Books To Read In 2017


The half-century struggle between the U.S. and the Soviet Union is one of the most dramatic and consequential period in modern history. In this highly readable account, the authors explain the essential events, persons, and ideas that shaped the Cold War, from Harry Truman’s strategy of containment to Ronald Reagan’s simple yet powerful philosophy of “We win, they lose.”


If you read one book written in 2016, read “Hillbilly Elegy.” To be sure, you should read more than one book written in the past 12 months, but if one is all you have time for, J.D. Vance’s masterful look at the trials and tribulations of the Scots-Irish of Appalachia must be it. It will go a long way to explaining the political earthquake that saw Donald Trump get elected.


“Dancing in the Glory of Monsters” is the authoritative account of the series of wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo that killed as many as 6 million people, more than any conflict since World War II. It is brilliantly researched, and makes the complexities of what is often referred to as “Africa’s World War” accessible.


“The Boys in the Boat” is the amazing story of the nine working-class guys on the U.S. Olympic crew team. The team competed in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, and went head-to-head with the German team, which rowed for Hitler. The book is an extraordinary look at how this improbable team came together and eventually surprised the entire world. Written with incredible detail, “The Boys in the Boat” will have you literally on the edge of your seat, as Brown details every race in a way that has you cheering for the rowers. On top of the list for me! Definitely!


The book is packed with fascinating stories of incredible human beings, inspirational quotes, and takeaway lessons. This is not a book to necessarily read from beginning to end, but one to keep close to you for frequent inspiration of what humans with courage, character, and conviction can accomplish.


This book can restore common sense on a wide variety of issues to anyone who has been fooled by the spin and deception of the mainstream media. Chapters include: “Black Education: Achievements, Myths and Tragedies;”


Scholar E.D. Hirsch Jr. is most famous for his 1987 work, “Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know.” His most recent book centers on the same theme, but has much wider implications. Hirsch argues and beautifully highlights that there is no such thing as a general skill, be it reading, writing, or critical thinking. Schools need to teach common knowledge, to challenge children, and to avoid falling for trendy nonsense about individual learning styles.


In a new take on the familiar World War II narrative, Anthony Doerr delivers a clear snapshot of the complex relationships between human nature and the divine, good and evil, love and duty, and wonder and utility. But more than that, we are taught what it feels like to have compassion for an enemy.

Impressively, Doerr communicates these complexities and delivers emotion without becoming overly sentimental or trite. Through complementary and intertwining story lines, we are shown the light we cannot see—humans too often miss possibilities that lie just outside of what is immediately apparent because we are too focused on what is visible.

Head to your nearest bookstore and grab your copy now. When the world is quiet, and the silence of the night engulfs your mind, your thoughts start to wander to far off places…that’s the time to get lost in the world of books…Happy reading!

Let Mr.Z take you on a ride with #DreamTicket

Mr.Z  a.k.a. Zeeshan Arif Siddiqui talk to Wings & Strokes about his recent travels and experiences. Traveling teaches you a lot, not just about the world but also you may find aspects to your personality that you were unaware of. Traveling is the best way to find yourself. Zeeshan in his earlier promise to enlighten you all about #dreamticket is finally putting it all down into words. He has been very busy lately with exams but the wait was definitely worth it. Read on to know more about it 🙂


W&S: Tell us about #DreamTicket and how did that happen?

Mr.Z: #DreamTicket is a Dream-Come-True. It is basically a collective ticket(s) to a few (just a few) amazing, adventurous, beautiful and worth-visiting destinations that God has created for us to explore. It is not very often that you get to explore so many places, all at once, best thing is knowing that your trip is sponsored.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank #OriflamePakistan, my side business for cosmetics, through which I had earned enough to spend on this trip, which is why I am always looking for so many young energetic prospects, to brief them about how they can also earn using simple methods and techniques, without any investment.

Thanks to my boss (at work – ZonG) too for having faith in me and my work and allowing me to experience this wonnnnnnderful trip! J

It could have been just the places visited, food eaten and photos taken kinda trip, had it not been planned as I did. Thanks to #Google for I could plan every second in every city in every country visited.

W&S: Tell us about places you visited

Mr.Z: The itinerary included 6 countries – Netherlands (also called Holland), Portugal, Spain, Italy, Switzerland and France.

Specifically speaking about the cities everywhere, in Netherlands I got to visit Amsterdam, Utrecht, s-Hertoghenbosch and Boxtel. In Portugal it was just Lisbon (also called Lisboa). In Spain it was Barcelona, Lloret de Mar, Palafolls and Blanes. In Italy I got a chance to visit Rome, Florence, Pisa, Venice, Milan and Como Lago. Only Zurich in Switzerland and Paris in France.

