This is a hard book to rate. I really liked the concepts and message behind the book but the writing style was sometimes too slow and boring for me. I...moreThis is a hard book to rate. I really liked the concepts and message behind the book but the writing style was sometimes too slow and boring for me. I happened to find this book on the shelf at the library while looking for something else and picked it up because its a topic of interest to me.
There were great take away notes for me to keep in my mind as I raise my son. Like not interrupting his free play with my ideas of how I think he *should* be playing. And ultimately, it reinforced my ideas that play based learning is the way to go with preschool aged children. I even took snap shots of some of my favorite quotes!
I found the last chapters of the book where he writes about what parents can do to help foster a love a learning in their children and specific education methods to be the most interesting and practical. I also liked that in these chapters he included research to back up his claims.
I was disappointed in the lack of research he provided to support his position. I know that it wasn't for lack of it- there is plenty of research to be found on the importance of play in learning. So I wonder if it was to avoid overwhelming the reader, who would most likely be a parent without a child development background. Which I can excuse and perhaps I need to look for other books directed more at professionals.
Overall, I would recommend this book to the parent of a young child who is feeling overwhelmed by the pressure that children should be excelling academically before they've entered kindergarten. In the mainstream media and culture, the idea that young children and toddlers are "sponges" and should be filled with as much knowledge as possible runs rampant. Parents buy videos and toys purported to help their child learn another language or even to read and it makes me sad. True learning and thinking comes from exploration, observation, imitation, and experimentation not memorization.(less)
So this was a quick read, easy and light essays and "pliests" (list type pieces). I don't usually read celebrity books, except for Tina Fey because, w...moreSo this was a quick read, easy and light essays and "pliests" (list type pieces). I don't usually read celebrity books, except for Tina Fey because, well, she's Tina Fey... But I do like watching The Mindy Project and The Office (where she was a writer and co-star), also I really like that she's a funny, smart, woman of color, who's a little quirky and complex.
The book is funny, there were a few moments where I laughed out loud. There were also some "meh" moments. Like Tina Fey, I think Mindy has the ability to be relatable and seem approachable given her "celebrity status". You won't walk away feeling like you intimately know her, this isn't a tell-all, but it does give you some insights into how she came to be funny and successful.
And as the child of immigrant parents, I could totally relate to her upbringing and the ways in which it has impacted her thoughts about certain things. I would definitely recommend it if you are already a fan of her comedy and need something light for a trip.(less)
Read as research for work. Clear and concise step by step instructions. I skimmed over the case studies and the first couple of chapters to get to the...moreRead as research for work. Clear and concise step by step instructions. I skimmed over the case studies and the first couple of chapters to get to the parts relevant to my case.(less)
I really wanted to like this book more than I did. It's a topic that near and dear to my heart- farming, and he's a somewhat local farmer to me. I fir...moreI really wanted to like this book more than I did. It's a topic that near and dear to my heart- farming, and he's a somewhat local farmer to me. I first heard about this book and about Masumoto several years ago, I think from a friend or maybe on website and the story of a farmer wanting to save his peaches intrigued me. When we lived in San Francisco, I would see some of his peaches for sale at our local Whole Foods and then one day I went into the used bookstore with some store credit and found this paperback. It seemed like fate at the time.
I don't want to give the impression that the book is bad, it had some nice moments. It reads like a journal, he's documenting his day to day feelings about being a farmer trying to keep an older variety of peaches in the market. And all of the ups and downs, reflections, and observations that come with it.
From that perspective, I gained a whole new respect for how difficult it must be to have your livelihood so dependent on the whim of nature. I also have a great deal of respect for him as a farmer for wanting to keep fruit that is flavorful. As a self-proclaimed fruit snob, my biggest problem with fruit sold in super markets is that they have no flavor. He does a good job of pointing out that fruit with flavor doesn't keep for long so there needs to be a direct and immediate market for them once they are picked or else he goes broke.
