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review 2018-03-10 01:33
I swear I'm okay
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory - Caitlin Doughty

I've been thinking about death a lot. And not in an existential way or in a 'oh man she needs professional help' kinda way. I've been thinking about the culture of death and how I'd like my own death to be handled. To that end, I chose a few titles which I'm convinced has skewed the way my co-workers view me. (lol but really) The first is Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty. (I'll be discussing her second book at a later date.) This is the autobiographical story of how Caitlin came to work in a crematory and the path that it led her down to discover the 'good death'. It's an exceptionally frank discussion of death but more specifically death culture (or lack thereof) in the United States. Here in America it's a taboo subject. Many people choose to remain ignorant of the reality of death because of a fear of their own (and their loved one's) mortality. Caitlin talks about the current death practices of burial, embalming, cremation, green burials (many different kinds), and donation to science. It reminded me that I should really draw up a will with the specifics of what I want and then discuss it with those who will most likely be honoring my wishes. (And you'd better do what I say or I'll haunt you! hahaha but really)


The truth is we are all going to die one day. Wouldn't it be better to see this as natural and be prepared for it? Having open discussions with those who will be charged with taking care of you after you have died makes the process less fraught with uncertainties and fear. Centuries ago, death was embraced because it was necessary to confront it head-on. There were no mortuaries like we know them today. The family was the one who cleaned, wrapped, and sometimes buried the bodies. The grieving process wasn't rushed but was allowed to progress naturally. (Think about the last funeral you attended and how the viewing was timed. Nowadays, you have to leave the cemetery before the casket is even lowered into the earth. Everything is orchestrated and sterile.) I don't think it's morbid to plan ahead and to try to make it as simple and straightforward as possible so that in the end it's about the life that I led and not the stress and confusion of what to do with me once I'm dead. 8/10


Something I made a few years ago about a similar book.


What's Up Next: The Portable Nineteenth-Century African American Women Writers edited by Hollis Robbins and Henry Louis Gates


What I'm Currently Reading: Fly on the Wall: How One Girl Saw Everything by E. Lockhart


Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-02-24 19:54
Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography - Neil Patrick Harris

For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

Well, that was weird. I went into this book not really fully thinking about the premise (and I don't think anyone involved really thought it through either). I loved Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books as a kid so I was really excited about reading this. However, the results were kind of disappointing.

The book is written as if the reader were the main character, living out NPH's life. So in the narration, Harris says things along the lines of "You did this, then you did this." This makes sense for a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book, but it kind of took away from learning about Harris' life. Everything felt so impersonal and removed from him. Even the really personal details didn't feel like they were actually about him. 

Also in the vein of a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure stories, there are "dead ends", in which something horrible happens that leads to your demise. Again it makes sense, but it's really weird to find in a book about NPH. Also, the "dead ends" were pretty much all the same with different settings, obstacles, and celebrities, but they all followed the same story arch. 

I listened to the audiobook version, which was read by Harris himself. This had certain advantages. Clips are included from a speech Harris gave as a child and other recordings, which added to the reality of the book itself. There were also lots of celebrity testimonials, some of which were really weird (WTactualF, Seth MacFarlane), but some were interesting and had funny anecdotes. 

Downside to the audiobook: it's prerecorded so you pretty much just go along and a set path. You don't actually get to "choose" anything, which is okay, but again kind of defeats the point (did anyone think this through?). What you're left with is a twisty, turny book that is not in chronological order and you end up with a bunch of mixed-up stories.

Overall, it was okay, but the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure just did not work for me.

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review 2018-02-06 18:45
March: Book Two by John Lewis
March: Book Two - Andrew Aydin,Nate Powell,John Robert Lewis


Just like with The Complete Maus, (a graphic novel about the Holocaust), I learned a lot about the civil rights movement that I do not remember learning in school.


I knew about the Freedom Rides and the Lunch Counter Sit-ins, but I didn't know about  children getting hit with fire hoses or the repeated beatings and jailings of the peaceful protesters. 


Starting and ending with the swearing in of President Obama, I can't imagine what that must feel like to John Lewis. Starting life not being able to eat in certain restaurants and having to ride at the back of the bus, and getting all the way to a black president in one lifetime. It's an amazing accomplishment and John Lewis was a huge part of it. 


I wasn't all that crazy about the art in this volume, hence the 4 start rating. I will continue on to the next, (and last), volume. 

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review 2018-01-13 00:00
Autobiography of a Yogi
Autobiography of a Yogi - Paramahansa Yogananda,W.Y. Evans-Wentz I tried to like this book, it came highly recommended. 2 stars for getting me to pull out the dictionary several times - the word choice is delicious! So I skipped about, reading here and there. The friend who loaned the volume had added prodigious areas of underlining, utterly distracting. After two sessions of attempts to find some part that grabbed my attention and didn't leave me wondering WHY, I decided I must not be ready for the wisdom of the pages. It will be returned to the owner.
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text 2018-01-03 10:08
Looking back on 2017
The letters of Herman Melville - Herman Melville,Merrell R. Davis,William H. Gilman
A True Novel - Juliet Winters Carpenter,Minae Mizumura
Wir - Евгений Замятин
Der Glöckner von Notre-Dame - Else von Schorn,Victor Hugo
What the Hell Did I Just Read - David Wong
Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell
Сердешна Оксана - Григорій Квітка-Основ'яненко
The Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo - Oscar Zeta Acosta,Manuel Acosta Sero,Hunter S. Thompson
The Revolt of the Cockroach People - Oscar Zeta Acosta,Marco Acosta,Hunter S. Thompson
Ein so langer Brief - Mariama Bâ,Irmgard Rathke,Rolf Italiaander

Hey there! I hope everyone had a fantastic start into 2018!


I always like to take the first days of January to look back and recap what I read in the past year – which books did I love, which ones did I like ok and which ones did upset or disappoint me. So here we go – quick and dirty!


Books I loved

There were a lot of books which I really liked in 2017, so I wrecked my brain to distil the three absolute best of the best for you:
My favourite book must have been The Letters of Herman Melville – interesting, well written and as an highlight I recommend reading the letters he addressed to Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Another one of my favourites was A True Novel by Minae Mizumura which I binge read in 11 days despite the sheer amount of nearly 900 pages. And last, but definitely not least was the mother of all dystopian novels We by Evgenij Zamjatin.


Books I was disappointed in

Luckily, in this category there were not that many books to choose from. The biggest letdown and as I can remember also the most exhausting one to read must have been The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, which is sad, because I expected so much more from this classic. What the Hell did I just read was no favourite of mine neither, although this did not come as a surprise, because David Wong’s books are gradually declining in quality. And since I mentioned We as one of the best books, I have to admit that 1984 wasn’t really a good one, despite its status as the dystopian novel par excellence.


And some honourable mentions

Сердешна Оксана as the first (and so far only) book I read in Ukrainian, So long a letter as a fascinating account of the life of African women and both books written by Oscar Zeta Acosta (The Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo and The Revolt of the Cockrach People), because Acosta proves that even lawyers can be amazing writers and fight for what is right.

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