Showing posts with label books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label books. Show all posts

Review: Conduct to the Prejudice of Good Order: The Final Years of the Vietnam War

Conduct to the Prejudice of Good Order: The Final Years of the Vietnam War Conduct to the Prejudice of Good Order: The Final Years of the Vietnam War by Dan Dane
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Note: This review was originally written in the early 2000s and published for a no longer running website: AudiobookCafe. This review addresses both the book and the audiobook. When civil attorney, Bill Blake is drafted into the army, he leaves his wife and children behind to go to Vietnam. Once there, he does not fight a war, but is placed in the JAG Core—the lawyers who deal with justice within the military. They act as prosecutors or defense to military personnel who have committed various crimes. These crimes often mean court martial being in violation of “Conduct to the Prejudice of Good Order”.

The audiobook gives an account of the ten months Blake serves in Bien Hoa, dealing with his cases, his comrades, his superiors, and his evaluation of the war. While the book does have a beginning and an end (Blake arriving in Vietnam; Blake leaving Vietnam), the middle of the story is filled with a series of snippets of the various cases Blake must handle and other events during his time. The middle section reveals a panorama of issues that Blake must contend with which include drug abuse, corruption in the army, racism, and attacks by the enemy.

Blake is your typical “everyman”—trying to do his part in the war, survive, help his fellow soldiers, and get home in one piece. Through his eyes, we see how the good intentions and high hopes of many Vietnam soldiers slowly ebbed into depression, sadness, and dissolution, and how these soldiers sought escape both physically and mentally.

In the courtroom, he plays both the prosecution and the defense, depending on what he is assigned. But he approaches each side with just as much ferocity. He defends one marijuana dealer just as intensely as he prosecutes a heroin dealer. He does his job to the best of his ability like many of his fellow lawyers. Much of his frustration does not come from the enemy, but from his own side—his corrupt superiors and an incompetent co-worker. These people cause the source of much of Blake’s misery—not the enemy. He rationalizes and understands the enemy—though he rarely has to face them—but it’s those people around him, that make him really question what Vietnam is all about.

This dramatized audiobook is superb in its presentation. The sound effects are stunningly real. Often, I found myself looking around for a helicopter, and turning down the volume to see if the "whomp whomp whomp" was a helicopter in the book or a flat tire. The sounds, when incorporated are smoothly intertwined with the story, providing another element of reality to the production, without overdoing it. The sound effects such as the helicopter are very low and then slowly become prominent. Most of the sound effects are gently sounded but believable—even the gunfire manages to be unobtrusive—a difficult feat for any sound engineer. At the end, the same song is played on each CD serving as an indicator to put in the next disc. The music both style and lyrics seem to blend naturally with the atmosphere of the audiobook.

Ross Ballard may be a newcomer to the field of audiobooks (prior work includes his first official audiobook, “Irreparable Harm” by Randy Singer), he is quickly becoming a favorite to my ears. In “Conduct to the Prejudice of Good Order,” Ross Ballard nails all his cues. The book is written in the first person—a style that compliments Ballard’s accent and smooth deliverance. His natural Virginian accent blends perfectly well with the book. His twang gives a bit of warmth and sincerity that improves the quality of this audiobook tenfold. While it is hard for him to break his drawl, it was not necessary for this audiobook. Being told through the eyes of Bill Blake, it seemed actually more real that all the characters had a hint of Blake in them—as if directly seen through his eyes. After all, it is Blake’s story. Ballard’s smoothness cannot be underrated either. His aptly applies gentleness where needed and yet can hold to the firm tone when required—and can change from one to the other with great ease.

If you are looking for a “war novel”, with lots of explosions, fights, and gore, this audiobook should not be on your list. However, if you are looking for one man’s experience in the Vietnam War and the lessons he learned during his ten months in Bien Hoa, you should consider this. The range of emotion Blake faces from elation to depression is a truthful emotional evaluation of what war can mean to men and women who leave their homes and represent the US across the world.

View all my reviews



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.


Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Review: Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason by Helen Fielding
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Note: This review was originally written in the early 2000s and published for a no longer running website: AudiobookCafe. This review addresses both the book and the audiobook. Bridget Jones is that dear friend that we all know who manages to somehow just mess things up, without even trying. A social klutz to no end, but you can’t help but to smile and love the poor girl. For those who read (or listened, or watched) the first book, Bridget Jones Diary, you’ll remember the story ends with Bridget Jones and Mark Darcy in a typical “Happily Ever After” scenario. “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason” picks up shortly after that and asks “What does happen in happily ever after?” The couple gets together in the third act, but what happens in the fourth act? Helen Fielding answers this by showing the listener that happily ever after does not always work out the way we expected.

We find dear Bridget still working away at her diary in the new year and dancing on cloud nine now that she is currently going out with Mark Darcy. Her elation doesn’t so much fade but morphs into a bit of neurosis as she and her single friends (singletons) analyzed every word and action of Mark Darcy with the assistance of numerous self-help books. In fact, these self-help books bring about Bridget’s demise, for some many different books professing often conflicting philosophies and how to achieve “happiness”—that her actions resulting from said influence, almost always backfire.

Within a few months, the couple has gone its separate ways due to a series of miscommunications and mishaps on both ends. So Bridget returns to the world of singletons, still deathly scared of dying alone in her flat only to be found half-eaten by wolves. So it’s back to the world of self-help books and her fellow singletons, all of which preach different “must do” tactics to happiness and yet they have not achieved such happiness either.

It almost seems that since the previous year, nothing has really changed for her. She still looks the same, weighs the same, smokes the same amount of cigarettes, drinks the same amount of alcohol, and is still single. But this time, she knows she wants Mark Darcy, but getting him back become quite the problem.

Bridget faces many challenges and new exciting adventures such as a botched remodeling attempt in her flat that does nothing but leave a large gaping hole in the wall for the rest of the world to see and an interview with Colin Firth in which she obsesses of his part as Mr. Darcy in “Pride & Prejudice”. Her mishaps are on a grander scale this year—including several run-ins with the police, a death threat, and involvement in an international drug ring. It doesn’t spoil the end to let your know that she does find her way back to Mark Darcy—that’s inevitable—however, the adventure getting there is the real joy of this audiobook. The height of which leaves her in a Thai female prison singing Madonna songs in her undergarments for the other inmates.

There’s one point in the book that puts a whole blur on reality and art is the actor, Colin Firth. Numerous times, Bridget refers to Colin Firth and how she loves the scene in “Pride & Prejudice” where he leaps into the pond. In the book, she is given an opportunity to interview him. Now, in the movie “Bridget Jones Diary”, Mark Darcy is played by none other but Colin Firth. This put a tint of irony to the whole situation for those who have seen the movie, because Colin Firth is held to be the ideal man by Bridget and her singletons.

At some points in the book, where Bridget goes over each minute of her day (usually as part of some joke the author is plotting), the listener might get annoyed to hear the time read out five to six times in a row: 12:01AM, 12:02AM, 12:03AM, 1204AM, 1205AM. The repetitiveness can wear on the listener because often, the joke is predictable at that point and therefore, the humor doesn’t play out as well. Regardless of this, the book still plays out fantastically. The diary format lends itself well as an audiobook.

Barbara Rosenblat is sensational! There, it’s been said. She magnificently narrated this audiobook; I can’t imagine it being done any better. Her vibrancy and accent are simply smashing. She maintains the liveliness that permeates from Bridget’s diary, even during the low times. Her narration is like seeing right into the mind of Bridget Jones and directly listening to her thoughts. Her talents at understanding and properly voice the feeling of text is more than impressive—it’s perfect.

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason is not great work—but it is a great source of entertainment—poignant, funny, and very enjoyable. Bridget is an endearing and sweet woman, whom we can all relate to. Helen Fielding has produced another gem of a novel that keeps the readers and listeners deeply entertained and laughing.

View all my reviews



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.


Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

My Current Bookshelf - May 2017

May was a much more active month as it relates to reading because, well, the semester was over and I had a whole lot of downtime to which I filled it with reading...mostly because, I like busman's holidays!  There were so many good reads this month so I've got a lot to talk about!