I had a couple of issues with the book. I wasn't too crazy about how he described the farm workers. He talked about whole families working (including children) in this sort of romanticized way, isn't it great they work together as a family? Well, my parents worked the fields, including picking peaches, as children and they don't give the same romantic impression of it. They did it because they had to, their family depended on it, it wasn't considered "family time", it was work. Specifically, child labor... So yeah, not buying that. And there were a few other points, but essentially, every time he mentioned the farm workers, he managed to upset me in some way.
The other thing is that the book sort of dragged on and felt a little too loose. It was journal style but wasn't labeled with dates, just seasons. I imagine he and the editor(s) combined some of his writing to make more complete entries but it ended up feeling too disjointed for me. There was something missing that I can't quite put my finger on. I'm sure other people enjoyed this book a great deal and perhaps my experience was tainted by the farmer worker comments I noted above. I would consider reading another one of his books though.(less)
I'm finally getting around to this review! I finished the book a week ago, started a review, felt like I needed to sit with it a little longer, then l...moreI'm finally getting around to this review! I finished the book a week ago, started a review, felt like I needed to sit with it a little longer, then lost the original draft...
There is a lot I have to say about this book, I so want to talk to someone else who has read it and hear their thoughts. Its one of those books that sits with you long after its over. I find myself re-thinking a lot of what I thought when I read it. I wouldn't be surprised if I read it again a few years from now, just see if I see it differently. Because of all these thoughts floating around in my head, even after a week, this review will be relatively short and won't come close to communicating my thoughts because I can't seem to talk about it without giving all kinds of spoilers.
I will say this. There is a lot of anger and violence in this book. I don't read books with violent scenes for the sake of being violent, it needs to have a purpose. And as difficult as it was for me to read some of the more violent scenes, I felt like they served a purpose and were not at all gratuitous. I wouldn't have continued reading if that wasn't the case.
I almost get the sense that Alexie wrote this novel under a trance, in an effort to help me understand it better, I read a couple of interviews he gave shortly after it was published. He says its the only book of his that he's read again. I read somewhere else that he has distanced himself from it because of the violence. I could see how he could look at it and wonder, maybe even feel embarrassed, about the level of anger that came from him in this book.
But at the same time, I think he was channeling something that was bigger than him. I think he was channeling 500 years of oppression, colonization, poverty, death, violence, and hatred. He gave a voice to that deep resentment that has been brewing on both sides and highlights how all of these things are being manifested in today's polite society via the different characters. I don't he was trying, nor did he, portray every White person as callous and evil. And I don't think he was trying to speak for every Native person's experience. What he did was highlight how complex colonization and oppression are and how violence breeds violence.
In the end, that's what I took away from it. Violence creates more violence and there will never be an "even" score.(less)
Prior to receiving this as a Christmas gift last year, I really hadn't heard of this book. My only recollection of it was hearing that a movie was bei...morePrior to receiving this as a Christmas gift last year, I really hadn't heard of this book. My only recollection of it was hearing that a movie was being made. Now that I've read it and looked up other reviews, I'm finding that it is apparently a cult classic and popular among hipsters (???). All of which confirms to me that I am totally out of the loop and not hip. Also, I'm not really into YA literature, not even when I was considered a YA so maybe that has something to do with it too.
One of the reasons that I was never into YA literature is that the few that I did read when I was a YA seemed so old fashioned to me, they took place in the seventies or early eighties and it felt like the characters were living in a different world. Also, coming from a Mexican working class background, I just couldn't relate to some of the White middle class cultural issues. That said, one of the things I did enjoy about this book is that it takes place in the early 1990's and I could be like, "I was there!" Although I am a little younger than the characters in the book, I at least had recollections of living during that time. Things like the importance of mixed tapes, oh my god, I loved making and receiving mixed tapes! And renting VHS videos on the weekend that you had to rewind. And when Nirvana came out. It was nice to read a book that felt like I could be placed in the time period and not feel out of place, you know?
