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review 2017-06-02 22:06
The Assistants - Camille Perri  
The Assistants - Camille Perri

I opened the package, and the Spouse asked what it was. "I think it's the new Microserfs". He looked blankly back at me. "Generation X?" More blank. "Devil Wears Prada?" Oh, well. He's an excellent cook, among other sterling qualities.

***

I enjoyed the book enormously. It was funny, it was zippy, it was mild-mannered and self-effacing, and inoffensive. The way Tina develops strength and self-confidence felt right. It would make a good film, not unlike The Devil Wears Prada.

But I wanted more. I wanted a little rage, some self-righteousness, some recognition that this horrible dilemma of college debt and poorly paid jobs isn't acceptable and that something needs to happen to help everyone in the same boat, not just a lucky few. It was too mild for my socialist leanings, too tentative, unwilling to name the sexist elephant in the room, and somehow oblivious to the fact that the depressed minimum wage, the lack of affordable housing, and the insane cost of higher education are all issues that have been successfully remedied in other times and countries. I wanted anger, and I wouldn't have minded a call to arms.

And also, two issues that snapped me out of the book within a page of each other: in a book so modest and coy about sex, making reference to any specific penis is a shocker. But as a metaphor it just didn't work at all. But even more jarring was a comment about a character in college having read to many James Lee Burke novels. Said character would have graduated from college twenty five years before James Lee Burke was published. The twenty century is not lost in the mists of time. Someone should have checked.

goodreads giveaway

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review 2017-05-25 19:22
The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting - Anne Trubek  
The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting - Anne Trubek

After a slow couple of months my reading has picked up again: I'm finishing more, and I'm enjoying what I'm reading. The sad aspect of this is that I keep finishing books that I want everyone else to pick up, and mostly no one does.

This is an exception. It belongs on the odd shelf I don't have specifically, but can't resist reading from, called "History of a Thing". While it isn't funny exactly, there is a lightness of tone that makes this a pleasant break from heavier reading, like say, about Nixon and Mao, to pick a topic out of thin air and not off the cover of another book lying around the house. It's fascinating to learn at some depth about a very narrow topic. Not surprisingly, this book is a distillation of a topic Trubek has been teaching in college for years. Specialization is awesome: I've never thought about all the different kinds of writing together until now.

I love this post-book feeling of erudition. Two days after I finished the book I can't recall anything specific that I learned, which isn't really the point. I've grasped the gestalt. I've placed my own flirtation with calligraphy (highly recommended as a means to achieving a legible handwriting) into the appropriate context.

There are a number of people worried about the fact that schools aren't teaching cursive. I'm not bothered. I've done my share of handwriting and it hurts and it's slow, and I'm one of only two people I know who can write a cursive others can read. Admittedly, the time spent learning keyboarding will no doubt also become wasted time at some point in the Offspring's lives, in favor of something newer and easier for more people. That's fine.

Favorite bit: seeing all the different types of clerks/scribes/copyists there were a fairly short time ago. Poor Bartleby and Bob Cratchit!

Library copy

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review 2017-05-12 05:42
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
The Underground Railroad (Oprah's Book Club): A Novel - Colson Whitehead

Every so often, BookTube host the Diverseathon and I try to participate whenever I get a chance. However, this last time, I could not participate for life got in the way. But I still wanted to read the group book club pick which is The Underground Railroad. Yes, I'm getting to it extremely late but I finally read it and I'm so glad I did!

 

The book takes place during the 1800s in America when slavery was rampant. It follows a slave named Cora and her journey to escape from her slave owner through the legendary Underground Railroad. Only in this version of America, the Underground Railroad is an actual physical railroad running through the underground of the American continent. The story is moving, breathtaking, painful, and horrifying. It was a difficult read but I loved reading about it.

 

I want to start out by saying Colson Whitehead has one of the most beautifully, intelligent writing styles. I am in awe with how rich he paints the scene for the reader. I haven't read such a gorgeous writing style since Catherynne M. Valente so it pleases me greatly to see Whitehead has a similar style. He did a lot of research into the time period, using the same language that people used back in the 1800s. Sometimes I even had to look up some phrases because I am not familiar with such terminology and any book that has me looking up info so I can learn and better understand a story is a great book. And his story hurt me in many ways. It's not easy reading about the atrocities that took place during America's slavery period. Whitehead does not shy away from describing every dark, twisted, sick abuse. It shocks the reader. It educates the reader. It sets out what it must in order to tell the stories and the horrors many black people had to face. The racism, the hatred, the discrimination just because of the color of their skin. He tells his story through the main character, Cora.

 

Cora is strong, brave, sassy, and hard-working. We follow her from when she is a child to adulthood. And her life is a difficult one. From being born a slave, from being abused by her slave owners and fellow slaves, to running away to trying to find freedom. Her tale is a gruesome one... but not without hope.

