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Girl Interrupted Reading

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Hip Hop Family Tree Book 2: 1981-1983
Ed Piskor
Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle That Defined a Generation - Blake J. Harris

THIS BOOK. I want to find my older brothers Sega and Nintendo systems and games and have a decent crack at them. Console Wars is such a great read. I grew up during this era, but I had no idea what was going on. All I know for certain now is my brother was spoiled, he had both systems (as well as all the others I think minus the portables) and so many games and he did not like for me to play on them often. Spoiled. That didn’t stop me from playing them when he wasn’t at home though :X.

Console Wars tells the great story of how Sega went head to head with Nintendo in the early 1990s. Nintendo was dominating the video game industry and Sega was some little company trying to get in the game in Japan and America. Tom Kalinske made that dream a reality, he is the reason people know of Sega and Sonic in America. The book goes into great deal of who the main players area and the events that built both Sega and Nintendo and the eventual downfall of Sega. It flows wells, there is a warning about the conversations being fabricated but based on what people remember and with the point of getting the main true points across. You know going in what the ending is going to be, but I kept somehow hoping that there was some way Sega and Tom turned it around and were still in the industry in a different sense, but ya just read it. I really hope Blake Harris does a Xbox vs Playstation book!

Salvage the Bones - Jesmyn Ward

Salvage the Bones is about a family living in Mississippi in 2005 as Katrina is getting ready to hit. The focus is on Esch being pregnant, her brothers, dog fighting, her alcoholic that sometimes there father and the impending hurricane in the Gulf. The kids mother died giving birth to the youngest child and they have pretty much been left to fend for themselves making them a close knit family. I went in expecting the book to be more about the family preparing, fighting and surviving the hurricane and it isn’t, it was still a good read, but I was looking forward to that based on the description. Some scenes are hard to read, like puppies being born, dog fights, and detailed injuries. They are hard to read because they are well written to the point it makes you cringe. With that said, I did not like the dog fighting parts. There was some glamorizing of it and that annoyed the fuck out of me. I’m giving it three stars because it was an interesting read, but I think there was just too much going on to make it an emotional read. It was almost there, but not quite.

Go Set a Watchman: A Novel - Lee Harper

Go Set A Watchman is no To Kill A Mockingbird, its not a sequel (even though it can be read like one mistakenly), and it’s obviously a early version of a story that needs some work. The focus is on Scout visiting home from New York after segregation has been deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Jean Louise realizes her father and her love interest are racists and it shatters her image of her father and her town. Some plot points lead no where, there are long speeches that are confusing, and frankly there are just some characters and events I don’t care about. There is a good moral story, stand up for your beliefs and don’t runaway from a challenge.

I believe Go Set a Watchman will become a footnote in literary history. It won’t become a classic that is taught in school like To Kill A Mockingbird is and there really is no comparing the two. Watchman can stand on its own as a decent book, but clearly it led to a better formed book and does not take anything away from Mockingbird. It can easily be seen as a sequel with the thinking that Mockingbird is from Scout’s perspective as a child and then as an adult in Watchman she finds out about the real Atticus, but this is wrong. They are not the same characters and its not the same story. The book is enjoyable on its own, it has its faults, but overall its a good story. 3.5/5

To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

 I decided to reread To Kill A Mockingbird to prepare for Go Set A Watchman, making this my fourth time reading it, and I love it more than ever. It’s a classic for a reason and teaches an important lesson that still needs to be taught today. The first time I read it I didn’t finish it. I was in high school, I didn’t care for reading and the teacher didn’t talk about what we were reading. I read it on my own in college and loved it. The characters are well defined, Scout and Jem are children and naive while these events are going on, they don’t understand everything, but notice when people are hypocrites or when they feel something isn’t right. The go to each other, Calpurnia or their father when they notice these things. Calpurnia is raising them right by teaching them how to treat all people. Atticus is wise and stands up for what he believes in, I know his character seems unrealistic, but I hope there were people really like him in the south during that time. The other characters are just as well written as the main characters, you understand where everyone is coming from and why they do what they do. The plot all comes together nicely from Tom Robinson to Boo Radley. The book takes on people’s judgements on others being completely wrong and harmful. Boo Radley was feared because people didn’t understand him or why he stayed shut in, yet he saved Jem and Scout. Tom Robinson was killed because he was black and even though the Ewell’s were proved to be lying, he was found guilty since he was black and the Ewells were white and because Tom knew he didn’t have a chance in the white court system he tried to escape and was killed. It’s a lesson that stands the test of time, in an unfortunate way, we still have problems with racism and misconceptions about people who are different than ourselves. It’s kind of sad To Kill A Mockingbird is still so relevant.

