Featured Titles

Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law by Haben Girma

Haben Girma is the first deafblind graduate of Harvard Law School, and an advocate for accessibility and disability rights. Here is an excerpt of Girma speaking about her life in a BBC interview with Emily Webb. The complete interview can be found at https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3csyhjt.

Emily Webb: When Haben arrived at University there was some basic challenges. Her hearing and vision had got progressively worse. She wasn’t using her Braille computer yet. And as the canteen menu wasn’t in Braille she never knew what food was available. This only changed when Haben realised that this was against the law because it discriminated against disabled people, which sparked an idea. Haben decided that she wanted to become a lawyer to help bring around more changes for people with disabilities. She then won a place at one of the most prestigious institutions in the world, Harvard Law School.
Haben Girma: When I arrived Harvard told me they never had a Deafblind student before, and I told them I’d never been to Harvard Law School before.
Emily Webb: What did that feel like to be the first person? Did it feel overwhelming at all?
Haben Girma: It felt overwhelming because the burden would fall on me to come up with solutions to pioneer my way through the unknown. That gets incredibly exhausting, but it was also thrilling. It’s an adventure. I am creating more opportunities for the students who come after me.
[paragraphs omitted]
Emily Webb: After her graduation Haben became an attorney and did what she set out to do. She won a ground breaking case to help blind readers gain access to books on-line although she now works trying to help organisations become more accessible. As part of that she’s invited to give talks all over the world.

Book information

Title: Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law
Author: Haben Girma
Synopsis: This book tells the incredible life story of Haben Girma, the first deafblind graduate of Harvard Law School, and her amazing journey from isolation to the world stage.
Production: Produced by Blackstone. Read by the author in 7 hours, 30 minutes. Book number 131097.

Becoming a Person: The Biography of Robert Martin by John McRae

Reviewed by Simon Lynch, our Studios Producer
Robert Martin’s story is one of triumph over adversity. Brain-damaged at birth, Robert was locked away as a child in places for the “mentally deficient”, where he suffered neglect, abuse and violence. From such harrowing impoverished beginnings, Robert chose to fight back against the system, educating himself with stolen books and starting a civil rights campaign in small-town New Zealand that became an international movement. He travelled the world and in 2003 Robert Martin addressed the United Nations, and succeeded in changing both conditions and the international perception of those suffering an intellectual disability. Becoming a Person is an uplifting inspirational book of a true kiwi battler, one who helped changed society for the better. Brilliantly narrated by Paul Barrett and relevant to all Members.

Book information

Title: Becoming a Person: The Biography of Robert Martin
Author: John McRae
Synopsis: The story of how an intellectually disabled New Zealander helped change the world. Brain-damaged at birth and locked away as a child in places for the ‘mentally deficient’, Robert Martin suffered neglect, abuse and violence. He went on to begin a civil rights campaign in small town New Zealand that grew into an international movement.
Production: Produced by RNZFB. Read by Paul Barrett in 5 hours, 20 minutes. Book number 131252.

Richie McCaw 148 by Richie McCaw

From the narrator’s note by John Leigh
Richie McCaw 148 is really a coffee-table book, with two pages each devoted to every single All Black test he ever played, and most of these pages are taken up with photographs from the game. I was asked to describe these photos and give the folks at home a bit more of an idea of what was really happening in them. As the book progresses there are more and more details. I felt that this was a natural evolution of the work and that people might want to know more information about the various games, and the players that are taking part, the cities and the stadiums that they take place in, even the countries, as it were, the mood, weather, the culture, the time. I may have gone too far sometimes as this book is very long but what I hope I have done is create a richer Ritchie, as it were, a more vivid picture of the career of this extraordinary man. Now forgive me if I have got some details wrong; I did extensive research for this project and I’m not a trained historian or writer, so I have had to do the best I can with my amateur skills, the library, Internet, my friends and colleagues.

Book information

Title: Richie McCaw 148
Author: Richie McCaw
Synopsis: This book features over 500 photographs, close to 50,000 words and devotes two pages to each of the 148 tests Richie played. Richie has added his own thoughts and memories of each game – from the nerves before that very first test in 2001 to the triumphs at Rugby World Cups in 2011 and 2015. McCaw has been part of rugby like no other player and led a team that dominated world rugby in his era. The narrator did extensive research to bring readers much greater detail than is included in any of the printed text. Descriptions of all the photographs include players’ names, stadium details, and other interesting background information. Additionally the narrator has included a note all about his process and aims as he worked through the book.
Production: Produced by RNZFB. Read by John Leigh in 30 hours, 51 minutes. Book number 99569.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Reviewed by Simon Lynch, our Studios Producer
One of the most popular autobiographies in recent times, Michelle Obama’s bestseller Becoming is a compelling read from start to finish, her own perspective of life as arguably the most iconic women of the 21st century. From suburban blue-collar roots where she first found her voice, Michelle became a well-educated and successful lawyer working in Chicago where she met future husband Obama. Marriage followed, then Michelle takes the reader through motherhood and her life and times in the White House as First Lady, her public health campaign and successfully navigating the often treacherous path of political chicanery. An engrossing book narrated by Hera Dunleavy, Becoming is particularly recommended for all female Members, from mid-teens upwards.

Book information

Title: Becoming
Author: Michelle Obama
Synopsis: An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States of America and one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As America’s First Lady – the first African-American to serve in that role – she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. An inspiring and deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations.
Production: Produced by RNZFB. Read by Hera Dunleavy in 16 hours, 31 minutes. Book number 128521.