Alex Sheshunoff has started his own Internet company (that really had a noble goal!) and has worked at it for 5 years, but finally decides, due to various circumstances, that he’s had enough. The company has lots of issues and the goal he set out for it, it’s nowhere near accomplishing. So he decides to quit it all and escape. He quits his company, breaks up with his girlfriend, sublets his apartment, and takes off to find what he thinks Gauguin found – Paradise.
First thing to note is that obviously, the author has a lot of privilege to be able to pick up everything and move to a tropical island in the Pacific. The nice thing is that he acknowledges that at several points throughout the book. So leaving that aside...
I enjoyed this book. It was a nice getaway from real life for a couple hours and it was funny. Sheshunoff got himself into some memorable situations and he brings a light-hearted tone to all of it.
The cool thing is that he decided to read 100 books while escaping. This before the days of the e-reader. Getting all that weight around as he moved must have been quite the task! Anyway, I loved this angle of the story because it sounds like exactly something I’d love to do. He ties some of the books he’s reading into the stories he tells as well, which I thought was well done.
One thing I liked about the book was that as Sheshunoff traveled to different islands and tried out different places to live, he tried to understand the local culture and customs, and tried to fit in with some of it. He did this while acknowledging that he’d always be the outsider, and truly, he’d probably never really fit in. I liked that he was truthful about things like that throughout the telling of his adventures.
A pretty fun, entertaining read and a nice break from reality.
Note: I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review....more
As I started reading this book, the first thing I wondered was who it's intended for. Kids? Adults? Birders? Owl people? Halfway through, I determinedAs I started reading this book, the first thing I wondered was who it's intended for. Kids? Adults? Birders? Owl people? Halfway through, I determined it's a fairly large audience, but definitely not for kids. I think it's probably best as an intro to owls, or as a fun, non-scientific book for owl lovers.
The best part was, of course, the illustrations. These are all watercolor paintings of different owls and they're quite lovely. The drawings are paired with short, mostly whimsical descriptions. I actually found the descriptions a little inconsistent. Some were full of facts (though still written in a fun way), while others were just kind of silly.
One of my favorite descriptions was the Dusky Eagle-Owl - this is an owl from India and Sewell described it in very Indian terms, which really made me laugh.
Here, escaping the hullabaloo, he and his good wife reside all year round and take tiffin at dusk, consisting of the local avifauna. Sounds pukka.
Overall, this was a fun book. I read it in ebook format so I really wonder what the actual book looks like. Often, art books are much better in tangible form than in ebook.
Note: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review....more
I can’t remember when I started following The Awkward Yeti. It had to be at least a year ago or more that I saw someone share one of his Heart and BraI can’t remember when I started following The Awkward Yeti. It had to be at least a year ago or more that I saw someone share one of his Heart and Brain comics on Facebook and I was hooked.
What I love about these comics is that they’re so simple – such a simple concept of a heart and a brain – but they’re brought to life so well. They’re always funny, but so many of them are philosophical as well, and really make you reevaluate what the hell you’re doing in life.
Heart and Brain belong to The Awkward Yeti, who I’m assuming is the stand-in for the artist, Nick Seluk. Brain is the logical one, always trying to work hard and do the right thing – trying to save and not make rash decisions – generally living the safe and complacent life. But Heart is the polar opposite. Heart always wants to have fun and shirk responsibility and chase a good time. Heart is all about living, not just existing.
As you read through the comics you imagine these internal battles happening between your own brain and heart, and depending on which way you lean, feel that you could probably be a little more of the other thing. It’s always a struggle in finding that right balance, if such a thing exists.
I was looking forward to reading this, yet I was terrified of reading it. Turns out I shouldn't have been.
This single tells the story of Baby, a youngI was looking forward to reading this, yet I was terrified of reading it. Turns out I shouldn't have been.
This single tells the story of Baby, a young woman who was allegedly raped by 13 men in an Indian village as punishment for... "loving the wrong man," according to the description. I would add, loving a married man? Loving a Muslim? Having sex without being married? Being "rich" in a village of fairly poor people?
Turns out, the story isn't quite so black and white. Is it ever, really?
This short book gets into a bunch of issues - issues about women's standing in India, issues of culture and comparison within Indian society, and - something I wasn't expecting - the big issue of being a tribal community in a country where you're seen as less than, where your rights are being trampled by people and companies trying to exploit the land and the people.
