Month: December 2021

Who Gets to Be Smart by Bri Lee

Posted December 9, 2021 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Non-Fiction / 0 Comments

Who Gets to Be Smart by Bri LeeTitle: Who Gets to Be Smart (Goodreads)
Author: Bri Lee
Published: Allen & Unwin, 2021
Pages: 296
Genres: Non-Fiction
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

I  love the idea that Bri Lee decided to write this book even though she had an agreement with her publisher to write some fiction. There’s something about this that really sticks with me, just the idea that Bri Lee was so passionate about this topic that she neglected her other projects and focused on this topic. Who Get to be Smart is such a work of passion, anger and needing to understand the world and I really enjoyed that experience. I have seen reviews that talk about this book as being unfocused or “all over the place”, for me I think that was what made this such enjoyable read. I felt like this book reads in a way that makes it feel like Bri Lee was having a conversation with me.

The book starts talking about her friend Damian, who was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship. Looking at the Rhodes Scholarship she came to the realisation that she was no longer eligible to apply for this scholarship due to her age . The requirements for this scholarship is tough, not only do you require some scholastic merit, you also have to have sporting achievements and “qualities of manhood, truth, courage and devotion to duty”. It wasn’t until a 2018 revision of the selection criteria that the wording was more gender neutral. Also, you must be 25 years and under if you were considering this international scholarship. The Rhodes Scholarship accepts about 0.7% of the global applicants.

Australia has recently attempted to do something similar to the Rhodes Scholarship, which has been a disaster. The Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation was launched by the former prime minister John Howard and has received plenty of backlash. Originally planned for the Australian National University, I believe it is now at the Wollongong University. Trying to set up a scholarship fund like this in 1902 would have been easier than trying to create it now. Many of the criticism revolves around the idea of awarding a very small group of people verses using the funding to lower education costs for everyone.

Who Get to be Smart focuses on the privileges provided to the wealthy, not just with these scholarship programs, but also private schooling and science grants. The majority of this book looks at the way location, wealth and race all play a part in the education of people. Bri Lee also looking into the effects of COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter protests might have on the future of education.

There is so much in this book and I really enjoyed the way Bri Lee approached the topic. The writing style was the highlight for me, she takes this conversationalist approach that made this so easy to read. I really like the way this is written and would probably make for a great audiobook or podcast. Not only is she providing her thoughts and giving us the information,  but she is doing it in a accessible way, with a touch of anger, humour and self-deprecation. This is my first Bri Lee book and the topic really appealed to me, because I do like her writing style, I do wonder if I should try Beauty or Eggshell Skull. I want to read more non-fiction like this, not just about education but also the same ‘laid-back’ conversationalist style, so if you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them.

The Invisible Cities Tag

Posted December 2, 2021 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 2 Comments

This year The Invisible Cities Project has been so much fun. I have really enjoyed watching what people have been reading from around the world and even trying some new food to eat. I would have liked to do more world cinema but sometimes it is hard to concentrate on the subtitles when you have easy access to a phone, this is why I prefer to see these films at a cinema. I am excited to see what 2022 will bring for the project. In January we will be talking about books, food, cinema from Algeria and Singapore before heading to Guyana and Uganda in February.

As we head into the last month of 2021, we are hoping to find some more time to relax a bit and catch up on our reading goals, I know I have plenty of countries still to catch up on. In addition to that, December is traditionally the month of “end-of-the-year” book lists, tags, and recaps, so we are also announcing our very own Invisible Cities tag!

This tag emerged from our internal host discussions about the future of the project and our experiences during this year, and we realized that it would more interesting and worthwhile to open this discussion up to our community, so we decided to create a tag.

You can join in on the discussion by making your own video, social media/blog post (please use the hashtag #InvisibleCitiesProject) and/or sharing your answers in the dedicated channel on our discord server.

Below are the questions (and my answers)

What’s your favourite book from all the ones you read for the Invisible Cities?

One of my favourite books from the year has to be Minor Detail by Adania Shibli (translated by Elisabeth Jaquette), which was my pick for Palestine. This was such an intense and powerful read and I hope many people had the opportunity to pick this novel up for this reading project, or for any other reason.

Which author that you read for Invisible Cities are you interested in reading more from?

This is a hard question to answer because there are so many great authors out there. I read Mariana Enríquez for Argentina and I am eager to read what ever has been translated from her. Other authors would include Yu Miri, Melba Escobar and Bae Suah.

What’s a non-book related favourite (food, music, movie) you discovered via the Invisible Cities?

I love some of the food my wife made for this project, I think it was so much fun to explore different cuisines while reading books from these countries. I am not sure which was my favourite, but the first thing that came to my mind was the Madagascan vanilla curry.

Any countries you read from for the first time?

This the joy of this reading project, I would love to read from every country in the world. I think this year was the first time I’ve read from Madagascar and Palestine.

A geographic area/country you want to explore more?

I think I need to focus more on Africa. Europe and Asia probably have the most translations and I have spent so much time in South America. Would love to see more translations from Australian countries, especially some of the aboriginal languages.

Recommend one woman in translation book you read for the project.

I tried to focus on reading women in translation, so I think most of my books would work for this prompt, but can I direct you to Minor Detail by Adania Shibli (translated by Elisabeth Jaquette) again?

Do you have any Invisible Cities goals for next year? (reading goals or other activities/media)

I want to do better at keeping up with all the countries. My finances made it difficult this year and I had to rely mainly on the library and Scribd for accessibility, but I am hoping that next year would be easier. I love this project and I am surprised I am still a host after my 2021 efforts.

For more information about this project you can check out my post here: 2021 Reading Project: Invisible Cities

Join the Invisible Cities Discord community here: Discord Invite

Or join the Invisible Cities reading challenge on Storygraph: Invisible Cities