domingo, 20 de fevereiro de 2011

Fala Sério Pai!!!

A dorky, corny, silly book for pre-teens on puberty – but very funny nonetheless!!! This usually wouldn’t be my choice of book for a good read but since I had already read one of her books – “Fala Sério Amor” – about a year ago and had almost literally wet my pants of so much laughing I thought I would read this one as well.
Talita Rebouças has a different style of writing. You can read one of her books in a day if you wish to do so as the major part of her books are dialogues and there is little narration. A lot of people complain about her style of writing as they say it’s completely void of talent but I think that just by her being able to capture such a large crowd of young readers is already a proof of her talent as not all writers are able to do so.
The book is sweet and cuddly while at the same time keeping the readers humor alive and holding on to his sides from time to time. She retells bits of her life spent together with her father – from the time she was born until she turned 21 and went to live on her own. The nice thing about it is the portrayal it gives of the father-daughter relationship and makes you realize (or remember, for those who have already realized!) that in the end, everything our father’s do they do it for our own good!
CHEERS TO ALL FATHER’S – My Daddy Boo being the best of them all!!!

terça-feira, 15 de fevereiro de 2011

Mao's Last Dancer

I started reading this book without any big expectations as I thought it would be a long and tedious book where China and ballet dancing would be the main subjects. Oh, how I was wrong! 
 Li Cunxin (also the author of the book) tells his story as a young boy that leaves the tiny village of Qingdao to Pequim and from Pequim to conquer the world!!!
One of the main motivating factors in his life is a Chinese legend his father tells him when he was a boy about a "frog in a well". It's a story about a frog which was born in this deep well, and he knew nothing of the outside world. In fact he was told all the world was, it was this little environment that he lived in. Until one day he met this land frog, and he invited the land frog down to play. The land frog asked him, ‘What is down there?’ He said, ‘We have everything the world has to offer. We have the water current, we have the occasional stars and moon, and very limited sunlight but mainly darkness. We have everything you are enjoying.’ Of course the land frog said, ‘No, this is not the entire world.’ And so he told him what the entire world had to offer up on the land. Of course his view was much, much bigger than what the little well frog had experienced. So he went back to his father and was very angry. He says, ‘Father, tell me this friend of mine, the land frog, is lying.’ And the father sadly shook his head and said, ‘No, son, we do live in a very small, restricted and limited world. I didn’t tell you that because I didn’t want to frustrate you or make your life miserable. I have tried, like your forefathers have tried, to escape this dark and cruel deep well, but we never could.’ So, of course, the poor frog had hopped and jumped for the rest of his life trying to escape but the land was too far away. Li Cuxin then asks ‘Father, are we living in a deep well?’ And his father's answer was, ‘I can certainly say that we are not living in heaven.’ 
His family was soo poor that his whole life he slept in a Kang (bed) with his six brothers all squished up together, never had new clothes and one winter even had to eat tree bark to keep alive. His whole childhood was one of hunger and deprivation but despite it all his family bonds were very tight and his mother what kept the family going.
The beauty of it all is that in the end of the story he is "able to get out of the pond" as he launches on the world stage with the Houston Ballet and eventually becomes the principal dancer with the Australian Ballet getting international fame and recognition plus being able to help his family out of the terrid life of poverty they lived in. 
This book will touch and and all readers. Read it!

This time, instead of a book review I will post something which talks about the author, his lifestory, his success.

Li Cunxin (pronounced “Lee Schwin Sing”) is a remarkable man borne of a remarkable story. He has published a remarkable book about his extraordinary life. In his runaway best selling autobiography, Mao' s Last Dancer, Li recounts his determination, perseverance, vision, courage and hard work, and in particular, the sacred family values and integrity that he learned in poverty-stricken China, which has driven him to become one of the best dancers in the world. He tells of how the sixth of seven sons born to peasants grew up worshipping Mao Zedong before defecting to the United States.

Li was born into bitter poverty in rural Qingdao, China. Certain years the peasants in his village even ate tree barks to survive. Despite the harsh reality of life, his childhood was full of love. The love of his parents gave him hope and courage.

One day, a delegation from Madame Mao's Beijing Dance Academy arrived at Li's commune school to find suitable children to study ballet and serve in Chairman Mao's revolution. At first they passed Li without taking any notice, but just as they were walking out of his classroom, the class teacher hesitated, and suddenly tapped the last gentleman from Beijing on the shoulder and pointed. `What about that boy?'. And that boy was Li.

And so began Li's remarkable journey. He was 11 when he left home to begin a seven-year harsh training regime from 5.30 am to 9 pm, 6 days a week at the Beijing Dance Academy. Once he found his passion, he worked hard and gave his all. He would practise his turns at night by candlelight, and hopped, one-legged, up and down stairs with heavy sandbags tied to his ankles to build his leg strength at 5 am in the mornings when others were still asleep.

