I stopped reading this one. I just wasn't feeling it. Death, cold, meanness, characters I didn't really care about, and a pseudo-medieval world with a...moreI stopped reading this one. I just wasn't feeling it. Death, cold, meanness, characters I didn't really care about, and a pseudo-medieval world with a really implausible climate. It's possible I'll pick it up again, but for now, I lack the patience for this series, especially knowing that it just keeps going and going and going.(less)
I made it about halfway through this book when I started to compose my own blog post about gender nonconformity, and I kind of lost interest in what D...moreI made it about halfway through this book when I started to compose my own blog post about gender nonconformity, and I kind of lost interest in what Duron had to say.
While I like that Duron has written so frankly about her and her husband's difficulties raising a son who likes "girl" things, as a fellow mother of a boy who likes "girl" things, it's not clear to me what the big deal is. Or maybe I just feel that way because we're lucky to be part of a community in which my four-year-old can go out in a pink warm-up suit or his sister's old Daisy Girl Scout tunic or a purple satin cape and purple tutu (and coonskin cap) and no one says anything unless it's to tell him how cute he looks.
I know I'll write more about this on my blog once I get my thoughts together, but really, I've come to see gender on a continuum rather than as binary. Making a big deal about a boy who wants to wear pink (or a girl whose favorite color is brown...but wait! That's not gender nonconformity! I'm confused...) just shows kids that what our culture at this split second in time says they should be like is more important than what their heart says they should be like. That's not a message I want to send to my kids.
But then, our family homeschools, so maybe we're already far enough outside mainstream culture that how our kids dress doesn't really register as a top concern.
I'll probably go back and finish the book eventually, but for now, I'm setting it aside.(less)
I was sitting in my mother-in-law's basement last week and I saw The Purpose Driven Life on her bookshelf. I'd heard of it, but didn't really know muc...moreI was sitting in my mother-in-law's basement last week and I saw The Purpose Driven Life on her bookshelf. I'd heard of it, but didn't really know much about it, so I picked it up and leafed through. Upon casual perusal, some of the ideas seemed almost in line with buddhist teachings ("it's not about me," the idea of stripping away non-essential elements and material desires in order to reveal purpose and meaning, and the focus on service as a way of deriving meaning from life). I enjoy finding common ground between different religious traditions, so when we got back to New England, I checked the book out from the library.
Initially, I'd fully intended to go day by day as the book suggests, reading and reflecting on one chapter a day for 40 days. When I talked with my husband about the first chapters, he dismissed the book out of hand saying that, having been raised in a rigid-thinking evangelical Christian tradition, he'd had enough of that kind of God talk. I, having not been raised in that tradition, had no such negative associations and felt sure that I could read the book substituting my more amorphous idea of "God" each time I encountered the word.
As I read more, it occurred to me that this mental translation was a lot of work and rarely resulted in insights that made any sense in the context of the book. I skipped on ahead to get a sense for what I was in for and whether it would be worth my time to continue. It appears that this book is written for an already "born again" audience. Warren's anthropomorphic, micromanaging God persists throughout, as does the idea that every detail of our lives has been predetermined since before we were conceived. The "purpose" seems to be to serve God and to build a strong church community, which is all fine but which doesn't provide much in the way of concrete guidance or even spiritual insight.
I'm sure this book is helpful to many people, but it's just not my thing.(less)
I hate quitting a book, especially less than halfway through (and before it even got to the main story), but I just couldn't get into this one. Maybe...moreI hate quitting a book, especially less than halfway through (and before it even got to the main story), but I just couldn't get into this one. Maybe I'm just not in a nonfiction mood. Or maybe I was just hoping for a more engaging narrative, more in the style of Michael Shaara's The Killer Angels, which took primary sources and told the story of the Battle of Gettysburg in a very compelling way. Sure, he filled in the blanks with fiction, but he did so in such a way that I came away feeling like I had a better sense of the actual people involved than if I'd just sifted through the primary sources myself.
Whatever the reason, I'm giving up on this one.(less)
I enjoyed the beginning of this book (especially the story of Charity Crabtree and how she saved the fledgling US republic by throwing her bag of bees...moreI enjoyed the beginning of this book (especially the story of Charity Crabtree and how she saved the fledgling US republic by throwing her bag of bees at British soldiers). I've like to give this one my time because honeybees and other pollinators interest me, but I'm feeling burnt out on nonfiction, and I still have Queen Noor's memoir to read for book club in two weeks.
I'm also worried that the information is going to be out of date anyway since the book is four years old. I'm putting this one down and opting for fiction, which may sometimes feel dated but is never out-of-date. Maybe once I've had a fiction infusion, I'll pick this one up again.(less)
I gave this book to page 53 because a random person (random meaning I don't know him) on Goodreads said he gives books 50 pages to engage him. If they...moreI gave this book to page 53 because a random person (random meaning I don't know him) on Goodreads said he gives books 50 pages to engage him. If they haven't drawn him in after 50 pages, he moves on to another book. I'm fine with taking advice from random people when it suits me.