The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It by Kelly McGonigal


We all carry with us various myths about what willpower is, our relationship with it, and how to do better with it.  However, so many of our assumptions about willpower are often wrong in total or problematically applied because of a failure to understand what willpower is and its different forms.  McGonigal's provides a fantastic foundation to exploring and articulating willpower by breaking it into three different forms (I will, I won't, I want).  She guides readers through the science it has taken to better understand it from our historical or often racially, culturally, classist views of willpower to one that highlights just how willpower works in many different ways with cognitive, physiological, and mental tricks that humans fall prey to quite often.  One of my favorite parts of McGonigal’s work is that she provides small challenges for readers to test out with each new idea she introduces.  While it is inevitably something she, herself, has developed, I can’t help but think, her sister, Jane McGonigal has helped or advised in as it has a strong gamification element to it.  What I appreciate most about this book is that it reminds the reader that willpower is often a moving target and that one cannot necessarily conquer it but rather just better understand where and when one is most likely to succeed or surrender to short-term desires that are at odds with long-term goals.


Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations by Dan Ariely


This short but intriguing book will be useful for not just leaders but really for anyone who is looking to understand his or her own sense of motivation as well as those of others that someone works with.  It's a fairly short book and one that you can get the gist of from Ariely's TED Talk.  Known for conducting a range of curious tests with humans to better understand human nature (previous works include The Truth about Dishonesty and Predictably Irrational), Ariely takes this book to explore how we tend to profoundly misunderstand how motivation works and therefore regularly fail to achieve the outcomes we are expecting in others or severely cramping the possibilities.  He unpacks some rather strong misconceptions about how extrinsic rewards (e.g. more pay) can fail to increase or even decrease productivity or how purpose and meaning on behalf of the individual drives more productivity.  This book has a lot of potential for everyone as it makes the reader more aware of how to make outcomes more beneficial for both parties involved.  

The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli

Dobelli works his ways through some 98 different biases and faulty thinking practices that he has witnessed and experienced in his life as an author and businessman.  With each, he introduces the concept in clear and easy to understand prose with some great examples to illustrate how each works.  While the format remains largely the same, the text is still lively, fun, and helpful.  I enjoyed learning about and realizing the different fallacies that I have regularly stumbled with and ways of trying to get around them.  He smartly emphasizes that we cannot use a list like this all the time, but when we are pressed to make the big decisions in life, it is useful to go through such a list to make sure we're not missing something in our thinking.  The one strong critique I have of the book is that his final chapter, labeled, "Why You Shouldn't Read the News: News Illusion" entails many of the fallacies to which he has discussed.  He argues that there is no value to the news and that it's distracting in most people's lives.  He claims to rely on his friends and associates to filter news of relevance to him and that ultimately, people should read books and forgo news.  Of course, this seems to be a blatant case of the man with the hammer or as he says, "if you take your problem to an expert, don’t expect the overall best solution. Expect an approach that can be solved with the expert’s toolkit."  That is, the book author is telling the reader the fix is more books rather than more strategically engaging with news.  Besides that one issue, the book is a solid collection of wisdom and food-for-thought when making big decisions. 


On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder


Snyder's book is short and sweet.  It's kinda like a TED-Talk or highlights real.  However, the book is straight and to the point, providing specific details, historical examples, and things to consider about tyranny in the 21st century, with particular attention to the US President Trump and the tenuous and problematic elements of his election and administration. I found there was practical advice about being involved and active but equally important was the smaller stuff that on some level people might disregard but are also central to keeping society a community.  For instance, his advice to make eye contact and be friendly with others is something that we don't realize its prominence and importance until it's gone and by that time, we are in serious trouble.  In total, it's a solid short read that helps the budding activist or reminds the experienced one of the importance of the work.  

