Showing posts with label Recommendations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Recommendations. Show all posts

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Review: The Fireman

The Fireman The Fireman by Joe Hill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hill's new novel is a fun joyride into a post-apocalyptic world in which a new fungus has spread across the world. Once infect, the person develops a golden rash, known as dragon scale, which eventually leads them to burst into flames. Unsure about what to do with them, the government begins to quarantine and eventually kill them as they cause increasing hazards, setting entire areas of the country on fire. Enter Harper, a smart, caring, and pregnant nurse who gets the dragon-scale and is unsure what to do. Her husband believes he knows what best, let them both take a bullet to the head, but she wants to live for the child inside her. Along the way to her decisions, she meets the Fireman, a man that seems to get along with his infection and a whole camp of people who also manage to survive despite being infected. Overall, it's a fun novel and while I don't mean this in a diminutive or derivative way, this novel makes clear that Joe Hill is the offspring of Stephen King. Abusive and dominant partner, New England setting (with a fixation on Maine), unforeseen (but foreseeable) betrayal, batshit-crazy preacher, eclectic folks throughout, and several other King hallmarks make their appearance in this book. But Hill does well with it and takes up King's mantle in a way that shows he has the same skills as his father. Additionally, I listened to the audiobook which was narrated by Kate Mulgrew, who was largely enjoyable with the plot and characters, but occasionally bungled local pronunciations.

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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Review: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Alexander delivers a brutal and systematic accounting of the ways in which US culture has continued to disenfranchise, alienate, and marginalize African Americans in the 20th and 21st century. Though she starts with the exploration of slave and post-slave society, she traces a variety of policies, practices, and laws within criminal justice on the local, state, and federal level coupled with explorations of public policy, economic policy, business and employment practices, sociological findings, and many other disciplinary research to paint a vivid tapestry of the legal language of colorblindness in many perpetuates drastic proportional inequalities between whites and African Americans in particular but other minorities as well. It's an eye-opening and excruciating look that can be hard to fully accept, especially for those that have never considered such things. She provides some ideas about how to fix it but just being able to name it so fully is the needed start. For anyone trying to understand the modern cultural landscape, racial politics, and what it means to try to succeed as an African-American in the US, this book is a must-read.

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Friday, February 3, 2017

My Current Bookshelf - January 2017

Given that January was a month in which I was not in class, it will surprise few that I read a decent amount this month and many of them were phenomenal reads; a great way to start the year!  There were a lot of great books to discuss but I will restrict my posting to just a handful and I'll be curious if anyone can see a theme.   Feel free to ask me about any of them if you're looking for recommendations.

White Like Me by Tim Wise

Wise's memoir of his own awakening to systematic racism in the United States is a powerful and useful tale for white people to read and reflect on their own experience.  From his early upbringing in the south to his education in New Orleans and early days of activism against the David Duke campaigns in the 1990s, Wise explores the ways in which he has succeeded and failed in being an ally to non-white people.  But what Wise does best throughout the book is to mark with clarity the ways in which the privilege afforded him by being white created opportunities or nullifed threats that would have existed for him, were he not white.  Additionally, he is great at unpackaging the ways in which investment in whiteness doesn't harm just non-whites but does damage to white people as well.  For anyone looking to better understand how one can strive to address and engage with the racial strife in this country, Wise's book is a great start.  

March Volumes 1-3 by John Robert Lewis

These three graphic novels capture John Lewis's first-hand account as an activist in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. From his upbringing in Troy, Alabama to his entrance into college and earliest political experiences, the story provides his bird's eye view and experience in striving for a nonviolent revolution in the face of overwhelming white supremacy, oppression, and violence. His experience in the 1960s is paralleled with the inauguration in 2009 of President Barak Obama, providing a beacon to the harsh and vitriolic culture to which both Lewis and Obama (and for that matter all African Americans) were (and continue to be) subjected to. Through the three volumes, Lewis touches upon the leadership of the Civil Rights Movements, the different factions, and the challenges of trying to find the best courses of action to take. The book is both a history and a primer on attempting to change a racist culture that is worth reading for those interested in autobiographies, history, African-American studies, and organizational and cultural change. It would be fascinating to see a volume 4 that parallel's Lewis's experiences with the cultural backlash of the 1970s & 1980s that goes hand-in-hand with the inauguration of Trump.

