Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Good books/ Bad books- part 3

My interest in books that have a strong survival theme, leads to many biographies.  The latest one that caught my attention is:
Temple Grandin:
 How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World

After reading "The Rosie Project", I was interested in learning more about Asberger's.
This book is the true story of Temple Grandin, 66, who has Asberger's (a form of autism). When she was little her father wanted to put her in an institution.  She is now a university professor and has revolutionized the livestock industry. "I have worked to improve the treatment of farm animals because we owe it to domestic animals to give them a decent life."
    I was surprised that half of the cattle in North America are handled in systems that she designed.  Even McDonald's has asked for her advice to set up and monitor the treatment of cattle.  She has designed a checklist for evaluation of farms- some farms even have a video monitoring system.  Temple asked the farmers to count the moos.  When the farm is being evaluated, if more than 3 in 100 cows  moo, their meat is not accepted by Mcdonald's, because the animals are distressed.
   "Each farm animal deserves a good life, and if it is to be killed it deserves as good a death as possible."
  Temple also is a passionate advocate for autism.  She would not want to change her brain, even though she has struggled to use it to advantage.  She thinks in pictures and understands the needs of the cattle- calm, comfort and companionship.  Temple's 6th sense about animals is one of the gifts of her autistic brain.
Inspirational and informational!
Other biographies that are inspiring:
"The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio: How my Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less" by Terry Ryan
   In 1953, Evelyn Ryan had 10 children to support, but her husband spent a third of his wages on beer.  So Evelyn wrote poetry and jingles to support the family.
   When they were being evicted, she won $5,000. and bought a house.  She also won a 5 minute grocery shopping spree. ($411.44 worth of food).
   "Her delight in living rose out of bed with her every day.  It was the one thing Dad couldn't drink away."
   Evelyn had a wonderful way of dealing with her husband- just ignore and get on with life.  She encouraged her children to turn their anger into positive pursuits.
   Her husband had taken out a second mortgage on the house, unknown to her.  She had to pay $4000.00 in 30 days to keep the house.  The day before the deadline she won a trip to Switzerland, Ford Mustang, watches and cash ($3,440.64).
   When there were fewer contests available, Evelyn got a job at JC Penny's.
What a resilient woman!  Great book!

"I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor's Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity"
by Izzeldin Abuelaish

   This is a powerful book with a powerful message: peace, through mutual respect and forgiveness.
   This author grew up in a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip (25 miles by 7 miles with 1.5 million people), filled with misunderstanding and hate.  He always knew there was a better way and set out to find it. In his family there were 11 people in a 9 feet by 9 feet room, no electricity, no water, no toilet.
  As the conflict worsened between the Israelis and Palestinians, he continued to see the similarities of these people.  He refused to see any situation as hopeless.  There are extremists on both sides.
   When he graduated as a doctor, mostly he worked away from home.  The complications of border crossing boggles the mind.
   His wife died of cancer and he was unable to get home easily.  His three daughters were murdered by missiles in their bedroom.
   But the Quran teaches to endure suffering patiently and forgive.  The author lives in Toronto now and still believes everything happens for a reason.
He believes revenge and hatred do not work. People must build bridges.

"Tuesdays with Morrie" 
by Mitch Album
   This true story covers less than 2 years, when Morrie Swartz made death his final project- teaching Mitch, an unemployed sports writer, "The Meaning of Life".  Mitch used the advances on the book to pay Morrie's medical expenses.
   "Morrie would walk that final bridge between life and death, and narrate the trip".
   "The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in".
   "Once you learn how to die, you learn how to live."
   "Devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning."
   "Death ends a life, not a relationship".
Other inspirational biographies that I have enjoyed:
"One Native Life" by Richard Wagamese
"The Glass Castle" by Jeanette Walls
"Angela's Ashes" by Frank McCourt
"Wired for Sound": A Journey into Hearing" by Beverly Biderman
"Life is So Good" by George Dawson who learned to read at 98.  George says:
A good life is when you assume nothing,
Do more, need less, smile often,
Dream big. laugh a lot,
And realize how blessed you are.

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