Sciezka grew up in Michigan as the second of six children, all boys, and that chaotic, adventurous, sixties childhood of playing with fireworks, building models, hand-me-downs, setting things on fire, road trips, etc. is entertainingly conveyed in brief vignettes of no more than a few pages each.
But Sciezka's short stories give enough of a fun plot, along with pictures of the boys at various young ages as well as toys, to be entertaining and quickly digested. As a kid, it's a great start to the memoir genre. As an adult, it's light fun that you won't mind sharing with your kid....more
A well-researched, accurate, thoughtful book on the issues facing the nation's political system and creative responses to address it, that will neverA well-researched, accurate, thoughtful book on the issues facing the nation's political system and creative responses to address it, that will never reach the audience who need it most.
Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein carefully lay out their case for what they define as a dysfunction seizing up the works in the United States' federal government and then are even more careful deliberating their identified cause, namely assymetrical polarization. In other words, both parties have become more partisan and less diverse, but one of the two parties (spoilers, it's the GOP) has become so ideologically polarized and beyond the pale that the federal government cannot actually govern. Their case is substantial, cogent, and convincing.
Afterwards, they address a number of popular pablums and alleged remedies that might fix things but dismiss each in turn with convincing arguments. They then attempt to provide meaningful changes that might actually shift the balance back towards a functional government. I don't agree with all their assessments, but it's a positive contribution for the most part.
The biggest problem with the book is that the audience who is both willing to the argument and could have a meaningful impact, is the narrow group of mostly disaffected moderate voters who aren't already cognizant of the polarization they address. I doubt those people are going to be interested in reading the book in the first place.
So, solidly if eruditely written, but probably not a book that's going to reach an audience needing to listen....more
Rebecca Chalker's establishes an avowedly feminist viewpoint in her manifesto on women's sexuality, a combination of history, anatomy, and self-help,Rebecca Chalker's establishes an avowedly feminist viewpoint in her manifesto on women's sexuality, a combination of history, anatomy, and self-help, intended to empower women to realize their own sexual potential.
Had I read it when it was published in the summer of 2000, I would have thought her militant anti-patriarchal viewpoint quaint. I would have thought it a product of my mother's generation (which she is) and having just been through eight years of a Democratic presidency and increasing acceptance of LGBT culture, I would have thought this book too old-fashioned, too hostile to modern society which had evolved since Chalker's period of strident activism.
Of course, I read this in 2012. Now the importance of women's reproductive health is apparently up for debate again. While LGBT culture has arguably continued to advance positively, it appears women in particular are being sent backwards. I'm not sure we're back at the point yet where this book will be handed back and forth with hushed tones among confidants, but it's a reminder of the path we appear to be headed down, and that it needs to be resisted.
I won't recommend this book for everyone (shock!). The attempted terminology change, Chalker seeks to expand the term "clitoris" to apply to much of the female sexual anatomy, feels propagandic and offputting. The medical history, while informative, fails to follow-up on the causes of the limitation of information concerning female anatomy, attributing it to sinister forces, and focuses more on the information's rediscovery. The final portion, in which Chalker discusses various sexual health seminars people, primarily women, can attend, gets new-agey beyond the point of reasoned exploration.
That said, for women curious about their own sexuality, this is probably a good place to start. It's not going to tell a reader how to do things, but it does encourage them to start exploring....more
I received this book for free in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.
Taras Grescoe is a lifelong urbanist and views transportation as fundamental to theI received this book for free in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.
Taras Grescoe is a lifelong urbanist and views transportation as fundamental to the formation of the modern city. Visiting locations both in North America and abroad, Grescoe advocates strong public transportation infrastructure as the key element to long term health and growth.
While cars dominate major American metropoli like Phoenix, European and Asian cities have developed significant rail infrastructure that obviates the need to own an individual car. This, in turn, allows for increased density, which enables populations large enough to sustain local businesses. Increased economic opportunity increases the attractiveness of the area to outsiders and further encourages similar development and so on.
Grescoe does not advocate that everyone should live this way, rather he advocates that if cities wish to survive, they need to adopt this structure. Furthermore, expanding this structure to enable non-car commuting from the suburbs will, in the long run, further encourage the kind of community that is more dense, less car based, and more sustainable in the long run. He makes a convincing argument.
But I will note, and at this point I should disclose I'm a suburban commuter who rides light rail transit each weekday, that despite the opportunities presented in here. Despite the amount to which I agree with him, I couldn't get excited about reading this book. While I enjoyed the passages I read, the history of Japan's rail lines, the development of the bus system in Bogota, the economic desolation that is Phoenix, I was never eager to turn back to this book after I set it aside because, for example, I got off the light rail to finish my transit home. I'm not sure why the book didn't enthuse me more, this should be right up my alley, but it never really gripped my attention.
There are some positive notes to take away from this, and I suspect readers who are mildly interested but unexposed to the field will find this an excellent primer. But I don't think I can sit here and say "Here read this if you want to know why I think there needs to be more public transit". I don't think it'll sell anyone on the idea.
I received this book for free in a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway
Doug Bremner worked as an expert witness for plaintiffs in lawsuits against pharmaceuI received this book for free in a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway
Doug Bremner worked as an expert witness for plaintiffs in lawsuits against pharmaceutical-giant Roche over the anti-acne medication Accutane. During that time, Roche and its attorneys went to great length to try and sway or discredit him, not only with legitimate criticisms, but with spurious accusations. Meanwhile, Bremner was also coming to terms with his mother's death. She had died while he was very young and Bremner had not addressed the circumstances or emotions related to it. This memoir, though described on the back cover as being the story of that first portion, focuses more heavily on the latter. Consequently, it feels like the reader has been misled.
Furthermore, and admittedly this is the fault of the reader, an expert witness, even one who clinically proves the drug's negative side effects, plays only a small part in the story of said drug's impact. Thus, this memoir leaves much of the story out. It would be better to know the victims beyond a couple of statements, or how the trials proceeded, or what else Roche was doing in response to the threat to their prized goose. Sadly, you don't find that information here.
This book could be useful as a resource for someone wanting to write complete story of Accutane, though Bremner neglects to go into details of the methodology and assessment that led to his conclusions, but, were I a book editor (though I'm absolutely unqualified), I would ask the following question during the writing process.
What book do you want to write? If this is a memoir, then it should be written with that focus, but it means selling the book about you, and just you and what lessons you can impart through your experiences. Memoirs are not only about recounting but, more-importantly, assessing one's life. Yes, you can include Accutane because it's part of your story, but Accutane is clearly not the focus of the story here. If it is about Accutane, then make sure to write about the full story, not just your role. Your participation in events, though significant, is limited.
Ultimately, I cannot recommend this volume. Though it reminds us of the perils of libertarianism and the folly of thinking that bad actors can be corrected through lawsuits, it gets lost in the story of a man who lost his mother and took a long time to come to terms with it....more
A well written book that effectively explains differences between dinosaur classifications with, as much as is possible, accurate depictions. The bookA well written book that effectively explains differences between dinosaur classifications with, as much as is possible, accurate depictions. The book provides a simple rhyming narrative for kids who just want to do surface reading, but if something strikes their fancy, annotated information about each dinosaur can be found at the bottom of the page. Well thought out and executed....more