WHS – We need it more now than ever

Okay so to my absolute shame I have been shockingly inactive as a Digital Advocate for the World Humanitarian Summit. However, I have been shockingly inactive at digital anything so I’m going to try to redeem myself right now.

Having just watched a video called Do Americans Know Enough About ISIS? I read a few of the comments and they were very presumptuous and generalising. The assumption was that, because said Americans didn’t know much about ISIS, they clearly didn’t care about the issues surrounding them. It’s undeniable that this is a topic subject to a lot of miscommunication, misunderstanding and stigmas but it really got me thinking. Does my knowledge on a subject validate how much I care about it? And my conclusion was absolutely not! I can’t read/watch/hear anything about wars, present or past, and not get wrapped up in a cloud of misery thinking about all the young women like me, their mothers, brothers, grandmothers, fathers, grandfathers etc and not get a little teary. I do care, I just don’t know how to help. And even if I had known what ISIS stood for (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria by the way, in case you didn’t know) would it change my opinion of them? No! If I had known the name of the leader of ISIS before watching the video would it make it any easier for me to empathise with people and help the cause? Of course not.

That fact is, this video was made in order to make Americans in general look ignorant to the cause but the fact is that these people, like me, have probably watched/read/heard news stories about ISIS/terrorism (no I am not offering that as a synonym, don’t worry) for the past 5 years or more and have become numb. It’s a human coping mechanism to shut off unpleasant information – if we all sat and thought about every horrific thing the world has gone through every single minute of every day we would all fall to pieces. Also, when were we ever told these facts? Never, because they’re not really useful when discussing ISIS’s actions unless they are directly relevant.

I am a complete over thinker. I do find it quite easy to empathise as much as I can but it’s not a skill, it’s debilitating. I take information about genocide, or even ‘just’ homicide, and I let it eat away at my mind and I have quite often broken down at the thought of that happening to me, my family or my friends. And that’s just how I react thinking about it, not actually living it. I don’t have to know facts about a school bully to know that I want them to stop hurting people and I don’t need to know facts about ISIS to care about the millions of people they are affecting daily.

I recently watched Front Line Doctors (on the BBC) and it really shook me. The refugee crisis caused by ISIS’s actions against its own people is unbelievable. The boats they travel on are an absolute joke and the people on them have paid at least 1000€ to be on it. If they’re willing to leave their lives, homes and family behind just to feel safe away from ISIS’s power and destruction then something has to be done to protect them once they’re here. Why are undocumented people not given the same rights as those who have a passport or a driver’s licence? I watched an old woman struggle through the ice and the snow just to travel to a check point where she would have to stand in a queue for hours on end, waiting to be accepted, waiting to be safe. There was a car present she could have been transported in if it weren’t for the fact that that would be considered to be people trafficking. This situation is awful and the laws surrounding it are unnecessarily tenuous. I know that it’s not as simple as “hey, come in, you’ll be safe here” but it has to be easier than this. And if it can’t be easier, it has to become more efficient and much safer for those involved.  There is no doubt that this WHS will discuss these topics in the coming months because something has to be done.

After expressing similar views in the comments section to what you have just read I received an email about WHS (I know, what a coincidence!!) And this is what it said:

Dear Digital Advocate Team,

This week we are doing a special social media campaign to spread information about Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Agenda for Humanity – his vision to overcome the world’s greatest humanitarian crisis.

The Agenda for Humanity contains 5 Core Responsibilities, 5 areas where global leaders need to take action to stop human suffering.

Every day this week we will strive to give a human face to these responsibilities and show why they are important principles in rethinking humanitarian action. 

Monday, March 21 – Core Responsibility 1: Prevent and end conflict

Tuesday, March 22 – Core Responsibility 2: Respect rules of war

Wednesday, March 23  – Core Responsibility 3: Leave no one behind

Thursday, March 24 – Core Responsibility 4: Working differently to end need

Friday, March 25 – Core Responsibility 5: Invest in humanity


Can you help us spread the word about the Agenda for Humanity and the 5 Core Responsibilities?


It should be easy! There are graphics and blog posts explaining each of the responsibilities are available here:https://trello.com/b/ YnuESBuF/agenda-for-humanity  and here:http://blog.worldhumanita riansummit.org/. We are trying to focus on one responsibility per day, but please feel free to adapt this schedule to your followers. And feel free to add your own thoughts about these responsibilities to your posts too!


If you follow the WHS on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram, you can also retweet/repost the information too! Thank you so much for helping us with this special campaign.


Best wishes,

The World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) Team

If, like me, you would like to have a few faces to associate with these causes then do some research! I will try to do my own research on the matter and find some case studies for each Core Responsibility. They could be activists, victims, survivors – anybody who represents that Core Responsibility.

If I manage to stick to this schedule I will have done myself proud and will also have done Ban Ki-moon proud in the process. And who doesn’t want to make that man smile?

I hope you can help me, and the WHS, to make these world-wide Core Responsibilities a little more personal. And let me know in the comments what assumptions you would like to challenge or what world problems you would like to see solved. Maybe look at the UN’s Global Goals for inspiration? Also, check out the links from the email too, reposted here for your convenience:

http://blog.worldhumanita riansummit.org/

https://trello.com/b/ YnuESBuF/agenda-for-humanity

Active reading,



My First Tag Post: The How I Read Book Tag

Okay, so I’ve never done a tag before but this seemed like a good place to start and writing it now I’m actually quite excited!  I found this tag by The Bookie Monster so a big thanks to them!

1) How do you find out about new books to read?