Book covers for March by John Robert Lewis Volumes 1-3


Focus by Arthur Miller

Book cover to Arthur Miller's Focus.
I came across this novel in a used bookstore and thought the premise sounded fascinating, especially since I've been a fan of Miller's dramatic works.  The story follows Lawrence Newman after he awakes in the middle of the night to hearing a screaming woman being assaulted.  But since the woman is a minority, he largely seems to pay it no mind.  The bachelor enjoys a home in a white Christian neighborhood and works in New York City and is largely successful until his eyesight gets the best of him and he's forced to get glasses.  His glasses, as he feared, make him appear more Jewish in the race-obsessed world of the World War II 1940s.  What follows is Lawrence's demise as those around him increasingly suspect him to be a Jew and he becomes subjected to the same cruel realities that he perpetuated just months before.

Miller's tale is a classic tale of what it's like to live in another man's shoes but also well layered with reflection by Lawrence as he comes to weigh the meaning behind the white supremacist view and how easily it insinuates itself into the minds of the privileged.  Originally published in 1945, there is so much about this book that resonates with the world today that it could have easily been written as today with only slight adjustments.

Check out last year's reads if you are interested (and you can always look at all of my books that I've read on GoodReads)

BOOKS

  • Focus by Arthur Miller
  • Eservice-Learning: Creating Experiential Learning and Civic Engagement Through Online and Hybrid Courses by Jean Strait


AUDIOBOOKS

  • White Like Me by Tim Wise
  • Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
  • Simple Rules: How to Thrive in a Complex World by Donald Sull
  • Miniatures: The Very Short Fiction of John Scalzi by John Scalzi
  • Letters to a Young Muslim by Omar Saif Ghobash
  • Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson
  • The Power Paradox: How We Gain and Lose Influence by Dacher Keltner
  • Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference by Cordelia Fine 
  • Boy by Anna Ziegler
  • Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
  • Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg


GRAPHIC NOVELS

  • March: Book 1-3 by John Robert Lewis
  • Han Solo by Majorie Li
  • Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, Book 1 by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Birthright, Vol. 4: Family History by Joshua Williamson
  • Descender, Volume Three: Singularities by Jeff Lemire

What about you reader?  What book recommendations do you have for me?

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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Review: Shortcut: How Analogies Reveal Connections, Spark Innovation, and Sell Our Greatest Ideas

Shortcut: How Analogies Reveal Connections, Spark Innovation, and Sell Our Greatest Ideas Shortcut: How Analogies Reveal Connections, Spark Innovation, and Sell Our Greatest Ideas by John Pollack
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Pollack explores the power of and importance of analogies in our personal and professional communication. It's a solid book to help one think about the ways we fall into traps around analogies and how we can construct substantial analogies to get our point across. I appreciated Pollack's ability to provide many examples that help show both the power and problem with analogies as well as the factors that go into making strong analogies. If you plan to do any work wherein you need to convince other people or provide guidance to others to understand an approach actions or ideas in particular ways, this book will provide you with a strong toolset to get it done.

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Review: Reframing Academic Leadership

Reframing Academic Leadership Reframing Academic Leadership by Lee G. Bolman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bolman's work does a good job of highlighting the many different challenges to leading in higher education with accessible prose and good examples or anecdotes to illustrate his points. He succeeds that problematizing the role of leadership in higher education and the many different ways there are to fail. What is provided is not a fool-proof guide, but a general map that shows readers where they are likely to fail and how best to recover. Additionally, a strong value that Bolman addresses that many other texts leave out is how to lead upward. Many texts focus solely on leadership from the top of the hierarchy but he spends a reasonable amount of time, guiding people moving upward.

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Review: Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom

Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom by bell hooks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's a cliche to say that everyone should read a book. But I do feel like I'm coming to the game late in reading this book as an educator. I've always heard of hooks and her work with teaching and intersectionality but did not take the time to read her work. I'm quite glad that has changed and Teaching to Transgress is a great book that makes me think so much about my presence, my position, and my interaction in the classroom. Essentially, hooks gets the reader thinking about the nuance of student/faculty relations especially as it is constructed through social constructs such as race and gender. Some of the essays in this collection on face value seem removed from thinking about teaching, but in hindsight, it all fits together as hooks brings together her work as a writer, scholar, and educator along with her experiences as a student, an African-American, and a woman.


