This past Sunday, my friend, Elizabeth, and I went to Central Park to read. While we only met two weeks ago, we quickly realized we share a love of reading and good books, and thought it would be fun to spend some time reading in Central Park together. We had a thirty or forty-minute walk there, chatting and catching up, and then found a nice spot underneath a tree to settle down.
I think reading outdoors is one of the best activities that exists. It was quite warm, but perfect in the shade, and beautifully peaceful, despite the inevitable constant activity occurring in Central Park. I’m currently reading Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally and However Long the Night by Aimee Molloy, although I mostly worked on Schindler’s List while in the park. Elizabeth was reading Gone Girl, which I added to my constantly-expanding “To-Read” list.
I’ll let you know my thoughts on those when I’m finished and can give a more complete assessment, but for now I’m going to give a recommendation of a book I finished several weeks ago.
Educated by Tara Westover is the engrossing, poignant, and impactful true story of Tara’s transformation from a girl in Idaho who had never seen a doctor or been to school, to a doctorate-holding author who is active in American and larger society. The book can be painful to read at times, as it describes the graphic accidents sometimes encountered in the junkyard of Tara’s father, where she and her siblings worked amidst flying hunks of metal. These accidents wouldn’t have been trivial normally, but they were made yet less so because Tara’s family did not believe in doctors or going to hospitals – her mother would treat them, instead, exclusively with prayer and homeopathic remedies. While I can certainly see these as part of a treatment plan, I have a hard time imagining treating any significant injury or illness without the technologies, medications, and procedures of the modern medical establishment.
The book also touches on themes of family and sacrifice, as she ends up having to mostly give up her family as she pursues a life in the modern, educated world outside the junkyard in Idaho. Her home was not always a happy place for her – even involving abuse at points. Still, it was her home, and she loved her family, however much they may have troubled her and held her back at points – and they loved her, too.
I think the most incredible piece of Westover’s story is simply that she somehow managed to escape. the confines of her known world, granted, largely thanks to her brother who broke out before her. As someone who had never been in a school, never had anything close to a formal education, she somehow managed to both find out about and get into a college. After that, she managed to actually succeed in college, and even go on to study at Cambridge and Harvard. As a student who entered college with numerous AP courses under my belt, and still found challenges, I can’t imagine coming into college freshman year having never written an essay before.
Nate Williams says
I wonder if Tara’s experience illustrates the criticism some people are making of public schools, especially public high schools. The argument is that they are boring for bright students and waste time that could be better spent in other pursuits. Clearly the absence of formal school education was not a significant barrier for her. Perhaps her extraordinary gifts enabled her to surmount hurdles lesser people could never manage. But it makes me wonder, anyway.
Kayla Elles says
Oooo Schindler’s List has been on my to-read/watch list for a bit. I’m curious to hear what you think. I haven’t read the book, but I saw the movie of Gone Girl and HOLY MOLY.
Finally making time to sit and read through your blogs. I have purchased Educated at the recommendation of a few friends. It sounds like I need to get to reading it. I think sitting in Central Park under a tree enjoying a book with a friend sounds like the best. Just reading it gave me a relaxed feeling.