What is really great about this book, besides that it's funny and weird, is just HOW it's funny and weird.
It's like, Leonard and Alan are part of some...moreWhat is really great about this book, besides that it's funny and weird, is just HOW it's funny and weird.
It's like, Leonard and Alan are part of something that has been prophesied, but it is not a challenge for them to achieve the important, historical feats they do. It would seem that across dimensions and planets, these two young boys are as smart as anyone comes, though to the type of reader this book is aimed toward, they're very relatable. The fact that Waka-Waka is an enormously boring place and that fleegix is disgusting motivates Leonard and Alan to do the very little that was necessary to help the people of Waka-Waka out to become the great culture they possible may have been in the past. Everyone who knows what they're talking about in this book is utterly absurd, and they all want to squeeze some money from the boys, and what they sell to the boys is always both as advertised and underwhelming. Leonard and Alan recognize that mind control is very boring, that all they can make anyone do is rub their stomachs and take off their hats, but as it would turn out, that is something of spectacular importance.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that what is so great about this book is how minor all the major things are.(less)
Veganomics uses all available studies about what motivates vegetarians and vegans in an attempt to figure out the most effective methods of convincing...moreVeganomics uses all available studies about what motivates vegetarians and vegans in an attempt to figure out the most effective methods of convincing more people to cut meat out of their diets. There are not very many studies that have been done, and the studies are often older and/or have specific problems with them, like having a sample group of only teenagers, not doing follow-up data collection, and failing to differentiate between vegan and vegetarian or even calling animals like fish or chickens vegetarian. The book is very honest about its limitations and is nevertheless extremely informative and useful for animals advocates.
Cooney is driven primarily with the desire to do the most good for the highest number of animals. Because chickens and fish account for 92% of the animals killed for food and 95% of the days of suffering for animals, he makes an extremely convincing argument that we should focus our efforts on getting people to reduce or eliminate chickens, their eggs, and fish from their diets. Although I agree with him that it is worthwhile to refocus our efforts to chickens and fish (in fact, I personally have been advocating for the ceasing of eating all sea animals due to their quickly-diminishing numbers for longer than I have been vegan), I have a suggestion to add to Cooney's list of recommendations for animal advocates: we should encourage people specifically to replace meat with vegetables, fruit, legumes, grains, etc, in order to discourage people just from switching to chicken or fish instead of red meat.
Cooney suggests targeting people who are more likely to reduce or eliminate meat from their diets: women, young people, Democrats. In this way, he argues, we can save the most animals. Again, I agree with him. But, personally, I also believe it is useful to find ways to reduce the knee-jerk dismissiveness and hostility that older males tend to have towards veg*ns. I do quite a bit of vegan pay-per-view outreach, and this book gave me some important info to use in talking to men. For instance, whereas women are more likely to cite health as a reason to eat vegetarian, men are more likely to cite health as a reason NOT to eat vegetarian. It is important to use male-specific health reasons when talking to men, like reducing the risk of prostate and colorectal cancers. I like to throw in erectile dysfunction, because that appeals to traditional masculinity, and veg eating is not viewed by men as "manly." Interestingly, though, there was also a quick mention in the book that, although female vegetarians outnumber male ones, numbers of vegans are more gender-equal. I'd love to see more study on the reasons why that is, though I have some theories.
If you hang out with groups of veg*ns like I do, you may have come across those who are against appealing to health as the reason to go veg. Cooney, however, like me, has come to the conclusion that both reasons should be used in conjunction with each other. People who avoid meat for whatever reason—not fully vegetarian people—account for most of the drop in demand for meat (there was a 10% drop between 2006 and 2012). Those who avoid meat but are not fully veg tend to be motivated by health reasons more than by the suffering of animals, though those with aspects of both eat less meat than those with only health reasons. Therefore, we should incorporate both into our messaging. Cooney makes an interesting point that when someone brings up the health risks of a certain food, if there is any change at all in regards to the listener's consumption of that food, the change tends to be a decrease, not an increase, of consumption.
All that said, it's important to specifically focus on the health risks of eating chickens and fish, because if talking about health leads to a switch from eating cows and pigs to eating chickens and fish, that will mean an increase in suffering for animals. In fact, Cooney points out in his chapter about veg meats that even if people switch from eating a burger made from a cow to a veggie burger that has egg in it, this will also mean an increase in number of animals suffering.
