Thursday, March 24, 2011

Lots of Books, its been awhile

Turns out I haven't posted any books I've read on my blog since the middle of January I've read a lot of book since then.
Driven: An AutobiographyDriven: An Autobiography by Larry H. Miller
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A few months ago my grandma had me read chapter 7: Numbers when she was reading this Biography, and it was quite interesting, and parts of it reminded me of someone I know, so a few weeks ago I decided to pick this book up from the Library.  The first two Parts of this book were simply fascinating to me, and really enjoyed reading the beginning of the book.  Once they got to the Jazz my interested started to wain because I care so little about sports.  The rest of the book from there had interesting parts and scanned other parts.
I'm glad I read the book in its entirety because he has a chapter about his friendship with David McCullough the author of 1776 and John Adams.  "David was saddened that many students were no longer choosing a liberal arts education and that history was no longer required for graduation for many universities and colleges. (211)" That made me feel better about myself since I have an undergraduate degree in Political Science with a minor in History.  I've always been taught that liberal arts degrees are worthless and we should all be studying math in science.  While I agree we need strong endowments to encourage growth in science, I think thats a good point, we also need to remember our history. Science is the future, history is the past and they are both important.  Larry H. Milller also wrote that Miracle at Philadelphia by Catherine Drinker Bowen was one of his favorite books.

Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the New Girlie-Girl CultureCinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture by Peggy Orenstein

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was everything a book should be I laughed, cried, and gobbled up obscure out of context statistics. I questioned all my purchasing power as a parent. I remembered the little girl I use to be, who still wanted a lot of (really expensive) American Doll toys after she had declared herself too old. (Who knows if I verbally declared it, I did it my head.) I came to terms with my buying my children licensed characters toys. It made me regret buying a pink tricycle (then again I already did), wish the fairy wings were blue, and glad I haven't bought my daughter pink rain boots since she enjoys her unisex/boy color boots plenty. The book is pretty much about how pink has taken over everything girl and in an effort to keep our daughters innocent we oversexualize them. Yes, that is contradictory, the whole point of the book. Being a woman is a very confusing a social context whether we are living in a post feminist world or 1950s, being a women has not gotten any easier. Women are suppose to be strong and gentle? A women either spends too much time working and being "manly", or too much time in the kitchen giving up what her feminist forbears fought for. I found the book fascinating, it make reflected on my childhood, and teenage life, and how I'm currently raising and planning to raise both my daughter and also my son. I don't think you can raise a well rounded male without teaching him women are not sex objects because the book has prime examples we aren't teaching our daughters how respect themselves. That being said I don't think everything girly and pink is wrong, I just don't think I need to buy everything in two just because I had a girl after a boy. My daughter has plenty of pink clothes, and even though color is a societal pressure I'm really quite confused. Since my daughter had very little pink as a infant, other than clothes, she has unisex carseats (navy blue), strollers, and I put her in as much purple as I could afford. How come before she was a year and half she had unmistakably picked pink her favorite color? Luckily she doesn't know toys come in all pink, and she has a brother so she can learn good spatial skills as she plays with all the cars and blocks. The author and I disagree with cooking pots. She sees them as a sexist toys, where I see them as a unisex toy, every boy under 5 that has come in my house has played with our (non-pink) kitchen set just like every girl. But maybe that is the point, kitchen sets, and brown blocks can both be unisex toys. Children who play well with the opposite sex grow up to be better human beings as they are better at relating, understand and communicated with the opposite sex.
I don't agree with everything, as the author and I have different moral opinions. Although I will say the author and I both agree women are not meant to be a male's sex object. Let that be a disclaimer if you have a problem reading about sexual context in a modern world this book is not for you. But those sections are such small parts of the over all argument.

Jane Austen Ruined My LifeJane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Pattillo

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed the second book Pattillo wrote so I checked out the first. It took me a little longer to get into this one, but I throughly enjoyed this book too. The book is about a woman realizing that life is not the Disney princess syndrome. Although she blames it on Jane Austen, life is not just getting to happily ever after. Life goes on after that, it everything takes works. Of course there is the fictional story about Jane Austen and how it corresponding with the the main character's life. It was a fun little pretend read. The moral of the story is that Jane Austen knew life was more than just happily ever after, so why don't her readers.

Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart: A NovelMr. Darcy Broke My Heart: A Novel by Beth Pattillo

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a shameless guilty pleasure that I grabbed off the display shelf on the way to check out in the library. Its always embarrassing to pick up a book that has a heart romance sticker on the spine. But it was a good quick read, I enjoyed this Jane Austen spoof more than the other few I've read. Its of course about a girl who comes across her own Mr. Darcy in her life. I guess you could guess what happened by the title, which might be one of the reason I enjoyed this book. I enjoy Pride and Prejudice as much as the next girl, but I don't really think Mr. Darcy is the Greek god everyone makes him out to be. In fact Mr. Darcy is a jerk, which is the point of Pride and Prejudice in my opinion. I enjoyed the book about a Mr. Darcy who wasn't so fantastic. In the rest of the spoofs I've read I think the authors miss the point that Mr. Darcy isn't perfect. The other half of the plot is Claire the main character going to Oxford for a Pride and Prejudice conference and coming across the original copy of First Impressions. Although it served the purpose for this spoof novel, and it was a fun fairy tale, there were some very big flaws by Pattillo the author. For example the first and last paragraph in her fictional First Impressions have nothing to do with the rest of the novel. But I still enjoyed the book.

Luka and the Fire of LifeLuka and the Fire of Life by Salman Rushdie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think I enjoyed this book. I wanted to read it but every time I did I fell asleep after 20 pages. I think that has more do with my life than the book. I enjoyed this book much more than the Haroun and the Stories of the Sea. At the very end of the book, I realized one of the reasons I probably enjoyed the book. Its about "a child who defies Time's power just by being born, and make us all young again". In that young Luka and I have something in common, since I'm a child born to not so young parents to make them young again. My whole life I remember my mom telling me I kept her young. Although my mom was much younger than Luka's parents. I quite enjoyed the second half of the book when all the old creatures of past cultures mythologies showed up. I do love a book set currently with stories of old traditions, the book has everything from Nordic gods, to Native American tribes gods, to Pacific Island gods, to Aztecs, to Japanese, to of course Greek, Roman, and Egyptian gods, and everything in-between. What I didn't really like about the book was the author trying to make it like a video game. Since I heard a interview with the author about the book, I knew it would be the case, and it a minor part of the plot, but I thought it was unneeded, and annoying. But I don't really enjoy video games so maybe other readers felt different. I will also say I found the discussion on security quite entertaining, since my husband always preaches to me about internet security. Lastly, the book also has a lot of left handed power for all you lefties out there feeling neglected.

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of ThingsStuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Randy O. Frost

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought this book was amazing, I gobbled it up, I read it in one weekend. I found every case study so fascinating. I love case studies, but not really scientific explanations, so this book was good for me. Only one textbooky chapter and the rest was story after story. It made me question everything, could I hoard, could my husband, is my child destine? It was scary because I share many personality traits with some of the hoarders explained in the book, I am very wordy, I remember everything about the objects in my house, I feel guilty getting rid of presents people have given me, even years after the occasion. But I have way too much of my paternal grandma inside of me I could never start hoarding, I love clean rooms.
The worst part of the book for me though was wondering was I worried about this disease or was I just reading it for the entertainment sake? Mental illness has seem to have come into vogue in the entertainment realm, and I sincerely hope I was not reading it for entertainment. For many years I planned on going into psychology so I have always been interested in books like this. The main reason I read this was as a cautious worried mother. Wondering where do we stand? After I finished it gave me another reason to pray my children never go through a major trauma because that seems to offset most mental illness. But I think I only know collectors. (My rudimentary understanding is collecting does not interfere with daily living, while compulsive hoarders can barely live amongst their stuff.) I have a collector in my house, and he seems to be fine with me thinning his treasure boxes, as long as they stay mostly full. A trait that hoarders do not share, as long as some is saved, I can get rid of plenty. Thank goodness. I sincerely felt bad for the family members that have to deal with loved ones who compulsively hoard.

Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset SistersCornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters by Lesley M.M. Blume

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was another computerized suggestion for me. I didn't enjoy this one as much as the JF I've read this month. The other ones I thought had a broad appeal, while this one was really only for a 12 year old girl. Not to mention the dog on the cover was so ugly I almost returned it to the library without reading it so I wouldn't have look at it, but the font was cute enough I thought I'd give it a try. Yes, I always judge books by their covers. The book is about a lonely only child who has no friends; her elderly neighbor befriends her and gives her some much needed confidence. Like I said I think it would be very appealing to a younger girl who is feeling a little self-conscious, which would probably be every girl. But I guess I've grown up too much over the years to see the entertainment in this book. Not to mention I had good writing but not amazing writing. It was not brood over the word selection enjoying each morsel of text. Long and short, the book wasn't bad.

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