So, there's my caveat: I only read three chapters of this book. I read the reasoning for the year-long weekly friend-date challenge and recaps of the first seven friend-dates, and already I feel overwhelmed trying to keep track of names and impressions and why someone who already has lots of friends is seeking a "BFF" from a pool of people she doesn't know rather than from the people with whom she's already friends. I am not someone who is energized by casual interaction in a public setting, but even knowing this, I was surprised at just how worn out I got just reading about how often the author went out with people (on top of being around people all day at work). Actually doing it would be like Hell to me. Not the innermost circle, one of the more outer circles (maybe the fourth?), but in the neighborhood, for sure.
Add to that the fact that I don't think I have much in common with the author aside from the desire to be a writer and a recent relocation to an unfamiliar city (except that she went to college in her unfamiliar city whereas I didn't set foot in mine until we drove up in our rental car with the kids and the cats and my Vitamix in back). She's seeking to recreate a BFF experience from her childhood, a BFF experience she can access via phone calls and visits back to her home city, if she chooses to. I don't have that kind of measuring stick (as I mentioned in my review of Claire Dederer's Poser: My Life in Twenty-three Yoga Poses).
I do appreciate that she leaves open the possibility that she might not "need" a new best friend, that she's actually happy and fine just the way she is and only thinks she needs a best friend because she's comparing her present life to her past and to the lives of people on her favorite tv shows. While I would like to establish a stronger social circle in my newest home town, I'm mostly satisfied with my homebody existence. Despite Bertsche's arguments that it's impossible, I do actually consider my husband my best friend. The trouble we have is that we have so little time without the children that we rarely can have an uninterrupted conversation. When we do, we're great buddies and chief confidantes for one another. We mostly need friends here so we have a safety net in case we need help and so we can get referrals for good babysitters. Oh, and the neighbors wandering about with chainsaws after that freak October snow storm were surprisingly helpful.
Perhaps the book gets just awesome after Chapter 3, but I've got A Gesture Life to pick up from the library's hold shelf, and I'd much rather sink my teeth into some good fiction right now.
And frankly, even if the way to find a best friend is to go on one friend date a week for a year, it's just not worth it to me; I would go batty (battier) well before the 52nd date.(less)
I'm probably a horrible person who will never be able to fully embrace simple living because I can't get through Walden. I know Thoreau has some gems...moreI'm probably a horrible person who will never be able to fully embrace simple living because I can't get through Walden. I know Thoreau has some gems in there, but they're just hidden in the middle of so many words. I found it mind-numbingly boring.
I first started reading it to get a sense for New England when I discovered that we were moving here. I did the same thing with Wallace Stegner's The Gathering of Zion when we moved to Utah and Helen Hunt Jackson's Ramona when we lived in California, both times with great results. With Walden, however, I didn't have such a great experience.
After a few months trying to trudge through, I decided to keep reading it because everyone says that you have to read Walden if you're going to embrace the principles of voluntary simplicity. I disagree. I think something like Duane Elgin's Voluntary Simplicity might be a better choice for someone hoping to get inspired towards simple living in the 21st century.
In the end, I decided to simplify my life by removing this book from my currently-reading list so it could no longer taunt me there. If you're reading this review and have recommendations for books that will give an overall sense of the culture and history of New England (the stuff in the nearly 400 years since the Mayflower), please leave a comment.(less)
Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for this one. I hesitated rating it since I stopped reading it, but since I read about 3/4 of it, I figured it was OK....moreMaybe I just wasn't in the mood for this one. I hesitated rating it since I stopped reading it, but since I read about 3/4 of it, I figured it was OK. Or at least justifiable.
Bryson's writing is, as usual, whimsical. Every few pages I laughed out loud. But it seemed to lack unity. Without that, I found I just lost interest. I think I was hoping for something more Geography of Bliss or even more A Walk in the Woods, both of which seemed to have more of a unifying idea or lesson behind them. This one just kind of jumped around. I found myself wondering how his family put up with him being gone for so long with so little in the way of a plan.
In the end, this book just didn't do it for me.
But then, I've been very impatient with books lately, so it might not even be the book itself.(less)
Some passages are beautiful. Rich language describing vivid scenes. I just don't think I'm in the mood for such dense prose right now. I think I may t...moreSome passages are beautiful. Rich language describing vivid scenes. I just don't think I'm in the mood for such dense prose right now. I think I may try Look Homeward, Angel in a few months.(less)
The idea is that diagnostic criteria for mental illnesses are neither static nor universal. They change with time and by culture. By applying the DSM...moreThe idea is that diagnostic criteria for mental illnesses are neither static nor universal. They change with time and by culture. By applying the DSM globally, the United States is influencing how mental health is viewed and treated in other cultures, as well as interfering with the ways these cultures have developed to deal with mental health issues. The premise was interesting enough, but I just couldn't stay interested. I'm glad I read what I did, though, because this issue is addressed in the novel I'm reading now (What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt).(less)
Another book I put down because I have no patience for nonfiction right now, even though I really was enjoying the insights into the three communities...moreAnother book I put down because I have no patience for nonfiction right now, even though I really was enjoying the insights into the three communities. I should probably have skipped around a little more than I did rather than trying to power through the book from start to finish. I will definitely check this one out from the library again when I have a longer attention span (or more free time).(less)