Rightly, Cooney encourages people to not oversell the health message. For me personally, I get upset when I hear fellow veg*ns repeat things that are not true and could ultimately harm our health, like that we can get B12 from unwashed vegetables or seaweed or that vegans don't need to worry about calcium because animal protein isn't causing acidity in our blood that strips away our bones. I believe that it is incredibly healthy to eat a whole-food plant-based diet and that the health effects are overwhelmingly positive, and I will not hesitate to promote that message, but I think failing to give people vital health information often leads to people beginning to eat meat again.
Cooney also points out a danger in the health message that I never thought of before: many people specifically reject things they believe to be healthy. He encourages veg advocates to give potential converts delicious food, not healthy food, and to not say that it's healthy if it is not. He writes, "If they want to be effective, vegetarian advocates should indeed refrain from telling new vegetarians to fill up on quinoa and sprouts." Even if you're a whole-food vegan and wouldn't touch the stuff ever, commercial veg meats are actually quite popular, have gotten really great in the past few years, and are a vital tool in getting people to switch their diets.
One interesting bit early in the book said that anti-authoritarian people are more likely to go veg. He doesn't elaborate on it, but in my opinion, and in my personal advocacy, I've found that it is helpful if, when you can identify a person as anti-authoritarian, that you not only point out the extreme cruel bullying we enact upon non-human animals, but also how factory farms are owned by giant corporations with their hands in the government and how they go to great lengths to hide their activities from the public, going so far as trying to enact "ag-gag" laws that label any person who takes photos or video inside a factory farm to be a terrorist.
And another interesting bit: there is a lot in this book about how people often will claim to be eating less meat but actually are not, and that this is particularly true of older people. I've definitely observed this to be the case. Also, again especially among older people, many will even say they are a vegetarian while still eating meat, usually that of fish or chickens. To me, this seems to indicate a desire on many people's parts to be perceived as doing what they know to be the right thing even though they are not. People's desire to lie about this seems indicative of knowledge and subtle understanding of what they should be doing, which is stopping eating animals.
I actually have a lot more to say, but this has really gone on long enough, though it's hard for me to stop writing! I have not yet read Change of Heart: What Psychology Can Teach Us About Spreading Social Change by this same author, but I've purchased it on my Kindle and I intend to read it soon. If you've gotten this far in the review, thank you for reading it and keep fighting for the animals!(less)
I loved this book for having such clear and strong evidence about the evils of animal factories. Some of it I had not been aware of, even though I'm v...moreI loved this book for having such clear and strong evidence about the evils of animal factories. Some of it I had not been aware of, even though I'm vegan as fuck. For instance, I had no clue that animal factories in the US produce 130 times as many pounds of shit as the human population, but that unlike for humans, all that shit does not have sewage systems or really any methods for treating it. I also did not know that influenza, especially the worst strains of it, come from pigs and birds or both.
There are many great quotes in here and I feel it can do a lot of good for convincing people to stop eating animals and their secretions.
The only thing I didn't really like about this book is that it doesn't reject speciesism, which I feel is essential, and it therefore doesn't have very much of a problem with non-factory farmed animals being raised for slaughter. On the other hand, it DOES have a problem with it, just not an enormous one. It also is pretty clear that it is more-or-less a pipe dream for one to say he is going to eat animals, but only "ethically-raised" animals, and the book is very clear that 99% of all animal flesh and secretions come from factory farms.
I didn't love some of the format of the book, but I think Jonathan Safran Foer just couldn't help himself because he's usually a novelist.
I hope JSF will go vegan! What the heck is he waiting for? Doesn't he realize how easy it is to be vegan? There are really no excuses after he's learned everything he did writing this book. Lots of great cookbooks out there if he needs some help.(less)
For the first two stories, I was afraid I wouldn't love this collection the way so many of the people whose opinions I respect do. But as it would tur...moreFor the first two stories, I was afraid I wouldn't love this collection the way so many of the people whose opinions I respect do. But as it would turn out, like most writers, Salinger got better with experience and, since the stories are ordered in chronological order of when they were written, Nine Stories ends more strongly than it begins. The last four stories are amazing and I highly recommend them.(less)
Aw, jeez, I guess I'm reading these now. I was about 35% through The World Without Us and that book was interesting and important, but also heavy (OMG...moreAw, jeez, I guess I'm reading these now. I was about 35% through The World Without Us and that book was interesting and important, but also heavy (OMG, the plastics) and it had a lot of words I had to look up like "passerine" (yeah, that's any kind of bird that can perch) and "boreal" (duh, that means a northern, frosty climate with birch and conifer trees) and I just decided to take a break and read this second Sookie Stackhouse book in the middle of it. Whatevs! I do what I want!