With incredible determination, resilience, perseverance and vision, Li graduated as one of the best dancers China has produced. He was discovered by Ben Stevenson, one of the world’s most respected teachers, choreographer and the Artistic Director of the Houston Ballet as part of the first US cultural delegation to communist China. And became one of the first two cultural exchange students allowed to go to America to study under Mao’s regime.

In a dramatic defection, Li was subsequently locked up in the Chinese Consulate in Houston. This created a standoff between the Chinese and the American governments. Even George Bush senior, then US Vice President intervened. FBI agents surrounded the consulate in Houston, and negotiations between Chinese and US diplomats had begun. His defection was the headline story in America. Twenty-one hours later, Li walked out of the Chinese Consulate as a free man.

He then danced with the Houston Ballet for sixteen years and became one of the best dancers in the world. He guest performed around the world with some of the best ballet companies and won two silver and a bronze medal at three International Ballet Competitions. While dancing in London, he fell in love with an Australian born ballerina with a major ballet company in England, Mary McKendry. They married in 1987, and in 1995 moved to Melbourne with their two children where Li became a principal dancer with the Australian Ballet.

At age 35, Li started to plan his next career after dancing. He enrolled in accounting and financial courses. In 1997 he began his study at the Australian Securities Institute by correspondence with a view to becoming a stockbroker. For his final two years with the Australian Ballet, he rose at 5am to start ballet training, then racing to the stock exchange by 8am to work as a stockbroker until noon. By the time he joined the rest of the Australian Ballet dancers for rehearsals, he had already put in a full day's work (Li is now a senior manager at one of the biggest stockbroking firms in Australia).

Li’s Autobiography, "Mao's Last Dancer", was first published in 2003 and immediately hit the top of Australia’s best sellers list. It was number 1 in the non-fiction category and won the Book of the Year Award in Australia, the Christopher Award in America and it was short-list for the National Biography Award among other prestigious literary awards. It stayed on the top 10 Bestseller List for over one and a half years and it is now over 50 reprints, it has been published and sold in over 30 countries. The featured film: Mao's Last Dancer was first premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was Runner Up for the People's Choice Award. It went on to win several other top international film festival awards. Mao's Last Dancer has become one of the top 10 box office hits in the Australian film history.

His book is an unique story of determination, passion, integrity and love. His journey filled with dreams shattered and revitalized. It is an empowering tale with so many lessons. This combined with the moving supporting ballet sequences and still photographs create an experience to be cherished.

As a motivational and inspirational speaker, Li’s unique real life story works so effectively with corporations and conferences’ various themes and objectives. It is a story that can touch people deep in their hearts. He is a highly sought-after international motivational speaker.

segunda-feira, 14 de fevereiro de 2011

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful. 
My hands trembled as I read this touching, heart-wrenching and so very realistic dark tale of two generations of women that despite being trapped in a loveless marriage still dare to fight for love and life. Believe me, by the time you get to the middle of this book you won't be able to put it down.
I noticed how sheltered and comfortable my little life is and how I complain so much about such petty things like "internet not working" or "not staying with a guy last time I went out clubbing" and such stupid things of the sort while these two women had to marry against their will, endure humiliation and hardship, having to bear, bed and  care for a madman husband and worst of all be considered and treated like a creature of less value than an animal. Horrid!
Even though this was a fiction book its nonetheless a very real story. The writer, Khaled Hosseini managed to give me another glimpse of a world that we know little about but frequently condemn and discard. He wrote a majestic, sweeping, emotionally powerful story that provided me with a most telling window into Afgan society over the past thirty-odd years. It's also a moving story of friendship and sacrifice in which I got a rare peek into the suffering and mistreatment of Afghan women that began long before the Taliban came to power.
What spoke out the most to me in this story is how it speaks so tenderly about the fragile beauty of love and devotion and lasting impression people make on people. As I delved into the pages of this book I thought about my life and how much I really value people and what's my impression on their lives. 
In many ways this was a sad book, and my heart went out to these two women in their hopeless struggle to have a decent life with a brutal man in an unforgiving, intolerant society. It's a bittersweet end but one that I couldn't find a better ending for.

