Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture by Ariel Levy

I had high hopes for this book, really, I did. It took me two check outs before I finally had a chance to read it, and then I was disappointed. It was kind of like the unprofessionalism of Down the Up Escalator made it to feminist, non-fiction works. It felt like the book was full of Levy's own opinions, and less about facts and how the degrading and oversexualization of women has reduced culture. This book is only 10 or so years old, but so much has changed since it was written...it would be much better if they did a tenth anniversary revised edition to include Facebook (the book talked about Friendster and LJ...talk about a flashback!). I did get the point that women sexualizing each other like men do is not a good thing, but there is no talk of instead of lowering women to men's levels, of raising men to women's levels (if that makes sense). Like...why all the sexualization? Who really wins from that?

The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving: A Novel by Jonathan Evison

I felt like this book was like last year's (personal) sleeper hit The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this since I had never read anything by Evison before, but it was well done, although I think the ending could have been more complete, but that is just me. The story goes that Trevor, a 19 year old with muscular dystrophy, needs a caregiver and in comes Ben, a man with a sad past who is trying to make a go of the future. Trevor has his routines of going to see a movie every Thursday, eating waffles at every breakfast, and watching The Weather Channel every morning. Ben starts an exercise with Trev where they mark all of the unique road stops on a map, just for something new for him to do. Trev's semi-deadbeat dad (who seems like an okay guy) flies in from Salt Lake City to see him, but Trev wants nothing to do with him. Trev's mom goes out of town for a conference and it is at that point that the two men take a roadtrip and meet an unforgettable cast of characters, all while being followed by someone in a Skylark. The book flashes back to what happened to Ben and how that affected him, which was a nice touch.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Down the Up Escalator: How the 99% Live in the Great Recession by Barbara Garson

Maybe the tip-off should have been the "99%" in the title, but this was a very non-professionally written non-fiction book. When the author starts commenting on what people look like (Russian nesting dolls...really?!) it is definitely cause for concern and reduces the overall impact of the book. Especially when you write a book that is about the poor and include people who lost their jobs in their early 50s, but have enough money to last until they retire. Not part of the 99%, in my opinion, but okay.

Overall, I think the grand idea of this book was that there was a recession, these are the effects (mainly focusing on wage depression, foreclosed houses/loan modification, and stocks/capital), and people are suffering from something they did not causes since the US government can't seem to understand that the "debt crisis" isn't really a crisis at all and the fastest way to make that crisis go away is by dealing with the jobs crisis that politicians refuse to acknowledge.

The author did do their homework and provided many anecdotes on what people were doing to keep their houses or the methods they were using to support themselves, but I feel like the fact that the author is Wiccan and spent ten days in jail back who-knows-when because of protesting are not really relevant factors in the Great Recession. But what do I know, all I do is read Jared Bernstein and Paul Krugman...every day.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Little Bee by Chris Cleave

Little Bee is apparently not to be talked about, according to the back of the book:
We don't want to tell you WHAT HAPPENS in this book. It is a truly SPECIAL STORY and we don't want to spoil it. NEVERTHELESS, you need to know enough to buy it, so we will just say this...
A very strange disclaimer, if I do say so myself. But I will divulge that Little Bee is from Nigeria where she meets Sarah and her husband Andrew under very unusual circumstances that leads to Sarah to cut off her middle finger. Andrew eventually commits suicide over what occurred in Nigeria, but can Sarah and Little Bee ever come to terms with what each did?

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Life of Pi is about a sixteen year old boy named Pi. He grows up in India and his family owns a zoo during the 70s. They end up selling the zoo and most of the animals in it and take a boat to Canada. On the way there, the boat sinks (for unknown reasons) and Pi escapes into a lifeboat with a tiger, hyena, zebra with a broken leg, and a gorilla. The hyena ends up killing the zebra since it was already injured, then it goes after the gorilla. Eventually the tiger takes it out and Pi realizes that he needs to keep the tiger alive. He does this by catching it fish and turtles and other marine life. Are they ever found?

I thought this story was really boring the first 100 pages, slow-ish the next 100, and the last 100 were at a decent speed and for sure the most interesting. The end blew my mind and I don't know what to think about it.