This book was less fun than the first, and it's kind of all over the place, plot-wise, but actually that seems pretty true to the chaotic and mixed nature of real life. Since it's just the second book, maybe the author was setting up all kinds of things to come, now that the first one got us hooked in. I dig that. My problem with it really was that there are all these characters we never met before who we’re supposed to care about, I guess. Lafayette dies right at the beginning. He was mentioned in the first book a bit, but this was never a character we knew. OK, that’s fine; sometimes you have to kill off minor characters in a book, and that’s understandable. But then later, all of a sudden Sookie had a friend named Tara in high school and she just pops in halfway through the book? And Sookie even knows about her old friend’s new boyfriend Eggs? I dunno, that all seemed rather forced to me. She never mentioned any friends before.
The maenad barely got an appearance. In fact, the ending was kinda deus ex maenad. All kinds of crazy stuff was going on in this book. It was a bit overwhelming yet oddly boring. However, writing this and thinking about it, I really realize that there were a lot of angles set up in this book. The Fellowship, all sorts of crazy magical creatures (some of whom are organized), Jason’s got something long-term going with some possibly-pregnant lady friend, Bill’s Bellefluer thing, Sookie’s thing with Eric, gee wiz. Where’s it gonna go? I suspect all over the daggam place! I’m in for it, even though Bill is such a wet blanket of a character. Sookie, you can do better! No, really. Maybe a different, better vampire? I mean, the dude like ordered her to go to his house and fetch his bible to look at something in the middle of the night after a bunch of sex while they’re sitting around in the buff. Sure, it was personally important to him, but, c’mon. It wasn’t life or death and dude’s old enough to be patient. (less)
This is definitely one of my most favorite food prep books, and I own a heck of a lot of 'em. Here's why: not only is it the only raw book I have wher...moreThis is definitely one of my most favorite food prep books, and I own a heck of a lot of 'em. Here's why: not only is it the only raw book I have where I make a lot from it, but it's actually one of the easiest to use of any cookbook at all. For each recipe, the author gives a list of substitutions you could make for almost any ingredient in it. Don't have a dehydrator? I sure don't! No worries, there are usually cooked options. And lots of the recipes just don't require dehydrating in the first place.
I don't follow a raw diet, but what I like about raw recipes is that it by necessity only has whole food ingredients. I'm sure it's true that cooking diminishes nutrient quality of a lot of foods, but I don't think that when you're eating mostly veggies that this is a dire emergency. So even if I bake my Mushroom-Nut Burger and eat it atop a slice of toasted whole-wheat bread, I still think I'm doing OK. I'm still eating a burger made out of celery, carrot, marinated mushrooms, shallot, garlic, walnuts, and lemon juice. Not too shabby, health-wise! And, to me, it's delicious. Here it is unadorned:
I've loved just everything I've made from this book and there's still so much more I want to try. Plus, the author is coming out with an all dessert one, which obviously I need to have because, look:
For someone like me who desperately wants to break her baking habit, but craves sweet things, recipes like the above Caramel-Fudge Brownies, and even more, the below Famous Five-Minute Blondies (more because they're easier and don't have any agave, which means less sugar) are just what the homeopathic doctor ordered (lol, jk, I don't have a homeopathic doctor).
I have something else important to say about this book. I've been cooking entirely vegan at home for a long time, and actually been one long enough to have done my fair share of hummus. But I don't love a lot of hummus recipes. Yes, finding a tahini you like is key. But also, the recipes for hummus in this book are just the best ones. OK, OK, I admit, I never made the nut-based one, but I love the raw zucchini hummus and all the variations and I pretty much make the (cooked, obviously) chickpea hummus twice a week. Especially the Kalamata olive variation. Hummus win.
Here's what all I've made from this book, all of which were just OMG good: --Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Smoothie --Apple Pie Smoothie --Rosemary-Garlic Bread --Nut and Seed Flatbread --Mediterranean Herbed Crackers --Classic Chickpea Hummus --Zucchini Hummus --Kalamata Olive Hummus --Sundried Tomato-Pesto Hummus --Tex-Mex Hummus --Mushroom-Nut Burgers --Simple Seasoned Mushrooms --Famous Five-Minute Blondies --Chocolate Almond Butter Cookies --Caramel-Fudge Brownies
And I've still got lots of pages dog-eared to try. But most of those I've made at least 5 times, some many more than that. (less)
I wasn't really looking for a way to make better vegan cheeses, as I'm very used to cooking without cheese and I find the smell of dairy cheese revolt...moreI wasn't really looking for a way to make better vegan cheeses, as I'm very used to cooking without cheese and I find the smell of dairy cheese revolting, despite the fact that in the past I loved it. Still, just because I don't really want any cheese, I like creamy things. I keep a giant bag of raw cashews on hand. I'm for anything plant-based that's tasty.