The Player of Games  - Iain M. Banks

The Player of Games is a hard book to get into at first, but about a third way in it did become interesting. I read this book for A Year of Books, which it did not make sense to me to pick a book that is 2nd in a series, I guess they kind of stand on their own, but at first it really is like wtf is going on. It’s a whole made up world and I had no clue what I was reading until a good while into the book. With that said, once I got the feel for it, the book was much better. It’s a story about a futuristic socialist society so the civilians and drones have time to do whatever they please, the main character Gurgeh plays games. Thankfully the book does not go too in-depth of what these games are or the moves, that would be boring as hell. He is blackmailed to compete at an Empire that is not part of Culture. While doing so it compares their society to Culture and explains how important the game is to the Empire of Azad. Then the plot gets old, so many times can the author vaguely explain the game going on before it gets boring, yes you want to find out who will win and how the Empire will react if the alien wins, but it does at an annoying pace towards the end. An overall decent book that kept me interested, but not something I would read again or want to continue the series.

Orwell's Revenge: The 1984 Palimpsest - Peter W. Huber

I am so disappointed in Orwell’s Revenge. I read this book for A Year of Books, I was looking forward to it and had to wait to read it until new copies of it were made, sadly not worth the wait or anticipation. It’s part sequel to 1984 and part analyzing of George Orwell’s views. Apparently Orwell had varying opinions about socialism and capitalism. Peter Huber used this book to point out Orwell’s difference of stated views at various time and how they contradicted 1984. He also goes on to argue that 1984 could never happen using his sequel to 1984 and commentary. It sounds interesting, but it wasn’t. It was repetitive and kept making the same argument over and over again. He also used modern (1990′s modern…) facts to prove his point, while Orwell wrote 1984 in ‘48 so arguing with these new facts is beyond pointless. He’s literally arguing with a dead guy and it’s so messy. The reason this annoyed me is that you can challenge someones views in sound way, but the way Peter Huber keeps drilling the same point and building up straw men arguments annoyed me.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou

What else is there to say besides amazing. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is Maya Angelou’s first biography about her growing up in the segregated south and her time out of there in St. Louis and California. You feel her pain as she realizes more and more what it means to be a black woman. This is my first time reading anything by Maya Angelou and I can’t believe it took me so long to do so. She writes beautifully and very articulately about her experiences. No doubt it is a classic and should be read in schools nationwide.

The Rape Of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust Of World War II - William C. Kirby, Iris Chang

The Rape of Nanking is a hard book to read. Its unsettling at times and just makes you hate people. Most of us Americans probably never heard about the Nanking Massacre when we learned about WWII, I remember vaguely learning Japan was invading China, but that was it. What the Japanese did to the Chinese is Nanking is horrific, it goes beyond war and there just no justifying it. The Japanese killed hundreds of thousands Chinese civilians in degrading and torturous ways within a matter of a few days. They raped thousands of women and mutilated their genitals, forced family members to watch and participate, and killed everyone once they were done. Iris Chang explains from 3 angles how the massacre happened, from the Japanese government side, the Chinese government and civilians and Western foreigners who stayed to document and help create a safety zone. She also shows how this event was handled immediately after and then how it was white washed away to the point many Japanese deny it ever happened despite photo proof. The Rape of Nanking is very well written, but I felt it didn’t go deep enough into it. It’s a good starting point and it’s goes full circle from cause, event, lasting effect.

The Trial -  Franz Kafka

The Trial is a compelling read, but also so fucking frustrating. Questions are never answered and your left scream WHY???? K wakes up to find out he is being arrested, he is never told why, he is free to go about his daily life as long as when he is summoned to the court he comes. He tries to dismiss the trial as nothing more than a shady court system trying to get a bribe out of him. More people learn of his trial and he begins to take it more serious. K explores options and meets other people on trial. The ending will mess you up. 

