Revolution for Dummies

December’s Global Forum pick is Revolution for Dummies: Laughing through the Arab Spring by Bassem Yousef. Yousef is a heart surgeon-turned-satirist whose popular Egyptian TV show Al-Bernameg gained a lot of attention and support (and his government’s ire). Dubbed by some “the Jon Stewart of Egypt,” Yousef brought his own humor and criticism to bear during the Egyptian Revolution. In this book, Yousef talks about Egypt, truth, comedy, and how he tried to make a difference in the face of dictators and censorship.


Further Reading – Egypt


Here’s an older interview of Yousef from the Guardian [2013]:


Here’s Yousef’s interview on the Daily Show:


And some articles about what’s happening in Egypt today:


Mubarak just testified in a trial against Morsi, who was unable to respond to questions without permissions from Sisi.


In Egypt, fake news becomes weapon of choice to crush dissent


Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi isn’t like Mubarak. He’s much worse.


For anyone interested in a more detailed report of human rights in Egypt today, check out Human Rights Watch’s 2018 Report


Not about Egypt per se, but for anyone who missed it Time Magazine made journalists the 2018 Person of the Year.

The Nordic Theory of Everything

Our October book was The Nordic Theory of Everything by Anu Partanen. In it, she compares life, culture, economics, and more between her native Finland and the United States.


Find a list of related readings here.


Anu Partanen  has also written a number of articles and op-eds about some of the topics she covers in the book, which you can check out here:


Next month’s meeting is November 29, when we’ll be discussing China’s Second Continent

The Far Away Brothers

The September selection was The Far Away Brothers by Lauren Markham. Markham follows the story of two twin brothers as they leave their home in El Salvador and take the trek north to America, encountering many dangers along the way and then navigating their new lives in a foreign country – and  adolescence. If you missed the meeting or just have additional thoughts, please comment below!


For anyone looking for related books on the topic of immigration and the border, click here for some suggested titles.


Lauren Markham also gave a recent interview about her book and work (thank you Carolyn!)


Next month’s book is The Nordic Theory of Everything by Anu Partanen.



There Was and There Was Not

August’s selection for Global Forum was There Was and There Was Not: A Journey Through Hate and Possiblity in Turkey, Armenia, and Beyond by Meline Toumani. Toumani writes about exploring the legacy of the Armenian Genocide, from her upbringing in the Armenian diaspora here in the U.S., to travels through Turkey and Armenia. A moving book about history, belonging, and memory. 


For a list of related readings on the topic of the Armenian Genocide, click here.



A few years ago, a billboard put up by a group denying the genocide in Boston caused controversy, which you can read about here.


On a brighter local note, the Armenian memorial and park in Boston has a website here that talks about it and even has events hosted there. Thank you Susan for mentioning this!



The church in Lake Van Toumani visits and discusses has an entry in Atlas Obscura with great photos, here. (Thank you Betsy)

The Monk of Mokha

July’s selection was The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers. Eggers tells the true story of Mokhtar Alkhanshali, a Yemeni-American from San Francisco who makes it his mission to revive a coffee industry in Yemen that has been all but lost. When he finds himself in the middle of the ongoing Yemeni Civil War, he must find a way to get home alive – without giving up his dream.


Here is the Further Reading List, with books for those looking to learn more about Yemen or the coffee industry.


We tried to acquire some of Mokhtar’s coffee for our meeting, but due to a mix-up we nearly got green, un-roasted coffee berries before cancelling the order (so be careful when buying coffee, it can be complicated). Thankfully, John graciously donated some of his coffee from Guatemala (thank you again!). For anyone interested in buying the coffee, though, you can check out Port of Mokha’s website. There are also three Blue Bottle cafes around Boston.


If anyone is curious about the lawsuit against Mokhtar’s company, you can read about it here:


For anyone looking to better understand the Yemen Conflict, there are great background guides from The BBC and Council on Foreign Relations.


Have any thoughts on the book or topic? Share below! And see you in August to discuss There Was and There Was Not by Meline Toumani.





Behind the Beautiful Forevers

Our June 2018 book was Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo. Boo shows us what life is like in the Mumbai slum of Annawadi, where thousands live on a few swampy acres between a major airport and luxury hotels. She shares the stories of trash collectors, slumlords, and many others seeking to thrive – or just survive – in a rapidly changing India.


For anyone interested, here’s Katherine Boo’s interview with The Guardian (from 2012) about what Annawadi was like for her, personally.


Click here for a list of book suggestions related to Behind the Beautiful Forevers and India.


Leave a comment below to share your thoughts!

Resources for Dungeons and Dragons

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition Rulebooks:

Player’s Handbook: The core rules for all players

Dungeon Master’s Guide: Rules for running the game

Monster Manual: A book of monsters and encounters for DMs 

Volo’s Guide to Monsters: Additional lore/monsters for DMs and new character options for players

Xanathar’s Guide to Everything: Expanded classes, spells, and character options

Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes: New lore and monsters for DMs and new character options for players



Helpful links:

This is an abbreviated version of the Player’s Handbook, which is good to get started (but does not include everything):



Roll20’s 5e Compendium is a great resource for abilities, items, spells, and stats:



This wiki has all the class, race, and archetype options for building a character. Includes most (but not all) information from the rulebooks:

Past Selections

July 2017 – Iran
All the Shah’s Men by Stephen Kinzer

August 2017 – China
Country Driving: A Journey through China from Farm to Factory by Peter Hessler

September 2017 – The Environment
The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert

October 2017 – Russia
All the Kremlin’s Men by Mikhail Zygar

November 2017 – North Korea
Without You, There is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea’s Elite by Suki Kim

December 2017 – South Africa/Apartheid
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

January 2018 – Israel/Palestine
My Promised Land by Ari Shavit

February 2018 – Cuba
The Other Side of Paradise: Life in the New Cuba by Julia Cooke

March 2018 – Terrorism/Extremism
I Was Told to Come Alone: My Journey behind the Lines of Jihad by Souad Mekhennet

April 2018 – Disaster Relief/Haiti
The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left behind a Disaster by Jonathan Katz

May 2018 – Refugee Crisis
The New Odyssey: The Story of the Twenty-First Century Refugee Crisis by Patrick Kingsley

June 2018 – India
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo

July 2018 – Yemen/Coffee
The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers

August 2018 – Armenian Genocide/Turkey
There Was and There Was Not: A Journey through Hate and Possibility in Turkey, Armenia, and Beyond by Meline Toumani