The Book Collectors: A Band of Syrian Rebels and the Stories That Carried Them Through a War Book Review

Books are more than words on a page. They can educate, inspire, and provide hope in a time when all seems lost.

The Syrian Civil War will be a decade old next year. As of 2015, 3.8 million Syrians found refuge outside of their home country. 380,000 souls have been lost since 2011. Once thriving cities and towns have been destroyed beyond recognition. And yet, those who stayed found light and life via books.

The Book Collectors: A Band of Syrian Rebels and the Stories That Carried Them Through a War was published last month. Written by Delphine Minoui and translated by Lara Vergnaud, the book follows the conversations Minoui had with a group of resistance fighters who kept a secret library in Daraya during the war. As government forces pounded the city, these young men came upon a small library. Within a month, they created a sanctuary that contained 15,000 books. Containing literature of every genre and subject, they found a brief respite from the destruction that was their new normal. Speaking to journalist Delphine Minoui via social media, they told the story of survival, hope, and faith.

I found the concept to be compelling. Beyond my love of books, I was drawn to the idea that the medium is able to give us something to hold onto when all seems lost. The problem is that the story does not live up to the hype it creates.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.


How Long Before Bill Barr is Fired?

The general job description of a public servant, regardless of status or title, is to serve the public. But for the last four years, you know who has had the idea that those in public service are there to serve his needs. As a result, those in the higher levels of government have either become brownnosers or are employed elsewhere.

Among those might need to find another job soon is Bill Barr. After months of being you know who’s stooge (Russia investigation anyone?), Barr is now getting heat for saying that claim of election fraud is just that. When he spoke to the AP, he said the following:

“to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”

The question is, how long before Bill Barr is fired? You know who is not known for keeping people around him who publicly disagree with him. The truth is that no matter what Barr’s future is, there will be a new President and a new administration in January. But either way, I have a feeling that there will be a new Attorney General for the month or so.

World on Fire Character Review: Douglas Bennett

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series World on Fire. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. From the outside looking in, fighting in a war is heroic and glamorous. But anyone who has looked death in the eye knows that it is not as glamorous or heroic as it appears to be. Those who come home, if they come home in one piece, face internal battles that will last for the rest of their lives.

In World on Fire, widower Douglas Bennett (Sean Bean) is veteran of World War I. Dealing with the lingering effects of PTSD, he would do anything to avoid Britain getting involved in another war. But his attempts are unfortunately futile. Watching both his son Tom (Ewan Mitchell) and daughter Lois (Julia Brown) getting involved what would ultimately become World War II, brings back memories that Douglas would rather forget. They are made worse when Tom, who has joined the Navy, is briefly MIA.

But in spite of this darkness, there is still a little bit of light in his life. An unexpected friendship with a young refugee who is staying with his daughter’s ex-boyfriend’s mother, Robina Chase (Lesley Manville) and the news that Lois is pregnant allows Douglas to realize that it is still possible to hope that the future is bright.

To sum it up: Douglas is a man who has seen enough to know that war is not what it seems to be. But he lives in a world that for any number of reasons, does not see what he sees. It is not a surprise that given his circumstances, his PTSD is exacerbated. But to his surprise, he is able to find something to make him feel good. That gives him the opportunity to believe in the future and more importantly, believe in hope and humanity.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

Flashback Friday: A Sale of Two Cities (2014-Present)

We all know that home prices within the United States vary.

A Sale of Two Cities has been on the HGTV schedule since 2014. The premise of the program is as follows: two sets of homeowners are looking to buy a new home in different parts of the country. The catch is that while the price point is the same, the types of properties that are available for purchase vary based on the location.

I find this show to be fascinating. What makes it different than your standard house hunting TV show is the revelation of how one can buy a four bedroom home with an acre of land in one part of the country and a two bedroom apartment in another part of the country.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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