Making Gumbo in the University by Rupert W. Nacoste

Nacoste's book is an enjoyable read in many regards and a look at the problems that those involved in diversity work often come up against.  Nacoste relates his experience as a chief diversity leader on southern US university and the walls he came up against while trying to create a more effective and meaningful approach to diversity at the institution.  For me, I liked how this book captured the fact that diversity is not milk-warm acceptance of one another but is embedded in the tension of recognition of differences while trying to move forward in different directions.  That is, diversity is not blind acceptance but respectful dialogue of differences that at times will be hard or unlikely to be reconciled.  He also provides a good frame for institutions to rethink diversity as housed in a particular place or position and more embedded throughout the different areas of an institution; what does diversity mean for the different areas and how do they foster?  Where I was less interested and impressed with the prose was the interweaving of his family life and his earlier life.  Both are important to include but sometimes, the details (relevant though they were to his personal experience) distracted from his discussion and analysis of his work.  Also, as a self-published book, it had a significant amount of grammatical and spelling errors.

A word cloud of this blog post in the shape of a coffee cup on a saucer

Check out other reading recommendations from 2017 (and you can always look at all of my books that I've read on GoodReads):

BOOKS

  • An Introduction to Qualitative Research: Learning in the Field by Gretchen Rossman
  • On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder
  • Making Gumbo in the University bu Rupert W. Nacoste

AUDIOBOOKS

  • Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix
  • Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin
  • Thrawn by Timothy Zahn
  • Printer's Error: Irreverent Stories from Book History by JP & Rebecca Romney
  • Certain Dark Things: Stories by M. J. Pack
  • The Collapsing Empire (The Interdependency #1) by John Scalzi,
  • The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It by Kelly McGonigal
  • Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations by Dan Ariely
  • The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli 
  • The Chessboard and the Web: Strategies of Connection in a Networked World by Anne-Marie Slaughter
  • Finding Gobi (Main edition): The true story of a little dog and an incredible journey by Dion Leonard
  • House of Names by Colm Tóibín

GRAPHIC NOVELS

  • Briggs Land Vol. 1: State of Grace (Briggs Land, #1) by Brian Wood
  • The Silence of Our Friends by Mark Long

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

Creative Commons License

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

Review: Nina: Adolescence

Nina: Adolescence Nina: Adolescence by Amy Hassinger
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Note:  This review was originally written in the early 2000s and published for a no longer running website: AudiobookCafe.  This review addresses both the book and the audiobook. This audiobook is an endearing story about a young girl emerging into womanhood and the many expected and unexpected dilemmas that come with that growth. Most young women wage war with their self-image, but Nina not only battles with her own inner demons, she faces additional pressure with her naked body being publicly displayed. Her mother, a painter, has cataloged Nina's transformation from child to adult in a series of nude portraits that are being shown in a gallery. Nina also carries a burden-the guilt for the death of her younger brother, four years prior to the beginning of the story. Her lost brother is detrimental enough for her to become quite introverted. She does not have any friends in school-until she meets Raissa, a friend from her dance class. In addition, as her mother's acclaim grows, a personal friend and renowned art critic, Leo takes a very deep and dangerous interest in Nina.

Nina's two primary relationships (Nina and Raissa, Nina and Leo) comprised much of the book. From Raissa, Nina learns about friendship and redevelops her youthful exuberance, which was lost with her brother. Their relationship is the typical teenage friendship but it is completely new to Nina who has not had friends. They fight, they laugh, they play "Truth or Dare". The two friends find themselves in a slew of teenage predicaments and remain friends through it all.

The intricate relationship that develops with Leo is another beast altogether. Leo, who was close to Nina's mother, takes a sexual interest in the fifteen-year-old, seducing the innocent Nina with cunning and guile. Amazingly, the talented author is able to deliver this part of the story in a believable manner. Her writing does not pass judgment-rather the author provides keen insight into Nina's mind to find that Nina's actions are a result of a combination of her confusion, her budding sexuality, and Leo's advances.

Another strong aspect to this story is Nina's relationship with her parents. While she does love her parents-she jumps back and forth with them in regards to how she feels towards them. They frustrate her one moment and are the best parents ever in the next moment. Her parents are present throughout the book, but much like everyone's teenage years-they may be there, but in many regards they are not there. They are no longer completely involved in their daughter's life and they begin to understand that Nina is becoming an adult with her own life.

