My favorite thing about Made You Up is the main character, Alex, who I found very endearing. Alex has schizophrenia. She takes pictures to help her knMy favorite thing about Made You Up is the main character, Alex, who I found very endearing. Alex has schizophrenia. She takes pictures to help her know what’s real and what’s not.
“Sometimes I think people take reality for granted.” - pg 1
Her reality is full of things that could not be real. It was amazing to go through her thought process of questioning everything and how she copes with that. It would be so hard to live like that all the time.
Made You Up is hopeful and shows how it’s okay to get help sometimes. (view spoiler)[I loved the moment when Alex changes her thinking about her mom wanting to send her to a hospital. She realizes her mom doesn’t want to get rid of her but that she doesn’t know how to help her anymore. (hide spoiler)]
There are funny moments, unexpected twists and turns, a few heartbreaking moments, and some feel good moments too.
And oh the romance.
“You smell like lemons” is my new favorite romantic line in a novel. It’s the first thing this boy says to her when he meets her and it takes her by surprise.
“I felt a strange flurry of delirious joy because he’d said, “You smell like lemons” instead of “Your hair is red.” I knew my hair was red. Everyone could see my hair was red. I did not, however, know that I smelled like fruit.” - pg iii
The love story is very cute. You can’t quite tell who’s real and who isn’t and you spend a lot of time wondering if this cute boy is real. They are both awkward and lovable.
In addition to awkward and lovable, I found Alex so relatable.
“I wasn’t sure if the pictures would help anymore, but doing it made me feel better. Like I was doing something to help myself. Like that was still possible.” - pg 137
I think we all do that. Things that give us the illusion of control but don’t really do anything. We had a great book club discussion about things we do to give us comfort that we don’t really need to do like making lists etc.
Alex gets advice from a Magic 8 ball which is adorable. She doesn’t take it seriously, but it was fun to read the responses to her questions.
My thoughts on the ending which I mostly liked but one thing bugged me. (view spoiler)[Alex is also paranoid and I fell like her paranoia helped her see things that other’s dismissed and she saved the day because of it. Also, the only thing that bugged me about the story was that she didn’t get to graduate from high school. Why?! She worked so hard and it never says why she doesn’t get to graduate. Oooh it irked me. (hide spoiler)]
A darling story. An underrated gem. A teenage version of A Beautiful Mind. I loved it....more
If you loved Where'd You Go, Bernadette I bet you would love Big Little Lies, too. Big Little Lies is full of quirky characte Short and Sweet Version
If you loved Where'd You Go, Bernadette I bet you would love Big Little Lies, too. Big Little Lies is full of quirky characters, great humor, gossip, intrigue, and mystery. It's addicting to read. And somehow, at the same time, it talks about abuse, lies, and the objectification of women in a thoughtful and moving way.
This book is about deep issues like abuse and lies so how did Liane Moriarty make it so funny? I think it was a combination of blunt honesty and creative writing that made this book amazing. Right from page one we get snooty internal commentary from a cat that sets the tone for the whole book. Sadly, the cat doesn't really show up again but the humor sticks around. (And can I just say that a book about a person going on with their daily life that is narrated by a sarcastic cat would be an excellent book. Someone should write that.)
If this quote doesn't perfectly describe people on their phone all the time then I don't know what does (I'm one of them, ok? Not judging).
Mothers took their mothering so seriously now. Their frantic little faces. [...] Eyes fixed on the mobile phones held in the palms of their hands like compasses.
-Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies pg 2
I think my phone/compass has a setting that heads straight for the corner of my counters and table. Anyway.
Chick lit and murder mystery had a baby and it is this adorable book that you just want to eat up and pinch it's wittle cheeks. The narrative of the story is interrupted by hilarious interviews between the residents and the police officer about a murder that has happened. The interviews unearthed mostly gossip and unhelpful information but oh are they so much fun to read. At first, I felt like I needed to keep all the people straight in the interviews but I don't think you really need to. Unlike other murder mysteries where you are trying to find who did it by following a revolting trail of disturbing clues, this book doesn't even tell you who died. Part of the fun is trying to figure out who even died! And your only clues are the interviews of the moms judging the other moms in the school! I had a lot of fun writing guesses in the margins as I was reading and they were all wrong which means that this book had excellent foreshadowing and writing that kept me on my toes.
My favorite character was Madeline. Her tirade about being forty and getting outraged at imaginary problems was hilarious. Also, I never, never get upset about problems I've invented in my head. Never. Mostly.
I don't know why, but I loved reading about Madeline's unfounded resentment for her ex-husband's wife, Bonnie. It was just so funny and blunt.
"When Bonnie hears I've hurt my ankle, she'll bring me a meal. She just loves any excuse to bring me a home-cooked meal. Probably because Nathan told her I'm a terrible cook, so she wants to make a point. Although the worst thing about Bonnie is that she's probably not actually making a point. She's just freakishly nice. I'd love to throw her meals straight in the bin, but they're too damned delicious. My husband and children would kill me."
-Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies pg 28
I feel a little like that when I get mad at my husband and he's nice to me. My husband is also freakishly nice. Now what am I supposed to do!? The nice card is so not fair sometimes.
I can relate to this a little too much.
The angrier Madeline got, the more freakishly calm Ed became, until he reached a point where he sounded like a hostage negotiator dealing with a lunatic and a ticking bomb. It was infuriating.
-Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies pg 212
One of the deeper issues that Big Little Lies explored was how important a woman's looks are in our society and the consequences of that.
A glittery girl. [...] All her life Jane had watched girls like that with scientific interest. Maybe a little awe. Maybe a little envy. They weren't necessarily the prettiest, but they decorated themselves so affectionately, like Christmas trees, with dangling earrings, jangling bangles and delicate, pointless scarves.
-Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies pg 14
Why are looks so important to women? Why do even women value other women based on their looks? Do we miss things (like the abuse of one of the women who happened to be very beautiful) because everything looks pretty on the outside? It's not like I've never asked myself these questions before, but I always find myself thinking more deeply about them in the context of a story. Jane, one of the main characters, has this thought when she meets someone new:
Although, what did that say? If the woman had been a toothless, warty-nosed crone she would have continued to feel resentful? The injustice of it. The cruelty of it. She was going to be nicer to this woman because she liked her freckles.
-Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies pg 16
I found this next quote so moving and thought provoking. It's about how in our society women can easily feel that the most valuable thing a woman can be is attractive to a man. I liked this honest look at the issue of women's looks that Liane Moriarty masterfully mixed with a little humor.
"You're beautiful," she began.
"No!" said Jane angrily. "I'm not! And that's OK that I'm not. We're not all beautiful, just like we're not all musical, and that's fine. And don't give me that inner beauty shining through crap either."
Madeline, who had been about to give her that inner beauty shining through crap, closed her mouth.
-Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies pg 197
Madeline talks about how Jane's mother's attitude about beauty shaped Jane a little, then society and media shaped her attitude a little more, and then one hateful comment finished the job that everyone had been doing little by little. They all added up together to warp her attitude about food and wrongfully plant the idea that skinny means beauty and beauty is what matters most to a woman.
There were some lovely thoughts on parenting. This book showed so well that while genetics play a role in your kids, how you raise them matters so much more. As I'm watching my kids grow up, I relate to this quote that puts childhood so poignantly.
Your child was a little stranger, constantly changing, disappearing and reintroducing himself to you. New personality traits could appear overnight.
-Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies pg 63
I never realized until reading this book that I judged people who stayed in abusive relationships. I developed so much empathy for people who are victims of abuse after reading this. This quote shows the mindset of the woman who was abused. The idea that she somehow deserves abuse. I love that the message of this book was that you don't deserve it. No matter what.
A little violence was a bargain price for a life that would otherwise be just too sickeningly, lavishly, moonlit perfect.
So then what the hell was she doing here, secretly planning her escape route like a prisoner?
-Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies pg 245
I think this all the time. There has to be a balance between empathy and the ability to function in your real life.
... there was real pain in the world, right this very moment people were suffering unimaginable atrocities and you couldn't close your heart completely, but you couldn't leave it wide open either, because otherwise how could you possibly live your life, when through pure, random luck you got to live in paradise? You had to register the existence of evil, do the little that you could, and then close your mind and think about new shoes.
-Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies pg 353
The word silly is used a lot throughout the story to downplay the hurt and concerns of women. The saddest example is when the little girl who was getting hurt during the school year was afraid to say who it really was. But when the little girl later insisted on not inviting a certain boy to her party, the mom dismissed it as her daughter just being silly. It turned out that this certain boy was the one that was hurting her. We sometimes trivialize violence and pain when it happens to girls and even women. Every time I saw the word silly, I realized how very sadly common it is to do that to women. To trivialize the pain they are going through.
One of the most fascinating things about this book was all the lies and secrets. All of the characters tell white lies and most of the characters have big lies or secrets. It seemed like the more secret they kept something, the more power it had over their life.
There's something about this scene that just gets to me. Celeste is naturally beautiful. I think this scene shows how even women tend to over-value how important our appearances are.
"Oh, Celeste," she'd moaned. "I just can't handle you today. Not when I'm feeling like shit and you waltz in here looking like . . . you know, like that." She waved her hand at Celeste's face, as if at something disgusting.
The girls around them had exploded with joyous laughter, as if something hilarious and subversive had finally been said out loud. They laughed and laughed, and Celeste had smiled stiffly, idiotically, because how could you possible respond to that? It felt like a slap, but she had to respond like it was a compliment.
-Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies pg 165-166
The passive aggressive way the women told Celeste that she was too pretty and it made them feel bad made Celeste respond as if it was a compliment when it wasn't. Is there something about passive aggressiveness that makes the only polite response a lie? I try to imagine Celeste responding with the truth and I couldn't figure out a way in which it didn't end badly for her.
I did not want to know that much detail about embalming dead people. I think a quote from the book sums up how I felt reading it:
"He told me he didn'tI did not want to know that much detail about embalming dead people. I think a quote from the book sums up how I felt reading it:
"He told me he didn't like the subject [of serial killers], and that it made him uncomfortable, but that didn't stop me. My mom paid for the sessions, and I didn't really have anyone else to talk to, so Neblin got to hear it all." -kindle location 250
I felt like his poor therapist hearing more than he ever wanted to know about serial killers. I quit on page 94 (34%).
I can't handle disturbing very well. I can survive disturbing parts but if the whole book is disturbing, like this was, with not much to break it up, then I need to read something else. It's just not for me. ...more
Where'd You Go, Bernadette is a literary book that is full of witty, intelligent humor. The voice of the teenage girl, Bee, who narrates this book isWhere'd You Go, Bernadette is a literary book that is full of witty, intelligent humor. The voice of the teenage girl, Bee, who narrates this book is delightful and sarcastic especially about some of the crappy things that happen to her. I love the humor of the unpopularity of Bee's dad working at Microsoft where they are "acronym-happy (pg. 123)." Bee has a sweet personality, too. She is collecting letters, emails, transcripts, and blog posts in this journal that she is writing about where her mother went. I ADORE the blog post that Bee puts in the book that is 500 words long and literally all the post says is that it's going to rain. Ah to love something that much that you could write 500 words about the smallest detail.
