Monday, July 30, 2012

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do and How to Change It by Charles Duhigg

I love love loved this book! It was like Imagine on crack (and much more applicable to real life). I feel like I learned so much and it could be applied to any area of life. It begins with the basis of habit and what happens in your brain when you are learning something new vs after you have been doing the same thing for a while and know what to expect (a "reward"). My mind was quite frankly blown learning that brain activity levels spike before a reward is earned when an activity is done out of habit. Duhigg used the examples of monkeys and juice, and rats/mice and cheese. It also explains why I, at least, have a tendancy to "space out" when doing extremely repetitious things (like my job) is a habit. Then Duhigg moved into specific people/situations where habit occurs and why addictions (habits!) are hard to break. I definitely recommend...!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Everyone Loves a Good Train Wreck: Why We Can't Look Away by Eric Wilson

This book I had ridiculously high hopes for. I thought it would be a morbid version of Imagine, but alas, it was not. It was essentially a random smattering of stories of morbid things people like/enjoy, such as horror movies. Pretty boring and non-cohesive, do not recommend. The only, only, only upside of this book is on a personal note. For years, my family has owned a freaky children's book with bizarre stories, words cannot describe its weirdness. But as soon as Wilson started talking about Struwwelpeter, I had a feeling it was this book we own. So I Wikied it (see to get a feel for the strange) and lo and behold, there it was. The way I knew, you ask? The boy with the crazy fingers. You don't forget an image like that.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

This is a very...different...sort of story. I had heard really good things about it, but not necessarily what it was about. Midway through it, I was reminded of the book Maine I had read last fall, a book that was basically without plot, but very character-driven. I think The Book Thief falls under the same category. Even now, I cannot think what the plot really was of this book. The story centered around Liesel during World War II Germany, when she is becoming a teenager and Nazism is sweeping the country. It basically is 550 pages chronicling life over 4 years on Himmel street in Molching, with life including hiding a Jew, stealing books (thus the title), and avoiding first kisses. The first couple chapters really confused me and nearly turned me off to this book since it is told from the point of view of Death (not someone who typically narrates a story), but I stuck with it and finished it, and don't really feel like I have anything to show for it. I'm open to hearing other opinions...maybe there was something I missed?

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Boyfriend List (15 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, and Me, Ruby Oliver) (Ruby Oliver #1) by E. Lockhart

This book is the first in a quartet of Ruby Oliver books (all published, since this book is from 2005 or so). Ruby Oliver (goes by Roo) is your stereotypical high school student, where every interaction with a boy must be discussed with your closest friends (and recounted to your shrink) and made a much bigger deal out of than it deserves. And sometimes, your friends woo your beau, which makes him dump you and go out with her, leading no one to talk to you and leaving you as a "leper." I was quite honestly disappointed with this book, considering how much I enjoyed The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, which characterized a strong female who wouldn't take no for an answer. I yearned for Roo to be like Frankie, but alas, she was not.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Full Frontal Feminism by Jessica Valenti

This book is a really great intro to feminism, although slightly outdated since it is from 2006, but also makes it interesting to see what is going on now (namely, the War Against Women) compared to where women were 6 years ago. Let's just seems like things have gotten worse, much worse, particularly regarding women's choices, like abortion and the "personhood" movement (which, amazingly, is not a new idea since Valenti discusses it here). I do have a couple of issues with this book. I understand that Valenti is from Queens and blah blah blah, but does she really have to say "I shit you not" a million and a half times, along with all her cursing? She also does not fully research particular subjects, or just assumes what she knows to be true or thinks things are odd and assumes the reader will agree (this reader does not). For example, this reader had a grave issue with Valenti's misunderstanding about purity rings and purity balls and pledging purity. She does not think that this is important to some people, especially religious folks who believe the Bible when it says that you should not have extramarital sex, and that includes premarital sex. It is part of a religious belief system and she should not want feminism to change that. It is also up to each person to decide what they believe regarding that. Another issue I had is that she sees labiaplasties is frivolous when in fact, some women desperately need them because their labia are so long it hurts for them to walk or sit in certain positions. All things said, I was already a follower of and will continue to read it. She didn't need to advertise it so much, but oh well.