The essay portion is awesome and more like David Sedaris' other books. The beginning of the book (the short story section) was funny and entertaining,The essay portion is awesome and more like David Sedaris' other books. The beginning of the book (the short story section) was funny and entertaining, but not as good as his essays. ...more
Temple Grandin is an inspiration to me for so many reasons, one of which is her ability to put many of life’s most seemingly ordinary concepts into neTemple Grandin is an inspiration to me for so many reasons, one of which is her ability to put many of life’s most seemingly ordinary concepts into new and thought-provoking perspectives. As humans, we tend to take for granted so much of our “knowledge” and make assumptions about the complex workings of our world that aren’t necessarily based on anything but our own bias, blindness, and ego.
Grandin, on the other hand, has this wonderfully natural proclivity for asking questions that are simultaneously provocative, but also beautifully and brilliantly simple. She reigns us in and reminds us to pay attention to the many details we overlook in our lives and in our relationships with the creatures and creations that surround us.
More than anything else, I admire Temple Grandin for the respect she demonstrates for the life (and death) of the animal companions that have accompanied us on our journey through evolution for so many thousands of years. She has a beautiful way of honoring and valuing their existence that not many people do, and in so many ways I hope to emulate her universal and practical compassion. ...more
My Review: In every dream I’ve ever conjured for myself; in every vision of my future life, I’ve been surrounded by animals, soul-deep in my relationsMy Review: In every dream I’ve ever conjured for myself; in every vision of my future life, I’ve been surrounded by animals, soul-deep in my relationship with Nature. Come to think of it, I’ve never lived a single day in my entire existence without the beautiful company of some kind of furry, scaled, or feathered creature- no wonder I can’t envision a world without animals.
I love reading Susan Chernak McElroy’s books simply because her experiences with animals and the natural world seem exquisitely similar to my own. There is a familiarity in her writing that speaks to the deepest levels of my inner self and, with that, a sense of encouragement and inspiration to pursue a life that is congruent with my soul’s calling. I have often felt childish and, at times, ridiculed for my love of Nature- especially as our society has distanced itself further than ever from the natural world. Through her stories, however, McElroy always leave me feeling as though I am part of a larger community; refueled and 100% justified in my love of Nature....more
Having read Mystic River, Shutter Island, and The Given Day, this book was somewhat disappointing. Not terrible, not great— it doesn’t hold a candle tHaving read Mystic River, Shutter Island, and The Given Day, this book was somewhat disappointing. Not terrible, not great— it doesn’t hold a candle to the others.
Two hardened private investigators unintentionally become central figures in a bloody gang war arising in Dorchester, Massachusetts and guns inevitably start a-blazin’. Woven in throughout the book are social criticisms in relation to race and class, which is undoubtedly an important and relevant conversation to have. A timely read, given the events in Ferguson over the course of recent months. Although written in earlier days without these specific events in mind, these issues are, and have always been, a central (and dark) driving force in the creation and maintenance of our society and community functioning.
My criticism, therefore, is not about the social commentary itself, but by the apparent lack of finesse in incorporating it into the story. Most, if not all of Lehane’s books include significant pieces related to social deconstruction, but in his other books, he’s able to write in a way that is subtle, intricate, and true; it hits home in a way that feels genuine and inclusive of the complexity of the issues at hand.
Similar themes in A Drink Before The War feel clunky and obvious; the writing is too simple and too obviously intentional, which detracts from the authenticity of the story.
Again, it’s not the worst book I’ve ever read, but if you’re going to read Lehane, I’d say his other books are a much better use of valuable reading time. ...more
The sex industry is such fascinating discussion material. Prostitution and other flavors of sex work are some of the oldest professions in the historyThe sex industry is such fascinating discussion material. Prostitution and other flavors of sex work are some of the oldest professions in the history of humans. Courtesans were very well respected and honored company not only for their appearance, but also for their intellectual prowess!