The writing is amazing in this book. I don't think there is a single cliche thing said in the entire book. There's a scene where people freeze as they stare at an argument. But does she just say that they froze? No. She describes them as this:
Nobody had moved. Some hands were frozen in midair, in the middle of doing a fold. It looked like a wax museum diorama of an origami presentation.
- Maria Semple, Where'd You Go, Bernadette pg 275
I love it. This was an example of the ultimate show not tell with everything from the unique structure of emails, faxes, and letters, to the writing itself. Where'd You Go, Bernadette was very entertaining and full of personality.
The crazy small community that this story is set in was hilarious and it kind of reminded me of the small town charm and quirkiness of Gilmore Girls. This book was full of interesting characters. Literally all of them exaggerate. We get to see different perspectives and how each character tends to bend the story a little in their favor to make themselves the victim.
I learned so much from the character of Bernadette. She showed me that creativity is sometimes found within extreme limits. I admired her ability to use her interpersonal skills to help her thrive in the male dominated professions of architecture. Remember to embrace your talents - even the weird ones - and use them to do something you love that no one else can do. I also loved the theme of Bernadette getting lost literally and figuratively in motherhood which I found very relatable. Even though Bernadette doesn't say this particular quote, I think it describes motherhood perfectly.
I felt so alone in this world, and so loved at the same time.
- Maria Semple, Where'd You Go, Bernadette pg. 199
Overall, it was a impeccably written and hilarious story full of fascinating characters that taught me a lot about embracing your talents - even the weird ones.
Content warning: some strong language - about a dozen or more f-words....more
Quiet changed how I view introverts and made me realize how many biases there are against theThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Quiet changed how I view introverts and made me realize how many biases there are against them. Our society values people who are outgoing and people who are shy are considered to have some sort of flaw even though that is their natural personality. I had never thought about or even realized how our society values a very "narrow range of personality styles. (pg. 3)" As an introverted person, I didn't think I would have any biases against people who are labeled as shy. Was I wrong. Many shy people are encouraged to be social and change which gives them a feeling that something is wrong with them instead of them just having a different personality.
Introversion— along with its cousins sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness— is now a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology. Introverts living under the Extrovert Ideal are like women in a man’s world, discounted because of a trait that goes to the core of who they are.
-Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (p. 4)
My favorite thing about this book was how it showed that introverts have strengths just by being who they naturally are. An example she used was Rosa Parks who was "shy and courageous (pg. 2)." Susan Cain points out that the Civil Rights movement wouldn't have gotten started if Rosa Parks had been an outgoing and loud person. It succeeded because she was a quiet, well respected person and the fact that she stood up for herself gained more attention because it was easier for people to realize the huge injustice of it since she was acting against her personality.
Here are a few of the strengths that an introverted person naturally has:
Function well without sleep (pg. 3)
Good at negotiating because their mild-mannered disposition allows them to take strong/aggressive positions and be accepted more easily (pg. 8)
Think before they speak or act (pg. 8, 168)
Prepare more for speeches and negotiations (pg. 8)
Asks lots of questions and listens intently to answers that leads to strong negotiation skills (pg. 8)
Work slowly and deliberately (pg. 11)
Ability to focus intently on one task and high abilities of concentration (pg. 11)
Relatively immune to the temptation of wealth or fame (pg. 11)
Able to delay gratification (pg. 163)
Don't give up easily (pg. 168)
Leadership style that wins people over (pg. 197)
Work independently which can lead to innovation (pg. 74)
I loved hearing the definition of an introverted person that wasn't framed in a negative way compared to an extroverted person. An introverted person enjoys less stimulation which is why they tend to like things like reading. They recharge by being alone while extroverted people recharge by socializing. All introverted people are not necessarily shy. I really liked Susan's illustration of how shyness and introversion were two different things.
Shyness is the fear of social disapproval or humiliation, while introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating. Shyness is inherently painful; introversion is not.
- Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (p. 12)
There's a quiz in the book to see which end of the spectrum of introversion/extroversion you fall on. She states several times that no one is completely extroverted or introverted. I did get 15/20 on the test which means I fall heavily on the introverted side. So this book felt very relevant to me. But even if you don't feel like an introverted person, this book has so much value because it's pretty much guaranteed that you know or are related to someone introverted and it can help you understand and relate to them.
One epiphany I had about myself was learning that some introverted people are sensitive. There's a study in the book about babies who had personality assessments when they were babies and again when they had grown up. They found the babies who were sensitive, who cried at loud noises and bad smells more easily turned out to be mellow, introverted adults. The babies who were easy going and didn't react much to new things grew up to be more outgoing. It seems like it should be the other way around, but it makes sense. If an introverted baby is overwhelmed by stimulation, they choose to be around less stimulation as they become adults. I immediately called my mom when I read this study because I will never live down the stories of being the baby who was scared of the orange rug every time I sat on it, the lamp from just looking at it, and my aunt's braces when she smiled. And when Susan Cain is talking about sensitivity she is using the psychological term.
Many introverts are also “highly sensitive,” which sounds poetic, but is actually a technical term in psychology. If you are a sensitive sort, then you’re more apt than the average person to feel pleasantly overwhelmed by Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” or a well-turned phrase or an act of extraordinary kindness. You may be quicker than others to feel sickened by violence and ugliness, and you likely have a very strong conscience.
-Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (p. 14)
It’s as if, like Eleanor Roosevelt, they can’t help but feel what others feel.
-Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (p. 138)
I wasn't expecting this book to help me think about what I really want to do with my life. Introverts are more likely to ignore their own preferences for career choices. The author talks about her career choice as a lawyer and even though she was good at it, she didn't enjoy or even want to do it. She listed three steps to finding out what you love to do.