The book is about "Charlie", a socially awkward teenaged boy (who possibly has Asperger's Syndrome or some other psychological disorder) and the letters he writes to an anonymous person during his freshman year of high school. The book is filled with so much teen angst, it sometimes felt uncomfortable to read. The characters as told through Charlie are somewhat stereotypical and follow the cool kids vs. outcasts tropes that we are so familiar with in popular storytelling. Charlie becomes friends with some outcast seniors who taken him under their wing and help him to "participate" instead of just observe.
For the most part, I felt drawn into the story and the characters, I mean, I did finish it in one day... Although I felt like every female character that was introduced was severely broken in some way, mostly sexually. Which, a part of me, as strange as it is to write-- feels it was positive because there needs to be discussion about how common sexual abuse is and that it is most often perpetrated by people familiar with their victims. The idea of stranger danger just doesn't hold up statistically but its easier to write about an anonymous evil person than it is about a person that may have also been a loving and caring figure in their victim's lives. I can't say the author handled these complexities incredibly well, but he did introduce them which is better than nothing, I guess.
And as other reviewers have mentioned, after a while it became a bit of pile on with the trauma. One thing after another and it was kind of depressing. But perhaps that was the point? Here are these young people living out the "best years of their life" (by the way, I have never bought into that idea of high school... just, no) but no one sees what this "wallflower" can see, which is that they are all hurting. So I guess that's the "perk"? He knows that it really isn't the best years of their lives? Although I have to admit, that if I was a sixteen year old reading this book for the first time, I would probably like it as much as some of these hip kids do and would be quoting lines from the book on my Instragram photos or whatever it is kids today do to express themselves.
I'm not sure if I would recommend this book to someone. I have mixed feelings, it may depend on the person. But perhaps that's just the me that has become a mother talking, wanting to shelter and protect. Sixteen year old me would probably be giving a copy to everyone I know.(less)
So I started off excited about the book, which waned a couple of chapters in, and then I just sort of put off finishing it. Towards the end I had like...moreSo I started off excited about the book, which waned a couple of chapters in, and then I just sort of put off finishing it. Towards the end I had like fifteen pages left and I couldn't bring myself to pick it up, I just didn't want to deal with it, you know? But I finally finished it a couple of nights ago, and then I delayed writing a review... My apologies if this isn't up to par.
I'll start off with what I like. I liked that Ms. Valenti looks at motherhood and parenting from a distant perspective, not sure what else to call it. She doesn't rely on pulling on the reader's heart strings to make her point, and that kind of is her point, that the way we look at having children doesn't just come naturally but is rather created by cultural and societal norms. Specifically, those geared towards monitoring women. She present a variety of articles and studies to support this and I think presents it in an easy to read, thought out manner. It was thought provoking and it challenged me to think about my own experience as a mother.
That said, there was a part of me that felt disappointed. First, if you read Ms. Valenti's column in The Nation, much of what is written here, I feel like she's written before. The same if you follow her on Twitter (which I do), it seems like I've seen the articles and studies she presents floating around in social media already. And so it left me wondering, why the book? I suppose it was a way to consolidate her writings and musings on the topic and make a profit. But really, nothing new here. Second, I couldn't help but feel there was a bit of a defensive tone to the book, it was very subtle. Like she wanted to wave an intellectual middle finger at "natural" moms. And I'll just go ahead and say it: this book was written for a certain audience: White affluent women. Its very clear from the beginning that she isn't going to address the parenting done by poor and working class mothers and I don't remember there being any mention of race/ethnicity outside of the fetishization of more "primitive" cultures.
And that's where I struggled the most. I didn't feel like this book "spoke" to me or the experiences of moms I know. While I am usually in agreement with her on other political issues, there isn't much I agree with when it comes to parenting. The political aspect of parenting, yes. We need paid time off for parents, flexible work schedules, childcare, health care, etc. all of those things I can stand behind. What I struggle with is more emotional. While by most accounts I could be labeled a "natural" mother, I think a more accurate term for my philosophy is "empathetic". I look at things from my child's perspective and make decisions from a place of loving him. Sometimes, this is inconvenient for me (and there are always plenty of people around to tell me so) but the way I see it, I have had all of my adult life to do what is convenient for me and will again someday- so a little inconvenience for a little while, isn't going to hurt me.