This story captures the nuances of a female's emergence into womanhood. The author is able to freeze those memorable events of youthful discovery that many reminisce over delightfully. In addition, the realism of the story makes it that much more compelling-all elements of the story are so believable that one never really thinks, "Oh that couldn't happen."

Mia Barron does a fantastic narration of this book. Her tone was perfect for the exuberance, youthfulness, and energy of Nina. Mia captivated Nina with superb precision, however, there was one fault. This reviewer happens to be from the Boston area-where the story takes place. Knowing that the Boston accent can be a bit obnoxious, I can understand doing a flat accent for a dialogue, but the narrator delivers much of the dialogue in an accent resembling the Wisconsin/Minnesota region. Being distinctly familiar with the accent, I did find this a little disrupting. But her skill is not to be underrated-her depiction of a teenager emerging into womanhood is right on key.

View all my reviews



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.


Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Review: White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Anderson skillfully deconstructs an unspoken but prevalent theme in the US history of race relations since well before the Civil War: white rage. Directly and indirectly, she shows how the often stereotypical assumption of African-Americans as being unwieldy or out of control (that is, having "black rage") is largely a matter of projection of a white rage. White rage has historically over-reacted to each attempt by African American and other marginalized peoples to establish an equal footing as put forward in the US's founding documents. Thus, she shows from the Civil War to the presidency of Barak Obama, how viciously and brutally dominant white culture has reacted. Whether it was de-facto enslavement for unemployed African Americans in the post-Civil War era, the rise of segregation, the intentional exclusion of compensation for African Americans who fought in war, the attempts to shut down or create private or charter schools in the absence of desegregation to unequal sentencing (or due process) in the justice system to systematic attempts to limit their ability to vote, white social, cultural, and political power has actively sought to see equality as a threat to the status quo and been willing to take innocent lives and freedoms to maintain and perpetuate this power and racial divide. Anderson's makes that proves entirely clear with accessible prose that provides specifics but does not inundate readers with unnecessary details.

View all my reviews



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.


Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Review: We Should All Be Feminists

We Should All Be Feminists We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Adichie's short book (what's the equivalent of a novella in nonfiction? Long-form essay?) is a collection of short essays that stem from her TED Talk exploring how and why feminism is a necessity for all societies. She connects her personal stories and experiences to the larger discourse on feminism and draws useful analogies for many to understand and appreciate about its place in the 21st century throughout the world. It's a quick read that can refuel some while also introducing complex considerations about feminism to someone just exploring it for the first time.

View all my reviews



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.


Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Review: Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If there is a single book that can structurally explain how racism permeates the history and mythology of the United States, then Kendi's book is if not the book, then certainly a contender (having not read all of them, I cannot say, but having read many books on race, this one is among the best). Kendi traces the history of the United States' approach to, discourse on, and political consequences of racism from the colonies in the 1600s until the present. He does this by exploring the lives of five pivotal figures in the history of racism who span all five centuries of US history: Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. DuBois, and Angela Davis. Kendi posits three ideologies that are found in various forms throughout the history and the works of those with whom he presents: racist, assimilationist, and anti-racist ideologies. Ultimately, Kendi's power lies in his ability to tie the individual lives to the contemporary discourse of the individuals' time while also drawing parallels to and building a mounting context for understanding racism in the present.

View all my reviews



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.


Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Review: The Making of Asian America: A History

The Making of Asian America: A History The Making of Asian America: A History by Erika Lee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Where do I begin with this review besides just saying, "WOW!" I knew about some of the aspects of this book such as strong anti-Asian immigration laws and racial discrimination in the US toward Asian-Americans since the 1800s. But Lee provides a meticulous and nuanced exploration of the history of migration and representation within the Americas since the 1500s. She traces the history of discriminatory practices by different American countries that challenge, limit, devalue, or pit against one another the many different immigrants from the numerous Asian countries. In doing so, she helps the reader understand the denial of identity and culture that comes with the term "Asian American", and how it masks the distinct experiences, cultural dynamics, and sense of history that different immigrants from Asian bring with them. In tracing the history to the present century, Lee further aids readers in considering the experience of Asian Americans whose families have been here for generations and the more recent Asian American immigrants fit into the rhetoric of immigration for various discourses and for different dominant-group purposes. It's definitely a must-read for people trying to better understand race and ethnicity in the Americas.