When this book started taking vegan blogs by storm, I had to have it. Even though I have agar on hand, I haven't yet made any of the meltable cheese, or any of the harder, air-dried cheeses. So far, I made cream cheese, Gruyere, and brie. Each were soft and spreadable and delicious. These recipes are not difficult, but they are a little different from what most people are used to. I mean, OK, I certainly never made rejuvalac before I got this book. It never occurred to me to soak grains in water until they sprout, then rinse and add more water and let it get cloudy, then use this friendly bacteria-filled cloudy water to culture cashews and give it sharpness. Novel! And brilliant, in my opinion.
Although those are the only ones I've made, I ate a lot more of them at an event I went to in San Francisco with the author. So, ummm, check this out:
That picture shows just a small portion of the cheeses she'd made for the event. She also served recipes using the cheeses, which were all so great that I just knew I had to try some of her full recipes toward the end of the book for stuff that uses the cheese. That's how I ended up making this outrageously amazing Fluffy No-Bake Cheesecake.
Shut UP! Did you ever see anything that looked so great? It tastes just as great as it looks.
So, why not 5 stars? I guess just because I'm usually too lazy to make the cheeses. Not that it's hard to do, just that you have to start it in advance and go through a bunch of various steps over time for it. I don't hate that, it's really OK, and it makes me feel super-accomplished. But as a person who just is not sitting around wanting cheese, I kind of have to go out of my way to find uses for the stuff. Nevertheless, if you want to impress people, cook from Artisan Vegan Cheese. (less)
The Vegan Revolution... With Zombies is, as you might imagine, great fun for vegans and for zombie genre-lovers. Although I do own a DVD copy of the o...moreThe Vegan Revolution... With Zombies is, as you might imagine, great fun for vegans and for zombie genre-lovers. Although I do own a DVD copy of the original (not the re-edited) zombie genre-inventing film Night of the Living Dead and I love it because it's really scary and a good story and great social commentary and I lived in Pittsburgh for a total of five years, I'm still not exactly a zombie genre-lover. In fact, I think the TV show The Walking Dead is so poorly written that it's unwatchable. No, I definitely think it's fair to put me in the other group of people for whom this book is great fun: vegans.
I mean, what a dream, right? Suppose eating animal meats and secretions zombified all the non-vegans, and those who remained could create a peaceable, sustainable future? It's true, I'd lose almost everyone I love, but imagine the world that would be created if everyone descended from people who lived according to their compassionate values? Amazing. I'm pretty jealous of this fictional future.
And the way that this book takes the likes of Michael Pollan (in the book, he's "Michael Poland") to task is practically pornographically pleasurable for people like me. Although the popularly-echoed "arguments" against veganism that vegans hear wax and wane in popularity, right now, the notion I hear the most regularly is that it's OK to eat locally-raised, free-range, organic meat/milk/eggs/whatever. The people who say this almost never actually DO only eat 100% locally-raised, free-range, organic animals, but they pay it lip service. Furthermore, no matter how you keep an animal for slaughter, we're talking about keeping creatures just for the purpose of taking their reproductive secretions and then slaughtering them for meat, all so that people can eat food that is terrible for us, and drives the leading causes of death. And it seems to me that Michael Pollan was the one who really popularized this erroneous, self-serving, and hypocritical path. So when the book's Michael Poland endorses the "Stress-Free" animal products, and it ends up turning carnists into zombies, well, that's cathartic to read. Thanks, David Agranoff.
Interestingly, the other big name Agranoff parodies is Peter Singer, who in the book is "Peter Sanger." Although Peter Singer's book Animal Liberation is on my Kindle to read, I never really looked into him or his ideas, nor was I aware that there was a disdain for him among many in the animal rights and vegan communities. After some Googling, I learned that Singer is a utilitarian, meaning he believes in reducing total harm to all creatures, and for that reason he embraces some things with which vegans do not relate. In particular, he defends killing human babies who are developmentally disabled, because in his view this will reduce total harm. What a shock for me to learn this! He is not someone who believes in the moral equality of all creatures, he believes in reducing harm to creatures who have "moral standing," which he does not grant to those with very low intelligence. OMGWTF. Obviously, I'll have to read more to understand what the effing eff this ish is about and how someone who promotes animal liberation could think this way, but once again I extend my thanks to the author, this time for tipping me off.
