May 26, 2016

The Wander Society by Keri Smith



"When we constantly fill up all of our 'empty' time with stimulation in the form of electronic devices, games, and distractions, our brains become disengaged and the thinking process is effectively halted. We never get to hear our own inner voice-- we don't develop a relationship with ourselves and our minds. We don't get to know who we are because we are not listening."

"But if we make a conscious effort to not distract ourselves, as psychologist Sandi Mann says, 'We might go off in our heads to try and find that stimulation by our minds wandering, daydreaming.'

This is such a great little book about wandering through nature and reconnecting to our environments. It includes a variety of simple experiments to "creatively disrupt everyday life." Using our powers of observation and openness, we can fill the hole left in us from a life ruled by technology. 

I really loved just taking a breather and noticing all of the little things around me as I wandered. I wandered through a small patch of woods beside my house; I wandered around a lake and a marina; I wandered around the edges of a nearby park; I wandered through the streets in an area and neighborhood I was not familiar with; I wandered even in my own yard where I noticed a new bird's nest and a beautiful butterfly that landed and fluttered very close to me. I have drawn more art and I have found myself to be more creative. I have found myself to be more grateful in life, too.

In one section of the book Smith lists other wanderers - Walt Whitman, William Wordsworth, Charles Baudelaire, Aristotle, Virginia Woolf, among others - and I had a thought.  Forrest Gump was totally a wanderer!!!  I love Forrest Gump.  So while I was wondering I remembered that I was in good company with all of these awesome people (real and fictional). 

I will definitely be wandering more in the future and making notes of my surroundings and observing like a real explorer of my environment!  Thanks to Heather (Capricious Reader) for recommending it to me!

May 24, 2016

Cover Discover: Illustrate It!



Cover Discover is all about judging book covers (frontlist and backlist) within a particular theme.  We'd never judge the story inside by the cover outside, but it's fun sometimes to judge the cover on its own!

HOW I COUNT VOTES:
I tally up the votes for each of the questions and include rank as a percentage, as well.
Example: 5 votes for Favorite Cover
counts as higher than
4 votes for Favorite and 1 for 2nd favorite cover
which counts slightly higher than
1 vote for Favorite, 5 for second favorite.
ETC. 

First, the results of last week's Cover Discover poll: Vertical
 
FAVORITE COVER:
 
  SECOND FAVORITE COVER:

 
THIRD FAVORITE COVER:
 TIE!


Which covers did you choose as faves?  Did they place?

 
TODAY'S TOPIC:
Illustrate It!

 Here are the contenders for your vote: 









NOW, ON TO THE VOTING!

May 21, 2016

We Love You, Charlie Freeman by Kaitlyn Greenidge

Goodreads Summary:

The Freeman family--Charles, Laurel, and their daughters, teenage Charlotte and nine-year-old Callie--have been invited to the Toneybee Institute in rural Massachusetts to participate in a research experiment. They will live in an apartment on campus with Charlie, a young chimp abandoned by his mother. The Freemans were selected for the experiment because they know sign language; they are supposed to teach it to Charlie and welcome him as a member of their family.

Isolated in their new, nearly all-white community not just by their race but by their strange living situation, the Freemans come undone. And when Charlotte discovers the truth about the Institute’s history of questionable studies, the secrets of the past begin to invade the present.



My Review:
 
So, I get the experiment, I get the Freeman family, I get Charlotte's struggle with sexuality, I get what happens to the father and to Callie, I get the race relations, I get the point of Adia, I understand Nymphadora's story line, I understand Charlie's behavior as an ape and as a caged animal and as an experiment and as someone who grew up with people, I understand ALL of this, but for the life of me Laurel Freeman is completely beyond my comprehension.

Other things I'm stumped about:

1) Why does this family know sign language? Was it explained somewhere in the middle of the book and I have forgotten it? No one is deaf, nor do they know anyone who is deaf, nor do the parents use sign language in their jobs, nor are they into any other kind of linguistics. The mom just taught everyone for kicks? That would be cool if there had been a point, like, say she knew she was going to the Institute or she wanted them to work with the deaf community. But....??

2) Laurel and Charlie's bond - I would love to know the psychology behind it. I can guess at it to a certain degree, but seriously, I expected more of a dramatic resolution or explanation with this story line.


The ending was this odd mixture of satisfying and unsatisfying. I am not sure I can put into words what I mean exactly. It's quite hard to review this book without spoilers. There is so much I want to comment on that would take away from the reading experience.

Overall, I think it was a mostly successful attempt at blending a lot of impactful experiences and sociology and social psychology into a story about a family, an ape, and an experiment.


Favorite Quote:
"We had rules of what you weren't supposed to do in public, what you weren't supposed to do around white people. Laugh too loudly, show anger, dress raggedy, show any sign of disorder or chaos. Fit perfectly - without strain - into space."

May 17, 2016

Cover Discover: Vertical


 Cover Discover is all about judging book covers (frontlist and backlist) within a particular theme.  We'd never judge the story inside by the cover outside, but it's fun sometimes to judge the cover on its own!

HOW I COUNT VOTES:
I tally up the votes for each of the questions and include rank as a percentage, as well.
Example: 5 votes for Favorite Cover
counts as higher than
4 votes for Favorite and 1 for 2nd favorite cover
which counts slightly higher than
1 vote for Favorite, 5 for second favorite.
ETC. 

So last time you voted on horizontal covers, now for vertical covers!
There are far fewer of these out there.
Okay so first, here are the results from the last Cover Discover: Horizontal
 
FAVORITE COVER:
 
  SECOND FAVORITE COVER:

 
THIRD FAVORITE COVER:
 

LEAST FAVORITE COVER:




Which covers did you choose as faves?  Did they place?
What about your LEAST favorite cover?
 
TODAY'S TOPIC:
Vertical Covers

 Here are the contenders for your vote: 








NOW, ON TO THE VOTING!

May 6, 2016

Snow by Orhan Pamuk

Pamuk's Nobel Prize in Lit cannot possibly be a result of this book.  If it is, I don't get it.

1) Ka, the main character, is a weak, whiny little pith of a man and I honestly do not like him.  Furthermore, he falls in love with alarming rapidity.  It is basically insta-love.  No thanks.  He talks about being scared ALL THE TIME, to people he doesn't even really know, and is supposedly there to be investigating suicidal girls.  I get things are kind of weird but calm the eff down already.  We get you are the nervous sort.

2) The Turkish political situation is interesting, but it is explained very randomly.  Maybe this is something in the translation, but it will be repetitive conversations (ugh) and then an info dump. 

3) There isn't really any glue holding this story together.  It is a very long list of things that Ka experiences and his reactions to them.  Okay so it is a character-driven novel, fine, but since I don't like Ka, I don't really want 400+ pages of that.

4) I got really tired of the talk of snow.  Yes, I know that is the name of the book, but it was really a lot about snow - and always the same 3 thoughts about snow.  As you can see, the repetition got to me quite a bit.

5) I enjoyed reading the debates on whether women should wear head scarves or not and what is happening to them at school, at home, in their minds, at their mosque, with their friends, etc.  Once again, however, the same conversations were had over and over without new information being added or so little that I felt I wasted my time reading that chapter.

6) I would love to read about the politics v. religion, tradition v. modernity of Turkish culture and Islam, but I don't think this was the book to experience this.

Do you have any recommendations for books with similar themes that I might enjoy more?