the time to read them...

Books I have read. More for me than for you, but I guess that depends on who you are. If you stalk me, than this will probably be more useful for you than me.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Anyone but You

Anyone but You by Jennifer Crusie

I love Jennifer Crusie's books even though:
--they often include long passages about animals
--some people consider them romance novels
--usually half the book I am annoyed that people in the book believe so strongly in stereotypes.

If you know me, you will know these three things would most likely steer me clear of a book, but I LOVE her books. They are really funny and end up basically as an antidote to everything the media says about how to "catch a man." Which is great, and I am sure why women love to read her books.

Basically this one is about an "older" woman who falls for a young dr. but refuses to sex him up because she is afraid that she's an old ugly hag. But he's also in love with her. Yay! Also there is a subplot about a friend of hers writing a novel. In almost all of the Crusie novels I have read there is usually some secondary love story, and I had totally tried to guess it at the beginning of this book, and there were hints along the way that it would work out and then nothing, so that was a weird loose end that never got ties up. Also, this book uses the term "alcoholic" for what I would term "casual drinker." So, that was a little weird. At the end of the novel everyone stops drinking! Yay! What? Why is that even in this book? No idea.

Either way I read it very quickly and it was a lot of fun.


Lots of people rave about this book and it deserves it. It juxtaposes a lot of situations you might never have thought similar, but statistically they are. Like Chicago Public School teachers and sumo wrestlers!

It also has some pretty provocative things to say about abortion, namely that in Romania and the US, the more abortions the less crime. This is obviously simplified, but it's that kind of talk which makes Bill O'Reilly take notice. Were I to need more convincing about why women should have the right to abortion (which for the record, I don't think I could BE more pro-choice, I mean I am even okay with late-term abortion, which even most liberals won't touch with a ten foot poll) this would totally have done it. Basically this section is about how women who don't think they are ready to have kids are --SHOCK-- usually RIGHT! Wowie.

That is only one section of the book though, although personally the most compelling. It's been blown a little out of proportion though. There's an interesting comparison of crack dealing and traditional business hierarchies that is good too.

Mainly the book is aabout how conventional wisdom is mostly not based on facts. I firmly agree with that and argue it in almost every conversation I have, much to the chagrin of my friends, I am sure. So I liked this book a lot!

Monday, April 24, 2006

The Sociopath Next Door

I read the first few chapters of this book and was completely bored. I guess I thought it would be more about how to figure out who was and wasn't a sociopath and how they dealt with daily life. I put it aside. Actually, it fell underneath my bed. And I had to return it to the library soon, so I ended up skimming through it and really liked it. Perhaps it was in reading it out of order and piecemeal that made it a much better book.

I still don't feel I have an incredible grasp on what determines if someone is a sociopath (although 4/100 Americans are one). The book had great narrative examples of sociopaths IN ACTION that were really compelling. This is a little dry for a "fun read" but the examples, which span many pages, are really interesting.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Stumbling on Happiness

Oh wowie. Look at this. I am reviewing this book before it even comes out. I am such a cool book reviewer. I am so hep to the literary scene.

Okay so now that THAT's out of the way, I got this book for free at SXSW from some very nice publicists. I did not get to hear the author speak, but his talk was attractively titled "How to Do Precisely the Right Thing at All Possible Times." A recording is available here. Basically it boiled down to:

happiness you can expect in the future= (odds event will make you happy) x (how happy it will make you)

And that you can't predict what you'll like in the future, so the best way to understand how you will feel in the future is to ask someone who is in the situation you are considering.

I read this book piecemeal, which was a bad way to do so. It's not overly academic and is pretty funny. I liked it, but the lack of a real conclusion to help was a bit of a letdown. I did think I would be much happier after reading this book, but sadly, since no one has read it yet, I had no one to ask. Help me help you learn from this book: you will not be as happy as you think you will be when finishing this book.

Instead just listen to the podcast! The studies it summarised were interesting, but as the book explains, I won't really remember them. :)

feeds be damned!

Feeds be damned, the actual webpage now has my allconsuming link, so you can see what i am reading...particularly since I am in the middle of about 4 books right now!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Around the World in 80 Dates

by Jennifer Cox

This was a completely fun book. A career woman decides to put all the effort she has put into her career, and use it to find a soul mate. She plumbs her contacts around the world to find her dates in countries all over. Some are good dates, and some are very very bad. And Metallica makes an appearance. Who can shake a stick at that? This is, by the way a true story, although someone in the train station looked down at me for reading this in public, calling it "chick lit."

The author used to work for Lonely Planet, and her writing as a travel author completely shines through. You really travel all the way around the world with her. She is very funny, and the Britishisms were cool.

On the other hand, there are a lot of assumptions about dating you have to swallow, which I wasn't completely in agreement with. This book is very funny, but it is a bit serious too. Cox repeatedly ascribes many people's (and specifically women's) unhappiness to spending a lot of their life in their careers. She is clearly opposed to the idea of "the right person will just come along." That's fine by me, but the fact that women have to quit their jobs and date 80 men in a few months to find a soulmate is sort of, um sexist. Clearly it isn't intended this way, and it's her book and her journey (she began the journey well before getting the book or movie deals), but I bristle at the idea that women working is what makes them unable to catch a man. She does have an idea of multiple soulmates (ie you don't get one for your whole life, but a whole bunch for different periods in your life), which I liked.

In the interest of full confession though, I was predisposed to like this book as I got it at an author reading that included MANY raw oysters and wine. Which were excellent. And the author was very nice and funny in person. So I could really see her participating in the story. I do recommend this book. I couldn't really put it down even though I had other things to read!