Well, I often like to miander around Waterstones and literally judge books by their covers. Yeah, yeah, I’m a shallow book reader. As I explain in my review, I came across The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul  in WHSmiths and thought “oh my goodness that cover is so adorable I bet it’s so quaint and sweet!!” without actually taking notice of the big clue as to why I was totally wrong: Kabul! However, despite this massive oversight, it is one of the best books I have ever read and it’s absolutely wonderful.

In other cases, books are either recomended to me (by friends and teachers) or bought for me by my dad as lovely little surprises! Two of the best surprise books were The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide (expect a review for this when I’m done with it) and The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen (for which, I have realised, I have not yet written a full review…expect that one too!!) which also had wonderful covers. I just cannot read a book unless it’s pretty! I’m sorry…ugly books deserve a chance too!

2) How did you get into reading?

Honestly, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love reading. There was a breif period in Year 4 when I had grown out of books aimed at my age group and couldn’t find anything that was good enough for me. Like many people my age, Harry Potter saved me from that dark, bookless time and I quickly got back on track.

Before that, there were a couple of series that I really liked. One of them was a bit Narnia-esque and the other was Geronimo Stilton, the story of one adventurous little mouse. If you have young kids I would absolutely recommend it!

3) How has your taste in books changed as you’ve gotten older?

Well, I wouldn’t say that my preferences have changed so much as I’ve aged and the genres I’ve always loved are now age appropriate. I’ve always had a “darker” taste in fiction than most of the people my age. I’m not talking about blood and guts, zombies everywhere and bowls in jars on mantel pieces kind of “dark” because, frankly, if it’s unrealistic it doesn’t even faintly appeal to me. I mean, I’m all for magical realism but anything past that and it doesn’t grip me at all. Having said that, when it’s fantastical and set in a different world such as Discworld or Middle Earth I am totally engrossed. There’s a fine line and maybe that’s hard to describe without completely contradicting himself.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I like to be hit hard in the face with the harsh realities of the world found in books such as To Kill A Mockingbird and A Thousand Splendid Suns but I also like to escape into an entirely different world where hobbits fly on the feet of giant birds and suitcases trot alongside their owners. I think that’s what I’ve always wanted from books but only now can I read them without being overly distressed by what I read.

4) How often do you buy books?

Surprisingly, not that often! Having been a Literature student for the past two years and, in the last year, having to learn quotes for The Bloody Chamber, Frankenstein and Macbeth of by heart, I’ve been unable to remove myself from those texts so have, therefore, been unable to read the books I want to. However, most of the books I have lined up to read have all been gifts from my dad or my boyfriend.

For my eighteenth birthday, last September, I asked my boyfriend for a couple of books I fancied reading and, being the excessively generous guy he is, he practically bought a library for me. From that point on I have been inundated with books and it’s glorious! My dad also buys me books…not because I ask for them, just because he sees them and thinks I’ll enjoy them! You could say I’m rather spoiled in the book department but that will all change if I get to Uni (to study Scandinavian Studies and English Literature at Edinburgh) because then books will be my largest expenditure.

If I ever do buy books I tend to buy them online and second hand. I did this for all my Literature texts and I still do it now I’m finished. I usually buy them on eBay through World Of Books; the books are always in an amazing condition considering they’re second hand and besides, I love to read pre-loved books! In my Literature class some people were totally shocked (and a bit offended it seemed) by the fact my books looked kind of battered but I think it adds to their character! If a book doesn’t look like it has been read then what’s the point?

5) How did you get into book reviewing?

I’ve always fancied the idea of blogging but, frankly, my life isn’t interesting enough for any old blog so I needed to find a purpose behind it. One of my career goals/ideas is to become a journalist of some sort and one of the best ways to demonstrate your writing ability is to create a blog, maintain it and consider it a part of your portfolio. At first I was using Blogger but, to be honest, I feel like the quality is somewhat lacking on Blogger and I couldn’t have an unattractive blog, I just refuse!

So, anyway, I suddenly realised that I do have something interesting to write about: books! And so, here I am!

6) How do you react when you don’t like the end of a book?

As I was talking about The Hobbit earlier, I’ll use it as my example here. The Hobbit is an absolutely amazing read in which I was totally engrossed from start to finish…but the ending was somewhat disappointing. Of course, at the time, this was devastating. However, in retrospect I don’t think I was so much disappointed by the ending, but more by the fact that story itself had ended. I had the same feeling with To Kill A Mockingbird but Go Set A Watchman may make up for that (expect a review for that by the way – it has been preordered and I intend to devour that book and not sleep until it’s finished…and then possibly be even more disappointed that it’s all over). To be honest, I’m not sure I’ve come across a book I’ve been totally blown away by due to some amazing ending, but more because of the preceding events that make it hard for me to let go when the characters’ lives stop in time while mine goes on. Why must books end?!

Having said all that, the ending to A Thousand Splendid Suns was absolutely phenomenal. I’m not saying whether it’s happy or sad!! But it was incredible! I will say that I cried but I sobbed all the way through that book so that’s probably no indicator as to whether the ending is happy or sad.

7) How often do a “sneak peek” at the end of a book to see if there’s a happy ending?

Never. The writer has written their work with care, attention and, most importantly, gripping suspense. Why would I rob them, and myself, of the gently crafted effect the author intended?

I hope you enjoyed my very first tag!

If you want to hear about the reviews coming up, follow me on twitter: @CarenzaReads

Reviews to look forward to this summer:
Go Set A Watchman – Harper Lee
The Rabbit Back Literature Society – Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen
The Guest Cat – Takashi Hiraide

Happy reading,
Carenza x