Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker's Guide, #1)The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a quick re-read for me, and it's funny that I didn't remember any of it except "thank you for all the fish." It was one of my dad's favorites. All told, worth the reread. It now strikes me like a long Monty Python skit with a lot of commentary about religion, human self-importance, environmentalism, and bureaucracy. It also contains a plotline that became a pretty interesting episode of Dr. Who circa 2013 or so (the one where Dr. Who breaks into a bank).

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Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and LeadDaring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I didn't love it. I wanted to love it. I've been reading a lot of scientific research on mindfulness, self-compassion, self-improvement, and happiness lately, and this just stand up to a lot of the other material that I've been reading. (If you're curious just look at my non-fiction list-- or favorites list for the highlights.) I think that if this were the first or only such book I read I would have appreciated it more.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

After Dark by Haruki Murakami

After DarkAfter Dark by Haruki Murakami
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was trying to prepare for our trip to Japan... haha... maybe this isn't going to cover it.

The novel is written from a cinematic perspective, but it might be worth noting that the Japanese language itself sort of takes a big view first and then zooms in the way the scenes begin. For example, to say where I'm from I might say I'm from United States, New York, and then say my town. I think that makes more sense then the way we do it in English or Spanish.

It reminds me a lot of the movies Before Sunrise/ Before Sunset in that it's mostly conversation between two characters and it takes place in one night. Even the name sort of reminds me of those movies- After Dark. But "dark" might refer to the sordid background tale of the night, or the feelings the characters are dragging around. The examination of depression in Japan (where historically they did not have a concept of depression) is particularly interesting.

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Monday, April 25, 2016

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

The Golem and the Jinni (The Golem and the Jinni, #1)The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Interesting. Good characters from the perspective of being interesting and varied, though there were a lot of people to keep track of. This made it a little challenging to get deeply invested in any of them. To the extent that I did get invested in some, I was disappointed by the outcomes for them- as though I got attached to all the characters I wasn't supposed to get attached to and none of the ones I was supposed to. I also couldn't get into any of the love stories- though possibly this is because there were none. This is turning out to be the kind of review that makes no sense unless you read the book because I'm trying not to spoil anything.

Some of my favorite things about the book included trying to imagine New York in the late 1800s and particularly the ethnic neighborhoods. I also enjoyed the book's underlying exploration of free will and the curious ways the characters could or could not exercise their free will. To a lesser degree, I also enjoyed how different characters resolved the question of whether or not God or the-God-of-their-faith exists, though especially for Yehudah Schaalman, these rationalizations fell short of what a real person might grapple with and consider. Wow, run-on sentence. Sorry, I'm keeping it.

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Saturday, April 23, 2016

What Got You Here Won't Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith

What Got You Here Won't Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More SuccessfulWhat Got You Here Won't Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful by Marshall Goldsmith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I went into this book very dubious because I haven't had a lot of great experiences with "business" books, though I keep trying. My efforts were finally rewarded -- this book is terrific. I might like it so much though because it's highly applicable outside a business context. It might also have been named, "How to Play Well With Others" or "How to Improve Your Marriage."

The book has a lot of concrete solutions for how to find out what your major problematic flaws are (if you're not already aware of them) and how to implement a solution or cure to that problem by getting the very people you're annoying to help you solve that problem.

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Gulp by Mary Roach

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary CanalGulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this right after First Bite because I was in the mood to learn more about eating and feeding. This book is more about digestion and it's full of random facts and ideas rather than being a focused on giving you a complete view of the digestive system. It was entertaining I guess, but I didn't find particular educational, and it was definitely gross.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

First Bite: How We Learn to Eat by Bee Wilson

First Bite: How We Learn to EatFirst Bite: How We Learn to Eat by Bee Wilson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is great. It should be part of the human body owners manual. This book wold be especially useful to parents and educators.

A lot of the information at the beginning was repetitive for me, but it got into really interesting information about food-tasting experiments, how culture affects our eating historically (in the US and Japan), how family affects our tastes, and how genetics affects our tastes and eating habits. There's a particular emphasis on getting picky eaters to be less picky- especially children- but also as adults. That said, I'm not a picky eater and my kids aren't very picky either and I still thought this book was fascinating and very useful.