W&S: What was the most fascinating thing about your journey?

Mr.Z: The most fascinating thing was meeting myself. I had never traveled and visited a lot of places alone before. From thinking of what to do, to actually making the bookings, arrangements and finally experiencing them all was enchanting. I had never thought I could do most of these things.

If I would have to pick one most fascinating thing out of all that I did, it would be Scuba Diving (Deep Sea Diving) near Lloret de Mar beach in Spain. Experiencing the navy blue water, with schools of fish passing you by, touching and literally rubbing the sand at the extreme base of ‘THE’ Mediterranean Sea was a one of a kind experience. The corals, the sea weeds, the cold water and the sight of the giant sea was AMMMMMAZING. What surprises me the most is that it did not make me nervous even for a single second, which makes me believe now to the fullest that I do NOT have Water Phobia Alhamdolillah! J

W&S: Best place according to you and why?

Mr.Z: I would rate #DisneyLandParis in France as the best place during my trip. I believe that growing up in the 90’s, we #The90sBabies, have well absorbed all the Walt Disney characters in our blood. Not only that the rides were amazing, the souvenir shops every few steps away, the costumes, the Disney characters that you get to meet and take a photo with, the photos in the adventurous rides, the food shops, the Disney Parade and last but not the least the Fireworks and Laser Show at day end, these are known to be a signature of #DisneyLand – all were soooo exciting that you would easily get goose bumps and tears in your eyes for having been blessed to experience this in your lifetime.

W&S: Best cuisine you had and where?

Mr.Z: Didn’t get time to try different cuisines as I hardly ever try new food anywhere I go. Plus on this trip, food was not on my priority list and hence I had planned intentionally not to waste much on food (which wasn’t possible since I’m a foodie) J

But so far as what I remember the best I had was in Milan, right next to the hotel where I stayed. It was desi food, made by Muslims from India. They specially made Parathas for me, which were not on their menu and I had those with White Chanay J. I would love to visit them again if ever I get a chance.

W&S: Any life changing experiences during your trip?

Mr.Z: This is a tough question but I would still think of something. I feel nauseous whenever I am travelling (even on the plain roads) lol. But after this trip one thinks of investing in traveling and exploring the world. Alhamdolillah – all thanks to Allah for a beautiful house that we have, which makes me focus on saving for my next endeavors.

Insha Allah I am hopeful that I would win trips soon from the company I am working for and I would love to plan each tiny detail for them again and spend my savings there. This is one life changing experience, as I had never planned of exploring this beautiful wide world earlier.

W&S: Advice on how to make the most of a trip for aspiring travelers and how to plan it?

Mr.Z: I would say traveling to beautiful places to relax from the busy routines that we have, “DOES NOT” mean that we have to waste time sleeping there. Every minute in every city in every country should be planned and strictly followed. I believe that is the best how one can make the most of a trip.

For cheap flights bookings, there are a lot of websites. My personal favorite has been I had also explored a lot of websites to check the accommodation bookings and expenses. In this regard I liked the most. For the activities and places to visit in any part of the world I searched Google and also apps like #Triposo and #TripAdvisor. Not only that they would tell you the amazing places to see, things to do, things not to do, language, temperature, currency, even the electricity voltage by default and the socket shapes in those countries.

Thanks to Google for easy online bookings for the theme parks, activities, museums, etc. which saves us a LOTTTTT of time for not standing in the long queues anywhere we go.

I made a file and captioned it #DreamTicket and filled it with all my tickets, booking passes, hotel bookings, flights tickets, boarding passes, museum tickets, theme park tickets, water sports activities tickets, trains tickets, buss tickets, etc. This gives you a feeling that you are well-prepared and also lets you know about the spare time slots you have for the things to do, that you actually get to know once you are there.

W&S: Which place do you think is vastly overrated?

Mr.Z: I believe #Switzerland was vastly overrated. I happened to visit #Zurich. It was beautiful, people were nice and polite, roads were clean, buildings were great BUT I could not find natural beauty there as we had always thought about since our childhood listening to the word SWITZERLAND. Perhaps that’s because such places do not exist in the main cities but in the suburbs and I did not get time to visit the suburbs.

After all you make an image of every place that you visit, before you visit it. So Switzerland was totally not what I expected it to be like, but still it was a visit of a lifetime – an experience of a kind. J

W&S: Most memorable moment during your journey?

