What I love about reading is that it does not only entertain but it educates as well. There are many things I have learned through reading which I may not learn anywhere else. I must say though that most of the books that I really like are those that make me emotional – those that leave me breathless with suspense or make me cry buckets of tears. Indeed, I rate a book highly if it has affected me emotionally such as when I get too attached to the characters or when I am totally caught by surprise by the unexpected plot twists. These emotional attachments are most often results of reading fiction books, which I are the staple books in my shelf. I am not fond of reading nonfiction books because

1) I am more interested with fictional plots, and
2) I am also interested in beautiful prose – two things I think I can not find in nonfiction books (I might be wrong).

This year, though, the very first book I read was a nonfiction book. I wanted to read something light but inspiring and positive to start the year but most of the books in my TBR are heavy (and thick!) Readings, ie A Game of Thrones, Pillars of the Earth, The Unbearable Likeness of Being. It's a good thing I was able to borrow Ana's Story: A Journey of Hope from a friend late last year so when I saw it sitting in my (disorganized) shelf, I figured it would be the best book to start the year with, plus , I would be able to return it sooner to its owner.

Ana's Story: A Journey of Hope is a true account of a girl named Ana who suffers from HIV / AIDS. Written by Jenna Bush, the daughter of then US President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush, while she was involved with UNICEF, Ana's Story libraries the struggles of Ana against poverty and abuse and how she is finally able to live with purpose and meaning despite being infected with the dreaded disease. I first learned basic information about HIV / AIDS while I was in high school and although most of the myths described in this book I know already, it is still a wonderful experience reading this book because of the additional information I am able to learn about HIV / AIDS and the recent developments for its treatment.

Jenna Bush writes with simplicity but with candidness and I like how the narrative is accompanied by beautiful pictures. Ana's Story is a very easy and quick read, but it is also emotional and touching more so because it is a true story. What I love about this book is because more than being entertaining and informative, Ana's Story spurs its readers into action. At the end of the book are tips on how to help abused children as well as those who are suffering from HIV / AIDS. It also lists websites of organizations that provide additional information about HIV / AIDS. For so long a time I have wanted to get involved with UNICEF or World Vision or any organization that helps abused children and women. After reading this book, my desire has been reinforced. I hope this year I will finally be able to get involved and with what little help I can give, I hope to make a difference.

What a way to start my reading year. I highly recommend Ana's Story: A Journey of Hope. Read it and share it to your friends and family members. It is a good thing to be informed, but it is much better, way better, to act and make a difference.

5 stars.

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