Marilyn Yalom; With Books Publishing; 648 pp., 28,000 won
How has the institution of marriage affected women through the ages?
U.S. cultural historian Marilyn Yalom charts the evolution of marriage in this book, first published in the United States in 2001, and published in Korean this month. The author is a scholar at Stanford’s Institute for Women and Gender.
“A History of the Wife” is a study of the laws, religious practices, social customs, economic patterns, and political consciousness that have affected generations of wives.
Marriage is not a woman’s indispensable passage to motherhood — up to 40 percent of American first children are being born out of wedlock. And, since one in two marriages will end in divorce, it no longer guarantees a woman permanent protection in a world that has traditionally been unkind to unmarried women.
Yalom explores some interesting questions. For example, how did marriage, considered a religious duty in medieval Europe, become a platform for personal fulfillment in contemporary America? How did the notion of romantic love, a novelty in the Middle Ages, become a prerequisite for marriage today? And, if the original purpose of marriage was procreation, what exactly is the purpose of marriage for women now?
Drawing extensively from diaries, memoirs and letters, the author also pays tribute to the ordinary wives who over the centuries have affected the legal, personal and social meaning of marriage.
— DO JE-HAE
I’m Sorry, Mom
Noh Gyeong-hee; illustrations by Kim Ryeong-ha; Donga Ilbo Publishing; 200 pp., 9,800 won
This children’s book takes its title from last year’s MBC documentary about a 4-year-old girl’s continued battle against an unknown but deadly disease she was born with.
The writer-illustrator duo behind the 2009 bestseller “Red Bean Mom,” based on another heartbreaking TV documentary from the network, stays faithful to the original story of Seo-yeon, her family and the friends she makes in a children’s hospital to great effect.
As the title points out, the most moving tale comes from the girl’s apology to her mom for having to take care of her. While everyday is a test of Seo-yeon’s strength — it is a life and death situation for her — the protagonist lives with the hope that she will one day become better. She even has the heart to think of others’ well-being.
Fellow patients in the hospital appear, sometimes get well and inevitably leave, but there is no display of jealousy from Seo-yeon. It is a necessary reminder to readers of all ages, young and old, of how important our health is and how trivial some of our problems can be when put into the perspective such as this.
— KWAAK JE-YUP
Heart Pounding Car Talk
Kim Woo-seong; Miraebook Publishing; 320 pp., 15,000 won
The majority of the population probably has never dabbled in journalism and may often think the job entails meeting famous people and getting previews on the newest and latest stuff. And one of the culprits for reinforcing this image is the motoring or automotive journalist who gets to test the newest cars before they hit the market.
This book by a 13-year field veteran and editor-in-chief of the BBC’s Top Gear monthly magazine not only explains the fatal attraction of automobiles (to him, at least) but also offers an intensive introduction course that eventually led to his current profession.
One of the more insightful comments about the job description comes early: “A motoring journalist is not an expert... Instead, he holds the special rights to meet and ask questions to all the experts in the world across brands and nations.”
He ends on a wishful note, comparing the barebones state of automobile journalism in Korea to its enviable counterparts in Japan and the United Kingdom.
Hardly a groundbreaking work, but perhaps this exposure will attract more young people to the field.
— KWAAK JE-YUP
Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo; Thinking Lab; 395 pp., 17,000 won
Welfare has rapidly become a serious issue worldwide. But the disparity between the haves and have-nots is ever widening and how people perceive this issue also seems worlds apart.
Are we aware of the acute problems of poverty? Some of us might feel it is far from the reality we face, as it sounds superficial. Authors Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee and Esther Duflo, both of who teach economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), have worked with the underprivileged for over 15 years in such countries as Morocco and India, spanning five continents to understand the problems of poverty and to find solutions.
Through their work, Banerjee and Duflo look at some of the most surprising aspects of poverty — why the poor need to borrow in order to save, why they miss out on free life-saving immunizations but pay for drugs they do not need, why they start many businesses but do not grow any of them, and many other puzzling facts about living on less than 99 cents per day.
The book tells readers that, despite the high awareness of welfare-related issues, people lack a proper understanding of poverty, which has led to years of failing anti-poverty policies. Additionally, the authors argue that to fight poverty takes patience, careful thinking and a willingness to learn from evidence.
— RACHEL LEE