Mr.Z: Most memorable moments were a few – hard to define just one. I made some new friends. There is someone I met in Amsterdam, who was an English teacher in Ireland, but was basically from Brazil and we became very good friends.

I happened to meet a professional song writer and singer in Lisbon, Portugal, who was visiting there from NYC. It was a great time exchanging ideas with him too.

I never knew I could do Scuba Diving easily. But my instructor in Lloret de Mar was one amazing person that I’ll always remember.

Made a new Muslim friend in Barcelona, who was visiting from Paris but was basically from Morocco – that I happened to meet again in Paris. Isn’t it amazing? Making a new friend and getting to meet the same person twice – both in different countries – during the same trip???

I also happened to meet a caricature artist in Florence, Italy and it was fun getting a caricature made in just 20 minutes.

Happened to meet and befriend another artist in Zurich, Switzerland who made a charcoal portrait of me – that too for free. The person ranks among the Top 100 Artists of Europe and is constantly exhibiting his creations in one or the other museums or galleries in Europe every now and then.

W&S: Traveling teaches you to….?

Mr.Z: I believe travelling teaches you a lot of things, if you think about it

Being thankful for the AMAZING food that we get every day at our home.

Being amazed at the beautiful creations of Allah that we get to explore while travelling.

Getting to know different cultures, people, their nature, their food, weather, their history, their historical places and monuments, etc.

Also it teaches us to compromise on certain things. Since we being from Pakistan are definitely not treated very nice at some parts of the world, hence, allowing us to feel great once we come back to our homeland as a First Class Citizen.

You can find Zeeshan on: –



Snapchat:              ZeeshSiddiqui

Thank you very much!

A Product A Day! Make Up Forever – 4 in 1 Pro Sculpting Brow Palette

Eyebrows! The most important part of our face and I’ll tell you why. Have you ever tried different eyebrows on your face before you can finally tell which one suits you more or most. Eyebrows are seriously game changers for most of us. It can make a huge difference in the overall first impression we give. Even though many people still don’t give too much importance to them but we know the whole deal.

Take a piece of paper and draw 5 similar smileys on it. Then give each one a different eyebrow and you’ll see how it effects the overall look.

Speaking of which I want to share my brow experience with you considering I have had trouble over the years with my brows being tortured at the hands of different women at different salons, each time I walked out with a different shape hence I know the struggle.

Thanks to beauty products now we can define ours and ensure that we get the right shape that best suits our face.

Lately I have been using the MAKEUP FOREVER 4 in 1 Pro Sculpting Brow Palette and I’m immensely pleased with the results. If I were to choose between a gel and a powder based palette, I would prefer the powder one as it gives more natural results.


This palette is simple. Comes in 3 different shades to help you make the right color.

The application is quiet simple.

Step 1: Apply Wax on your brows

Step 2: Out of 3 shades, blend in either 2 or choose one that suits you and apply giving your brows the right shape while using the right strokes

Step 3: Finish the look with the highlighter from the palette to give your brows a clean definition.


It’s simple! It’s worth it!

Wings & Strokes rating: 4.5/5

Let me know what you think.

Signing off

W & S

My BIG to do list!

Endless chores,endless tasks, daily lists, weekly lists and monthly goals…we all have these written somewhere…but then one day i sat down to make a list of all the things i want to do in the next 5 to 10 years….my BIG to do list! And no this isn’t just about regular routine things, this gives some meaning to my everyday life. it gives me something to look forward to..things that i always have at the back of my head but i don’t talk about them or write them down. So today i decided to jot everything down…(well not everything,but a few of them…)

So here is my BIG to do list:

Travel the world


Start my own preschool


Learn to swim


Learn to play the guitar


See the northern lights


See the pyramids


Write books for children


Hot air balloon ride


Take kids to Disneyland


Watch the world cup final-live


Visit a palace

Holyrood palace Edinburgh

Deep sea diving


Ride a bike


Help build a mosque


Play volleyball again


Horseback riding


Make a difference in someone’s life


Learn to cook different cuisines from the world’s best chefs


Be part of a flash mob


Read more books


Buy my own house


Enroll my daughters in a ballet class


Dance with the man I love


Be my own boss


Try new things in life without any hesitation


I’m sure if i keep sitting here, a gazillion other things would start popping up in my head so let’s wrap this up! i would love to hear about your BIG to do list, share the top 3 things on your wishlist 🙂

Be happy, keep others happy. Life is too short, make each day count. Try not to hurt the one’s your love or the one’s who love you. Cherish each other before the time is gone…each second lost will never come back…Here’s to dreams! Cheers!