View all my reviews


Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
 

Review: White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son

White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son by Tim Wise
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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.

View all my reviews


Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
 

Review: March

March March by John Lewis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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.

View all my reviews


Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

 

Review: TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking

TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking by Chris J. Anderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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.

View all my reviews


Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

 

Review: Focus by Arthur Miller

Focus Focus by Arthur Miller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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.

View all my reviews


Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

 

Review: American Character: A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good

American Character: A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good American Character: A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good by Colin Woodard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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.

View all my reviews


Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

 

Review: Advice from a Wild Deuce: The Best of Ask Tiggy

Advice from a Wild Deuce: The Best of Ask Tiggy Advice from a Wild Deuce: The Best of Ask Tiggy by Tiggy Upland
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I openly 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.

View all my reviews


Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

 

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

Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad by Brett Martin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Martin 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.

View all my reviews


Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

 

Review: For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood... and the Rest of Y'all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education

For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood... and the Rest of Y'all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood... and the Rest of Y'all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education by Christopher Emdin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Edmin's book shows the depths and methods needed to go in order to institute transformative teaching and learning in a classroom that engages all students. He names his approach reality-based pedagogy and its core idea is that it is impossible to teach students if you do not embed their realities into the classroom; altering how one may teach, how power is negotiated, and what it means to demonstrate learning. Clearly from the title, there is a specific context to which he is speaking, but the application of his approach can potentially open up any classroom (e.g. it's easy to imagine how this could play out in a rural environment). He explores his pedagogy through his own triumphs and setbacks as he aims to help his students channel their enthusiasm and interest into productive learning experiences that reflect what he hopes they will learn with how it fits within their worlds. It's a powerful book that in many ways takes the ideas of Paulo Freire and Lisa Delpit and demonstrates particular ways one can execute them in the classroom.

View all my reviews


Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

 

My Current Bookshelf - April 2017

April is a busy month but despite that, I managed to keep my reading going and even finished three physical books.  


Demystifying Dissertation Writing: A Streamlined Process from Choice of Topic to Final Text by Peg Boyle Single


Book Cover - Peg Boyle Single - Demystifying Dissertations
Obviously, there's a particular audience for this type of book (doctoral students), but it is a solid book with some clear and direct tools to use in order to prepare for the path down the dissertation.  I strongly recommend it for students who are about to enter a doctoral program as though I am still finding it helpful, I think having it (and following its recommendations) from the start, I would be in a much better place.  I appreciated how Single's method moves you from ideas to a focus statement to an outline to detailed outline to mini-papers to full-blown work.  Beyond the structural approaches and considerations, Single also drops different hints and hacks that can be helpful for the doctoral student (such as putting a "To-Do" list at the top of any dissertation document to work through what needs to get done).  Like many other books, she iterates the fact that it's essential to create a writing habit that doesn't consist of trying to find the large-chunks of time.  Now, if we can have a book on how to perfect that that works well, I think I'll be all set!


Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Handbook for Unapologetic Living by Jes Baker


Jes Baker is just amazing and delightful to listen to (seriously, the audiobook blows the book away because she reads it herself).  Baker confronts head on the challenges, judgments, discrimination, and disregard that Western culture (particularly the U.S.) has for fat girls (the term she uses and in a standard method of cultural resistance, reclaims as a badge).  Her approach is multifaceted from calling out the questionable literature around health issues related to fat people to critiquing the de-normalizing of larger bodies by consumer culture, particularly fashion--she even makes room to discuss the intersectionality of size and other elements of identity.  Besides laying down a critical framework around deconstructing fat in the US, she also repeatedly finds ways to speak to fat girls in particular but really, everyone dealing with self-image, self-acceptance, and self-love issues, to argue fiercely that everyone deserves the right be feel perfectly natural in their bodies.  Despite the book's title, this book is for everyone.  No, really.  Yes, Baker focuses specifically on the internal and external challenges of life as a fat girl, but her core message is that whatever one wants in the world, what we need more than anything is compassion and love of ourselves.  It reminds me in many ways of Brene Brown's work (which I really love) but with an edgier, wittier and more bad-ass kind of approach.