I don't have the answers. I can barely write this review! I do appreciate that she wanted to at least start a conversation. Unfortunately, in her attempt to rile up the masses, she resorted to what I consider to be two dimensional thinking that I don't think will get us to the destination. But at least its a start.(less)
I was really excited about reading this book. First of all, I got it from the library as an "honor loan" meaning there is no due date, which I thought...moreI was really excited about reading this book. First of all, I got it from the library as an "honor loan" meaning there is no due date, which I thought was really cool. And second, I'm really fascinated by social movements and how groups of humans go about doing things. I've been wanting to read Outliers by the same author at the recommendation of many people, but I found this book first and hoped it wouldn't turn me off to the other.
My first impressions of the book were good, I liked the language and flow, he presented the information in an easy to read way, I always appreciate that. But I also felt like it was too long. I think he could have written this book in about half the pages and still presented the information in an accessible way. Kudos to Mr. Gladwell for taking complex research findings and social dynamics and writing them in a way that a person without a background in social research fields can understand and relate to.
Along the middle of the book, he started to annoy me. He lost me when he talked about graffiti art. I completely understand the concept of the "little things manner". In my own life, whether or not I make my bed can determine what kind of day I'm going to have. But I felt like his example was heavy on the law enforcement side of cleaning up a community and left out the community building aspect of it. The work neighbors and concerned citizens do to keep their shared space safe seems just as important as legal ramifications, if not more. The other part he lost me at was the comparison of suicide to smoking in teens, which he later admits wasn't the best comparison in the the Afterword.
My overall problem with the book is the same problem I have with a lot of books about socio-cultural issues, it was written from the perspective of a White middle/upper class educated male who didn't try to demonstrate another perspective, or at the very least acknowledge the limitations of his perspective. What he wrote and talked about is assumed to be true for all people everywhere in the U.S. and as a former social psychology graduate student (I completed half the course work before transferring to an MSW program), I know that is not true.
Other than those short comings, I found the information to be interesting and intriguing. I wasn't reading it with the intention of learning how to create my own "tipping point", it was more of a casual read so perhaps there are things I could have paid more attention to. As it is, I can't help now but wonder what role I play in a tipping point. And social media/networking has completely changed the landscape of how we communicate with one another, it would have been interesting to get his perspective on that.
In the Afterword, he discusses email and compares its rise and fall to that the fax machine and telephone. Basically, everything that is new and innovative and popular will eventually reach a point of saturation, or as he calls it, immunity. I think this is a key take away. I wonder what future communication will look like once we've become immune to social network sites? I can kind of see it happening already, the way advertising has taken hold of social networking sites. I'm curious to see what the next wave will be... I suspect it will be much more subliminal so as to hold off immunity as long as possible. But then what? Will we reach an era of post-advertisements? Hmm, that's something to think about... (less)
I bought this book on a whim with some bookstore credit just before we moved. When it first came out, the cover totally spoke to me and I knew that on...moreI bought this book on a whim with some bookstore credit just before we moved. When it first came out, the cover totally spoke to me and I knew that one day I would read it.
The book is hilarious. I was laughing out loud every few pages. Sometimes I was alone, sometimes I was in public. It didn't matter, because I couldn't help from laughing. This is a great memoir, she covers most of her life without dwelling too much on any one aspect. Just enough to give us a sense of what a geek she is while still holding certain things close to her. This isn't a memoir of the tell-all variety.
