Bana Alabed Gets a Book Deal

If you dont know Bana, then you may be living under a rock. Or just not on social media. She’s 7. She became widely known last year after she created a Twitter account to document the devastation she was experiencing in Syria.

Now she has a memoir coning out.

I remember the first time I noticed her I immediately thought of Anne Frank. The similarities are striking. Anne had her diary and Bana had the power of social media. The ability to reach the world with the click of a button. I have no issue with her getting a book deal. I’m glad her story will continue to be told. But I can’t be the only one with reservations. She’s a refugee. I imagine her family struggles. This story will be worth millions to Simon & Schuster. My concern is that it’d be easy to offer a very small fraction of the compensation to a family of refugees who need it rather than a more justified market value. My hope is that they treated Bana and her family fairly.

Any thoughts on her book deal?


Five Books I Recommended to a Non-Reader

This was my video topic for this week, but I decided that I’d better express myself through a written post.

I typically don’t recommend books. It doesn’t matter who is asking or why, but I’ve made exceptions to my rule over the last couple of years. The following is the most recent example.

Earlier this week a friend of mine told me he wanted to start reading in an effort to adopt more healthy habits. With all the things one can do with free time, I think reading would definitely qualify as a healthy habit. What did I do when he told me this? I took him to Half Price Books, of course! Not kidding.

The first thing I did when we reached the store was ask him what he enjoys reading. His response was anything that keeps his attention, he’s open to any topic. So I did the only thing I could do in that situation, I referred back to my own reading history. Kind of like your Google history in books. I came up with five books to tell him about.

Lone Survivor – Marcus Luttrell

No matter your position on war or the military, I’m well aware that nonfiction war books are not for everyone. But to say this book is only about war would be a disservice to Marcus Luttrell and every other man who died during the operation to save him and his fellow Navy SEALs. This book is about faith, family, survival, life and death, and yes, war. Most people living today will never know what it means to trust another person with your life and have them entrust you with theirs. The men described in this book are the best the United States has to offer, and their story is one to remember.

Unstoppable – Bill Nye

I’ve read a few hundred books during my lifetime, and this one (like I said here) is easily the best book I’ve read. It’s science. Another type of book that simply isn’t for everyone. But this book isn’t written for scientists. That would defeat the entire purpose. The book takes on climate change, one of those topics that people seem to want to give up on or kick down the road. But not Bill Nye, nope. The reason this book holds so much weight with me is because of the optimism. Bill Nye is part of the generation currently in power. It’s his generation that has moved technology further than ever before, but it’s this same generation that has gotten us to this point in the climate change debate. This isn’t about blame, it’s about what’s happened. The beauty of this book is that Bill Nye recognizes who will ultimately enact the necessary changes to really combat climate change and begin the the process of preserving our planet for generations to come. Millennials. That group of young adults who gets blamed for things completely out of their control. It’s that same group of young people who are more aware of current issues than just about any generation of people who have come before them. Some would say the issues aren’t as important as the ones previous generations have had to tackle, but to say this is to once again belittle the issues Millennials face today. Humans are imperfect, but we have the ability to preserve this beautiful world we have. I believe history will hold Millennials in particularly high regard when humans look back at who decided enough was enough and that the issue of climate change is not something to leave for others to deal with.

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

Atticus Finch. I can go on and on about Atticus Finch. I’ll be short and simple. I recommended this book because even when everyone around you is guilty of buying into society’s backward and wrong beliefs, one person can stand up for what’s right and what’s true to the human spirit. That’s what I believe Atticus did in this book, and it’s an idea still relevant after nearly 60 years in print.

The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank

With social media today we’re able to get a glimpse into the lives of persecuted individuals. Anne Frank’s diary is more than just a glimpse. It’s her life. Now that I’m sitting here writing this I realize that her diary is her version of a blog or Facebook account. Through her words we know what a young girl and her family endured during humanity’s darkest hour. She gives us an idea of what it means to be unwanted, untouchable, and hated. She shows us that we always have the ability to be kind, even when facing the worst of circumstances. Another book that has never lost its relevance.

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

Society has expectations for just about everyone. It’s up to the individual person and the people they’re surrounded by to stick to what they’re supposed to be doing or to exceed every expectation imaginable. That’s what this book is about. And that’s why I recommended it. In this world the districts are expected to contribute to the welfare of the Capitol by maintaining the status quo and doing as previous generations have done. There’s really no avenue for any individuality. Katniss turns the whole thing upside down. She proved that no matter what society expects of you, you can use your voice to accomplish and change just about anything.

