I really enjoyed this book, but I feel somewhat torn about trying to give it a rating (I'd say 2.5 ish?). There's a decidedly male voice throughout th...moreI really enjoyed this book, but I feel somewhat torn about trying to give it a rating (I'd say 2.5 ish?). There's a decidedly male voice throughout the stories; I think I might go so far as to say that "maleness"/masculinity is a characteristic of nearly every story. Tsutsui's characters cannot be called heroes--so I can't just say that this book is full of pumped up male characters. That's not the case. It's quite the opposite, really...most of the characters are depraved, desperate, or transformed into automatons by their daily struggles. But while the men in these stories seem to "suffer" in existentially varied ways, I noticed that the women seemed...flat. They are angry housewives, faceless pregnant women, stuck-up rule followers. They are tyrannical. Their "suffering" is limited to the pain of having a husband who doesn't make enough money, or who doesn't have sex with them as often as they'd please. This characterization got old pretty fast, and I kept hoping for a female character (at least one!) with some depth, some intelligence, some sense of humanity (not just "woman-ness"). But that never happened.
Hands down my least favorite story was "The World is Tilting." It's about a feminist society, on an island, that begins to tilt into the sea due to some faulty engineering. Rather than evacuating the city the mayor decides it would be better not to tell anyone. The devout feminist followers of the mayor stick around, going so far as to shoot anyone who tries to leave. I don't want to spoil it (heh), but ultimately this story seemed to be a pretty harsh and strangely constructed jab at feminism. Although the society is described a number of times within the story as "feminist", I saw no indication of it, or the characters, exhibiting any feminist characteristics or values (broadly construed) whatsoever. Aside from having a female mayor, the society in this story seems pretty similar to the reality presented in Tsutsui's other stories. Needless to say, I was confused. Maybe it was a weird translation error, since the term "feminist" seems so arbitrarily inserted into the story; maybe I'm missing something, or maybe this completely non-representative depiction and criticism of feminism was totally intentional (in which case...I'm still confused).
Interestingly, "The World is Tilting" is far from the most ridiculous story in this collection (maybe that's part of why it fails). Most of the stories are surreal, gritty, and disturbing--my favorite kinds of stories. The title story (really more a novella), is pretty excellent. The very short story "Bravo Herr Mozart!" was also one of my favorites.
If you grit your teeth and try to ignore all the troubling, heartless housewives, then you'll find some dark, humorous, and bizarre stories in this collection. Or, if you think all women are evil, then you'll get a kick out of it too.(less)
I received a copy of this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.
I enjoyed this book, and it provides good information to help you start...moreI received a copy of this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.
I enjoyed this book, and it provides good information to help you start a meditation practice (and a very simple practice, at that). There is also lots of information and encouragement related to how mindfulness goes beyond the meditation itself and is far from being isolated only to that 10 minutes set aside for "formal" practice.
I'd definitely recommend this book for anyone looking to incorporate meditation in a very practical and simple way. The author includes case studies, quotes research that has been done, and relates funny/useful anecdotes throughout the book; all help reinforce the idea that meditation is something very do-able and ultimately very positive.
However, I couldn't help but feel like the book was just a promotion for the website, which is cited frequently throughout the book. I went to the website (nice little piece of design...worth checking out for the eye candy at least) and downloaded the app (also, really well designed). Here's the catch--it's not free. Of course, it's free to sign up and you can download the Take10 podcast for free--if you can find it. And it did take me a bit of searching to find it. The rest of the content doesn't appear to be free; from what I could tell, you have to purchase a subscription to really get much of anything out of the app/website. Subscriptions are more expensive than I'd like to pay for that kind of content, and I'll be sticking with the book. Uninstalled the app...haven't bothered signing into the website again after downloading the Take10 podcast. I think it just annoys me a little because people have presumably paid for the book--why make them also pay for the web content, when they clearly go hand in hand? Isn't there some way to provide additional free content to book purchasers? Code on the back of a removable sticker or something? I didn't pay for the book, so it's not that I feel like I've personally been ripped off or something. It's more the principle of the thing. If I bought a book and found out there was a whole website with additional content, I would kind of expect to be given access to that content since I paid for the book.
Maybe I'm being silly. Mr. Puddicombe obviously has to make a living, after all. And as I said, the book alone is a good resource for anyone looking for a basic guide to meditation.(less)
I kind of want to give this book 4 (or even 5!??) stars, because I really like Kate Beaton. Her comics are awesome; she's smart and funny and has a gr...moreI kind of want to give this book 4 (or even 5!??) stars, because I really like Kate Beaton. Her comics are awesome; she's smart and funny and has a great eye for caricature. But I can see all that from her web-comics--no need for a book. (disclaimer: I got this book from the library so I promise, I'm not bitter that I bought it and was disappointed or something)
The actual book itself is a super-nice hardcover with spot gloss on the cover and everything. Pretty fancy. On the inside you'll find Beaton's comics, which--though most certainly awesome--are available online more or less exactly as you find them in this book. My complaint, I guess, is that if you're going to bother putting together a super-nice hardcover collection, why not spruce things up a bit? Maybe clean up sloppy line-work or re-draw older comics? Ya know, make it something special?