The Serpent Bride by Sara Douglass


Book cover of The Serpent Bride by Sara Douglass
About five years have passed since the fall of Tencendor to the Time-Keeper Demons and the conclusion of Douglass's previous (and second) trilogy, Wayfarer Redemption.  But rest of the largely unexplored world continues.  King Maximillian of Escator has been offered a bride from Ishbel, a woman who comes from the Serpent's Nest, a curious cult with macabre practices.  Meanwhile the Tyrant of Isembaard is beginning to put into an action that will ruin the kingdoms to the north, including Maximillian's.  Powerful forces are at play which results in the return from the world beyond of Douglass's premier hero, Axis Sunsoar and even, his father, Stardrifter.  There's a lot that is happening in this novel and like many of Douglass's works, she keeps the story going; it's not like other epic fantasies where you can go hundreds of pages without anything happening.  In this first of the trilogy, the world is turned upside down again and we get to enjoy seeing a different side of Axis--a more human one not seen since BattleAxe, the first book in the entire series.  What I like even more about this book is that  Douglass interweaves her two single novels (Beyond the Hanging Wall and Threshold) as integral parts of this story.  One does not have to have read them to fully understand as she does create opportunities for readers to get filled in, but it certainly helps.  Finally, it's also becomes a recurring (and insider joke for those who have read the previous trilogies), about the havoc that always comes in the path of people (particularly, women) who associate with the Sunsoars; in many ways, this feels like Douglass's wink to avid fans and their critiques.  If you're looking for an enjoyable and active epic fantasy, Douglass is definitely the read to go with.  

Check out other reading recommendations from 2017 (and you can always look at all of my books that I've read on GoodReads):

BOOKS

  • Demystifying Dissertation Writing: A Streamlined Process from Choice of Topic to Final Text by Peg Boyle Single
  • 147 Practical Tips for Synchronous and Blended Technology Teaching and Learning by Rosemary Van Den Berg
  • The Serpent Bride by Sara Douglass

AUDIOBOOKS

  • Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Handbook for Unapologetic Living by Jes Baker
  • Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority by Tim Wise
  • The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1) by Patrick Rothfuss
  • The Castle in the Mist by Amy Ephron
  • The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell: Tales of a 6' 4," African American, Heterosexual, Cisgender, Left-Leaning, Asthmatic, Black and Proud Blerd, Mama's Boy, Dad, and Stand-Up Comedian by W. Kamau Bell
  • Thanos: Death Sentence Prose Novel by Stuart Moore
  • Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper

GRAPHIC NOVELS

  • Invincible, Vol. 23: Full House by Robert Kirkman

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




Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email. 

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Review: Context: Further Selected Essays on Productivity, Creativity, Parenting, and Politics in the 21st Century

Context: Further Selected Essays on Productivity, Creativity, Parenting, and Politics in the 21st Century Context: Further Selected Essays on Productivity, Creativity, Parenting, and Politics in the 21st Century by Cory Doctorow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cory Doctorow continues to impress me and many others with his thoughts on what it means to be a creator in the 21st century. This collection of essays (which you can download for free on his website) brings together a lot of his different works that he's written for his blog and elsewhere about the nature of copyright, open source living, and censorship. At its center are questions about how do we as a culture decide to empower creators new and old and what does it mean to create in a technological world wherein replication can happen without significant costs. Doctorow makes a strong case to move in the direction of openness for all creators, believing that this will be more empowering than limiting. What's also interesting about this book is the ways in which Doctorow illustrates how he is often collaborative with not just other writers but with fans and people who appreciate his work. In total, the book provides a great look at how one can think about being a creator in a very mindful and engaging way.

View all my reviews


Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.