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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Review: Geeks Bearing Gifts: Imagining New Futures for News

Geeks Bearing Gifts: Imagining New Futures for News Geeks Bearing Gifts: Imagining New Futures for News by Jeff Jarvis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm an admitted fanboy of Jeff Jarvis. His previous book, Public Parts, changed my understand about social media in profound ways and has helped me think differently about the Internet as a whole. Geeks Bearing Gifts follows as the ideological extension of Public Parts in that Jarvis lays out the challenges and the struggles of news media and how they should pivot towards newer strategies for considering what news is, how to deliver it, and how to maintain its legitimacy. He certainly offers many nuggets of wisdom on how news can and should improve while also providing some provocative thoughts on how news media fails and will continue to do so unless we reinvent what it means. People are likely to resist his message but in the face of a failed media landscape, they don't seem to offer other viable options.

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Friday, January 6, 2017

My Most Recent Reads - December 2016

I end the year with another month with a good amount of reads that I was full enthralled with but many of which I cannot really speak about since they are ones that I am reviewing elsewhere.  I will probably come back and write reviews for a good deal of them since some of them will likely be some of my most recommended reads for the year.  I can at least talk a bit about two of the books of the past month:


Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad by Brett Martin

Word cloud for this blog postMartin explores the history of dramatic television in the last two decades, defining it as the third golden age of television.  The title refers to the defining feature of this third golden age in that both onscreen in the form of lead characters and off-stage in the form of the rise of the "show-runner" writer is universally male.  In tracing the history of many of the most famous and genre-defining shows, Martin shows how the leading characters (Tony Soprano, Vick Mackey, Don Draper, Walter White and others) are men in constant desire of power in a variety of forms and willing to do harm to achieve it.  They are contrasted with often more-complicated but still flawed creators and writers who are also trying to leave their own mark on the world.  Taken together, the book holds up a fascinating mirror to the American culture and in particular, males.  It's a nice slice of Americana, gender studies (though not necessarily too overt), and cultural history.


TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking by Chris Anderson

Word cloud of TED Talks review in the form of a brain.
Anderson, the head of TED, the central repository for engaging ideas in small 7-18 minute speeches by many key industry leaders (of almost every industry) presents a concise and clear guide to organizing and preparing to give the best speech of one's life.  Focused largely on giving a "TED Talk," which is not necessarily every talk one is likely to give, Anderson walks readers through everything from different approaches on preparing, to technical considerations to delivery styles and wardrobe questions.  He draws upon many of the most famous TED talks to illustrate the best examples of what he is discussing and while he does refer to bad examples, he usually is vague on the details, sparing the targets (and probably himself from lawsuits).  I appreciate Anderson's ability to pull together different aspects of a speech and clarify with each, what is the essential consideration one must keep in mind. Anderson's guide provides a lot of great information and ideas about how to improve one's speaking technique and is likely to be useful to anyone trying to hone their presentation skills.

Monthly reads for 2016 (and you can always look at all of my books that I've read on GoodReads)


AUDIOBOOKS

  • Books for Living by Will Schwalbe
  • Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad by Brett Martin
  • The Third Reconstruction: Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics, and the Rise of a New Justice Movement by William J. Barber III
  • The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. DuBois
  • Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching by Mychal Denzel Smith
  • The Mountaintop by Katori Hall
  • The Industries of the Future by Alec Ross
  • Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide To Thriving In The Age of Accelerations by Thomas Friedman
  • The Untold Story of the Talking Book by Matthew Rubery
  • TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking by Chris Anderson


GRAPHIC NOVELS

  • Darth Vader, Vol 4: End of Games by Kieron Gillen
  • Poe Dameron, Vol. 1: Black Squadron by Charles Soule
  • Paper Girls, Vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughan
  • Trees, Vol. 2: Two Forests by Warren Ellis
  • Huck by Mark Millar


What about you reader?  What book recommendations do you have for me?

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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Review: The News: A User's Manual

The News: A User's Manual The News: A User's Manual by Alain de Botton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

de Botton's work offers up an interesting take on the news. It is both critical and prescriptive about the full potential of news. He identifies many of the shortcomings of news that can be seen across the world. He starts each chapter with a clip from some news source and proceeds to explore just the story is representative or invokes the issues that he is discussing in that chapter. He then moves into explaining how there are certain retrievable elements within the story and solid reasons why the "news" covers certain topics (such as celebrities) but teases out exactly how news should address such subjects for the purpose of serving the public good.