An honorable mention was Elie Wiesel’s Night.

I won’t tell you which book he ultimately decided to buy, but he did buy one.

So those are the books I recommended to an admitted non-reader. I took several minutes to describe the message I took away from each one. This wasn’t a planned thing and I did the whole thing in real time, but I think the books I mentioned shed light on the topics and issues important to me. Every one of these is a notch above their counterparts in my eyes.

Sorry for the LONG post! Have you ever had to suddenly recommend books and felt it was more important than a typical recommendation? What do you think of the books I came up with?

I’m Getting Old

I was just scrolling through another of those lists of books I should read before I’m 30, and I realized something. I’m fast approaching 30! Oh boy. Am I ready for this?

But really, I started thinking about which books I actually think would be beneficial to read before the big 3-0.

To Kill a Mockingbird

The Hunger Games

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

The Diary of a Young Girl

I won’t sit here and pretend that these four books have everything a young person needs to know to live a fulfilling life, but I believe there is so much to be learned from these four works. The topics addressed in these books are different from one another and important for any generation.

Which books would you recommend to your not-quite-30-years-old-self?

2016 Reading Challenge Book #5: Night by Elie Wiesel

Immediately after quitting my job at Half Price Books I got to reading. I finished this book over a month ago, but I’ve been too busy to make a video.

Night is the autobiographical account of Elie Wiesel’s experience during the Holocaust. The book is just over 100 pages long, but not a single page is wasted. There’s no fluff or filler. There’s no dramatization. It’s simply the retelling of what happened to him.

He takes the reader on a journey no man or woman should have ever taken. He describes a feeling of hopelessness that most simply can’t comprehend. He describes losing his faith. Most importantly, he holds nothing back. The events described are brutal, terrifying, and beyond humanity. No detail is spared because to do so (in my opinion) would be to take away from those who didn’t make it out of the camps. The story of the Holocaust must continue to be told in this manner. We can’t afford to lighten up on the details. Every person who experienced the Holocaust deserves better.

My takeaway from the book is rather simple. Anne Frank’s diary has given millions of people a look at what it was like to be persecuted and in hiding during this dreadful period. Night has given millions of people a look into the lives of those forced from their homes into camps like Auschwitz.

Both stories need to be told. Both books should be required reading for every high school student in the world. Why? Because the Holocaust is an important world event, but there’s more to it than that. These students are going to be politicians, world leaders, military personnel, and voting citizens. It’s important they understand the evil humans are capable of so that when the time comes to act against a group or regime or leader, there’s no hesitation.

I surely hope you’ve read Night by now, but if you haven’t I believe it’s a book more than worthy of your time.

The book satisfied the requirement on my reading challenge to read a book by an author I hadn’t read before. 

Anne Frank Fund Causes Uproar

The Anne Frank Fund holds the copyright to Anne’s diary. They use the funds they receive from the book sales to support charitable organizations around the world. But no one is talking about those efforts right now.

The copyright to her book is set to expire throughout most of Europe on January 1, 2016. Which means the book would be in the public domain and any organization or publisher could publish it. So the organization is saying that Otto Frank, her father, is actually a co-author. This move will extend the copyright many years.

I have two thoughts on this. First, I don’t think for one second that Otto Frank is the co-author of anything. Second, I have an issue with copyright law as it stands today.

What I don’t understand is why copyright law only extends a set number of years after the creator’s death. Why do great works need to eventually become part of the public domain? They’d still be widely available. And usually very cheap. I think my copy of Anne’s diary cost me like $4. Would we read Shakespeare significantly less if his works weren’t in the public domain? Would certain classics like Dracula or Frankenstein or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn be less read and recognized if not in the public domain? I don’t think so.

So while everyone else wants to say it’s a money grab by the organization, I won’t. This is one of the most widely read books ever, and I have no issue with those who own the copyright trying to hang on to it as long as possible.

What do you think?

Guest Post: Rejection is coming…(and dragons…maybe)

So for my first guest post in my blife (blogging life) I have decided to talk about rejection (Gasp!)

No, wait! Keep reading! It’s not all that bad…..I promise!

