Once in a House on Fire by Andrea Ashworth

This is an autobiography by Andrea Ashworth. She has experienced many of the tribulations that women experience but are too afraid to speak out about, including sexual harassment and assault. I discovered this book in a small bookstore in Northern Wales, and the author is not well-known except locally. This makes the book even more genuine to me.

The Volunteer by Jack Fairweather

“The True Story of the Resistance Hero who Infiltrated Auschwitz”

This is the best way to describe this book. It is not a first hand account, but it has many other interesting qualities that bring a morbid story to life. It serves as a narrative to Witold Pilecki’s life. He served as a Polish underground operative. He had to gather proof of mass murder and abuse from inside Auschwitz itself.

It is an extremely well researched book, and very educational on such an important topic.

I Am Malala

Malala Yousafzai’s autobiographical narrative is a very important read and people should make time for it. We’ve all heard about when the teenage girl was shot in the head by the Taliban for fighting for her right education. We have all heard about how, against all odds, she survived the gunshot and went on to college at Oxford University.

However, even if you know her story, and know it well, you probably haven’t heard it directly from her mouth. This book is the closest thing to it. Not only is it an incredible book, but it is a tribute to what Malala was fighting for: her education.

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

First published in 1845, this was the first major first-hand account of life as a slave.

This is one of the most important sources of the era of slavery.

My Interpretation:

My interpretation of this books is not necessary. This book is an essential read. We will never know enough about what enslaved people ensured during this time period, and this first-hand account is essential.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Whitehead’s novel centers on a young slave girl’s life story. Cora, born and raised on a plantation in Georgia, is determined to escape before facing an even more brutal adulthood.

Colson Whitehead

Whitehead configures a dark story into a compelling narrative by bringing the metaphorical Underground Railroad to life.

My Interpretation:

We learned about the horrors of the Antebellum Era as early as in elementary school. Since then, we have revisited the gruesome topic with varying degrees of maturity. This fictional book provides another account of possible life back then for enslaved people.

Our education on such a cruel time is limited for several reasons. The history is gruesome, and a lot of the details were heavily censored. Additionally, different school systems address the education of history differently.

When I visited Louisiana, I went to the Houmas House Plantation. This was one of the largest sugar plantations in the south, with hundreds of slaves. While we took a tour of the property, the tour guide rattled on about the architecture and interior design of the house, but never once acknowledged the large presence of slaves. I did research later, and apparently the current owner of the house doesn’t want the house to be weighed down by it’s horrendous history.

That’s what I think is most important about this book. There are many people who want this history buried and repressed. However, it is important to acknowledge the long history of slavery, and the best way to do that is experience as many perspectives as possible.