First, think back to what you loved to do when you were a child. (pg. 218)
Second, pay attention to the work you gravitate to. (pg. 218)
Finally, pay attention to what you envy. Jealousy is an ugly emotion, but it tells the truth. You mostly envy those who have what you desire. (pg. 218)
When I went through these steps I realized that I love reading and reviewing books. Go figure after studying music and then finance in college that I would eventually come back to reading which I have loved doing since elementary school. Blogging about books has been such a great outlet and way for me to write which I also loved doing. I had to giggle when I came across this quote because my husband can't believe some of the things I post on my blog for the world to see sometimes.
Studies have shown that, indeed, introverts are more likely than extroverts to express intimate facts about themselves online that their family and friends would be surprised to read...
-Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (p. 63)
If being introverted is so great, why isn't it valued in our society? There's an entire chapter that talks about the shift in American culture to over-emphasize the value of extroverted people that led to a devaluing of introverted people. It was very interesting. It involves industrial change, work force changes, and even parenting changes. She compares other cultures to America's (like China) and shows how their value of extroversion is not as strong or even the opposite and how that affects their culture. The biggest thing that contributed to extroversion being over-valued has to do with the business world. Loud, fast talking people are seen as leaders even if it negatively affects others. Harvard Business School teaches that true leaders have quick and assertive answers which might have led to many of the financial crises since the slow and cautious decision makers were mostly dismissed. There was a study in the book that questioned whether extroverted people are always the best leaders. It turns out they are excellent leaders if their employees are very passive, but in a work environment where the employees are more proactive an introverted leader is actually more efficient at utilizing the knowledge and experience of their employees.
You would think that as an introverted person it would be easy to parent an introverted child. That's not necessarily true and I enjoyed the parenting tips in the book. I need to remember that my child is just sensitive to things that are new in general and not to label him as shy or anti-social.
I feel like I know myself a little better after reading Quiet. I can recognize now when I’m feeling overwhelmed from stimulation and I make it a point to take time to myself to read or spend time on my own. It’s made me a lot happier. I also have been standing up for myself more, but in my own way by asking lots of questions and not being afraid to speak my mind just because I’m not a loud person. It also made me realize the social pressures I had been putting on myself and my kids. I always felt guilty for not having “enough” play dates and social time. And by “enough” I mean daily play dates. I realize now that the pace of a few times a week makes both my and my kids happy. I don’t feel pressure to have them constantly doing something with other kids anymore. Most of all it helped me realize that I am not an anti-social person. Now that I'm aware that going out with lots of friends or to parties will drain me, I make time to wind down afterwards and I no longer turn down social invitations since I understand my personality better. I feel like for me, this book accomplished what Susan Cain wanted it to.
If there is only one insight you take away from this book, though, I hope it’s a newfound sense of entitlement to be yourself.
-Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (p. 16)
Overall, Quiet shifted my perspective on what it means to be introverted and I learned a lot about myself in the process. I highly recommend this book.
Dad is Fat expands on Jim Gaffigan's staple humor about kids and the challenges of being a paThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Dad is Fat expands on Jim Gaffigan's staple humor about kids and the challenges of being a parent. I laughed out loud at most of this book. As funny as the book is, I think it helped me look at life more honestly and realize that being a parent IS crazy and hard sometimes. The ability to laugh about it and realize all parents aren't perfect inspires me to do a little better and not let myself get bogged down in the sheer stress of it is sometimes. I can laugh about my stress and let it go.
Failing and laughing at your own shortcomings are the hallmarks of a sane parent.
- Jim Gaffigan, Dad Is Fat (pg 25)
I think another point he makes in this book is how funny kids are just from being themselves. One of my favorite things about Jim Gaffigan's humor is that he can take situations that usually stress me out about kids being themselves and show me how funny it is. Like this:
Children have a tendency to behave as poorly as the most poorly behaved kid in the room. The laws of physics dictate that if there is a kid screaming and running in the hallway of a hotel, all the other children will scream and run in the hallway of the hotel.
- Jim Gaffigan, Dad Is Fat (pg 15)
The chapter that I laughed at the most was called "Vice President" where he compares dads to real vice presidents (like the enforcer role he sometimes has of Dick Cheney) and how dads different vice president roles function in the family. The whole chapter is great but here's my favorite quote:
As a dad, you are Vice President. You are part of the Executive Branch of the family, but you are the partner with the weaker authority. In your children’s eyes, you mostly fulfill a ceremonial role of attending pageants and ordering pizza. I’m never the first choice. My kids don’t even mask it, which I respect them for. “Let’s see, the crabby guy with the scratchy beard or that warm soft lady that tells us stories for eight hours?” It’s not even close.
- Jim Gaffigan, Dad Is Fat (pg 36)
I wish I could share all my favorite quotes with you, but that would be half the book. I listened to the audiobook, but then got the ebook from the library so I could highlight all the quotes that I loved. So here's the last quote that I want to share with you. Jim is talking about how his kids wake up before the sun and how loud they are (which I can relate to) which makes this quote so hilarious to me.
The song goes, “Morning has broken,” and I’m pretty sure my children broke it. Like everything else they break, if they did break it, they’ll never admit it.
- Jim Gaffigan, Dad Is Fat (p. 194)
Narrator Review: Five stars
Listening to the audiobook was just as much fun as listening to one of his standup routines. He's honest, sarcastic, funny and so entertaining to listen to. The way he says things really adds to the humor. I highly recommend the audiobook over the ebook.
Overall, it was a hilarious and entertaining read about being a parent and the funny things that kids do.
