“I have a good poker face because I am half dead inside.” That first sentence let me know that this book would be full of the dry, sometimes, self-dep“I have a good poker face because I am half dead inside.” That first sentence let me know that this book would be full of the dry, sometimes, self-deprecating humor that I have come to love about Colson Whitehead. Originally published as a series of essays for the magazine Grantland, The Noble Hustle documents Whitehead’s participation in the World Series of Poker tournament in Las Vegas. We follow him from his practice runs in Atlantic City, where his descriptions of his fellow players are hilarious, to the big event with a few poker flashbacks.
I have no knowledge of poker and reading about some of the technical aspects of the game made this not as enjoyable for me. I kept reading because the stories of the people who participate in these tournaments, including himself, and all of their different strategies and motivations were fascinating to me. I’ve gone on record about my love of Colson Whitehead over and over again. He is firmly ensconced in my top ten favorite writers and there he will remain....more
I used to be an aficionado of self-help books. Working in a bookstore put all of them at my fingertips and I looked to them to make my life better. NeI used to be an aficionado of self-help books. Working in a bookstore put all of them at my fingertips and I looked to them to make my life better. Needless to say, they didn't change my life completely, but I have picked up wisdom along the way that I find useful.
Lamb-Shapiro takes on America's "pull yourself up by your bootstrap" culture by exploring some of the most popular books and seminars out there. Having grown up with a child psychologist father meant that she was already well-versed on the subject, but she wanted to go deeper and see what people are spending so much money on and why. Do these books, retreats, and seminars make us happier, improve our relationships, and increase our (self) worth? What comes to light as she makes this journey is that while her father has made a career of helping people discuss their feelings and trauma, the two of them have never broached the subject of her mother's death when Lamb-Shapiro was a toddler.
I really enjoyed her foray into the world of self-help, especially The Rules seminar (which was hilarious), and I also liked being a voyeur into the healing of the author's own experience. ...more
I'm something of a sociology buff. I enjoy hearing about other people's lives, journeys, struggles, etc., without being bombarded with statistics andI'm something of a sociology buff. I enjoy hearing about other people's lives, journeys, struggles, etc., without being bombarded with statistics and studies. Jonathan Kozol is a great chronicler of the lives of impoverished children as evidenced in his bestselling book, Savage Inequalities.
Kozol spent time in a neighborhood in the Bronx, known to be one of the poorest urban areas in the country. He came to know several families, most who were relocated there after the closing of several "hotels" that housed the homeless in Manhattan. He tells their stories while also educating us on the cultural, social, economic, and political reasons behind the circumstances they find themselves in. Yes, these mainly Black and Latino children have been "left behind" by most of society, there are some happy endings. A couple are able to escape geographically. A few are able to escape educationally.
The best thing about Kozol's books is that he isn't just an impartial observer. He does his best to help those who need and want it and has even set up a foundation to help the families in his books. I recommend Fire In The Ashes to anyone with an interest in education and the plight of poor children in this country....more
I first heard about this story on an episode of Rock Center with Brian Williams and was intrigued and curious. There were state laws on the books fromI first heard about this story on an episode of Rock Center with Brian Williams and was intrigued and curious. There were state laws on the books from the 1920's through the mid-60's that allowed states to sterilize their citizens. The laws were designed mainly for institutionalized mental patients, but that was not always adhered to. After the world became aware of the atrocities that occurred under the Nazis in Germany, most states either reduced the number of sterilizations performed or overturned their laws altogether. However, the procedures done in North Carolina increased.
Against Their Will is a collection of stories first published as an award winning series in the Winston-Salem Journal. These journalists give an all-encompassing look into the history and creation of the program and the long lasting effects. Their are interviews with victims who were overwhelmingly sterilized without their consent along with the doctors and social workers who administered the program. Because this is a collection of newspaper articles, I found the subject easier to grasp than if it had been published solely as a history book. I recommend it to anyone interested in American history as well as issues pertaining to race and class....more
The title and premise of this book are a little misleading. Or maybe my expectations were a little off. This was really a mini-history of shoes from tThe title and premise of this book are a little misleading. Or maybe my expectations were a little off. This was really a mini-history of shoes from the 20th century, beginning with the arrival of Salvatore Ferragamo on the scene and in America. Bergstein chooses to tell this story mainly through the tales of some iconic shoes: Dorothy's "ruby" slippers, stilettos (of course), Birkenstocks, Chuck Taylor's, etc.