Of course things have changed a bit since the good old days of socially accepted prostitution and intellectual escort; our current situation leaves much to be desired in terms of regulation, safety, and worker protection. Unfortunately, it’s turned out that the stigma and ignorance that haunts those in the body-for-cash world is, I think, as damaging (if not more so) than anything about their actual work.
Open and creative minds are what we need. Open and creative minds lead to healthy morals, foster ingenuity in developing safety standards and professional rights, and prompt discovery of new solutions to prevent the unpleasant, abusive, destructive practices that are, unfortunately, a byproduct of a healthier sex work world.
This book adopted a much lighter, less philosophical tone than the contents of my review. It was utterly hysterical at times and quite nauseating at others. But I think it highlights something important: not everyone who takes off their clothes for a living does it for the same reason. Yes, some fit the stereotype (no elaboration needed), but so many others don’t. Every woman or man has a different reason for doing what they do.
Moral of the story: Not all sex workers hate their jobs/lives/family/body. In fact, some greatly ENJOY taking off their clothes and entertaining the masses. *Gasp!* Scandalous? No! It’s human! If you ask me, our bodies are mysterious and wonderful and it’s an absolute shame that we’re so ashamed of them.
P.S. I’m reading Brothel next, so stay tuned for more commentary on the wonderful, controversial world of sex work! ...more
So many times I’ve tried to start this series! I’ve picked up the first book in the Dark Tower series 7, 8, 9 times now and have been repeatedly defeaSo many times I’ve tried to start this series! I’ve picked up the first book in the Dark Tower series 7, 8, 9 times now and have been repeatedly defeated. There’s a right time for every book, though, and I suppose today belongs to The Gunslinger because I finally, miraculously, made it through.
Long story short, I think I like this story.
I won’t lie, the book is a train wreck in the beginning. The first 200 pages are tangential and nonsensical and tedious (hence my ongoing struggle to make it to the back cover). Once the pieces start coming together, though, the story does get more interesting. It’s just a little hard to grasp the whole “fantasy/sci-fi meets Old West meets historical fiction” thing without a little awkward processing time.
It also doesn’t help that King constantly throws you back and forth between different worlds, the present and history, life and death without providing any substantial explanatory information. Getting oriented in that kind of chaos is not an easy task!
By the last 50 pages or so, I felt like I had a better grasp on the situation and the whole endeavor felt a little less like being unexpectedly pitched off the edge of a cliff.
I can’t say that I’m infatuated with the story at this point, but I’m willing to give the next one a go. I mean it’s Stephen King for heaven’s sake! There’s got to be genius wrapped up in here somewhere....more
The author portrayed some incredibly powerful anecdotes and poignant insights. Her writing style is beautiful and poetic- almost hypnotic. However, IThe author portrayed some incredibly powerful anecdotes and poignant insights. Her writing style is beautiful and poetic- almost hypnotic. However, I felt that the author's indulgence in describing her sense of personal spirituality contaminated some of the most moving and beautiful realities of human-equine interaction....more
There are so many incredible quotes in this book, I can’t even begin to list them all. You’ll have to read it for yourself to get all the good ones! BThere are so many incredible quotes in this book, I can’t even begin to list them all. You’ll have to read it for yourself to get all the good ones! Both as a human being and as a therapist who specializes in women’s issues and sexuality, I believe that this book is a must-read for us all. Every one of us is a sexual being, after all!
The concept of sexual exploration is profoundly feminist and it requires a careful deconstruciton of the messages and limitations dictated to us by a patriarchal society (sex is shameful, monogamy is the only way to love, partners represent your other half, etc.). True, polyamory isn’t for everyone— but that’s precisely the point. As with everything in life, there is no one answer or lifestyle that fits all. In order to discover our own truth, we have to let go of the false “truths” forced upon us and unlearn behaviors that have been engrained in our society for centuries. This is, of course, difficult beyond belief.