The Queen of the Big Time reminded me of Gone with the Wind but set in the north instead of tThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
The Queen of the Big Time reminded me of Gone with the Wind but set in the north instead of the south. There's a guy that Nella, the main character, pines for but can't have (who is kind of whiney by the way) and she doesn't fully love the one she has until it's too late. And then she returns to Tara...uh, I mean the farm she grew up on.
We had a great discussion in my book club about this one. It was a book that made you want to have more fun and live life instead of working too much because of Nella's reflections on her life and the choices she made. It also had me ponder about our dreams for the future. I couldn't decide if Nella gave up her dream or if she just got a new one. That was something I can really relate to. I still don't know the answer. Did I give up my dream of music or did I just find a new one that I love?
It was touching to read a story about a family and the support and care they have for each other even when they don't always like each other. I find myself enjoying multi-generational stories like these and how they show the changes of generations and their relationships. My one complaint about the novel was the the plot didn't have much going on it felt kind of slow to me.
Narrator Review: 3 Stars
The narrator, Cassandra Campbell, had a pleasant voice. She read a little slow for my taste but speeding up the narration helped with that. I thought she did a great job pronouncing all the Italian names.
Overall, it was a beautiful story about family and the choices we make with our dreams, our love, our work, and the act of trying to balance it all.
Content warning: a fade-to-black sex scene and there wasn't any language that I could remember....more
I've recently gotten hooked on the Freakonomics podcast so I decided to borrow Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner's latest book from the library. The full title is SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes And Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance which would not fit in my little title box for this post.
My favorite thing about this book, that also shows up every week in the podcast, is how they challenge popular beliefs about current issues by using statistics to come to different conclusions than everyone else. It stretches my brain and I learn some new things at the same time. Like learning about the whaling industry. I didn't know that oil (the fossil kind) replaced the whaling industry. At the time whaling could have been considered too big to fail since whale oil was used to light houses. A theory that really stretched my brain was the after-affects of September 11 in increased policing of terrorism reduced policing in other areas like the financial sector. I had never linked the two before, but it does make a lot of sense.
That's not to say I agree with all the ideas in the book. I thought the hose idea to fix global warming was stupid but I do appreciate the focus on creative, simple, and unconventional solutions to current problems.
Another interesting tidbit I learned from this book was how to get rid of illegal markets. If you go after suppliers of illegal things (like we do right now with drugs) then it creates more demand and the market sticks around. If you go after the demand the market will shrink. It seems pretty straight forward and obvious but there are a few reasons that we don't do that. As a society it's easier to villianize drug dealers than the poor little guy who wanted a fix. But the biggest reason, I think, that we don't go after the demand is because there is so much more of it. The police can barely keep up with getting rid of suppliers.
Narrator Review: Four Stars
Stephen Dubner also narrates the Freakonomics podcast so I was used to hearing his voice. This book felt like a really long podcast and it was enjoyable for me to listen to. Stephen reads at a good pace and does a good job of adding interest to the book. I find his way of narrating conversational and very easy to listen to.
Overall, it's an interesting and different look at current issues that I learned a little from and was entertained by as well.
Content warning: one use of the f-word and a discussion in the first chapter of the "business" of prostitution. It wasn't graphic but it was still a little too much info for me....more
The author, William Davis, had a lot of really good points in Wheat Belly some of which I hadThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
The author, William Davis, had a lot of really good points in Wheat Belly some of which I hadn't thought about before like how much wheat there really is in a grocery store. It's pretty much on every single isle. When you look at all the over-proccessed and packaged foods, it's easy to see why he says that we've traded cheap food for our health. Ain't that the truth. I also didn't know how high the glycemic index for wheat bread was. It's higher than a Snickers bar. So the next time I went to the store I totally bought a huge bag of Snickers. I'm pretty sure that wasn't the point he was trying to make but man - I could have been eating candy this whole time! It was interesting when he went into some science and research about how addictive wheat really is. It causes us to crave food constantly and eat more than we need.
I didn't really agree with the implication that he made that even if you eat healthy and exercise, you don't lose weight if you eat wheat. I do see the value in reducing wheat in our diet after he drives home how much we overeat it. I can also see the value in reducing wheat in your diet if you are diabetic since wheat does have such a high glycemic index. But there are enough healthy people who eat wheat that I just can't see how this would be true all the time.
I learned some cool things about your body and how it works. Your body's ph balance is so important that it will draw calcium from your bones if you have too much acid for your body to neutralize (like from drinking too much soda). The author explained how abdominal fat (which he believes comes mostly from wheat) can cause inflammation becuase it spikes your blood sugar which causes your body to make more insulin and then insulin makes more fat which causes inflammation. It keeps going around in this vicious circle. And when he had a study that said Rheumatoid arthritis was shown to improve with gluten removal I convinced my husband to go on a gluten-free diet to see if it will help his arthritis.
The last chapters got kind of boring to be honest. To sum up - wheat makes you old and gives you heart disease. It was kind of technical and hard to follow a lot more than that. Then he generalized the findings and research he had about wheat and turned it into not eating any starch at all (is this guy serious!!?) to limiting the amount of fruit you eat (say what??). He summarizes his diet in the back of his book to eating unlimited amounts of meats, veggies, and raw nuts, and then limited amounts of non-gluten grains and fruits. I'm really not sold on that. I don't see anything wrong with eating fruit and gluten-free grains as a main part of your diet.