So I'm a little torn about this book. I give Beaton's comics 5 stars. I've read some of these comics multiple times and they are just so funny that I can't help laughing uncontrollably (sometimes to the point of tears) because they are so good. But I wish a little more thought had been given to how putting these comics in book form would separate them from their web-comic counterparts; as-is, they're basically the same...and aside from being "legitimized" as a real-published-book, I'm not quite sure what the point is.
Lovely illustrations and a simple story. Sort of feels like a children's book at times but isn't (although I'm sure kids would find a drunk mouse kind...moreLovely illustrations and a simple story. Sort of feels like a children's book at times but isn't (although I'm sure kids would find a drunk mouse kind of funny...and the drunken-ness part would probably go over their heads anyway). (less)
Cute, sad story about a man and his dog. The shorter (related) story at the end was sort of an interesting way to bring closure to the whole thing, bu...moreCute, sad story about a man and his dog. The shorter (related) story at the end was sort of an interesting way to bring closure to the whole thing, but still...really sad. I could relate to both parts of the story, the art was cute, and the story is well written and well paced. I especially loved the first part of the book when the dog describes its routines and how they slowly change; how "Daddy" is the only constant, and how Happie in turn becomes his only constant. I do wish it had been longer...I feel like this story could have been a lot more epic (I don't mean in an action-packed way, but in an emotional way). Nonetheless, it's a good simple story.(less)
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.
I've sort of picked through this book and read various sections (most of the first...moreI received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.
I've sort of picked through this book and read various sections (most of the first half, and random parts of the second half). First of all, I just have to say that it's incredibly interesting to me that books about penis health are so...unavailable. If you search "penis health" on Amazon, the first two results are books titled "Big Penis: The Ultimate Guide for a Longer, Thicker, Stronger Penis" and "Exercising The Penis: How To Make Your Most Prized Organ Bigger, Harder & Healthier"; a little further down the page is this book, and...that's it (searching "male sexual health" doesn't yield many more results). The message is obvious...male sexual health (socially constructed) is about how men can make their penises bigger. As a woman, this doesn't surprise me (-insert eye-roll here-) but as a person who believes in the importance of sex education and body awareness, this realization was disturbing. Dr. Danhoff explains penis health (and "penis power") in a different light, and explains how it's mostly mind over matter when it comes to both male sexual health and penis size (sorry guys, apparently all those penis enlarging schemes are a hoax). He also discusses various physiological aspects of the male sexual organs, how they work, what can go wrong, and what kinds of treatments are available.
Overall I like the idea of this book and I think it has some good information in it. I think if you have a penis, you'll enjoy reading this book a lot more than someone who doesn't (like yours truly). I actually found the chapter written for women kind of annoying, and some of the other information redundant (the psychological/physical connection between a man's self esteem and his penis is repeated over, and over, and OVER again). I really didn't like the advice that women should talk to men like children and tiptoe around their delicate penis egos. I'm sorry, but men are adults. They can be spoken to like adults, I would hope especially when it comes to sex. Obviously, conversations with a penis-having partner (or ANY partner) shouldn't be demeaning or discouraging. That's kind of a given if you accept the fact that humans of all sexes have FEELINGS.
I also wish there had been more pictures. And I don't mean more pictures like the humorous penis cartoons strewn throughout the book (bravo to the illustrator who undertook that task). I mean, serious illustrations to demonstrate the issues being discussed in the book. Maybe they weren't included because the penis is such a...err...outwardly visible organ? But come on, there's lots of stuff that goes on behind the scenes too. And diagrams/illustrations are excellent educational tools. I just don't understand why there aren't any in this book.
The lack of information about circumcision/foreskin also struck me as strange. The penis naturally has foreskin--how is it that a book about penises covers the issue of foreskin only for a few paragraphs in the FAQ section?
Three stars for the concept and the (mostly) good information (although I honestly think this book could have been distilled in half as many pages--but don't read into that too much). I think Dr. Danhoff has undertaken a noble task in writing this book. There are definitely more (and...I have to say...better [but I'll admit I'm biased]) books written about female sexual health but it's good to see something out there for the guys. Although I don't agree with Dr. Danhoff that female sexual health is "better understood" or more socially acceptable as a topic. Sex education--for all parties involved--is something that many people shy away from and for which US education has certainly shown its distaste. Regardless of how much more literature is available, I don't think the general public is any more "educated" about female sexual health than male sexual health, and stereotypes/myths abound on all sides (he is probably correct, however, that medical professionals and the medical community in general are better prepared to deal with female sexual health than male sexual health). Nonetheless, this book is a step in the right direction, and a fairly good resource for anyone looking for information about their own (or their partner's) body and how it works.(less)