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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Review: The Dark Forest

The Dark Forest The Dark Forest by Liu Cixin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the second book in a trilogy and I absolutely loved the first book and this second one is equally as compelling. It took me some time to get into it (I listened to the audiobook) because keeping track of the names was a bit tricky (it's translated from Chinese and names are not as familiar to me). The premise of the novel is that Earth has been made aware of an alien species that is set to come to Earth and destroy human life so that the alien life can prosper. It sounds pretty simple but Cixin crafts so many different layers about what this means, how this could happen, and why interplanetary dialogue is likely to be a very very tricky and problematic venture. The novel reads like an amazing and fascinating chess match among the main characters and the alien entities that I find myself for the first time in a long while impatient to read the final book in the trilogy. While I really enjoyed the first book in the series, this book proved even better.


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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Review: The 13 Best Horror Stories of All Time

The 13 Best Horror Stories of All Time The 13 Best Horror Stories of All Time by Leslie Pockell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Overall, this is a solid representation of some great and classic horror authors. They have Lovecraft, Machen, Stevenson, Stoker, Poe, Le Fanu, Blackwood, and others. Classics like The Call of Cthulhu, The Great God Pan, and The Willows are perfectly chosen for this collection but then they throw away opportunities for great stories from other authors by offered in up The Bottle Imp by Stevenson which seems much less interesting in terms of horror than The Body Snatcher among others. Green Tea by Le Fanu was also much less enthralling than Camilla. However, if you want a solid introduction to some of the great horror writers in the 19th and early 20th century, this is a great place to start.

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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Review: Understanding College and University Organization, Volume I: Theories for Effective Policy and Practice: The State of the System

Understanding College and University Organization, Volume I: Theories for Effective Policy and Practice: The State of the System Understanding College and University Organization, Volume I: Theories for Effective Policy and Practice: The State of the System by James L. Bess
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ok, this is definitely not a sexy book by any means judging by the title, right? It was assigned by my instructor in my PhD program (and also, the author, Dee). However, it is actually a really solid breakdown of understanding higher education organizations (or disorganizations, no?). As textbooks go, it is accessible with its language, provides useful tools and resources for further consideration, and provides clear connections as it moves through each topic. One is never lost or feeling like the discussion is off the mark. It provides great examples and guiding questions that help readers better apply what they are learning. I highly recommend it to anyone trying to wrap their head around higher education and how it works (or doesn't).

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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Review: Social Media 101: Tactics and Tips to Develop Your Business Online

Social Media 101: Tactics and Tips to Develop Your Business Online Social Media 101: Tactics and Tips to Develop Your Business Online by Chris Brogan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Brogan's look at social media is a rather useful book for those first coming to social media as well as those who are intermediate users to pick up some tips. He provides a lot of different ideas on how to grow your social media once you have determined what use(s) you have of social media. The book itself is adapted from numerous blog posts from his blog. Therefore, you can get various bits of his advice for free. He claims to clean it up for the book, but his interpretation of cleaning it up is pretty loose as he repeats many different concepts, sources, anecdotes and sites throughout the book. In fact, a conscious reduction of these repeated points could have shrunken the book by 1/3. That being said, there is handy content in the book worth reading.

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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Review: The Graphic Syllabus and the Outcomes Map: Communicating Your Course

The Graphic Syllabus and the Outcomes Map: Communicating Your Course The Graphic Syllabus and the Outcomes Map: Communicating Your Course by Linda B. Nilson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Within the first chapter of this book, I already had a clearer picture of just what I should be aiming to do with a graphic syllabus that I was missing before. Nilson’s premise is clear and easy to understand (albeit, challenging to fully execute). Given that many people absorb much information visually and contextually, it doesn’t make entire sense to have a syllabus that is segmented into its different silos of: objectives, goals, assignments/assessments/readings. Her goal is to help the reader consider the ways in which one can depict how all these parts of the course fit together in the syllabus.

This is useful for two reasons. The first is that it helps the faculty member have a clearer sense of what he/she is assigning in terms of work and make sure it explicitly connects to objective and goals. This grants a clearer vision of what the instructor is doing. The other reason is that it gives students a stronger context of how it all fits together. Beyond just the “why do I have to take this course” questions, a graphic syllabus can instantly connect the student with context that clarifies questions of why as well as better understanding how information fits together for their growth within the course.