That said, ummm, OK, I'm really not the right person to read a zombie book, or any kind of genre purely-for-fun book. I'm too damn picky. I'm that person who's all, like, "Wait, didn't even ONE human try eating this Stree-Free meat before it went to market?" And, "So, this stuff was just rolled out in Portland and some other areas, had it gone national yet? How could EVERYONE have been zombified? There must have been some meat-eaters who hadn't had any Stress-Free label yet, right?" Also, why couldn't this one book have just been a little different and had it so that people didn't turn into a zombie just because a zombie bites you? There's no reason except for zombie tropes why one of them biting a vegan would zombify them. I just think it would have been better that way, but maybe that's crazy talk. And, yeah, the typos were kinda crappy.
It's also funny! The quiz at the end of each chapter consistently made me laugh. Somewhere toward the end, the quizzes stopped being consistent in format with the earlier quizzes, but I'm probably the only anal-retentive freak who noticed or cared. The skewering of the hipster obsessions with bacon, beards, 'bots, bicycles and, yes, zombies, was pretty right-on. Even though we vegans often get lumped in with all that (and we do agree about the bikes), really the defining characteristic of a hipster is their tendency to grab onto miscellaneous aspects of culture that have gained temporary currency which may, for a time, include veganism. But another key aspect of hipsterism is apathy, and vegans who delve into it for true reasons (not for short-lived social currency or a temporary excuse to have an eating disorder before they give it up because "they felt sick") are far too invested in caring about stuff to fit in with the people commonly called "hipsters."
My point is, terrific parody here that was incredibly fun and refreshing for me to read. Recommended for zombie fans, vegans, or people who really like the show Portlandia. (less)
I was tired of this book pretty much as soon as I started it. Man and boy walk along empty road suffering from food scarcity a...more3 and 1/2 stars, really.
I was tired of this book pretty much as soon as I started it. Man and boy walk along empty road suffering from food scarcity and cold, in fear of others they may meet along said road. I worried immediately that this might be one of those books that never explains what the heck happened to planet Earth, in which case, it would never feel satisfying to me. But, eventually, it explains enough to make me feel satiated. And it became much more interesting about 30% through, when it first introduces this idea that the man believes that the boy has some kind-of supernatural godliness. Well, that's cool. Kinda interesting. I read the rest with increased interest.
It appeals to me to read books about the consequences of the destruction humans bring to our planet. Suppose we polluted Earth so badly that the sunlight couldn't penetrate the chemical fog, and nothing could grow, so no animals could survive, humans among them. I can understand the disaffected stance of the man, knowing all but for certain that there was no way he or other humans could survive, but carrying on because he has a son in tow, and it's all but impossible to rid one's self of the desire to protect one's offspring. The world would really be just as The Road describes. It's really a book about the unlucky few who survive for a time after the world is destroyed, knowing full well that there will be no new generations to come, and their own survival relies upon obtaining the last of the spent food resources in the form of canned goods, or perhaps by killing and eating other survivors.
Personally, if I was left living on such a planet, I'd give myself over to others who were more hell-bent on survival to be eaten. Why? Well, because I'd taste amazing! And also because I know that once all humans are gone, even with immense destruction, the fact that Earth still has carbon and water and oxygen would mean that, eventually, single-celled organisms would evolve and wash out of the polluted water. The beings that would evolve from such a world would be incredibly different from the ones our time witnessed. These plants and creatures would only survive and reproduce if they could use the polluted world we left behind to their advantage. I have no doubt that, in another million or billion years, planet Earth would have all new occupants. How comforting, but, simultaneously, disturbing. I think I'll read the book The World Without Us next. Although I'm sure that book doesn't assume complete environmental disaster, and perhaps also doesn't go a billion years into the future, as I'm imagining.
From 30% into the book until the end, I liked this book quite a bit, but I did not find the end satisfying. It ended on something of a hopeful note which seemed altogether uncalled for by everything preceding. There's no hope on such a planet. The man even worries about a lack of vitamin D, since sunlight is missing. Humans would be as bound for extinction as all the other animals, even if we're smart enough to make it through for a few years after Earth's basic destruction.