While my life story is different from hers, I could definitely relate and wished we were friends. Actually, she totally reminded me of some of my real life friends... I love that she doesn't play the cool kid (which given her success, she could totally pull off) but instead offers up some hope for those of us who are a little awkward. I also really love the way she calls out sexist practices in show business and feels responsible for helping to change it. She doesn't want to just be an exception, she wants to make it easier for other women too. And while she was subtle about it, she also demonstrates her "I'm not taking this sh*t" attitude that probably got her where she is.
I can't really think of anything I didn't like about the book. I would totally recommend it to anyone looking for a light, humorous read, with bits of feminism sprinkled in for fun. My only regret is that I didn't think to get the audio version. Maybe that was for the best, I would probably be rolling around on the floor laughing for hours and then who would take care of my son?(less)
I'll admit it. I kind of cheated with this book. Before I read it, I read some of the reviews that have been posted on Goodreads (something I try to a...moreI'll admit it. I kind of cheated with this book. Before I read it, I read some of the reviews that have been posted on Goodreads (something I try to avoid to keep my opinion from being influenced) and I was really prepared to not like the book based on what I had read. However, that is not the case.
First of all, I think Ms. Hamiliton is a great writer. Unlike many who write a memoir, she actually has the training to back it up! Her writing style is very casual and approachable. I felt like I was listening to her share her story over a long meal and I liked that. I also really appreciated that she was honest and forthcoming about her faults, mistakes, and contradictions.
When writing a memoir, I think its easy for people to become engrossed in presenting themselves in the most favorable light. They are in a position where it could be easy to get the reader to sympathize with them and root for them through all of the trials and tribulations that lead them to where they are. But that is not the case here and its kind of refreshing. She is not a perfect person, she has her struggles and shortcoming and she isn't ashamed of them.
The first half of the book is about her childhood, adolescence and young adulthood. Its clear that she was sort of lost following her parents divorce and everything that happened from there leads up to her finding a place in the kitchen. Its a trajectory that she find herself on, perhaps reluctantly (as the title suggests), but that she accepts and excels in nonetheless. She totally made me chuckle with her description of her fellow MFA classmates and that sing-song cadence that writers take when reading out loud... so. played. out. Hilarious. I also really appreciate her simple- work with what you got-back to basics- approach to cooking.
In the second part of the book, she is a restaurant owner/chef. And takes an entirely different tone. She is no longer a lost child haphazardly following where life takes her. She is an adult, making decisions, mistakes, and struggling with both. Definitely where her likability drops. In the beginning, I was totally rooting for her to succeed. When she is actually successful, I found her to be much less pleasant. She's pretentious and snobby. Her descriptions of the neighbors that share her restaurant's building was downright obnoxious to me. And later when she talks about all the places she *won't* eat at in Brooklyn, even though she's hungry and about to lose it, made me want to shake some sense into her. Where is the humble woman we met in the beginning? Not to mention her relationship with her husband, which seems to be the most controversial aspect of the book given that she identifies as a lesbian early on and that they marry for his green card but still manage to stay married for over ten years and have two children.
Even though I found myself not really liking Ms. Hamilton as a person during the later half of the book, I did have a lot of respect for her. I believe she presented herself as she is and is unapologetic about it. This is her life, her story to tell and she's going to do it however she sees fit. She's successful, hardworking, and proud of what she has accomplished- as she should be. I do, however, think that while she is a great "storyteller" she does not have a lot of "insight". At least not any that shares with the readers. A great deal of the book is dedicated to her time as a wife and mother and her struggles and comprises as such, but she doesn't really go into her emotional rationale. For example, why does she stay married to a man it appears she can stand to be around? And perhaps this is intentional on her part. Perhaps this aspect of her life she wants to keep private and is something between the two of them. Whatever arrangements or compromises they've made for the sake of their family is not for us to know. But its hard as a reader to be presented with these kinds of facts and not be given any deeper insight.