Rejection is inevitable as a writer…I’m sorry…it just is. Let’s all take a moment to deal with that, deep breath, and move on! Whether you’re rejected by a literary agent, a publisher, or your mum (yes! Even your mum might hate your writing! – What? She might!) it’s pretty much a done deal that someone is going to reject you once you start putting your work out to the general public – even popular authors have people who hate their books, you just can’t please everyone.

And to be honest….who cares! Screw everyone who hates what you write. You love it! I know you do! Or you wouldn’t have spent all that time writing and rewriting and rererewriting until all your hair fell out and you had to buy a wig! (This didn’t happen to me…or did it? Ponder away)

I strongly believe that if there is passion in your work then someone will love it. And I know that the ultimate dream is to make a career out of your writing, but I think accepting whatever may happen is the best option. If you truly love to write because it’s your passion then your motivation should be wanting amazing people to read your work and love it like you do! Whether that be literally five people in the whole world or a thousand or ten thousand or ten million. The point is, you want to share your writing because you want people to love it as much as you do and making any money out of it would just be a bonus!

And remember! Don’t give up! If you get rejected don’t throw your computer out of your window! (I mean, by all means go ahead but then buy a new one!)

And here’s why…. Some of THE BEST authors of our time were rejected…like, A. Thousand. Times. Seriously…

– Beatrix Potter had to publish Peter Rabbit HERSELF because no one would do so! (Peter…fluffing….rabbit, people)

– C.S. Lewis was rejected quite a bit before he sold anything! (Would you want to live in a world without the Narnia books? Who didn’t spend time as kid (or an adult) climbing into wardrobes and pawing desperately at the back of it – just me?)

– An editor once told F. Scott Fitzgerald, “You’d have a decent book if you’d get rid of that Gatsby Character.” – (Seriously!!!!)

The Diary of Anne Frank was commented on by an editor saying, “This girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the curiosity level.” (ARGHHHFFF!!?)

– J.K Rowling was told, quite seriously, “Not to quit her day job.” (Bet that person will be crying for the rest of their days…) And if all else fails, self-publish! If you really, truly, honestly, passionately believe that your work is good enough to be out there for the world to see. Why not?

Caroline Peckham

Saturday Selects #13: Love has no labels

Saturday Selects is a series of posts I write the first Saturday of each month about a topic that is unrelated to the general bookish theme of this blog. I missed last month’s post. Not this time.

I’ve never once tried to make this blog political. Not once. And quite frankly, today’s topic isn’t political in my eyes. It’s about what’s right and what’s wrong. But many people would have you believe otherwise.

There is nothing political about same-sex marriage. There is nothing political about judging other people for no reason at all. There is nothing political about you thinking it’s okay to tell someone who they can or cannot love. And I know what some of you are thinking. You’re thinking about what the Bible says or what your religion says about homosexuality. That’s fine. Hide behind that all you want. Don’t think for yourself. That’s fine. I very sincerely don’t care what you think about it. This post isn’t meant to change your mind. I’m telling you what I think, cause after all, I see nothing wrong or controversial about making my opinion known on my own blog.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m all for same-sex marriage. And I have been ever since I was old enough to have my own opinion. Because think about it…how would you sound if you said that you think Whites and African-Americans shouldn’t be in relationships together? Or how would you sound if you said that Mexicans shouldn’t be allowed to marry any Americans? Better yet, how would you FEEL if other people constantly felt the need to tell you that you can’t marry someone because of who they are. NOT because they’re a bad person. NOT because they’re immature or too young or whatever the reason may be.

I don’t care what you think, but I can tell you that you only look very ignorant in the minds of millions of people all over the world. And sure you shouldn’t care what anyone thinks about you or your beliefs, but just put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Someone who is gay. And think about the struggle life can be at times. And now ask yourself why you have any opinion at all about who someone should or shouldn’t love. No one should. It’s really no one’s business outside of the relationship. Period.

This week The Ad Council released a great, great video with the message that love has no labels. Because it doesn’t. I’m happy to say that it’s gone viral. It’s only a few short minutes and I encourage you to watch all the way through. Because you’ll find that labels and love just don’t mesh.

Also, if you’ve never heard the song “Same Love” by Macklemore, you should give it a listen. The song and the message of The Ad Council’s video are an exact match for each other.

NOTE: I rarely delete comments. But today I will. If you disagree with me on this, that’s fine. Don’t comment. I don’t go on your blog and tell you how much I disagree with you, which is likely often.

On this day in 2014 I published Amazon’s List of 100 Books Everyone Should Read: 63. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.