Um going to get two of these books right away - the first and last ones... they sound brilliant! So cool to see the new sections on the site... the puppy mill post destroys me. They're so rampant over here in the US and they're awful things.
I read Krakaurer's "Into Thin Air" about the doomed 1996 Mt Everest expedition he was a part of and lucky to come out of alive. You might enjoy it.The Margaret Forster book you mention reminds me of the two Helen Forrester books I picked up last week. She describes her childhood in 1930s Liverpool. In the past I've read about the abject poverty in that part of the country as recently as the 1960s. Absorbing reading, but shocking too.
I definitely think that one should be quite careful reading books like the one by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I've avoided reading it because I know it will anger me - I don't doubt the stories that she may have to tell, but I can tell you without reading the book that much of what she blames Islam for is not even from Islam - for example, female genital mutilation is not allowed, no human can be sold to another human, a marriage is not valid unless a woman freely agrees to it etc etc. Yes, these horrific abuses are widely practised in Muslim countries (and non-muslim countries for that matter) but their roots lie both in barbaric culture dating back thousands of years and also the abuse of Islamic doctrine. I'm glad to see that you have kept an open-mind after reading this book - there are lots of books that can teach you about the real status of women in Islam, I'd be happy to suggest some :-)
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