Nilson delves into a variety of issues and concerns about how to go about it and illustrates that there is good variation about how to do it. She provides readers with thoughts about how and why one might do it, but shows there are many ways to go about it. In particular, she provides dozens of graphic syllabi from previous courses (her own and others) in various disciplines to help stimulate ideas across departments. To help readers better envision their own syllabus in a new light, she regularly compares what a text syllabus looks like in contrast to the (same) graphically-enhanced syllabus.

Within the first two chapters, she already had me hooked and thinking differently about my own courses. I’m imagining a comic-book syllabus for my comic book course that would be “teaching” as one progresses through the different elements of the syllabus. But immediately, it helped me to reconsider that American Literature course I had created my first visual syllabus for. I’ve found that I like doing American Literature 1 by addressing different types of writing and moving through the significant pieces in chronological order. This works in many ways but is limiting because students will lack context (or forget) of how the different types of writings fit with one another. By thinking about Nilson’s ideas, it allowed me to craft something more meaningful for the students as you can see from the impromptu outline below.

And that’s probably the other element that I like about Nilson. She emphasizes that one does not need to be an artist to creating a graphic syllabus—nor does one need numerous programs and equipment. I did the image below in Excel. Both MS Word and Powerpoint have outline/mapping tools that you can utilize and master very quickly. You can go high-end (and she shows examples of such), but you can still be graphically rich and simplistic in the types of visual you use (Good thing too—I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler!).

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Review: Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism

Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism by Benedict Anderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Anderson's Imagined Communities is one of those books many people refer to for lots of reasons. It's an important book for consideration for history, cultural studies, sociology, anthropology, and even technology that facilitates social relationships. I've known the premise of it for a while but it was interesting to actually read it and see if chockful of various populations and historical moments that I hadn't even thought of being included in the concept of imagined communities. Equally interesting was Arnold's discussing of the publishing history of the book and how different publications in different cultures and languages rendered different meanings and relevance to those cultures. I can understand why so many find it a useful text to draw upon, particularly in the age of digital media wherein we identify with and act as parts of imagined digital communities and find numerous ways of connecting with people we both know and don't "know" because of it.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Review: Specifications Grading: Restoring Rigor, Motivating Students, and Saving Faculty Time

Specifications Grading: Restoring Rigor, Motivating Students, and Saving Faculty Time Specifications Grading: Restoring Rigor, Motivating Students, and Saving Faculty Time by Linda Nilson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nilson lays out a different approach to grading than what I have been doing most of my teaching career. She explains to readers the benefits and methods of developing specifications grading. Instead of grading along a continuum that doesn't necessarily capture or clarify what the student is able to do at the end of the course, she shows different ways in which you can create assessments that are clearly specified and graded on a complete/did not complete basis. It is--as most things--more difficult than it sounds and it will take time to create the specifications upon which to grade as they need to be clear and easy to follow, but I know what I will be doing for my next course. I generally provide strong guidelines for my assignments, but Nilson highlights the ways I can articulate through given assignments or assignment bundles, the means of accomplishing what it is that I'm looking for. Even if one doesn't switch to specs grading, Nilson gives a lot of food for thought about how you do assignments in general.

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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Review: Suspicion Nation: The Inside Story of the Trayvon Martin Injustice and Why We Continue to Repeat It

Suspicion Nation: The Inside Story of the Trayvon Martin Injustice and Why We Continue to Repeat It Suspicion Nation: The Inside Story of the Trayvon Martin Injustice and Why We Continue to Repeat It by Lisa Bloom
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bloom provides a very strong analysis and discussion of the Trayvon Martin Case that would be essential reading for anyone looking to make sense of the various legal and cultural issues surrounding the case. She goes further to highlight how Martin's case is representative of the experiences of minorities--particularly African Americans--in our culture due to historical and cultural dynamics that perpetuate institutional racism. She notes that while there has been clear progress, there are also places where we have stagnated or neglected the complexities of race relations. Lisa Bloom's approach is sometimes a little over the top (such as when she creates courtroom dialogue to show how it should have gone), but overall, her argument is spot on.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Review: Perchance to Dream: Selected Stories

Perchance to Dream: Selected Stories Perchance to Dream: Selected Stories by Charles Beaumont
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Beaumont is a fantastic teller of tales and many may already be familiar with him. A good chunk of his short stories eventually ended up as episodes on The Twilight Zone. This collection is filled with a great mixture of stories, many of which invoke the strange and quirkiness of the show. It's a well-chosen collection with something for everyone and many stories carrying a level of timelessness that makes them perfect. His focus is to entertain, not to be literary, yet an occasional tale achieves both. In many ways, this collection feels reminiscent of a contemporary of his, Richard Matheson. If you want a solid anthology to provoke your imagination, you can't go wrong with this one. Also, if you have the chance, opt for the audiobook; it's a rock-solid production.