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Monday, April 18, 2016

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and PrejudicePride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, I love it. I can't help it. Even better than Sense and Sensibility. Tortured love!! Yes, please.

I love the characters especially the main heroine Lizzie. I love the relationships that develop. Also I love Lizzie's father's speech about respecting your partner in marriage.

What this novel does so much better than the other Jane Austen novels is make you feel Lizzie's feelings completely, her shame as much as her longing. I want to read this book a million times.

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Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike

The Witches of Eastwick (Eastwick, #1)The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved the movie and I watched it several times, but I didn't realize it was based on a novel by John Updike for many years. And then it took me a few more years to think that it was probably different than the movie. It is remarkably similar in some places in the beginning- and Jack Nickelson did an amazing job capturing Daryl VanHorn. Susan Sarandon also did an amazing job being Jane, but the Alexandra (Cher) and Suki (Michelle Pfiffer) character are fairly different.

The prose is very embellished, wordy, and poetic. The story itself has a totally different point and thrust. The novel is amoral in a way the movie is not, and it's far more gruesome. In the novel, the wrong-doing of the witches, or people in general, is equated to acts of nature. It's different- but also it's not different. Aren't we over the conversation about whether people are just amoral animals? There's even research that some animals such as primates have some moral understanding of their own. We're not going to shrug off our responsibilities so easily.

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Cold Feet by Amy FitzHenry

Cold FeetCold Feet by Amy FitzHenry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It was a well-written and really touching story about family, and about what family means when you don't have a lot of biological relatives. I'm very much in that position myself, and it's true that close friends are your family, but it 's rarely on an equal basis because they have their own families. I found the ending particularly touching and insightful regarding good relationships, friendships, and marriage.

A lot of the others commented that the character is too cold at the beginning but I really don't think she is. She's supposed to be a little removed from all the emotions she's feeling at the beginning. That's part of the point of what the character is going through.

Also, I really liked the little legal explanations. They were brief and very accurate, and I like the idea of the character seeing things in terms of her own profession and interests.

Kind of have a crush on the Dusty character now. Haha.

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Monday, April 11, 2016

The Real Purpose of Parenting by Philip B. Dembo

The Real Purpose of Parenting: The Book You Wish Your Parents ReadThe Real Purpose of Parenting: The Book You Wish Your Parents Read by Philip B. Dembo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It was a good book, and parents should follow the advice given to raise independent children that do not resent their parents. No small task. I gave the book only three stars because I think there's a lot of interesting research out there now and this didn't really include any new scientific findings.

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Sunday, April 10, 2016

A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin

A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5)A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I give up. I almost never give up on books and it was unimaginable that I would give up on a book in a series I was enjoying, but I feel like the editors must have done their jobs well on the first four books and then were handcuffed on this one. It was fun while it lasted.

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Saturday, April 9, 2016

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Ender's Game (The Ender Quintet, #1)Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love this book. This is one of those books that when you finally read you're mad that you waited so long to read it. I'm even trying to get my husband to read it- even though he's usually not a fan of "genre" books. But this book is about so much more than science fiction. It's about war but also about platonic love, sibling love, and rivalries. It's about the failure of moral responsibility.

It's also a frighteningly accurate prediction of current day technologies and the resulting moral quandaries -- such as drones.

Looking forward to reading many more Orson Scott Card novels.

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Friday, April 8, 2016

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Sense and SensibilitySense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sisters Elinor and Marianne debate their views on love and then experience them in real life. It's not the deepest book I've read, but it has some truthful observations about people who believe themselves to be superior (hint: you're not) and true love springing from respect. Elinor's love story is charming.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Search Inside Yourself by Chade-Meng Tan

Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (And World Peace)Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness by Chade-Meng Tan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was a little better than my rating suggests, but I've recently read a lot of books on the topics addressed in this book- happiness, mindfulness, meditation, and motivation, and this is the least impressive book on these topics. (Also assome other reviewers have commented, repeatedly bringing up google and name-dropping is distracting and annoying.)

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Monday, April 4, 2016

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is HardSwitch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Each chapter covers a different concept to employ while attempting to bring about change. Some of the concepts are not very distinct though so there aren't many things you can directly use. It's a nice follow-up to Happiness Hypothesis.

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