>The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton

>I had the pleasure of meeting Masha Hamilton yesterday when she came to Rochester. Masha’s book, The Camel Bookmobile, was chosen as the 2010 Rochester Reads adult title so we invited her to come and share her experiences with us. A bunch of us from the Rochester Reads committee had lunch with Masha before her public presentation.

Masha is a very personable and intelligent woman, I liked her instantly. Her stories of her journeys as a corespondent in Russia and Afghanistan were jaw droppingly fascinating. I’ve never known anyone that has traveled so much and has seen so much than her. Masha’s presentation of the Camel Bookmobile and her experience in helping Afghan women tell their stories (two totally different projects) were utterly amazing. She is a truly brave, charismatic, and compassionate woman, the world would be much better off with more like her.

Masha signing my copy of the Camel Bookmobile. on Twitpic
Masha Hamilton signing my copy of The Camel Bookmobile.

I read the Camel Bookmobile after it was chosen as the title and I have to admit, I wasn’t really drawn into the book. It’s just not my favorite genre, I guess. I prefer Fantasy or Science Fiction, mainly because I’m an escapist and like to read about things that aren’t so real. Where as the situation of the people in this book were a little too real. Her presentation made me change my mind about the book and really appreciate it.

The whole idea behind the story is very inspiring. Masha told us about the people in the nomadic villages that get visited by the camel book mobile. How, for these people, the books are their only window to a world that is totally different than their own. That more of the youth of the villages are going to the cities to have a higher education.

This poses a question, we all agree that education is a good thing, right? But what is this doing to their culture? As the young go off to get educated, who will carry on their traditions, their history, their way of life?

We don’t have to go to Africa to see lost traditions. Let’s look at our own lives, say 20 years ago before all the fancy technology that was supposed to make our lives easier. Instead of going visiting, we now email or text people. Instead of playing board games or making up games to play with your family, now we play online so we don’t even have to be with each other anymore. We used to apply for jobs by filling out paper applications and handing it in. Now it’s all done online and the people that don’t have that option have to either get that option or be left behind. Is this really fair? What are we doing to ourselves?

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