One more thing: sometimes things didn't make sense. Just little things. Like, when the boy finds a train in some woods and tells his father about it, he says it's a diesel engine. There's no way this kid who grew up post-apocalypse would know this, even though I'm aware that little boys love trains. Also, I know that this was just a style choice by the author, and it was somewhat effective, and perhaps the confusion was even purposeful, but it was often beyond difficult to figure out who the heck was saying what. Even with basically only two characters. Also, at one point, they find someone's richly-stocked bomb shelter that's filled with canned goods, and the narration says that the man scrambled eggs. Hey, what? There's no such thing as chickens' eggs that can be preserved and stored and scrambled years later, sorry. Just little things like that. Not a huge deal, but it took me out of the story.(less)
Even though I rated this two stars ("it was OK"), not three ("liked it"), what can I say? I liked it. I mean, how could you not like this? Actually, s...moreEven though I rated this two stars ("it was OK"), not three ("liked it"), what can I say? I liked it. I mean, how could you not like this? Actually, sure, I can completely understand how many people just wouldn't -- those same people who don't like candy because it's "too sweet." Yeah, candy's sweet, that's why those of us with sweet tooths like it. It's not nutrient rich, it doesn't have multiple dimensions of flavor, it rots your teeth a bit (maybe brush 'em later with some Nabokov?), but mmmmmmmmmm... Skittles.
There were parts in this book where there would be something that was objectively poor writing. Like Sookie would suddenly explain to us in full detail all about the vampire AIDS, despite having large gaps in her knowledge that would likely have been covered in the same media outlets where she had to have learned all about sino-AIDS (this was pre-internet, pre-cell phone, at least in Lousiana). But, really, it's OK. I mean, the truth is, we the readers just wanted to know about this vampire-AIDS that Sookie has just warned Bill about, and no one really wanted to wait for her to unfold the information over time in an artfully-constructed way. We just wanted to know, and she told us. That's pretty fun to read sometimes.
Plus, it's a little funny, has some sex scenes, and it would take a slow reader a week to read, tops. I finished it within a day. In other words, I just binged on a bag of Skittles. And, uh oh, with 13 books in this series, I now have a Costco container of them on my Kindle.(less)
I'm glad I read this book because now I'm sure I'm no existentialist. Plus, it's pretty entertaining. The descriptions of different people really are...moreI'm glad I read this book because now I'm sure I'm no existentialist. Plus, it's pretty entertaining. The descriptions of different people really are very funny. The main character just doesn't really care about anything. I suppose I can understand how easy it is to start feeling like that when you live in a modern society where you go to meaningless work and only spend recreational time in nature instead of interacting with it daily, as would be ideal. I can understand why the jury sent him to the guillotine based on his tendency to be dispassionate and expressionless, even though I, myself, find capital punishment repugnant. The dude in this book never even thought about capital punishment until he was faced with it. I mean, it's cool, everything is meaningless to you, I hear you, but I care about a lot of things and believe that when you disconnect yourself from others and from the Earth, you become accustomed to participating in doing harm unto others and unto the Earth. This I just cannot abide.
Basically, The Stranger is a really good book about a not-really good way of living, philosophically. It's super-short and a little funny. I do value the absurd, and this book had a fair dosage of it.(less)
This is really a story about how if you fail to give young women agency in their own lives, choosing instead restrict them and limit their access to i...moreThis is really a story about how if you fail to give young women agency in their own lives, choosing instead restrict them and limit their access to information, they will make risky decisions, be susceptible to those who wish to take advantage of their naivete, and not know how to appropriately satisfy their own sexual cravings when they inevitably appear.
It's also a book about the danger of being an early developer. If only Jasira had blossomed when she was even one year older! And if only either one of her parents had ever shown her any unconditional affection so that she wouldn't have been so starved for it that she'd take it from any source.
Of course, I say "if only" as though the book didn't have a happy ending. It did! I think Jasira will be fine when she's older. And this is why the world needs more Melina and Gils. Heroes! We should all aim to be more Melina-like.(less)
I read this book, it took forever. It was really very good, and I enjoyed it, but sometimes I wished I was reading 7 or 8 other books instead of spend...moreI read this book, it took forever. It was really very good, and I enjoyed it, but sometimes I wished I was reading 7 or 8 other books instead of spending so much time on this one. Still! What's going to happen???? I'VE JUST GOT TO KNOW! So I guess I'll read a couple other books before I devote a quarter of a year to the next book in the series. Seriously, it took me a quarter of a year to read this book. I would read about 1% of it on my Kindle every day. That doesn't sound like much, but, seriously, shit's long. It took about an hour for me to read 1%.
