BookerTalk

Non Fiction November: Calling On Health and Migration Experts

It’s week 3 in NonFictionNovember and the theme is expertise. Officially the topic, as set by our host Rennie What’s Nonfiction, is “Be The Expert/Ask The Expert/ Become The Expert”.

You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).

I think of the “ask the expert” prompt as a bit like that “phone a friend” lifeline that contestants in Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? get to play when their own knowledge is non existent or a bit shaky.

I’m going to play my lifeline by asking fellow bloggers for help with recommendations on two topics.

The migrant experience

One of the most interesting non fiction books I’ve read this year is In Order To Live by Yeonmi Park. It traces the experiences of a young girl who risks her life to escape with her mother from the totalitarian regime of North Korea. Instead of finding freedom in China, they end up as victims of human trafficking. Their ultimate journey to freedom in South Korea presents its own challenges but they make it.

While there are some flaws in the narrative, I found it fascinating to learn about the forces that compelled this young girl to undertake a life-threatening journey and then the difficulties faced in trying to adjust to a new life. It’s a book that has started me thinking about the experience of other migrants.

I appreciate it’s a broad topic. It could encompass people who flee their home country for economic reasons or because they believe their ethnicity or political opinions put their lives in peril.

I’m looking for your help to get me started. Do you have any suggestions of relevant books? They could be personal accounts of the migrants themselves or the people that try to support them such as aid workers.

The Health Crisis

Don ‘t panic, this is going to be a Covid-free post!

Instead I’m going back in time to an earlier pandemic.

Between February 1918 and April 1920 about a third of the world’s population succumbed to influenza in a pandemic that came to be known as Spanish flu. It was one of the deadliest pandemics in human history, causing the deaths of at least 17million people (some estimates put it as high as 50million.)

My knowledge on this topic is skimpy. I’ve read several novels where it’s been mentioned but I probably know more about the Black Death (also known as The Plague) than I do about this more recent crisis.

I’m curious to know how and where it began (contrary to common belief it didn’t originate in Spain); how governments and scientists responded and how it affected ordinary lives.

Anyone have some suggestions of good books on this topic? I don’t want any turgid academic volumes, just good readable accounts. Maybe diaries or memoirs too.

Over to you all now to come up with some suggestions.

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