The book kind of ends abruptly and doesn't really let you know what happens to their marriage. So, I did the one thing I *always* do after I read a book- I googled the author. And I found that shortly after the book was published, it was revealed that she had been having an affair with her sister's husband and was separating from her husband. It seems that all the reports about the affair could be traced back to one article in the NY Post, so I'm not sure if its true or reliable. But it could explain why perhaps she spoke of her marriage with such disdain. I also found out that a movie based on the book, starring Gwyneth Paltrow, is set to be made in the next year or so. Its definitely a fascinating story, not at all a clean-cut success story. Its interesting and well told, even with its shortcomings. I would probably give it 3.5 stars but will give it 4 because I would recommend it to others.(less)
Much like short stories, I don't often read a book of just poetry so this was a little different for me and will be difficult for me to review. Its a...moreMuch like short stories, I don't often read a book of just poetry so this was a little different for me and will be difficult for me to review. Its a very short read, I finished it in about an hour at the cafe the other night.
Before I begin with the review, I feel like I should mention that the author is my older cousin. He was already moved away and in college by the time I was coming of age so we didn't grow up playing together. He was always very kind to me, would bring me books and send me postcards from his travels. I credit him with teaching me that the world is bigger than the small town we grew up in. And for that I will always be grateful to him. So, I may be a bit biased in my review...
The poems read like a memoir, personal and revealing of his particular perspective as a Chicano boy/man. Its no secret that he disliked our hometown and paints a very bleak and grey picture of it. Having lived away for a while myself, I could very much relate to the feeling of hopelessness that seems to engulf this region and the desperate desire to get the hell out. He paints an interesting picture of Los Angeles, his adopted home. Modesto becomes restrictive in its attempt to create conformity while Los Angeles is sort of unruly in a way that makes it more welcoming for those who don't fit into what one is "supposed" to be.
I think may favorite poem was "The Center of the City" with its descriptions of the "zombies" that rule the streets of downtown Los Angeles. I also liked the more personal ones, of course, the ones that mention where we are from and our family. There's something about reading printed words about a place or people that you know intimately- even though his views are somewhat scathing- it makes me feel special. (less)
Where to begin? I really really liked this book. It was the kind of book that I could have finished in a couple of days but purposefully let it linger...moreWhere to begin? I really really liked this book. It was the kind of book that I could have finished in a couple of days but purposefully let it linger on my table a little longer just so I would have something to go back to, I didn't want the conversation to be over. And that's what it felt like, like I was having a conversation with someone who really got me.
In case it isn't already obvious, I'm an introvert. I have known I was an introvert since I first heard the word, I don't even remember when, maybe in junior high school? I seem to remember some aptitude test? Ah well, the memory is blurry but the sense of identity is not. Another concept Cain addresses is that of the "highly sensitive person". I found out about HSP a little less than ten years ago from a friend who is also HSP, the minute she began to describe the characteristics, I knew it was me and my life experiences made so much more sense. In fact, I would say my life has been improved knowing that I am both introverted and HSP.
The book itself is easy to read, she digests psychological research in a way that makes sense and enlightens, she puts the pieces together in a nice format covering everything from cultural expectations to hidden strengths to parenting/education advice for introverted children. Of course, the book is written from an American cultural experience, she does have one chapter dedicated to Asian cultures (which she describes as more introvert focused), which in my opinion may have been the weakest chapter only because she makes some pretty broad and stereotypical observations of the Asian cultural experience.
But my least favorite passage of all was a paragraph were she summarizes one researcher's notion that perhaps Disney animators were somehow tuned into blond hair/blue eyed people being more sensitive and that is why the heroines appear that way and the villains have dark features... Uh, I don't think so. I think that had more to do with a long history of racism and colonialism in this country that impacts our perspective of who is "good" and "right" and "beautiful"-- But that's another issue all together.
Aside from that horrible offense, the rest of the book is pure awesomeness from my perspective. I highly recommend it for anyone who is introverted and in need of some validation, as well as an extrovert looking to understand how others may experience the world. I also really appreciated that she included a section on raising/teaching introverted children. As a parent, it's helped me to look at my own son a little differently, think about how he experiences things and the best ways I can support his learning and socialization. (less)