And for last, the book review:

Afghan-American novelist Hosseini follows up his bestselling The Kite Runner with another searing epic of Afghanistan in turmoil. The story covers three decades of anti-Soviet jihad, civil war and Taliban tyranny through the lives of two women. Mariam is the scorned illegitimate daughter of a wealthy businessman, forced at age 15 into marrying the 40-year-old Rasheed, who grows increasingly brutal as she fails to produce a child. Eighteen later, Rasheed takes another wife, 14-year-old Laila, a smart and spirited girl whose only other options, after her parents are killed by rocket fire, are prostitution or starvation. Against a backdrop of unending war, Mariam and Laila become allies in an asymmetrical battle with Rasheed, whose violent misogyny—"There was no cursing, no screaming, no pleading, no surprised yelps, only the systematic business of beating and being beaten"—is endorsed by custom and law. Hosseini gives a forceful but nuanced portrait of a patriarchal despotism where women are agonizingly dependent on fathers, husbands and especially sons, the bearing of male children being their sole path to social status. His tale is a powerful, harrowing depiction of Afghanistan, but also a lyrical evocation of the lives and enduring hopes of its resilient characters.

segunda-feira, 7 de fevereiro de 2011

O Futuro da Humanidade

This book was Augusto Cury's first novel and it touched me deeply. One of the main subjects it talks about is the lack of respect and sensibility psychiatrists have in relation to their patients. One of the main things that made me open my mind as I went reading this book is how each and every human being has something to offer the world, something of value, a history behind what he seems to be outwardly. Even the scum of the city like beggars, mentally disaled people, bums on the street, etc. have feelings, dreams, thoughts and something to give the world. Nowadays we label and rate people not by what they are but by what they have, by what they posses. As a private English teacher lately I have come in contact with people from a very high social class and those have become my friends and the people with who I have been hanging out lately. Not that this is bad, but because of this I have come to somewhat forget that there is more than just what I see in my day to day. There actually exists people who die of hunger, people who are dispised and mistreated because of a mental disease, people who suffer in more ways that I could ever imagine possible. Once out with a friend of mine a beggar came up to us and asked for some spare change. My friend gave the little beggar girl some coins and then told me a phrase I will never forget (I was complaining how it was impossible to stay at the beach without having beggars coming to bug you for some money or to buy something from them). What my friend told me was: "It's good though that the beggars come up to us because if it wasn't for that we would never even remember they exist - their presence reminds us that we owe society a bit more than just working and partying, it reminds us that life is a bit more than just what we go through on our day-to-day. And so this book was a mind opener. Made me think a bit - or more, made me remember of things that used to be a constant thought in my mind but that lately have just slipped away due to the change of lifestyle I have had these past months. I am glad with this change in my lifestyle but I don't want that this change of lifestyle changes my way of thought as well - at least not to the point that I forget some of the most important subjects in life. That we may always remind ourselves of how much we have, and how much we have to give as well.
And with that said, I leave you with a book review in Portuguese, just for a change:

O Futuro da Humanidade fala sobre a trajetória de Marco Polo, um jovem estudante de medicina que ao entrar na faculdade cheio de sonhos e expectativas, fica chocado ao encontrar, em sua primeira aula de anatomia, a triste cena de corpos sem identificação, estendidos sobre o mármore branco. 
O Jovem calouro de medicina não consegue aceitar a frieza com que os professores se referem aos corpos, dizendo que ali a identidade não importa, que aqueles corpos não têm nome, são mendigos encontrados mortos na rua sem identidade. Revoltado com a situação, Marco Pólo sai à procura de informações sobre esses personagens aparentemente sem passado, e nessa jornada encontra o excêntrico Falcão, um mendigo que conhece a fundo a mente humana. Apesar da difícil situação em que vive, com seus sonhos frustrados, futuro desfeito e esperanças perdidas, Falcão recupera a sua alegria inata ao conviver com o jovem sonhador. 
Surge uma amizade entre os dois personagens, a identidade de um dos corpos mutilados nas aulas de anatomia é revelada por Falcão como um ilustre cientista médico que num acidente havia perdido toda a família e a partir daí tinha deixado sua carreira e se tornado um mendigo que terminou morrendo no anonimato. A revelação cai com uma bomba na faculdade onde o atual professor só então percebe a semelhança dos traços do corpo inerte com o antigo fundador daquela universidade. 
Anos depois, Marco Pólo já recém formado em Psiquiatria, estimulado pelo amigo enfrenta uma grande batalha contra professores e médicos de renome internacional, tentando mudar a abordagem clássica da psiquiatria e os paradigmas da medicina. Ele desafia profissionais de renome para provar que os pacientes com problemas psiquiátricos merecem mais atenção, respeito e dedicação e menos remédios. 
Ele utiliza a força do diálogo e da psicologia, e acaba causando uma verdadeira revolução nas mentes e nos corações das pessoas com quem convive. Esse livro representa a luta contra as injustiças e a força de um jovem corajoso, dotado de uma imensa paixão pela vida e pelas pessoas. O Futuro da Humanidade nos leva a uma fascinante viagem pelo mundo da psicologia. Sua linguagem é clara, seus conceitos apresentados de forma simples, nos fazem refletir sobre o rumo que a sociedade está tomando.