This is pretty much exactly like How To Be a Victorian, except, well, Tudor. And, honestly, either you already know this is the kind of thing you'll lThis is pretty much exactly like How To Be a Victorian, except, well, Tudor. And, honestly, either you already know this is the kind of thing you'll like, or you shouldn't read this; it does exactly what it says on the tin and nothing more. But it is precisely the kind of thing i like, so I very much enjoyed it.
The strength of Goodman's books is not the writing. It's workmanlike prose at best, and her personality doesn't shine through the way it does in her TV shows. But her love of the ordinary people of the past, her respect for them *as people*, the way she tries to understand them without either demonizing or canonizing them -- that's all here. Plus, her approach to the past is pretty much precisely my approach to my fandoms. I recognize that kind of love. I get it.
And the details here are fabulous. Just -- a really great look at a number of aspects of Tudor life. As always with Goodman, you learn that the people of the past were not as dirty as you think, not as simple as you think, not as primitive as you think. The people of the past were different than we are, but they were still people. And that gets lost in a lot of histories, along with the minute details of domestic life, of how people lived. That's all in the spotlight here. (And, honestly, I wish it always was. How people cooked is so much more interesting than the wars they fought.)
Basically: I liked this book. If you like domestic history, or want another hit of that Tudor Monastery Farm magic, you'll like this, too. ...more
I bought this book because I'd just finished the Imperial Radch series and I needed to read something that I could not possibly compare to it (the comI bought this book because I'd just finished the Imperial Radch series and I needed to read something that I could not possibly compare to it (the comparison was bound to be unfavorable; the Radch books are super great). This book fit the bill perfectly.
This is part of the subcategory of nonfiction that I think of as "funny history anecdotes." Sarah Vowell is obviously the queen of this particular niche, and if you like her work, you'll probably like this, too. Vowell is more funny history anecdotes plus travel, while Wright, at least here, is funny history anecdotes plus some fortunately brief self-help type stuff, but they're both funny and that's what counts.
I just had a lot of fun reading this, is the thing. I laughed a lot, I learned some great stuff that I will have to try really hard not to share with the next ten people I meet, I read long passages out loud to my extremely patient spouse. I even got to hate Norman Mailer more than I already did, which I had thought was impossible. Time well spent, all the way around.
The only part of the book that didn't work for me (although I should note that I skipped the chapter on Wilde and Bosie on the grounds that that entire thing was terrible and sad and I just don't want to think about it anymore ever) was the part where Wright talked to me, the reader, about breaking up -- about how it is better to have loved and lost, basically, and no matter how badly you act you're never going to make a sex doll of your ex and then behead it, so you're definitely not the worst breaker-upper ever. But, okay, I've been married for a really long time, to a woman I met when I was 16. "Boring middle-aged happily married lesbian" isn't really the target audience for the self-help parts. But I can see them being useful if you have recently broken up.
And whether your breakups are long passed, recent past, or still in the future, there's solid value in reading about all the hilarious, awful, or hilarawful things you haven't done/won't do. Like marrying Eddie Fisher or pretending your still-living partner is actually a ghost.
And now I need to stop writing this review before I just start copying and pasting my favorite bits. Seriously, this book is FULL of funny history anecdotes. If this is at all the kind of thing you like, read it. ...more
This is the book for people who think a graphic novel is, you know, a book with a lot of sex in it. And also for people who think that the comics formThis is the book for people who think a graphic novel is, you know, a book with a lot of sex in it. And also for people who think that the comics format can't be used to tell a real, important, moving story. (Those people would also be well advised to look to Maus. Among others.) But mostly, it's a book for everyone.
Persepolis is the story of the author's childhood in Iran before and during the Iranian Revolution. It's impressive how engaging and personal this story is - I mean, it's enjoyable even though it's horrifying. And this is a horrifying book, not so much for the close-up look at the grim realities of the Iranian Revolution (I mean, we all pretty much already know this stuff, although Satrapi definitely makes it more real and immediate), but for the hideous relevance to our time. It's impossible to read this book without thinking about how easily this could all happen to us, here and now.
This is - and, god, I hate to say this, but it's true - an important book. It's something everyone should read. ...more
This is a fascinating, compelling, well-written, and lucid history of marriage. It's the fun kind of history book - the kind with enough anecdotes toThis is a fascinating, compelling, well-written, and lucid history of marriage. It's the fun kind of history book - the kind with enough anecdotes to make the individual pages fun and enough meat to give your brain something to chew. (Eeek, that metaphor needs to be put out of its misery. I promise I won't do that again this review.)
This book is a must-read for everyone who is concerned with the current status of marriage - the divorce rate, gay marriage, traditional family values, whatever. And the overwhelming message is: marriage has always been under threat, because it is not a static thing; we continually redefine it, and what we believe to be "marriage" is probably not actually marriage as it is practiced in our generation.
This also has a lot of fascinating information on gender issues and economics.
I do wish it had been a little clearer in scope; she begins with a focus on marriage in (mostly Western) history, and ends with a focus on marriage in mostly American society. But this is a massive, challenging topic, and she makes it interesting, lucid, and fun, so I'm not going to nitpick.