I decided to go on a gluten-free diet after reading this because we eat mostly a gluten-free diet already since my son has celiac.Since I don't like making two dinners and I usually eat leftovers for lunch, I'd say half my diet was already gluten-free. We eat more fruits, vegetables, eggs, cheese and meats now. We still eat gluten-free grains. I feel much better (e.g. I have more energy and I'm not starving by 10 am). Even though our food costs more, I find that we are eating less like the book says and my food budget has stayed about the same. Not to mention our diet is healthier with things like fruit and yogurt and cheese sticks for snacks instead of over-processed crackers. So far, I have enjoyed the gluten-free diet that we are on. I find that the food tastes better. We buy this gluten-free cereal that fills me up longer and tastes better than the wheat cereal I was getting even though they have similar amounts of fiber and protein. The wheat cereal actually had more calories than the gluten-free kind.
Narrator Rating: 4 stars
The narrator was easy to understand and made the novel interesting but I had to kind of roll my eyes at how many times during the book he said "healthy whole grains" sarcastically. He really couldn't resist saying it every other page. I looked at the print version - healthy whole grains is not in quotes every time it's mentioned (it is in quotes a few times) so I didn't understand the need for "sarcastic" pronunciation every time it showed up.
Overall, the author convinced me that we eat way too much wheat in our diet but he did not completely convince me to go to the extreme diet that he suggests in the back of the book....more
I read this in one sitting as a bet against a friend that I couldn't finish a 200 page book iThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
I read this in one sitting as a bet against a friend that I couldn't finish a 200 page book in less than 4 hours. I did! I win :) I loved the themes in this one about looking on the inside instead of the outside. The characters either focused on the external appearances of things or the internal value of things.
This story is told in duel perspectives that alternate each chapter. The boy, Bryce, had a charming but sarcastic voice with not much dialogue while the girl had a sweet, funny, and endearing voice with a Hermione-type personality. After reading a while I noticed that the girl, Juli, focused on dialogue and detail. The voices were distinct and I enjoyed reading each of their stories. But I think I might have liked Bryce's voice just a little more because his slightly negative attitude and sarcasm were just so much fun.
Finally I break free and do the only manly thing available when you're seven years old - I dive behind my mother.
- Wendelin Van Draanen, Flipped pg 3 (Bryce)
Yes, each chapter tells the same plot from the previous chapter but just from a different point of view. While the plot being retold did make the book feel a little long and slightly draggy, it was definitely not boring because the author, Wendelin Van Draanen, did a awesome job messing with your perspective and challenging your biases. For example, there's one scene where Bryce insists that he didn't say anything mean and just summarizes what he said and is baffled by Juli's anger. Since you are reading that scene from his point of view, you agree with him. When you read Juli's chapter, you see the actual dialogue of what he said and your perspective flips and you see that he was being kind of a jerk.
That's not to say I chose a side. I could see why each character did what they did and it was so interesting to read two different views of the same events or conversations. Since you know what motivates each of them, you don't really judge them as one being better than the other. I also liked seeing how Bryce would do something out of self interest and Juli would see it as kind. It was cute to see how they interpreted each others actions. They both almost always got the other's motivations wrong.
I thought that this was such a beautiful novel about how important it is to look at things and people for what they are on the inside instead of how they appear on the outside. And when you do this your perspective can totally flip.
It was on a day like that when my father's notion of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts moved from my head to my heart. The view from my sycamore was more than rooftops and clouds and wind and colors combined.
It was magic.
- Wendelin Van Draanen, Flipped pg 37 (Juli)
Overall, it was a cute love story about seeing people for who they really are....more
Is it cheesy to say The Power of Habit changed my life? Well it has. I finished this book yesterday and today I decided to change one of my bad habitsIs it cheesy to say The Power of Habit changed my life? Well it has. I finished this book yesterday and today I decided to change one of my bad habits that I've had my whole life. Using the steps in the book I quickly found out that my bad habit was a distraction for me from my stress and within three hours I learned that I had no clue how to deal with my stress. It was funny because I discovered something about myself that I hadn't realized before. I'm better at dealing with large, life changing stress than I am about dealing with the small everyday stresses of life like a cluttered house and dirty dishes.
I used my bad habit to distract myself all day long and suppress my stress and anxiety so I didn't have to think about the things that were bothering me. I completely broke down within four hours and called my husband in tears telling him I just didn't know what to do. How DO people deal with stress? I talked it out instead. Some of the stresses we came up with plans to change and some seemed to go away just from talking about them. My husband was a little shocked and saddened when he realized how often I must be stressed (because I do my bad habit all day long). Yeah, I can't believe how much I am stressed out either and I've been running from it too which I'm sure just adds to my stress.
After I talked things out I blogged for an hour which helped me relax and the temptation for my bad habit was gone for the time being. It came back in full force later that day when my son's bus was late. I couldn't find a distraction big enough to stop thinking about all the many, many things that could have gone wrong (my imagination uses it's power for evil sometimes), so I did some serious praying to calm my racing heart. His bus got there 5 minutes later and I survived, though honestly I was a little shaky and it felt like my heart was racing. I've got a lot of work ahead of me to learn good stress management and I'll probably need another book for that. :) I've tried and failed many times to change my bad habit over my life time feeling like I'm worthless or that I'm a bad person or that there was something wrong with me, but I don't feel like that anymore.
It is critical to understand that self-control doesn't fail because the person cannot muster the needed resources. Instead it fails because the effort seems too great for the payoff.
-Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit (Footnote 5.6)
I can tell you for a fact that my habit is going to be just as hard to change as it's always been but I have faith now that I can do it. And that faith is something I've never had before. Also, if you have any stress management books I would be very much interested in them. :)
I flew right through this book. It is truly fascinating how our brain works. Our brain is literally designed to make everything it can a habit to save energy and resources. Once you figure out how it works you can "program" your brain to do anything without even thinking about it. I highlighted the heck out of this book.
Here are some of my favorite things I highlighted while reading:
Habits never disappear. You can replace the bad habits but without faith in God or the belief that you can in fact change, old habits can come back.
