logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: sociology
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-04-30 18:24
Run! It's too late after you embark
Moby-Dick - Andrew Delbanco, Tom Quirk,Herman Melville

It's not often lately that I find a read that threatens to leave me clueless as to what I'm reading. I'm not talking content here (I'll get to that later), but sheer language. Between the heavy intertextuallity, the word usage and sentences structure, I found myself having no idea what the last paragraph or three meant, and have to backtrack, more than I liked. I though I was over that shit. Conceit corrected.

 

Next, the characters feel like ghosts. Even the narrator sometimes loses substance, becoming something airlike and almost omniscient. They are Ahab's crew. If you want to get all metaphysical, traits of humanity that are driven by one over-consuming. It goes just as well as you could expect.


Last, the story. The thing itself could be spun in a third of the length without loosing anything from the plot. But, and here is where the ambitious bastard trips you, most of the meaning, theme and depth is stored in the fat. All those hazed-eyes inducing chapters? They actually have a point. Damned all those lit analysis classes, much of an overarching understanding of the novel hinges on the Jonah's sermon and the whiteness chapters.

So, is it worth it? Hell if I know. I powered through the thing, even liked it to some extent, and I'm still unconvinced. There is a certain brilliance in what it attempts. To me, the whole idea (and what it feels like to read it) can be encompassed in one passage in ch16: Ishmael goes to Peleg to ask to go whaling for a "desire to see the world" and Peleg tells him to look across the bow of the docked ship. There is nothing but water, says Ishamel, and Peleg answers that's the world he'll see a whaling. You can read a summary of the book as you can see the sea from the shore.The wisdom of going whaling is seriously challenged after all.

 

But it's not the same.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-01-22 21:03
On the Run by Alice Goffman
On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City - Alice Goffman

A very engaging ethnography - as a college student, the author moved to the inner city and spent her time hanging out with a group of young black men often on the run from the law. The book is a good look into how heavy policing affects all aspects of individual and community life. And the author is a good storyteller so it makes for engaging reading. Since she writes about one social network it's hard to tell how representative this is, and I think the criticism that the author herself got in too deep is probably valid. She also contradicts herself a few times. Still, it is worth reading.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2016-11-13 23:21
All the Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister
All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation - Rebecca Traister

You never know when it comes to books about pop culture and feminism, but this is a really good one! It’s a combination of historical information, interviews with modern women, sociological statistics and analysis, and stories from the author’s life; Traister, an experienced journalist, weaves it all together in a seamless and readable way.

More women are single in the U.S. than ever before – whether that means marrying late, never marrying, or not staying married forever. Single women are nothing new though, and the book chronicles the stories of many of the most influential women in American history, who happen to have been single for much or all of their lives. But mostly the book explores how single women live their lives today, dealing with work and money, urban and rural life, female friendship, sex and dating, single parenthood, and how having been a single adult affects later marriages. The author also writes about societal pressures – how the meaning of singlehood has changed, and the conservative backlash.

I suspect most young and many not-so-young American women would enjoy the read and recognize something of themselves here. The book celebrates singlehood for the opportunity it provides to become independent, create one’s own life and career, and build intense friendships. At the same time, it’s hardly anti-marriage; Traister herself married in her 30s, and credits her single years with making her marriage better. If nothing else, had social pressures forced her to marry young, she wouldn’t have been available when Mr. Right came along!

And it’s probably the most inclusive book about modern womanhood that I’ve read. Rather than being relegated to one separate chapter, women of color appear throughout and inform every section of it. While the book is tilted toward educated, urban women – though as it discusses, single women have always flocked to cities, so the focus is perhaps not disproportionate – poor women and single mothers appear as well. There are no glib attempts to generalize all single women: on sexual choices, for instance, whether you have tons of sex, some sex, varying amounts of sex depending on where you are in your life, or have never had sex, you’ll see your decisions reflected here. Traister interviewed people from all walks of life, resulting in sensitive portrayals and spot-on analysis.

There is the criticism that the book’s contents aren’t new and surprising, and that’s fair. But it would be strange to be very surprised by a profile of one’s own demographic. It definitely kept my attention, and there’s enough solid research here that I did learn some things. While single American women may not find a great deal of new information, this should at least be an affirming read.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2016-11-13 20:11
Excellent Daughters by Katherine Zoepf
Excellent Daughters: The Secret Lives of Young Women Who Are Transforming the Arab World - Katherine Zoepf

This is an engaging, readable account of a young journalist’s experiences in the Arab world, and particularly the women she met. It’s not as fascinating or information-packed as Geraldine Brooks’s fantastic Nine Parts of Desire, which you should absolutely read if you have any interest at all in women’s lives in the Middle East. But it is fun and informative, a great introduction to the topic. And from her writing, Zoepf seems adept at breaking through cultural barriers to connect with individuals, with the result that the women she profiles sound like people you might actually meet.

Each topic has a different overarching topic and location, with Saudi Arabia and Syria getting the most page time, while Lebanon, the UAE and Egypt get a chapter each. Other reviewers have commented that the book overall seems more “excellent daughters” than “bringing change.” I’d say it’s about evenly split. Saudi Arabia in particular feels static in Zoepf’s depiction, and those chapters mostly cover life as it is, focusing on topics like female friendship and matchmaking (though with some hints of change). Other chapters deal more with social problems and change: the Arab Spring, particularly in Egypt; honor killings in Syria; young women migrating to the UAE in search of work, a practice that would have been unthinkable not long ago. But it’s true that the change that’s chronicled here is incremental.

Meanwhile, the book is very readable, and if you’ve read many stories in the New York Times over the years, you might just recognize some of it (in one case I did, which made me feel great about my memory!), since the book is drawn from the author’s research as a reporter. But it works smoothly as a whole, and though I recognized some of the material, the book never felt cribbed together from articles.

Overall, while this isn’t the most in-depth account you’ll read, it is still a good book. It’s a bit like having a conversation with a smart, perceptive, nonjudgmental and extremely well-traveled friend. I recommend it.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2016-10-21 21:56
Never Google chicken hatcheries if you can help it
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind - Yuval Noah Harari Dr

For the last couple of years, I haven't eaten beef or pork. Part of this was dietary but the larger portion was due to my distaste with the way these animals are dealt with in the food industry. After reading Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind I have decided to stop eating all meats for good. I'd be quite surprised if others reading this book didn't feel the same way. (This will make sense later.) This book covers exactly what the title says. Yuval Noah Harari touches on almost every aspect of what it means to be human. I can see why this book could be contentious in some circles as he is of the belief that consumerism, imperialism, and communism are religions instead of merely ideologies. He has a no holds barred attitude about the way in which humans have ravaged the planet and taken advantage of others of our species as well as flora and fauna. (Remember the no eating chicken thing?) What was most intriguing about Sapiens were the questions that he raised about the nature of happiness. There have been many books about how to be happy but no research into how happiness is measured and its trends throughout the years. (Maybe he has an upcoming novel in the works.) If you're interested in culture, human evolution, and a unique perspective of the world then you're likely to enjoy this book. I will say that a lot of this was common knowledge and/or already known to me as an Anthropology major. The second half of the book is where it got really interesting. I love a good thought experiment and trying to figure out answers to seemingly unsolvable problems is my idea of a good time. :-) I'd give this book a solid 8/10.

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?