While I did learn a few things (Ferragamo's history was really interesting), this felt more like a collection of anecdotes, insider tales and Hollywood stories about shoes. And the chapter on 70's shoes and platforms was mainly about men. Certainly not the book I was expecting, but a decent read nonetheless....more
Unfortunately, I had to return this book to work before I could finish it, but I really liked it. The subtitle sums up everything. All of the businessUnfortunately, I had to return this book to work before I could finish it, but I really liked it. The subtitle sums up everything. All of the businesses that rise up where poor people congregate: check-cashing stores, title loans, pawnshops, rent-to-own furniture stores, etc., are discussed. And, yes, for those of us who haven't had to use these services (yet), it seems like these places are designed to take advantage of the people who patronize them. But this book gives you the other side of the story as well, interviewing the proprietors and managers who aren't always the greedy boogiemen we've made them out to be. One of the men said that you can think what you want about those places, but after working in other industries where people were not so nice, the customers of his check-cashing store are always happy to see him and leave smiling. I can't say that of the retail store where I work.
There is also quite a bit of coverage of the sub-prime mortgage industry and how it became so prevalent. Most interesting were the stories of the people who noticed it happening first and have been working tirelessly for the last 15 years as whistleblowers and lobbying Congress to gain attention to this catastrophe. The Atlanta connection was really strong in these chapters as well.
The subtitle sums it all up, doesn't it? Charles is an ex-con from Brooklyn who spent quite a bit of time in the prison system. While in the Elmira faThe subtitle sums it all up, doesn't it? Charles is an ex-con from Brooklyn who spent quite a bit of time in the prison system. While in the Elmira facility he would look out the window at the town of Elmira and imagine it as a perfect place to settle upon his release. He hopes that it will be easier to stay out of trouble there than back home in Brooklyn.
Kathy, his soon to be girlfriend, is like a lot of young, white women in Elmira and the surrounding areas. They struggle to build good lives for themselves and their children, but at the same time they are drawn to the mystery and danger that surround the young Black men that move to the area.
WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THE BOOK: This isn't an attempt to solve a problem or teach a lesson. It just follows two people as they try to overcome the obstacles that life gives them. Very clear and interesting. Like watching a documentary.
WHAT I DISLIKED ABOUT THE BOOK: Nothing really. I did dislike some decisions made and some people involved, but that has nothing to do with the writing or the book itself....more
With her last book, Eat, Pray, Love, being such a huge bestseller, I was expecting this one to be a letdown. Normally, follow ups to books like that aWith her last book, Eat, Pray, Love, being such a huge bestseller, I was expecting this one to be a letdown. Normally, follow ups to books like that are extremely disappointing, with the author usually trying to replicate the formula that made them such a success. Not the case here. Committed is a wonderful read that picks up Gilbert's story with her boyfriend "Felipe" - kind of.
Having settled into a comfortable life together in the States, the couple is soon faced with a threat to their relationship. "Felipe" (Gilbert chooses not to reveal his real name) is an Australian citizen and must leave the country periodically to maintain his temporary visa. In the beginning, this works out well for the couple because as a gemstone trader, Felipe's work takes him all around the world. So he is able to time his business trips to coincide with the expiration of his 90 day visa. However, in this post-9/11 America, all that perfect timing and stamps on his passport soon draw attention from the Department of Homeland Security. Felipe is arrested and returned to Australia and it becomes apparent that the only way that he can come back to the US is as Gilbert's husband.
This sounds simple to most folks, but these folks are both veterans of really bad divorces and had already decided that they didn't need (or want) the institution of marriage in their relationship. But now there is no way around it. While they waited for the bureaucracy of the governments involved to ready the necessary paperwork, the couple travel for several months in Southeast Asia. And Gilbert did what any journalist would do - she used the time to study up on the institution of marriage.
Part memoir, part history, part sociological study, Committed is the journey that Gilbert went on as she made peace with her impending appearance at the altar. It blends effortlessly, the history & evolution of marriage as well as the evolution of Gilbert's relationship as they live through the uncertainty of their future while coming to terms with it. ...more