 

I won't speak anymore about the story or the other characters. This is a book you must experience for yourself. It's such a beautifully written story, taking the reader on a terrible journey many black people had no choice but to take. It shows you the horrible nature in which black people had to live through. How racism defined everything the did or did not do. The story is harrowing and depressing, much like any story about slavery is. But with the way Whitehead writes it, you appreciate how well-crafted a story like this came to be.

 

I highly recommend you read this book. If you want to read a literary masterpiece about an actually existing Underground Railroad, then give this a read. Keep in mind that there is sexual abuse, rape, murder, body mutilation, body dismemberment, racism, and horrifying imagery. If you are not comfortable reading about those subjects, please refrain from reading this book. Otherwise, I think you should read this book. To enjoy the writing. To educate yourself. To never forget the atrocities that took place in America. It's a fantastic read and I'm looking forward to reading more from Colson Whitehead.

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url 2017-05-10 17:06
Arts make students smart Conscious Parenting Book Excerpt
Conscious Parenting: Mindful Living Course for Parents - Nataša Pantović Nuit

Arts, sport, music and drama are often viewed as fun extra-curricular activities for but are given less importance compared with core subjects such as English, science, or mathematics.

 

Nevertheless, numerous studies prove that practising art, music and sport from an early age improves brain activity, self-confidence, creativity, and gives students an overall sense of well-being.

 

Creativity and divine inspiration quote from Conscious Parenting Book

Source: artof4elements.com/entry/6/arts-make-students-smart
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review 2017-05-09 13:34
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give is a book that has received a lot of buzz lately. If you're somewhat active on Twitter or on BookTube, you've probably heard about it. And rightfully so. I recently went to my library and saw it on the shelves and since I want to educate myself more on important issues like the Black Lives Matter movement, I quickly snatched this book up. I read this book in one sitting. That's how good this is!

 

The book follows Starr, a black girl that lives in a poor black neighborhood but attends a fancy prep school in the suburbs. She tries to keep her two lives separate, but when a night of fun ends up with her unarmed best friend getting shot by a police officer, she finds that both of her lives will intertwine in a way she never wanted nor expected it would ever be.

 

Angie Thomas did a fantastic job in writing her debut novel. Her writing is so engrossing! I could not put this book down. The moment I started reading this book to her acknowledgements in the back, I inhaled her writing, her story, her characters. Everything is so beautifully written and everything felt so real. And that's important in a book like this. You need to feel like it's real because in a lot of ways, it is. How many times have we seen names becoming hashtags because the were the victim of a police shooting? More times than anyone cares to admit, but admit it we must... for this is a very real situation and these a very real people who have yet to receive justice. I am truly grateful to Angie Thomas for bringing more awareness to the movement with this book. To shed light on the darkness that persists in clouding the reality to what's happening in this country.

 

The characters in this book are incredible. Let's start off with Starr, our main character. I love her. She is so strong and fierce. Even when she feels like she's falling apart, she continues to fight and stand up for what she believes in. She was born into a world that literally has everything set up against her and yet she still perseveres! It's incredible to see such strength in this character, to have this example for other little black girls to look up to is important and necessary. I want little black girls to read this book and feel inspired to not keep their mouths shut, even if the whole world tells them to keep quiet. I want them to not feel afraid to stand up for what is right and what they believe in. And by reading this book, I think little girls can see themselves in Starr and do just that.

 

The other characters were just as engaging. Starr's parents are supportive and loving towards one another. In fact, the whole family treats each other with so much love and support. They may have their flaws, but what family doesn't? Still, that matters little when push comes to shove. They are always there for one another to help out in times of need. You truly see the strength of a community come together once the shooting happens. And even the falling out with some people. That's another aspect I love about this book. It teaches you that sometimes, you need to let certain people go. If that friendship is toxic and is doing more harm than good for you, then you need to let that friend go. It'll help you in the long run in finding your happiness.

 

One more thing I want to mention about this book is how Angie Thomas covers race. She was able to talk about race in a respectful, straight to the point way. She stated how different people have different experiences when it comes to race and we should be understanding and try not to hurt one another for it. I love that she destroys certain stereotypes that we are all familiar with when it comes to race. And she didn't only do it with black stereotypes. She did it for white people, too. Thomas took this book and used it as an educational tool not just for black people, not just for white people, but for everyone who may have been brought up in a society that does nothing but perpetuate these harmful stereotypes. Reading this book is truly an educational experience that I encourage everyone to partake in.

 

I love this book. It's such a good read. As I said, I could not put this book down the moment I started reading it. It is such a great book to read, and relevant. The Hate U Give is a beautifully crafted book that everyone should read. Angie Thomas did an amazing job and her message at the end of the book is absolutely stunning. I won't tell you what it is (you should definitely read the book to find out), but trust me that it's something a lot of us needed to hear. Thank you, Angie Thomas, for writing such a beautiful book. It's one that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

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