Please recommend books on infant mortality rates in Peru
September 15, 2008 11:57 AM   Subscribe

Please help me find a present for my sister's 30th birthday. She's asked for book(s) on certain topics that she's interested in, but I have no idea about these particular genre's.

The first genre she mentioned is India. She wants a book about the country, with specific leanings towards things like female literacy, projects that help the poor, infant mortality, etc, and less on the geography and politics of the county. Basically, what is being done there on a grass roots level to make people's lives better for them.

The other genre she mentioned is what sounds to me like an atlas of world issues. It seems to be about things like freedom of speech, poverty levels (and stuff like the example above), around the world. She's been to South America, and speaks Spanish, so maybe something about SA would be nice.

She works with less-well-off communities as a job, to help improve people's local spaces, if that's relevant. I bought her a Kiva gift certificate for Christmas, and she's been quite into that ever since.

I've tried looking on Amazon, and Googling, but I know very little about such things, and I'm not having much luck. I'm looking to spend about £20-25, which is about $35-45, I think. Product recommendations would be great, or links to websites where I can have a poke about would be cool too.
posted by Solomon to Grab Bag (9 answers total)
While I haven't personally read it, a number of my friends liked the message in Greg Mortenson's Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations... One School at a Time. Disclaimer: it was also mentioned that while Mortenson's story was inspiring, nobody really liked the book itself. A reviewer on Amazon had this to say about it: "Sadly, it took a lot of effort for me to look past the sophmoric writing, which I found to be a distraction from enjoying the larger plot."
posted by halogen at 12:58 PM on September 15, 2008

Print out your question, take it to a good bookstore and ask for assistance.
posted by Carol Anne at 1:10 PM on September 15, 2008

A suggestion regarding topic #2 is The State of the World Atlas. It is truly an atlas - e.g., it presents facts in a well-organized and accessible way, but is short on narrative or exposition.

And since you mentioned Kiva and an interest in South Asia, you might try one of the books on microlending more generally - e.g., Banker To The Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty, for example.
posted by googly at 1:14 PM on September 15, 2008

Disabled Village Children
posted by canoehead at 3:47 PM on September 15, 2008

your sister might be looking for something more scholarly, but i thoroughly enjoyed reading vandana shiva's earth democracy. it brings together a lot of different issues / concepts - community mobilization, environmental justice, sustainable development, etc. - but in an extremely accessible style. she's an indian activist / physicist / writer, so many of her examples are drawn from india. ahh, now i want to go dig it up and read it again...
posted by jus7brea7he at 7:08 PM on September 15, 2008

Hm, I don't read a ton of nonfiction, but she might enjoy A Passage to India by EM Forster or The Jewel in the Crown by Paul Scott, or for something more contemporary, Midnight's Children by Salmon Rushdie. All are about/involve the history of India especially regarding religion and colonialism. Or take a look at Edward Said's Orientalism for the theory of colonialism.

Sometimes the best gifts are unexpected.
posted by OrangeDrink at 7:38 PM on September 15, 2008

For number 2, may I suggest the New Internationalist The World Guide.

This global reference guide eschews the normal "Western" focus or point of view in analyzing world social, health, justice & economic issues.

Whilst the New Internationalist organization can sometimes be a bit preachy, their position is refreshing in this modern "First world focused" society.
posted by Mephisto at 9:13 PM on September 15, 2008

I should also add that the World Guide specifically provides more details on countries from the Southern Hemisphere.
posted by Mephisto at 9:16 PM on September 15, 2008

Latin America is experiencing some very interesting battles at the local level for water rights, which she may be aware of/interested in. I pulled up a book on Bolivia called "The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia" that didn't look too textbook-y but did look interesting.

For a continent-wide overview, there's "Forgotten Continent: the Battle for Latin America's Soul" which looks interesting (as it came up when I was doing a search on literacy and social movements in Latin America) but the review say it's a bit of a slog.

For India, there's the very intriguing looking "We Are Po but So Many: The Story of Self-Employed Women in India" which blows your budget a bit (US$55) but sounds like it provides a wonderful account of women of the poorer classes in India but isn't dry.

To range a bit further afield, there's "Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time" which deals with Pakistan, not India. It does, however, discuss a particular grass roots movement to eradicate poverty (in this case, by building schools for girls).

I can probably hunt up a good few more of these if you'd like (although I agree--Amazon does tend to spit out five textbooks for every one book that actually looks readable); just MefiMail me. Good luck!
posted by librarylis at 7:57 PM on September 16, 2008

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