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Showing posts from December, 2019

Review: Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think

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Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Factfulness is a book that reminds me in many ways of the works of Daniel Pink, Steven Pinker, Steven Johnson and Matt Ridley. Like those authors and some of their more popular works, at the core of Rosling's (or the Roslings') message is a focus undermining the simplicity that we humans often seek to instill intentionally or unintentionally as a result of our thinking and the ways we connect facts. Rosling's particular approach is to get people to slow down with the facts that they receive and spend some time poking around at them using a set of questions and reminders that he provides through the book. Part of what I enjoyed about this book is Rosling's dive into specific examples and instances where he, an expert, failed in thinking clearly through his problems and other instances where non-experts were able to stop and make him t…

Review: The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story Of Life For All Ages

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The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story Of Life For All Ages by Leo F. Buscaglia
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My father had me read this when I was a kid and well, I read it to him when he was in the hospital dying. That might sound morbid but it is the best endorsement I can give this book as it is such a simple but powerful story about recognizing and accepting death despite how hard it can be. It has been an essential book for me in gaining any sense of comfort and closure in the passing of people in my life. The book uses a simple story of Freddie, a leaf who comes to life in the spring and enjoys a vibrant summer before realizing what fall will mean. The language is simple yet powerful and Buscaglia shows just how powerful a metaphor can be to help people of any age come to terms with something that is so overwhelming and so uncertain but yet we must all face. It is a great book for anyone looking to have a more complex conversation about death.

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Review: The Body Papers

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The Body Papers by Grace Talusan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Talusan's memoir interweaves the various threads of her life into a tapestry that is magisterial to see in its fullness and both powerful and painful to watch in its development. She shares with readers the many challenges, emotions, and scars she has experienced through her life negotiating her racial, ethnic, social, and gender identities. From leaving her home in the Philipines to growing up in a white suburban Boston enclave to surviving sexual abuse from a family member to grappling with the forboding odds of various cancers to navigating familial and spousal relationships through all these issues, Talusan tackles everything with a directness, balanced by sincerity and insight garnered by much reflection. There are so many things to appreciate about her writing from the elegant but accessible prose to the ways in which each chapter unravels with just the right amount of pacing and absent of overt explanations of the lesso…

Review: The Mere Wife

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The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In this poignant retelling of Beowulf through the eyes of women, Headley pulls off an incredible feat (heroic, one might say). She modernized the tale of Beowulf into the US in the decades following 9/11. The story follows Dana, a veteran who has returned home after captivity by the "enemy" and interrogation by her superiors. She's pregnant and has been abandoned by her country. She returns to her home town, Herot Hall which is next to a mountain filled with an abandoned station and tunnels. She takes up residence in the mountain where she raised her child, away from the humans who have given her nothing but grief. As she raises her son, Gren, she grapples with the locals increasingly looking towards ideas about the mountain and her son, increasingly wanting to explore the town. Besides Dana, the story primarily focuses on Dana, Willa, the Lady Macbeth-like wife of first, the heir apparent of Herot Hall, and th…