No, definitely not black and white.
Unfortunately, I thought the story a bit lacking. I didn't connect with Baby, the main character, or any of the other people, on an emotional level. It felt like a removed, intellectual distance that the author kept from everyone. I think I can understand why she maybe tried to do that - you first want to take Baby's side right away (as did tons of national and international media) but as you learn more you realize it's not so simple. And maybe Faleiro tried to keep that distance because she didn't want to side with any particular person, to show those shades of grey. But for me, this made the writing feel a little flat.
Nonetheless, I'm glad to have read this story and will be looking to learn more, not just about this incident, but about the broader issues that were raised in this (too short!) single....more
Putting out these teaser samplers is a great idea for publishers, especially as it can whet the reader's appetite and leave them wanting to know whatPutting out these teaser samplers is a great idea for publishers, especially as it can whet the reader's appetite and leave them wanting to know what happens next. Five non-fiction book samplers were part of this collection and I want to read at least 3 of them! Here are my thoughts.
Irritable Hearts: A PTSD Love Story Written by someone who's suffering through PTSD after covering the effects of the Haiti earthquake, this one had me intrigued starting with the description, and the excerpt didn't disappoint at all. Just the short amount in this sampler was enough to tell me that this is going to be an intense story. I was getting into it and it was over so soon. Definitely adding this one to my reading list!
The Battle of Versailles: The Night American Fashion Stumbled into the Spotlight and Made History The concept is somewhat interesting - French designers versus American designers - and how the Americans became known for haute couture. But let's be honest, this is so way beyond my cup of tea. I couldn't care less about fashion so I can't imagine ever picking up this book. The first chapter, with its lengthy descriptions of fashionable ladies and the designers they worked with and... on and on. It was so boring to me. But again, this is not something I'd ever care about so I can see someone else really appreciating this.
The Skeleton Cupboard: Stories from a clinical psychologist Holy shit. I don't even know what to say here. Each of these book samples (except the one) become more and more gripping. I used to be really interested in psychology/psychiatry when I was younger so I can see how this would appeal to me. But overall the subject is really interesting - trying to figure out what makes us humans tick. I need to get my hands on this as soon as it's out!
Year of the Cow: How 420 Pounds of Beef Built a Better Life for One American Family I thought this one wouldn't appeal to me, considering I'm a vegetarian, but the writing style was fun and the author funny, so surprisingly, I enjoyed this sample. The whole concept of knowing your food and where it came from is interesting to me, and even though I'm vegetarian myself, I don't have a problem with others around me eating meat. So while I wouldn't be interested in the recipes, the concept of this book is definitely interesting, and the way it's written doesn't hurt!
Note: I received this collection from Netgalley....more
Where do I begin with this? Well, first off to chide myself on not having read enough Sy Montgomery books. She’s one of my favorite authors so what’sWhere do I begin with this? Well, first off to chide myself on not having read enough Sy Montgomery books. She’s one of my favorite authors so what’s my problem? *****
I’d been looking forward to this book since I first heard about it last year. Sy Montgomery has written some excellent books and pieces on animals and the natural world – one of which was in Orion Magazine a few years ago: Deep Intellect. This piece chronicled her experiences with a particular octopus and touched upon their intelligence. Orion Magazine even hosted a chat on the subject shortly after the article was published – probably because it proved to be so popular!
This book is basically an extension of that article – Montgomery meets more octopuses, both in aquariums and in the wild. She explores their world, taking the reader on both a scientific, but largely philosophical journey through the octopus’ intellect and on the concept of their consciousness, if such a thing exists.
A large part of the book is spent at the New England Aquarium in Boston, where Montgomery meets and gets to know a few octopuses as well as their keepers, and other employees and volunteers. She even gets to know some of the other animals there and explores a bit of their worlds as well. For example, on a sea star that shared a tank with one of the octopuses:
I wonder: Can a brainless animal feel curiosity? Does it want to play? Or does it only "want" toys or food the way a plant "wants" the sun? Does a sea star experience consciousness? If it does, what does consciousness feel like to a sea star? (p20)
The concept of animals being smart is fairly new to science. Just a decade or two ago, it was unfathomable to most people. And the idea of a “lower” group of animals like octopuses displaying intelligence? Crazy talk! But over time, the idea has become more accepted and it’s hard to imagine a world in which it wasn’t.
