I enjoyed this book with a sort of morbid fascination. Take the Brooklyn setting and the Ivy League literati scene, switch them out for a (much) more...moreI enjoyed this book with a sort of morbid fascination. Take the Brooklyn setting and the Ivy League literati scene, switch them out for a (much) more downmarket local equivalent, and these are the men I encounter in the dating world every single day. Self-absorbed, terrified of commitment, claiming--and believing--to value certain qualities in women and relationships, but unable to sustain their self-delusion for very long.
Nate is convinced that his permanent sense of guilt and childhood status as a nerdish outlier are indications of a sensitive soul, but really he's the typical Nice Guy with an oversized sense of entitlement, willing to put long hours into working through abstract intellectual arguments but stubbornly refusing to examine his feelings closely enough to develop any real self-awareness.
He realizes deep down that he behaves a douchebag, but doesn't like the way that realization makes him feel, so he rationalizes his way out of it through complex mental gymnastics that always absolve his actions in the end. He treats women poorly--but he feels really bad about it, which must make him fundamentally okay, right? I'd bet anything he's a Sagittarius.
I'm appalled that some reviews suggest that the final relationship in the book is somehow indicative of growth on his part into someone who can sustain an emotionally real pairing, since to me it's clearly fueled by sexual attraction tinged with contempt. The perfect misogynistic mix.
To me, this book is a darkly cynical yet very realistic look at modern day social dynamics. It's not a pretty picture, but it's perversely satisfying to know, at least, that I'm not the only one struggling to navigate this world.(less)
This book turned out to be very different than the one I thought I was reading, in the beginning. I admit it's been a long time since I got so caught...moreThis book turned out to be very different than the one I thought I was reading, in the beginning. I admit it's been a long time since I got so caught up in a story that I shirked all my other duties, staying up late and rationalizing away deadlines just to find out what happens next. Sometimes I was upraised, sometimes I wasn't, but I was never bored.
There are layered observations about relationships, money, class, and the media tucked in along the way, enriching the story beyond the plot. A super fun read.(less)
I'm feeling inarticulate today, so I won't be able to do this book justice. It's a very well written account not only of the ordeal of Lia Lee and her...moreI'm feeling inarticulate today, so I won't be able to do this book justice. It's a very well written account not only of the ordeal of Lia Lee and her family as they struggled with her epilepsy and the completely unfamiliar American medical system, but also of the history and culture of the Hmong people. It's an eye-opening book even if you're fairly familiar with a range of cultures and the kinds of problems that can arise when they clash: the case of the Hmong is unusual among immigrant groups to the US for various reasons that the author does a good job of explaining.
One thing that struck me is how very well the author described and delineated the various people in the book. Even though there are numerous family members, doctors, and other recurring players in the story, many with complicated (to a native English speaker) names, it was very easy to keep them all straight. This is definitely a book I will remember for a very long time. (less)
It was okay, as a quick and dirty introduction. A lot of it wasn't relevant for my own purposes, but that's not the book's fault. The most annoying th...moreIt was okay, as a quick and dirty introduction. A lot of it wasn't relevant for my own purposes, but that's not the book's fault. The most annoying thing about the book was all the lame "jokes" the authors inserted everywhere. I don't know why they felt the need to make this book "entertaining," but if you're going to go that route, you should actually be funny. They're not, and sometimes the jokes are faintly offensive. (less)
A worldview-changing books, one that sparked my interest in researching food policy and culture. It's extremely well researched and written, so manage...moreA worldview-changing books, one that sparked my interest in researching food policy and culture. It's extremely well researched and written, so manages to be engaging despite some heavy detail (and some very gruesome sections). It's still my favorite book about food and culture in the United States, especially because it doesn't have a strong agenda: Schlosser fully acknowledges the intricate social and economic complexities of the fast food industry, and lets the facts speak for themselves. He points out that there have in fact been benefits from the rise of the franchise, for example opportunities for economic advancement for people in inner-city neighborhoods who might otherwise have had none.
Blanket condemnation is easy, but lazy. Schlosser doesn't take the lazy way out in presenting this nuanced portrait of our food system. Not much has changed in the ten years since I first read it, except for a far greater general awareness of some of the issues caused by a fast food system. This book played a major role in creating that awareness.(less)