Being both a librarian and a reader is a great combination. Like many good librarians, I select books and then read some of them after they are processed and added to my library's collection. After ordering from reviews in Booklist or Library Journal, I often place a hold or two. Wondering how many of the books I read are books I order for the library, I analyzed my 2004 reading. 57 percent of my reading choices were books that I had ordered for the library. Reviews influenced 32 percent of my choices for the year. (25 percent were novels I ordered for the sophomore honors English reading list.) I had expected the percentage to be higher. It is still a big chunk of my reading.
Memoirs jump out at me when I am reading reviews. Stories about interesting lives are very appealing. Slave: My True Story by Mende Nazer was one of my best discoveries of the year.
Slavery still exists! In our world today where there are many declarations against slavery and virtually every nation denounces it, there are still many slaves. They are not all in the third world either. In this book, Mende Nazer tells how Arab raiders attacked her village in southern Sudan and captured many of the children to be sold into slavery. The adults were murdered. She was transported nearly one thousand miles across the desert, kept at a Sudanese army base, transported to a slave trader in Khartoum, and sold to a young Arab mother to do all the housework and cooking. After several years of physical abuse, verbal humiliation, and virtual imprisonment, she was sent to London to serve as a slave in the home of a Sudanese diplomat. She escaped in September 2000. How Nazer survived is an inspiring story. Critical reviews were very favorable, but this book got little attention in the U.S. It was a best seller in England and Germany. With Sudan so much in the news, this book should be read and discussed by many.
Nazer, Mende. Slave: My True Story. New York: Public Affairs, 2003. ISBN 1586482122