Monday, March 27, 2017

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Thinking, Fast and SlowThinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While there are many great concepts in this book, for me it suffered from the following:

1) A lot of this research- even Kahneman's personal - research has been widely cited in more recent books which I read first.
2) Some of it is an explanation of basics statistics such as regression to the mean. While most of the population might not be familiar with basic stats, if you are this part might be a bit belabored. (And for people that aren't familiar with basic stats, this book might be basically unreadable because I'm not convinced that the author did a good job of explaining it.)
3) It was too long. It covered too many "biases" and there were too many many examples of the each kind of bias. I almost gave up on the book because I was going insane from the length and repetition.

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Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being A WallflowerThe Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is more of a split score. I think I would have given it 4 stars if I'd read it when I was in highschool, and it's more of 3, maybe 3.5 for me now. The main character is a freshman in high school dealing with a lot of pain while trying not to be super awkward.

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Friday, March 24, 2017

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I reread this as part of my "Bannon-Trump-resist" reading list. I only read it before it in middle school and I'm not sure what I got from it at the time except maybe that tyranny, and tyranny of ideas, is dangerous.

It has a peculiar effect on me this time around. I've been reading fast and furiously for about a year, trying to make up for lost time (all the time I spent not reading very much while I was working a lot). The more I read, the more I become aware of all the books that are necessary to read; the books I have yet to read. And in this frame of mind, the single scariest sentence in the book is: "Remember the firemen are rarely necessary. The public stopped reading of its own accord. You firemen provide a circus now and then at which buildings are set off and crowds gather for the pretty blaze, but it's a small sideshow indeed, and hardly necessary to keep things in line."

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Thursday, March 23, 2017

March: Book Two by John Lewis

March: Book Two (March, #2)March: Book Two by John Lewis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Better than March 1. It's an extremely powerful account of the Freedom Rides and goes all the way to the March on Washington. It works well as a stand-alone book. It should definitely be required reading in American History classes.

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My Escape from Slavery by Frederick Douglass

My Escape from SlaveryMy Escape from Slavery by Frederick Douglass
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a follow-up to Douglass's autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and fills in the missing information about how he escaped from slavery.

Frederick Douglass is one of the best writers of all time. His subject matter is captivating, but his skill as a writer is both technically perfect and extremely moving.

Some favorite sentences:
"This contest was now ended; my chains were broken, and the victory brought me unspeakable joy."
"I was without home, without acquaintance, without money, without credit, without work, and without any definite knowledge as to what course to take, or where to look for succor."

And this! I love this: "While in this situation I had little time for mental improvement. Hard work, night and day, over a furnace hot enough to keep the metal running like water, was more favorable to action than thought; yet here I often nailed a newspaper to the post near my bellows, and read while I was performing the up and down motion of the heavy beam by which the bellows was inflated and discharged."

Available free here: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~drbr/doug...

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Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Lincoln in the BardoLincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, I have a lot of thoughts and I'm going to let them settle for a long time. I cried a few times here. Saunders captured personal grief as well as it can be captured.

I didn't find it as difficult to follow as some reviewers said but it did take a while to get the hang of the structure.

At the same time, this novel was deeply weird. This is what you might expect to happen if Tim Burton and Claudia Rankine did a production of Our Town.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Beasts of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs

The Beasts of Tarzan (Tarzan, #3)The Beasts of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

There are so many things wrong with this third book in the series. The racism everyone knows about. Though I continue to think that it's also generalized misanthropy because while the author's language is racist, the human characters are mostly all the same regardless of race. The animals are the noblest and most moral characters. Unfortunately, the animals might also be the most interesting character as all the other characters appear to be extremely one-dimensional. Also, the story dragged on so much. It could have ended several chapters before it did, but instead, the author created additional one-dimensional bad guys to oppose.

So what did I like? I liked the crazy troupe of animals. This is probably the book in the series that most inspired the cartoon Disney version of Tarzan (along with book #1). I liked that Jane gets the opportunity to be kind of bad ass in this one. I liked that there were additional good guys in this story, and I enjoyed their contributions. As for the action has everything- fighting, animals, ships, explosions.

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