My parent's lovely neighbor lent this to me when I returned home from my recent surgery. It's not the kind of book I usually read, but it was so thoug...moreMy parent's lovely neighbor lent this to me when I returned home from my recent surgery. It's not the kind of book I usually read, but it was so thoughtful of her that I decided to read it.
Overall, I think the final third of the book redeemed the mommy-bloggerness in the first part. Although my health problems are nowhere near as extreme, I related to her impatience in healing and her longing for her life "before". However, I feel like the greatest insight I gained from this book didn't come from her - instead, it was a short description of her meeting with Elder Holland and his words about scars being the way we recognize Christ and that the physical scars we carry are witness to our own miracles.
I understand the problems other reviewers have with this book. I found her ambivalence toward education hard to take, as well as her refusal to speak with a psychologist. Also, the story about another burn center patient, Anna, left me cold - I didn't find it fair or correct to blame her death on "giving up". I also wanted to hear more about the flight instructor, Doug; I felt like he deserved greater tribute than this book offered. Despite these misgivings, I feel like it was worth reading this book for the scene with Elder Holland.(less)
Well-written and completely engrossing. Cullen follows every thread, presenting a complete picture of the shooters, the victims, and the town before a...moreWell-written and completely engrossing. Cullen follows every thread, presenting a complete picture of the shooters, the victims, and the town before and after. Cullen clears up many of the myths surrounding Columbine, including the Trench Coat Mafia (the shooters were only tangentially involved) and the reported martyrdom of Cassie Bernall (another student, a survivor, responded yes to Klebold questioning her faith). Cullen's depiction of the constant media coverage that day is chilling - terrified students calling into CNN from their cell phones, a bleeding young man falling through the library window, a sign in a classroom window indicating someone is bleeding to death. His depiction shows how misinformation spread quickly, igniting many of the myths surrounding that day.
He presents a well-researched and convincing case of Eric Harris's probable psychopathy, but his examination of Dylan Klebold is particularly interesting. Using Klebold's journal, Cullen presents an extremely depressed young man focused not on killing or revenge, but on an unrequited love. While Klebold made many horrifying and incomprehensible decisions in the end, Cullen makes a case for a certain degree of compassion for a suicidally depressed young man who linked his fate to a psychopath.
My school wasn't effected by Columbine hugely - we couldn't carry backpacks anymore, but that was all - but it made an impression on my middle and high school years. There were a few kids who wore trench coats to school; most people stayed away from them or even expressed fear. I remember a few conversations with friends, speculating whether a certain outcast was a "school shooter type". Sadly, this massacre is no longer the largest school shooting but its impression on the American psyche lives on. Though this book is dark, it's worth reading to understand how something so tragic could happen.(less)
This book investigates all aspects of "fast fashion," the cheap and trendy clothes from places like Forever 21, H&M, and Target that shrink after...moreThis book investigates all aspects of "fast fashion," the cheap and trendy clothes from places like Forever 21, H&M, and Target that shrink after washing, fall apart quickly, or go out of style after a few months. Elizabeth Cline explores the decline of the American garment industry and the international trade agreement that led to its downfall and the rise of cheap overseas labor. I was interested by the statistics she found about the amount of money average people used to spend on clothing - in the 40s, many of the dresses a girl like me would own were worth about $200 in today's money. There has been a profound shift in recent years: we're spending less on clothing than any generation previously, but the amount of clothing we own has skyrocketed.
The book spends most of its time on the problems of clothing over-consumption, but the last few chapters offer some solutions. As a seamstress, it's nice to have someone advocate for the increasingly lost skill of sewing - she doesn't say everyone should sew their whole wardrobe, but she recommends learning how to mend a tear, sew on a button, even hem a skirt or pair of pants. She also talks about what she calls "slow fashion," a movement similar to the slow food movement. Much like the slow food movement, slow fashion involves looking for more local sources and higher quality. It's an interesting idea and one that deserves support. We might end up paying more for our clothes, but they'll last a lot longer.(less)
What this book isn't: A tell-all remembrance of a kitchen maid who reports on the soapy antics of the rich people she cooked for.
What this book is: a...moreWhat this book isn't: A tell-all remembrance of a kitchen maid who reports on the soapy antics of the rich people she cooked for.
What this book is: a memoir by a woman who grew up in poverty and due to the time she lived in, was forced into service at age 14. Margaret Powell is very much of her generation, one in which the poorer classes finally fought the poor working conditions they'd lived under for so long. Many of the reviews I've read call her whiny, but her complaints about long hours, little pay, and poor living arrangements are not only valid, but something that needed to change. It's interesting, as the book goes on, to see the way service changed after the first world war.
There is a bit of a tell-all aspect - one of the masters of the house often called the maids in after they'd gone to bed, so he could see them in their curlers - but there's nothing like the craziness of Downton Abbey. Overall, it's an interesting, if plainly written, memoir from a perspective that's needed from that time in history.(less)
This book was hit and miss. There were definitely chapters that were better than others: the deconstruction of Grimm's fairy tales, the chapter on Dis...moreThis book was hit and miss. There were definitely chapters that were better than others: the deconstruction of Grimm's fairy tales, the chapter on Disney's tween princesses, and the discussion of internet content and its place in girl's lives stand out as the better parts of the book.
I agree with Orenstein's problems concerning marketing to children and consumer culture, especially as it relates to young girls. However, there was a lot of stuff to wade through that seemed like it could be solved simply, by saying "no" to your child. That this solution is first mentioned in the last chapter of the book is silly, if not disingenuous.
Basically, it's a pick-and-choose kind of book. There are some good things in there, but there are also some things that aren't as big a problem as she makes them seem.(less)
Really lovely book by a woman who found her passion later in life and went for it wholeheartedly. I found it inspiring in that sense and also in the s...moreReally lovely book by a woman who found her passion later in life and went for it wholeheartedly. I found it inspiring in that sense and also in the sense that I want to make the perfect mayonnaise now, too.
Warning: don't read/listen to it if you're hungry! (less)
Francine Prose accomplishes something really interesting with this book: she kept me so engaged that I basically forgot I was reading something schola...moreFrancine Prose accomplishes something really interesting with this book: she kept me so engaged that I basically forgot I was reading something scholarly.
The book consists of three sections: a close reading of Anne Frank's diary, a look at Anne's writing process, and the legacy her diary left, including the dramatic story behind the diary's stage adaptation. Prose (who has an amazing last name, for a writer) compiles an amazing amount of information and analysis, presenting it with a fluid, crisp writing style that kept me interested.
Prose argues that no one has taken Anne Frank's diary seriously as a work of literature - and through her close readings proves why we should. She goes through the different passages that Anne edited, showing how Anne's writing style changed and become more "writerly." Prose explores the context surrounding the diary's most famous line (that people are good at heart), giving examples illustrating Anne's complex and evolving ideas about humanity. In the end, Prose gives us a clearer picture of Anne - - one that can't be boiled down to a short, inspirational sentence - - but of a talented young girl who, under horrifying circumstances, still took her ambitions as a writer seriously.