I previously committed to reading five books this summer. Not just any five books, but five specific books, although I would like to read more than five books this summer. As of today, I have read two of those five books already: The Business of Baby and the Road to Lost Innocence. I've already made it clear how I feel about The Business of Baby and the status of maternal health in this country.
Road to Lost Innocence
I enjoyed Road to Lost Innocence, as it provided additional details about the sex trafficking industry in Cambodia and how the industry has changed since Somaly was a prostitute. What struck me the most is the lifelong psychological consequences these girls have, as even women like Somaly don't come out completely unscathed. In the book, she says the smells give her nightmares and haunt her the most. She readily admits that the smells are probably in her head at this point, but that doesn't stop her from using perfumes and air fresheners to do what she can to block them. Even though I already has a strong understanding of Somaly's story and of the sex trafficking industry in Cambodia and other developing countries, I do enjoy reading more books about this topics (and other topics that I am already familiar with) because I think that each book adds additional details and an additional perspective. From this book, I learned more about the men who frequent the brothels, how the foreigners perpetuate the trade (and how they helped Somaly) and some of the attitudes that Somaly is up against in her country.
I Finished "The Defining Decade"
Even though it wasn't on my summer reading list, I borrowed The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter- and How to Make the Most of Them Now yesterday since the main idea behind this blog is building identity capital. The idea came from this book, so I had to read it. I ended up finishing it yesterday as well, as I found it to be an engaging and phenomenal read, something that all twentysomethings should read. Although I do think the first half of my 20s have been well spent building identity capital, as I am heavily involved in activism and have spent much of that time building a business and learning all sorts of skills, I like how the book is much more than maximizing your professional life. It's also about thinking about marriage before you have one, making wise decisions about your relationships and what you want out of a life partner. It's simply about not treating your 20s as simply a time to have fun, to have no responsibilities, and to do what you want until 30. Starting a family, a marriage, and a career all at once is difficult, especially if you didn't spend your 20s thinking about those things and taking steps in the right direction.
What am I Reading Now?
Currently, I'm tackling Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government. I've only gotten through the introduction, so I can't say too much about it. It seems interesting so far, and I do hope that the book offers a few concrete ways to use the Internet and social media to participate in government and to improve civic engagement. It would be helpful for my activism work, since part of that work is finding support for legislation or lobbying politicians to do this or that.
I did find out something interesting when I watched a documentary on Netflix the other night (it might have been We're Not Broke, but I'm not sure). One of the things the documentary said is that the politicians and the staffers actually don't write the bills, even though that's what the Schoolhouse Rock video says. Bill writing is something that's outsourced to the lobbyists, who can then come back with the exact legislation we want. It got me thinking that with activism and with non-profits, it might be a good idea if we take the time to write the bills, and then when we lobby, we just drop off a bill instead of just saying, "We are concerned about X, Y, and Z." We would have done most of the hard work, and it could be much more powerful if a lot of people lobby at the same time and drop off the same bill to numerous politicians.