There are some amazing videos on YouTube and elsewhere, showing the things octopuses are capable of doing. But the thing that strikes me is how different an octopus is compared to us. They have three hearts! They have multiple brains! They can sense and taste with their tentacles! They can change into a kaleidoscope of colors, while being color blind (or having monochromatic vision – I need to learn more about this)! They have eight arms! So what does that mean for our understanding of their world, much less their intellect?
Assessing the mind of a creature this alien demands that we be extraordinarily flexible in our own thinking. Marine biologist James Wood suggests our hubris gets in our way. (p50)
And what else is out there that we haven’t even explored, thought about, considered in a different way?
"So if an octopus is this smart," Steve asked Bill, "what other animals are out there that could be this smart—that we don't think of as being sentient and having personality and memories and all these things?" (p48)
Beyond smarts, what about personality? It’s quite clear that many people who have pets that they have personalities. They’re not automatons that respond in the same way to stimuli. And that’s the case not only for octopus, but for so many other animals that people are lucky enough to get close to, whether in the wild or elsewhere. Montgomery talks about some of these stories as well, as she explores the world of the octopus.
But what I like the most is that through her writing, you feel like you are there with her, hanging out with octopuses and getting to know them. At the end of the book, when one of the octopuses Montgomery got to know very well was close to death, Montgomery felt it as if she were losing a friend – which she was. And I felt it too. I read that particular section with tears in my eyes, as if I, too, were losing a friend.
Now I’m on a quest of my own to try to get to know an octopus too – or at least see one in the wild. Just getting a tiny taste of their world would be such an amazing experience, and such a great way to bring all the feelings in this book to life.
This popped up on a couple of lists of books associated with San Francisco and the story seemed intriguing AND my library had it. I'd heard of the booThis popped up on a couple of lists of books associated with San Francisco and the story seemed intriguing AND my library had it. I'd heard of the book before but it never went beyond the name, but I am so glad I got around to it.
It was deliciously nerdy - books, programming, social media, fonts, data visualization, art, the list goes on. It really was a feast for my brain. Nothing too heavy but just enough for a light buzz.
It was a breezy read - I started it this afternoon and finished it just a couple hours later. Despite being light, it held my attention, because of all the geeky subjects and because it was a fun mystery to solve. You always wanted to find out what happens next.
I wasn't sure how the author was going to end it and solve the mystery, but I liked the direction he went in. Definitely recommended!
Californiaaa.. knows how to party! No, just kidding. That's just stuck in my head and has nothing to do with this book.
I'm a fan of post-apocalyptic stCaliforniaaa.. knows how to party! No, just kidding. That's just stuck in my head and has nothing to do with this book.
I'm a fan of post-apocalyptic stuff and having recently moved to California, I figured it was a good time to pick this one up.
The book follows a couple, Cal and Frida, as they flee from a ruined Los Angeles to escape into the wilderness. We don't learn a whole lot about what caused the decline, though it seems to be a variety of causes that lead to the gradual ruination of the world. Despite that, these events don't seem entirely unrealistic - especially as climate change seems to be a part of what causes the decline. I can imagine the future looking something like this.
But the focus of the book is on what happens afterwards and how this couple survives - what they go through, the things they feel, especially as they seem to be the only ones around.
I don't want to give anything away but I'll say that the story kept me interested, wanting to know what would happen next. I even read it while I was sick, even though I should have been sleeping instead. My disappointment was in the wrap-up, which felt a little too abrupt, too unsatisfactory - especially when compared to the rich detail of the rest of the book. Maybe there'll be a sequel?...more
I don't expect a lot from these dinosaur/prehistoric creature books, based on bad previous reads. But I still read them, because they're amusing for aI don't expect a lot from these dinosaur/prehistoric creature books, based on bad previous reads. But I still read them, because they're amusing for a short amount of time. (I can amuse myself by yelling at characters in my head.)
Surprisingly, this book was not only entertaining but the characters weren't infuriating. Well, I should amend that - their actions didn't seem utterly ridiculous in the face of what they were experiencing. My first impression was that the characters were acting real. Did they do stupid stuff? Yes, but it seemed natural for the most part, not just done to move the story forward in some contrived way, like other books I can think of. *cough Fossil River cough*
The science was... maybe not quite present, but nonetheless, this book kept me engaged and was a nice, short diversion for a couple of hours....more