Glad Jon got laid. Glad that little bitch king is dead. Hope Robb turns out to be alive with a wolf head! Feel so sorry for the younger Starks. Wait, what became of Rickon? He was with Bran, but then I must have missed something where he wasn't with him anymore. That wedding was crazy, did you guys see that coming? I was pretty shocked and impressed. My money's on Daenerys becoming queen, with her unsullied and all. Imagine if she joined up with that fire god that Stannis is into! That would be pretty cray.(less)
This is really a delight of a book. It's better than her book of short stories, and as good as her movie Me, You, and Everyone We Know.
It's almost har...moreThis is really a delight of a book. It's better than her book of short stories, and as good as her movie Me, You, and Everyone We Know.
It's almost hard to believe that everyone Miranda July met and interviewed after they'd placed "for sale" ads in the Pennysaver were such interesting people, but, really, I think that this book demonstrates a couple important lessons: 1. Everyone is interesting if you give him or her the chance to talk. 2. People who agree to an interview probably want to talk. 3. If you transcribe a conversation exactly, it's going to feel, well, really compellingly real.
I love to talk to strangers, and this idea of getting a sliver of time and biographical conversation from the lives of others is incredibly appealing to me. There is so much paranoia in this day and age. People think everything is dangerous, except the things that actually are dangerous, like eating meat and dairy and driving cars. Lots of folks would say that Ms. July shouldn't have entered strangers' homes at all, even accompanied by a photographer. But, with everyone she met, she only really felt creeped out by one, and their meeting is one of the most philosophically interesting sections of the book (she says that she has the desire to make him feel she understands him, but not to actually understand him). There was one other guy who had a mannequin made to look like a soap opera actress he liked, but other than that, the Pennysaver sellers were all just regular people who aren't computer-literate enough to use Craigslist. Even those creepier people were no threat to her. There is, perhaps, another important lesson to be gleamed here: 4. Even creepy people probably have no intention of hurting you.
But perhaps the greatest lesson of all in the book is this: 5. Some people are creepy. Most people are middling, with at least a modicum of something interesting to offer, but nothing too extraordinary. But very few people are as bright of a spot on this Earth as Miranda July. Her personality and art just bursts from her, even when she's got writer's block. She's weird and cool and decent, and she's got a sharp interest in things most others ignore, and it helps the rest of us to notice them too, and we can sort of view them through her eyes. It makes the world a better place.
If your heart is also an idiot, you'll relate with this book.
Davy Rothbart seems to get passed over by the ladies more often than most. Maybe it's bec...moreIf your heart is also an idiot, you'll relate with this book.
Davy Rothbart seems to get passed over by the ladies more often than most. Maybe it's because he's so earnest about falling in love with almost every girl he meets that the girls sense it is impermanent? Or just because nice guys finish last? Or because he seems to be on the road so often? I suspect it's a combination of these things, and also that, as he posits toward the end of the book, it's the chase he's really after. He loves falling in love constantly.
From one woman's point of view, the fact that a book like this exists speaks to a number of possibly-important lessons. One, that there are men out there whose hearts are as soft and squishy as our own hearts. Two, that there are at least a couple intelligent, weird, kind men over the age of 30 who would send pee to a stranger, travel immense distances more than once in his life to meet with someone he never met before who could just maybe be "the one," and who would befriend someone in prison who was wrongfully convicted of murder and help try to free him--and yet isn't married. And three, that men really are cheating scum. Even when they seem to be on a constant search for a good girlfriend and they find one, they'll cheat on them. Of course, I already knew this, both from experience and also from reading the excellent book Sex at Dawn, which, to be fair, teaches us that all humans are cheaters, regardless of gender.
In any case, this is an entertaining, quick read where some really crazy, unexpected stuff happens. Odd friendships are forged quickly, drunken shenanigans result in waking up naked on the streets of NYC, and a dead body is found. No joke! You should probably read it.(less)
This isn't a bad book, but it's not exactly a good one either. Two parts memoir and one part journalistic investigation of famous haunting sites, it w...moreThis isn't a bad book, but it's not exactly a good one either. Two parts memoir and one part journalistic investigation of famous haunting sites, it would have been better off had it just stuck with memoir. It's not that I'm not interested in a journalistic investigation of famously "haunted" places, it's just that I'm not sure this book was the right place for it. The memoir parts of the book are much stronger than the ghost-hunting parts.