If you want to change a habit, use the same cue, provide the same reward but get a new routine.
It's interesting how new habits form. Toothbrushing was from an ad campaign.
Pick a reward you crave. That's the key to lasting habits.
While I am still working on changing my bad habit, I did successfully create a new habit. Exercising. I hate exercising. I always have. To be honest I STILL hate exercising but I do it regularly now. Why? I used the tools in this book. My cue is my son going to preschool. It's at the recreation center so I wear my workout clothes when I drop him off and just walk around the indoor track the whole time he is in school and pick him up when I'm done. I can get two miles in about an hour. There's an old guy that teases me when he passes me. Whatever. My 28 minute mile is an awesome pace. My reward is what keeps me doing this. I listen to audiobooks which I look forward to. Exercise is boring to me but audiobooks make the time fly by. I crave my alone time and listening to good books. I would be sad now if I didn't exercise.
I had a friend ask me (after I told her about how much I loved this book) what the basic steps were for changing a habit, so here they are:
Identify the routine
Experiment with rewards (try different routines that give different rewards)
Isolate the cue (Location, Time, Emotional State, Other People, Immediately Preceding Action)
Have a plan
In handy infographic form if you'd like :)
Overall, this was a self help book that truly changed my life and I think everyone should read it.
Content warning: two uses of strong language (n word and f word)....more
Spoiler free even if you haven't read the first book in this series.
Elisa has been growing and changing throughout the series and The Bitter Kingdom was no exception. She starts to define herself by trying new things and seeing what she likes instead of focusing on comparing herself to others, especially her sister, and coming up short. In fact, she purposefully learns and pursues the things that were hidden from her or that scare her and it made her a fascinating character to read about.
I liked the friendship that developed between Elisa and Storm. He seems to be a very loyal friend but the culture that he grew up in makes him not completely trustworthy. His culture also gives him a very literal personality that I found endearing. One of my favorite quotes from the novel came from Storm when he's explaining the Joyan culture to someone and how it's different from his own.
"Joyans consider it rude to express one's true opinion unless it is unequivocally flattering."
- Rae Carson, The Bitter Kingdom, pg 235
There has been romance throughout the series, but it starts to rival The Princess Bride with the devotion and the kissing scenes that have lots of spark that I know the kid from the Princess Bride movie would definitely want to skip.
The writing had a few cliche moments. I liked the writing from the first two books better. Each book has a journey, but for some reason this one felt a tad bit long. However, the plot was such a fun adventure that reminded me of entering the mines of Moria that it kept my interest very well. There was also a very brief reference to "machine magic" that isn't really expanded on, but it does support my theory that I discussed in my Crown of Embers review that perhaps the Joyan race came from our world.
Overall, it was a fun adventure with epic romance and a main character who is constantly growing and changing into someone I would want to be.
Content warning: mildly graphic violence and a suggestive scene....more
What kind of evil person gives a book about charity one star? Me apparently. I think GivingThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
What kind of evil person gives a book about charity one star? Me apparently. I think Giving was supposed to be a book but it was really one long, tedious list of all the charities Bill Clinton could think of. He would just skip from one story to the next so they all kind of ran together into a mesh of helping rural Chicago with micro loans in Bangladesh and someone won a peace prize. The writing was pretty awful. This whole book was just a list of lists. If the comma could talk it would say this book has over-worked the poor comma more than any other book. The comma now refuses to be in any more books by Bill. "We're on strike! No more lists!"
That being said, this book gives an overall feeling that there are a lot of good people out there and it's easy to help. Bill Clinton even admits at the beginning of the book that his goal was to expose people to the many charities out there. And he definitely does. There are even a few very inspirational stories strewn throughout the book but I really wish there had been more of them. I feel like a really good google search for charities around the world could accomplish the same thing as this 6 hour audiobook.
To assuage my guilt about hating on a book written to inspire people to give to charity, here are some of the things I did like. The book talks briefly about the value of money. When you reach a certain point money stops having value and it's better to give it to those in need. Warren Buffet is quoted in the book about how he didn't need $30 billion dollars so he gave it away. Bill Clinton portrays his wife as the most charitable person he knows and someone he looks up to when it comes to giving. Bill, you are one lucky dude that's all I can say.
Narrator Review: 2 stars
I didn't know this audiobook was read by Bill Clinton. It made me almost want to return it. His accent didn't end up being as bad as I thought it would be but he did read it rather fast. But honestly - I’ve never listened to such a boring audiobook. Ok this was only my second audiobook but I can promise you – I doubt I will ever listen to one that is more boring than this one. I sped the narration up at the end because I was ready to be done and curious to see if the book got better towards the end. It didn't.
Overall, this felt like one long, never-ending list that lasted for six hours about as many charities as he could think of. There just wasn't enough of the great inspirational stories to keep my attention....more
Ready Player One was like Willy Wonka meets a virtual reality video game and 1980's culture.This book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Ready Player One was like Willy Wonka meets a virtual reality video game and 1980's culture. It was a blast to read. The dystopian setting in the near future was not something I was expecting. I felt like it was a way to add a little depth to a story that a lot of people might dismiss as frivolous since it's about video games. It made me really think about how we are using our Earth and the energy on it without becoming preachy. The virtual reality felt like science-fiction but the dystopian world felt real enough that I walked away from this book wondering what we should do to conserve energy. I loved the idea that an energy crisis would make cheap entertainment rise in demand. It reminded me of the huge rise in demand of movies during the Great Depression. Also the 25 cent price of the virtual reality game invoked the 80's vibe again of a video arcade.
