Happy Wednesday! This is my first T5W in weeks. I almost didn’t do this one either because I saw the topic and thought ‘I don’t read many books about that’, but when I looked through my goodreads books, I actually found more than five and had to narrow them down. So I guess I am doing this topic after all. :”D
5. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
I read this ages ago, but thinking about it still rips at me. This book is set during world war II and follows the son in a nazi general who’s in charge of one of the concentration camps. It’s about the innocence of childhood surrounded by the horrors of war and human cruelty. In this book, the boy meets another boy in striped pajamas. The other boy is behind a fence, but the main character thinks nothing of it – he’s too young to really know the significance. The book follows these boys as they become friends.
This book killed me. I haven’t watched the movie yet – I don’t know if I should. I don’t know if I own enough tissues to watch it.
4. Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit by Motoro Mase
This is one of the most fascinating manga I’ve read, I think. It’s set in a society where at birth, every child is injected with a shot. In that shot, there will either be a booster for health or what is essentially a time-bomb. All the shots are given randomly and only the government knows who has been injected with what. The thing in the lethal shots stays inactive until a certain time of a certain day, also unknown by anyone except the government. This is all done as a way to keep the citizens ‘valuing life’ by knowing theirs might be taken away at any time.
The day before a person is set to die, they’re delivered an Ikigami – a death card, stating that person’s time of death. The manga follows all of these people and explores what they do on their last day of life, how they decide to use it, what their regrets are, what they’re actions are, their thought processes. Each person reacts differently to their imposing death and it’s heart-breaking to read.
It also followers the bearer of the Ikigami – the guy working for the government whose task it is to go around handing these things out to people. It goes into his thoughts as well – his guilt at having to do this, his fear at disobeying the government if he doesn’t. Both sides are suffering and it’s all unsettling but so immersive to read. I highly recommend this one, but if you’ve had a loved one pass recently, I recommend treading with caution.
3. Switching Time: A Doctor’s Harrowing Story of Treating a Woman with 17 Personalities by Richard Baer.
Richard Baer is a psychologist who wrote down the process of treating a woman named Karen (obviously name changed) who came into his office showing signs of depression. What he didn’t realize was that soon this woman would show so much more than that.
This book is non-fiction and is essentially a treatment diary that Baer wrote as he treated this woman. For those who don’t know much about Dissociative Identity Disorder, it’s when the mind divides itself, creating a whole new personality (or ‘person’ some say) inside the same body. The proof that this disorder is a legitimate thing is contested – it’ll depend on who you talk to whether they believe it exists or not, but either way, witnessing this woman’s plight is awful. You sit there just shaking your head at the pages as you read, your mouth open in slight horror yet you can’t look away.
Highly recommend this one.
2. The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices by Xinran
This is another non-fiction book, a collection of memoirs gathered over the years by a woman named Xinran. In the late 1980s, she was able to start a radio program where women in China would call in anonymously and share their stories.
These are the stories that are in this book. Each one is more heartbreaking than the last. Poverty, civil strife, abuse. There’s a story told for each one and for many more. This book is very powerful and at times can be difficult to read, but it’s definitely worth trying.
1. In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom by Yeonmi Park and Stars Between the Sun and the Moon: One Woman’s Life in North Korea and Escape to Freedom by Lucia Jang
I couldn’t decide between these two, so I put them both first. They’re both first-handed accounts, memoirs, of women who were born in and grew up in North Korea. Both follow their narrators from their childhoods through adulthood and detail on everything that happeneded to them. Each woman has a very individual experience, but both tie together to paint a picture of what it is like for a North Korean citizen on a day-to-day basis and what a person must do to escape from such awful situations. This book is heart-breaking and they both affected me so much because both of these women are alive and kicking – all of the things mentioned in these books happened during my life time. They’re still happening now. When I was whining about being grounded, these women were in hiding, committing acts they would never dream of just so they could live. These are the most humbling books I’ve ever read and I’m constantly on the look-out for more like them. They remind me how truly lucky I am and make me more mindful when it comes to other people. I hope that wherever these women are right now, they’re doing well.
The T5W group can be found here, if you’d like to participate.