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review 2017-12-11 22:30
The Drowned and the Saved / Primo Levi
The Drowned and the Saved - Primo Levi

The author tries to understand the rationale behind Auschwitz, Treblinka, Bergen-Belsen. Dismissing stereotyped images of brutal Nazi torturers and helpless victims, Levi draws extensively on his own experiences to delve into the minds and motives of oppressors and oppressed alike. Describing the difficulty and shame of remembering, the limited forms of collaboration between inmates and SS goalers, the exploitation of useless violence and the plight of the intellectual, Levi writes about the issue of power, mercy and guilt, and their effects on the lives of the ordinary people who suffered so incomprehendingly.


How in the world do I rate a book like this? I guess its four stars, because I didn’t find it to be quite as engaging as Night or Man's Search for Meaning, but it was still an un-put-down-able book. I’ll be reading more of Levi’s work, without a doubt. The voices of these Holocaust survivors become ever more important as attrition takes them from us and their story becomes doubted by some.

The Drowned and the Saved is a powerful metaphor for the concentration camp experience. Those who emerged became the Saved, those who perished became the Drowned. As in the two books that I referenced above, Levi tells us that those who appear to be the Saved had to do some brutal things to get that status. He goes so far as to say that all the good people were among the Drowned. So how was he to feel about himself, supposedly one of the elect? His death in 1987 was ambiguous—officially ruled as a suicide, but it may have been an accident.

He says that the Saved were the prisoners who didn’t actually touch bottom while in the camps. It seems that he may have hit bottom well after the fact.

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text 2017-12-09 15:39
On Writing Clutter...
On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction - William Knowlton Zinsser

"Beware of all the slippery new fad words: paradigm and parameter, prioritize and potentialize. They are all weeds that will smother what you write. Don't dialogue with someone you can talk to. Don't interface with anybody."

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review 2017-12-08 18:52
I Savored This Book
My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories - David Lebovitz

I had so much fun reading this cookbook/memoir over the past week. I didn't hurry, just enjoyed the recipes, the little stories, and the vibrant pictures that David Lebovitz included. 


I will say that I found the recipes intriguing and thought everything sounded great. I am now addicted to salted butter and found out things that I never knew before regarding duck fat. Also I now want to buy all the duck fat and make it with potatoes. Mmmmmm.


I would say that I wish that we had more stories included. The recipes are great, but the book comes alive for me when Mr. Lebovitz gives readers an intimate look at his life in Paris. Whether it is finding out where to get kale or how to purchase cheeses, he makes everything seem like a fun adventure. 


One warning. Do not read this book if you are even a little bit hungry. 

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review 2017-12-08 16:42
Make sure to read the footnotes
Science of the Magical: From the Holy Grail to Love Potions to Superpowers - Matt Kaplan

Science of the Magical: From the Holy Grail to Love Potions to Superpowers by Matt Kaplan is a compendium of magical anecdotes. (It would have to be with a mouthful of a title like that.) Kaplan organizes everything under different subsections which allows him to cover a lot of ground but as someone who has delved into a lot of this genre much of it was already known to me (or self-explanatory). My favorite thing about this book were the often hilarious footnotes which I think saved the book from becoming too overblown. For instance, while a lot of the book was informative and genuinely interesting it was marred by the author's writing 'voice' which came across as forced. It seemed like he was trying too hard to be 'cool' and 'relevant' and instead it was just grating. By the time the reader reaches the conclusion, you expect there to be some sort of overarching theme or lesson learned but Kaplan seems to almost have tacked it on at the very end in an almost halfhearted fashion. It doesn't so much as conclude as leave the reader feeling somewhat disappointed that it wasn't well-rounded. I don't want this to come out as overwhelmingly negative because if you're someone who hasn't read much on these topics then this would be a great jumping off point but for the more seasoned reader it's less of a revelation and more of a rehashing. If you want a book which is full of facts and historical anecdotes then you could do worse by picking up this book. 6/10


What's Up Next: The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey by Trenton Lee Stewart with illustrations by Diana Sudyka (!)


What I'm Currently Reading: Slightly Foxed: Issues 54-57 and rereading (very slowly) The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-12-07 15:45
Decluttering At the Speed of Life
Decluttering at the Speed of Life: Winning Your Never-Ending Battle with Stuff - Dana White

Author: Dana K. White

Rating: 5 stars


Why am I giving a book on clutter 5 stars? Cuz of statements like this:


"I know these things are obvious, and I would have said they were obvious to me too. But I wasn't living like they were obvious."


That statement is not just about clutter. It can be applied to principles or life lessons we are reluctant to accept. It was an "Aha!" moment and helped me in an unrelated situation I was facing. Truth is truth - no matter where you find it. But I digress...


This book has some solid advice on how to declutter your home. Decluttering, Ms. White stresses is different than cleaning, and she explains why in this book. She talks to you as a friend giving you some hard-won advice. I like how she addresses your snarky self. The snarky backtalk of that doubtful, sarcastic self who hates change and wants to continue in what's comfortable.   


What I really enjoyed about this book was Ms. White recognizes there is often an emotional component to clutter. She does this on a personal level, getting into the emotions people experiencing as they try to get rid of clutter. Where the book really elevated itself was in its chapters on helping others. I recently helped someone declutter their home. And Ms. White states so clearly what I had to learn in the moment - the person I was helping wasn't reluctant to get rid of papers and things because she was blind as to how it looked ... but because these papers and things belonged to a husband she loved dearly who had passed away. Going through those things and changing how he left them meant reliving memories. It meant grief. So I cried and shared memories and yes, we did make headway on the clutter. Respecting the emotional component is what Ms. White stresses. I applaud that. 


Also, there's this gem about  knowing your boundaries when helping those close to you:


"You may have been invited to help. You may have been begged to help. But today is not the day that you get to fix this person you've always wanted to fix. It's the day just to declutter."



She does address actual hoarding, as well as knowing when to step back and realize your frustration is not helping the situation.  Again the emotional component.  Another section on what to do when you want to declutter but your spouse doesn't. Just practical advice on real-world situations. 


Overall I highly recommend this book on decluttering.


I received this book free in exchange for an honest review. The opinion that I'm glad I randomly requested it through Netgalley cuz its a dang good book on clutter is purely my own.



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