In the end, these authors argue that regardless of your chosen lifestyle, there are ethical and healthy ways to be in relationship with others. Consent, personal awareness and exploration, communication, honesty; these are all crucial skills that take time to learn and implement in our lives whether your choice is monogamy or any other expression of love and sexuality.
I have quite a mess of mixed feelings about this book. Which, for a less-than-24-hour-read filled with darling Winnie the Pooh illustrations, is actuaI have quite a mess of mixed feelings about this book. Which, for a less-than-24-hour-read filled with darling Winnie the Pooh illustrations, is actually pretty neat.
Deconstructing philosophical principles using children’s cartoons seemed like a fabulous idea at first. But then I found myself wanting much less Tao and much more Pooh. I had to marathon some Winnie the Pooh YouTube videos after I finished reading just to level out my brainwaves. Totally not Tao of me, I know.
This book really isn’t about Winnie the Pooh (bummer). The author simply uses the characters to illustrate various Taoist concepts. A lot of the content was incredibly interesting and refreshing; as a naturally anxious and highly sensitive person, a serene “let go and let it happen” kind of mentality is something I’ve always worked to embody.
That said, there were some anti-intellectual bits of the text that rubbed me the wrong way. Should we all strive to chillax and just accept that many things in our lives are generally out of our control and will end up being whatever they will be? Sure. Should we identify and honor our own strengths, limitations, and wisdoms as individual human beings? Yes sir.
But should we actively condemn and ridicule scholars, intellectuals, and all those who seek growth and meaning in the pursuit of knowledge? ABSOLUTELY NOT!
Hoff makes the argument that seeking out information just for the sake of knowing is a damaging and life-limiting practice. And sure, maybe sometimes, for some people, it is. There is definitely a difference, as Hoff points out, between knowledge and wisdom. And I love that he uses compassion as the primary differentiating factor between the two.
But for those of us who find deep meaning and fulfillment in the pursuit of knowledge, being labeled as a boring, useless, misguided “Dessicated Scholar” feels a bit extreme and pretty unfair. Seeking knowledge and experiencing the world in a compassionate way are not mutually exclusive categories.
I understand and largely agree with the fundamental point that Hoff (and Taoism in general) is trying to make, and I mindfully and consistently incorporate many of those principles into my own life. I just happen to like my Winnie the Pooh without the side of Sarah Palin. Denunciation of intellectuals is not cool, Hoff. Not cool.
Now back to the YouTube snippets! As Pooh would say, “Time for my stoutness exercise!”...more
The last several weeks I’ve spent picking up various books that have been forgotten on my bookshelf for some time now, only to put them down one afterThe last several weeks I’ve spent picking up various books that have been forgotten on my bookshelf for some time now, only to put them down one after another having read only a few pages and becoming distracted. My life has felt so out of control lately that it’s been hard for me to even concentrate on my beloved stories. Until I picked up Fools Crow, that is, and I couldn’t put it down.
I’m a believer in the notion that we usually get what we need when we need it; and that it stays until we’ve learned all that we’re intended to learn (pleasant or otherwise). It’s no secret that I have been learning some unpleasant lessons lately, so I am thankful for this dark but heartening book with a message that I’ve so needed to hear.
As a side note, it’s no wonder to me that the books that have the most relevant message for me at any particular time in my life are the books that captivate my attention where others fail. There are no bad books; timing is the key.
Anyhow, the story of Fools Crow reminds me that our lives are, by nature, incredibly messy and uncertain. We are all prone to lose track of ourselves and our purpose every now and then; even to question the meaning of life itself when we are presented with obstacles that seem insurmountable and unreal in their cruelty.
But there is meaning. There is hope. And part of the beauty of it all is the relationship of lightness and dark; suffering and joy; pain and growth; life and death. Our choice is to adapt to the bad and wait for the good, or give in and let the world overwhelm us. ...more