, nothing else.
When I began reading this book my opened to another world that myself and the media had shut out. Did you know there were women and children and people like you and I living and dying in Afghanistan? I don’t know why but up until the point of reading this book I didn’t once think about the people who lived there, about their hardships or their pain. I was completely ignorant.
This book not only opened my eyes to the most sobering parts of this foreign land but also to the life of women living there. A life and struggle that is just as real today as it was 50 years ago.
This book shaped within me a compassion for people that I think every person would benefit from, not just women. Educating ourselves on the injustices and struggles of fellow human beings will only make ourselves and the world better.
So from Nazi-occupied Netherlands to Arkansas and St. Louis America to the heart of Afghanistan, I dare you to read one of these books. As a woman and a citizen of the world, your heart will expand and opinions will change.
Open yourself up to the inspiration that these three women are. Look at their lives as an invitation for you to make the most of your lucky and fortunate life.