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Friday, December 2, 2016

My Most Recent Reads - November 2016

Despite it being a busy month with classes and work, I impressed myself with reading two physical books this month, on top of the usual audiobooks and graphic novels.  I won't ramble too much about my reading since my time is short and I'd rather talk about some of the great books this month.    

Advice from a Wild Deuce: The Best of Ask Tiggy by Tiggy Upland

Advice from a Wild Deuce Book Coveropenly admit that I am biased in reviewing this book because I am close with the actual author (spoiler alert—Tiggy Upland is a pseudonym!).  Regardless, I found this book to be a fantastic dialogue on the subject of understanding bisexuality (my own, and others).  Upland pulls together the best questions from her advice column to provide a panoramic view of what it means to be a bisexual in the United States in the 21st century.  She’s great at taking on personal questions and drawing out the nuance issues present and parsing out specific advice to the person while also connecting the question to the larger tapestry of navigating bisexuality in a culture that still doesn’t appreciate or provide much room for it.  What’s more is that Upland’s tone is bemusing, sagely, and engaging.  She’s capable of calling out self-deceit in a way that doesn’t turn the reader away but rather endears them to her and to the letter-writer. Beyond the question and answer format that permeates much of the book, Upland includes various asides, resources, and even photo-comics that add more nuggets of wisdom.  For those looking to understand the complexity of bisexuality for personal or professional reasons, this book is a great resource. 



American Character: A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good by Colin Woodard

Woodard provides a fascinating framework for understanding the differences in the United States between those who lean towards more collectivist approaches to society and those that believe in more individualistic approaches.  Building off his previous work, rather than provide a simple divide of socialist vs. libertarians, he articulates the presence of eleven "nations" within the United States that represent different historical-cultural origins and occupy different geographical spaces in the country.  From there, he delves into the history of the country and illustrates how different alignments of the nations resulted in the swaying of the country between its more collectivist and individualistic modes of governmental involvement.  It's a fascinating book that highlights the often-complex ways in which different people align and dissent from the different political groups in the country (and why so many people identify as "independent").  It will be interesting to see how much this work is used to better understand and address current politics.   

Monthly reads for 2016 (and you can always look at all of my books that I've read on GoodReads)



BOOKS

  • Advice from a Wild Deuce: The Best of Ask Tiggy by Tiggy Upland
  • Behold the Man by Michael Moorcock


AUDIOBOOKS

  • The Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World by Abigail Tucker
  • Daredevil: The Man Without Fear Prose Novel by Paul Crilley
  • A Life in Parts by Bryan Cranston
  • Light Falls: Space, Time, and an Obsession of Einstein by Brian Greene
  • American Character: A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good by Colin Woodard
  • Filthy Rich by James Patterson
  • The Secret History of Twin Peaks by Mark Frost
  • The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being by Daniel Siegel  


GRAPHIC NOVELS

  • Angel Catbird, Volume 1 by Margaret Atwood
  • Baba Yaga's Assistant by Marika McCoola
  • Deep Dark Fears by Fran Krause
  • Rackham's Color Illustrations for Wagner's "Ring" by Arthur Rackham
  • The Arthur Rackham Treasury: 86 Full-Color Illustrations by Arthur Rackham


What about you reader?  What book recommendations do you have for me?


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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Review: Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him

Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him by David Henry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Furious Cool was a fascinating look into the life of Richard Pryor. I was somewhat familiar with his comedy and more familiar with him as an actor in a handful of movies I watched when growing up (e.g. See No Evil, Hear No Evil). However, the Henry brothers provide a rich history around Richard Pryor that marks him as one the best comics along with George Carlin. What I found most fascinating is how they are able to contextualize Pryor's work within the broader range of African American entertainment of the 1960s and 1970s and also mainstream culture while also being able to speak to the effects of his personal life around love and drugs that also filtered into his performances. The book is powerful enough that it is leading me to go back and watch some of the older Richard Pryor performances to see exactly what they were referring. What made the book equally chilling and fascinating was that I listened to it. It was narrated by Dion Graham who did some great impersonations of Pryor while also (as always) provided a strong narrative voice to keep me engaged.

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