Jared Diamond's Collapse explores his claims about the five factors that cause societies to collapse--most particularly, environmental damage. He uses...moreJared Diamond's Collapse explores his claims about the five factors that cause societies to collapse--most particularly, environmental damage. He uses both ancient and modern examples of both societies that did collapse and societies that avoided that fate through corrective action. Example societies include Ancient Maya, Easter Island, China, and Rowanda among many others.
I read selections from Collapse back in 2008, for an environmental studies course. I remember really enjoying the sections and had always wanted to read the full text. Because it is such a beast of a book, I decided to read it in audio format. I don't think I could have made it through otherwise. Yet there are positives and negatives to listening in audio. I find slower paced and dryer books (particular, long non-fiction books) easier to get through in audio. Where, in print, I would probably set the book aside before finishing, for the sake of time and boredom. However, it's much easier to space out and not really listen to long passages in audio. I found myself doing this a lot in the latter half of this book. After the ancient societies, I was feeling just a bit burnt out. Yet I made it! A long, slow slog.
I agree with some others' assessments that Collapse is a bit bloated and could have benefited from a little trimming. Sometimes I felt like Jared repeated the same points (around a particular society) up to four or five times. Despite the length and repetition, though, his thesis is fascinating, seems sound, and I learned a lot of ancient history to boot.(less)
This book contains an interesting argument, about a very dry topic, written in a very dry way. I would describe ECONnedas the epitome of slog. So if you're planning on diving in, steel yourself well.(less)
What do Bill Gates, The Beatles, and Canadian professional hockey players all have in common? Opportunities, 10,000 hours of expertise, and a lucky bi...moreWhat do Bill Gates, The Beatles, and Canadian professional hockey players all have in common? Opportunities, 10,000 hours of expertise, and a lucky birth date.
I was absolutely fascinated by this book from start to finish, finding new gems of information and revelation in every chapter. In fact, I constantly found relevance to the materials in my every day life and frequently shared Gladwell's ideas with those around me, recommending the book left and right.
Gladwell has a great narrative voice (despite the nonfiction content), making Outliers as easy to get through as a gripping novel. In this work, he explores the American concept of individual success and strives to debunk our idea of success as achieved only through sheer talent and hard work. Rather, Gladwell shows how those who have achieved extraordinary success achieved it through the happenstance of when they were born, the kinds of opportunities they were presented with as they grew up, and the influence of their culture. To illustrate his point on cultural influence, he also talks about why Asian's are so much better at math (very interesting)!
This is an absolutely amazing read, both fascinating and enlightening. Well worth the seven or so hours it takes to read!(less)
I read The Healer's Calling while researching 16th and 17th century medical practices, particularly in the realm of midwifery. While this book mostly...moreI read The Healer's Calling while researching 16th and 17th century medical practices, particularly in the realm of midwifery. While this book mostly covered 15th century practices and focused very little on the science and how to aspects of medicine, it was still a very interesting read, prompting me to skim through the entire book rather than jump from section to section as I searched out what was actually relevant to my research topic.
Tannenbaum's primary focus is on the community and social aspects of women's medicine, particularly how medicine formed or supported female communities, how the female medical community intersected with the male, and how a lack of community was often a large factor in whether a female healer might be accused of and condemned for witchcraft. All of her information is rich with real-life accounts of from journals, letters, and court records from the 1600s, which helped Tannenbaum completely bypass the trap of potentially dry analytical prose. Her arguments and examples were always related to the experiences of specific real people and events.
If you're actually interested in the sociological impacts of female medicine in New England of the 1600s, definitely check this book out. I wouldn't so much recommend it for fun, though. :-)(less)
I wasn't really aware of the big boom of princess culture amongst young girls before picking up this book for a book group I'm in. But it was interest...moreI wasn't really aware of the big boom of princess culture amongst young girls before picking up this book for a book group I'm in. But it was interesting, and rather horrifying, to read about how commercialism and consumer culture has penetrated even the lives of our three-year-olds. Orenstein's exploration of feminism as it relates to raising a young girl in the consumer-driven and appearance-obsessed world of today, raises very interesting discussion about what it means to be a girl (or a boy), how toy selection effects gender development and supports or breaks gender stereotypes, and the fine line a parent must walk when trying to help their child see more for themselves than the pink and pretty princesses that are everywhere a little girl turns.(less)
This was an absolutely fascinating read. The premise of the book aims to disprove the assertion that humans are naturally monogamous beings and show t...moreThis was an absolutely fascinating read. The premise of the book aims to disprove the assertion that humans are naturally monogamous beings and show the evolution of homo sapiens as polyamorous by nature. The arguments the two authors make seem strong, but of course you never know until you've read from both sides of the argument.
Some of the historical tidbits about human sexuality were absolutely shocking, and well worth the read right there. For example, the once frequently diagnosed malady of female hysteria, was primarily treated--up through the early 20th century--with "vulvar massage", i.e., the doctor rubbed out orgasms on his female patients. There is also a lot of historical information about the repression of female sexuality, even repression of knowledge about the female anatomy. Another shocking tale tells about a doctor who "discovered" and subsequently studied the mysterious nubbin between a woman's legs, i.e., the clitoris. When he presented his findings to the university where he worked as a professor, he was thrown in prison and all of his research was burned. Say what?! I didn't know the clitoris was tantamount to heresy.
What this book disappointingly neglected to speculate on was when, why, and how this myth of monogamy came to dominate human culture.(less)