I love books full of pop culture references. I love to look them all up and then write about them in a blog post but there were so many movies, music, TV shows, books, authors, video games, and comics from the 1980's mentioned that I would have to rewrite the book to blog about all the things referenced in the story. Even though I was a young kid in the 80's and not a teen, I still knew some of the 80's references like Monty Python and the Holy Grail. And I definitely geeked out at all of the Star Wars references - especially the strike team waiting for a shield to go down. Since there are so many cultural references in the book, if you don't know at least a few of them I could see that it might feel kind of tedious. At the same time, the author, Ernest Cline, takes the time to adequately explain cultural references that apply to the story of the novel. He doesn't just assume that you should obviously know all of these things. I just think references tend to be a little more fun when you know what they are. It's also really fun to learn things from references - for example I didn't know that Cosmos originally came out in the 80's.
This quest for an easter egg is completely addicting. It blends the virtual reality with the real world since the consequences of one start to bleed into the others and the lines between them start to blur. I clean my house while listening to audiobooks and I would find excuses to do some more laundry and dishes so I could listen a little bit longer. Very unlike me.
Ready Player One is an example of a book that the author just put their heart and soul into. You could research the massive amounts of references that were in this book, but even then it wouldn't be the same. I could tell the author had a love for everything 80's and vintage just like the main characters. Research could not bring that much detail and care.
The characterization was so unique in this book. Since most of the characters are avatars of themselves, we get to know their personalities inside and out before we see what they look like in the real world. I felt my biases challenged a little bit when their personalities and their looks were separated. The characters were complex, interesting, and the best sign of all - I wish I knew them in real life.
Narrator Rating: 4 Stars
Wil Wheaten did a great job narrating. He read at just the right pace. His voice seemed to suit this sci-fi story very well. The voice inflections he used just immersed me in the story even more. It was also kind of hilarious for him to read a pop culture reference about himself.
Overall, you don't have to be a video game nerd to enjoy this complex dystopian with great characters and massive amounts of really fun 1980's references.
Content warning: discussion of masturbation. The f-word is used about half a dozen times throughout the book....more
Anna and the French Kiss was a cute teen romance with delightful writing. There was lots ofThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Anna and the French Kiss was a cute teen romance with delightful writing. There was lots of drama which is very realistic to what teen relationships are really like. So what are teen relationships really like? Hint: they lack communication and have lots of drama. The couple in this book fights a lot which I found kind of funny and adorable. The thing that kept me from completely loving this book was I felt like there was a little too much drama. It gave me mild anxiety while reading it.
I couldn't get enough of the cast of characters. Anna's father is a an author who is more or less Nicholas Sparks but with the personality of Gilderoy Lockhart - complete with fake white smile, purple shirt, and hair that blows dramatically in the wind. Anna is sent to a boarding school in Paris that has "suspiciously fresh (pg 21)" food. That made me laugh since American schools have food that looks suspiciously not like food at all. Anna has a best friend who loves obscure words and I think she needs to be my best friend, too.
My favorite thing about this book was that Anna wanted to be a professional movie critic so she wrote a movie review blog. She didn't want to be a director or a screen writer. I loved the way she described what it's like to write a movie review.
"Why do you need to practice [writing movie reviews]? It's not like it's hard or something." [said Dave.]
"Yeah? I'd like to see you write a six-hundred-word review about one. 'I liked it. It was cool. There were explosions.'" [Anna said.]
- Stephanie Perkins, Anna and the French Kiss pg 122
I relate to her so much! It IS hard to write reviews. I want to be just like Anna but a professional book reviewer. I also found that quote ironic since I knew I was going to review this book the way Anna reviews movies.
I really enjoyed the writing in Anna and the French Kiss. The dialogue is fun. We get to know Anna's backstory when touring her room and looking at interesting photos. Here is an example of some awesome writing right here.
Bin after bin of macarons in every flavor and color imaginable. ... And then I notice cinnamon and hazelnut praline, and I just want to die right there. Crawl over the counter and crunch my fingers through their delicate crusts and lick out the fragrant fillings until I can no longer breathe.
- Stephanie Perkins, Anna and the French Kiss, pg 158
Overall, it was a cute teen romance with great characters. I just wish there had been less drama.
Content warning: strong language (about 3 or 4 f-words) and teen drinking (although it isn't glamorized)...more
A Breath of Eyre was a lovely debut novel about Emma Townsend who gets to live her own life as well as Jane Eyre’s in a fascinating re-telling that IA Breath of Eyre was a lovely debut novel about Emma Townsend who gets to live her own life as well as Jane Eyre’s in a fascinating re-telling that I loved. My favorite thing about modern retellings is looking for little references and clues to the original story. I had a lot of fun in A Breath of Eyre noticing the big and small references to Jane Eyre like similar plot points and even the similar school name.
The first thing that struck me as charming was Emma’s connection to the world of Jane Eyre. It reminded me of The Wizard of Oz because she starts to recognize characters from her real life which makes it hard to tell if she’s really living Jane Eyre’s life or if it’s all a dream. That sort of ambiguity is something I love to devour in stories. And since the author had done such a good job at creating strong, unique, and interesting characters, it was easy to recognize them in Jane Eyre’s life.
As I was getting about a third of the way through the book, I started to feel like it was all very predictable. It wasn’t veering much from the Jane Eyre story at all. There were a lot of lines that came directly from Jane Eyre. Just as I was about to give up, the author threw a twist in there that I did not see coming. It was the kind of twist in a story that changes everything and gives you chills. I was glued to the book after that. And the story grew into so much more than a retelling.
Overall, it was a great new take on the world of Jane Eyre that didn’t turn out to be as predictable as I feared it would. It’s an imaginative, tension-filled romance that I loved.