That said, the book suffered from many instances of seeming unsure how to be. The lengthy subtitle, "A Story of Friendship, 80s Rock, a Lost Scrap of Paper, and What It Means to Be Haunted" is case in point. Sure, it's a story about friendship, and it's a story about what it means to be haunted. But it's not a story about 80s rock, and although there is a scrap of paper that gets lost and then found again, the book is no more about that than it's about working at T.J. Maxx, another thing that happens in the course of the story.
The 80s rock mention strikes me as pandering. The author and/or publisher is trying to appeal to fans of books like Rob Sheffield's Love Is a Mixtape, and with good reason. They're written by contemporaries with not-altogether dissimilar rock'n'roll experiences and both books are about young love tragically cut short. Yet, many people, myself included, would have been unlikely to pick up Sheffield's book without the draw of reading about underground music in the age of cassette tapes. And it would have been a mistake not to pick it up, because that book is a heartfelt story that has stuck with me for years. By including "80s Rock" in the title of this book, they're hoping people like me will read this one as well. I suppose it worked to an extent, but don't be fooled. Giving Up the Ghost is not nearly up to par with the likes of Love Is a Mix Tape. It's too disjointed and unsure what story it wants to tell.
I think Eric Nuzum just legitimately doesn't know what he wants to say about this topic of his friends who have died and the mental illness he suffered from as a teenager. For this reason, he focuses primarily on the "ghost" story of the book, his "Little Girl" visions. Annoyingly, he always capitalizes any pronouns referring to her from his own perspective: "I envisioned Her standing there behind me," "As long as She remained upstairs, I figured I could deal with it," and so forth. But as ghost stories go, this one is something of a dud. What was more interesting was how troubled of a youth he had in general. I think his visions of this ghost are an important and potentially interesting part of that story, but it is not the story itself. He could have made feeling haunted a vital theme of the story without making it the primary story. And that, I believe, would have made for a more affecting story. Ultimately, since he never can make any real sense of his "ghost" story, it falls flat. It's just a detail of a youth with many interesting details. But it's not really an effective way to discuss the losses he suffered, or the isolation he felt.(less)
I have a ton of vegan cookbooks, and this is definitely not my go-to one. I dig that the urbanity the author refers to in the title is none other than...moreI have a ton of vegan cookbooks, and this is definitely not my go-to one. I dig that the urbanity the author refers to in the title is none other than Philadelphia, PA, otherwise known as "my parts" (although I've relocated to Pittsburgh), and I really like that she's wearing a necklace that I ALSO OWN on the cover, rad. But the thing is, the recipes have mostly not been anything too special.
Did not like:
Spicy Indian Eggplant - Too spicy, really, meaning it contained too many spices, not that it burned my mouth or anything. I think to make Indian food well, you have to, like, slow cook all those spices or something so they mellow and don't cause you pain. Portobello Burritos - This was just some boring crap. Should have known to go to Viva Vegan! for any kind of Latin vegan food. Marsala Mushroom Crepes - The crepes were fine, the innards were only just ehh.
These recipes are fine, but nothing special or stand-out:
Eggplant Parma - This calls for just sprinkling nutritional yeast into it which is just wrong, BUT, it's actually an OK recipe if you don't know how to properly make eggplant parm. Chickpeas with Tomatoes and Spinach - Plain jane, but OK. Pecan Streusel Coffee Cake - This is a fine and dandy coffee cake, I wouldn't make it again, but I'd certainly eat it if someone else made it and offered me some. Clara's Pasta E Fagioli - I was really looking for something I could make out of my pantry without going to the store and this fit the bill, which is fine! But, I gotta say, a person could do better than this recipe.
Actually, I make these next two all the freaking time:
Fettucine Alfredo - This is what I make when I have nothing to eat and don't want to go shopping because I keep all the ingredients on hand (pasta, Earth Balance, some kind of non-dairy milk, nutritional yeast, salt, cornstarch). I always add some sun-dried tomatoes, which is one thing she suggsts. Super-Sonic Sunflower Squares - BAM! We got a winner! Oh yes, now this is a terrific recipe. It's great for when you want to bring a recipe to a party that is naturally gluten and soy free but still vegan and really, really great. Oh yes, how I love it, I do do love it.