So what is the point of The Trial? There are lots of meanings that can be placed to what is read. Bureaucracy bullshit, a variety of metaphors the trial represents, or simply nothing but the text that is provided. Either way its a great short read that is interesting til the end. I didn’t know how I felt at the ending, was just kind of lost for a feeling, but I think that feeling of not know what I am feeling fits well with The Trial.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind - Yuval Noah Harari  Dr

My mind is blown. I didn’t expect to like Sapiens, but it flows well and it is filled with interesting information. Sapiens explains how we got to where we are and why it went down the way it did. It starts with why sapiens were the humans to survive over neanderthals and other species, and ends with why we could lead our own demise by giving birth to a new super human species. It explains why sapiens changed their way of living over time and the driving forces. It answers the big questions of why did Western Europe lead imperialism and how we are all now in a European influenced society no matter how much some cultures try to deny it. As well as why did capitalism become the go to economy over say communism. The focus is on three big revolutions, cognitive, agricultural, and scientific. Harari goes through each one explaining why the revolution happened and the lasting results on humankind. Sapiens goes beyond that though, it makes everything we value today, from religion, capitalism, nations, and culture, seem so pointless, but we can’t change it. What’s done is done, we can’t go back and change it now, just move forward.

Finders Keepers: A Novel - Stephen King

Finders Keepers is a great sequel to Mr. Mercedes and it has me dying for the final installment.

Morris Bellamy is obsessed with the writer of his favorite series Jimmy Gold by John Rothstein. Jimmy Gold is the face of teen angst, but in the final book he gets a job in marketing, this upsets Morris because his idol sold out. John Rothstein becomes a bit of a recluse and stops publishing any new work, he continues to write short stories and even more Jimmy Gold books over the years, but its for his eyes only and they are to be burned when he dies. Morris isn’t having that and brings 2 accomplices to rob John, he kills John and his two accomplices, he has the notebooks and a nice stack of cash. Morris goes to his friend Andy Halliday to tell him he has the notebooks, but Andy is freaked out because the news broke John Rothstein was murdered and tell Morris to keep him out of it and the cops will find out about him in a matter of time. Morris is outraged by this, he hides the notebooks in a field behind his house in a trunk and goes out drinking, he commits another crime and is punished for it, he gets life in prison without having a chance to read the notebooks in 1978.

In present time, Pete Saunders is a child of one of the Mr. Mercedes victims and his family is going through a hard time, his dad can’t work, his mom had to take a job with less pay and less hours and it is causing tension between his parents. Pete finds the trunk with the money and notebooks in the field that is behind the house he lives in, Morris’ old house. He sends the money to his parents anomalously over the next few years and he reads the notebooks and becomes a fan of the Jimmy Gold series. When the money runs out and the family financials are still too tight and his sister wants to go to private school, he finds out how to go about selling one of the stolen notebooks, he finds Andy Halliday, who is more than willing to take them and knows that Pete is shafting him, Morris said there were more than what is being presented to him.

Little do they know, Morris is out on parole and when he goes to find the notebooks he’s been dreaming about all this time in prison, he discovers they are missing. The only person who knew about them was his buddy Andy and that is the first person he goes to see about his missing notebooks.Tina, Pete’s sister, senses something is going on with Pete and knows he’s the one who gave the money. She gets in contact with Bill Hodge to find out what is troubling her brother.

The story is great, it didn’t go in the direction that I kept expecting and I’m glad it didn’t, the plot was more interesting the way it was written. I would of liked more of the story to involve Bill, since this is his series after all, but when he is finally introduced into the plot it works. Mr. Mercedes even makes an appearance throughout the second half of the book and sets up what the third and final book will focus on. The characters of Morris and Pete were well written with good background given, more so with Pete. As a reader you can relate to their love of a series and a particular author, just one of them takes it way too far. I am worried that Finders Keepers will be the weak link in the series, a filler even, I hope there will be a connection with the characters in this story and the final book.

The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History (Princeton Classics) - Abd al-Rahman ibn Muhammad Ibn Khaldun, Franz Rosenthal, Bruce B. Lawrence, N.J. Dawood

I did not read The Muqaddimah fully, the first 100 pages I read, but after that I just skimmed. This book isn’t for me, I don’t care for books about religion or philosophy to this extent. I understand the significance of The Muqaddimah, which is why I tried to read it, it laid down the ground work for many areas of study, but I just couldn’t get into it, especially know that so much of it was already discredited. People who like philosophy and reading historical philosophy will love this, I am just not that person.

1Q84 - Jay Rubin, Philip Gabriel, Haruki Murakami

My brain is a big thing of mush right now. 1Q84 is a long book, it’s really three books, but this edition (I think all American editions) combine them into one book. This is the first Haruki Murakami book I have read, which everyone seems to oppose saying this isn’t a good introduction to his work and some go as far as to say don’t read it unless you’re really a fan of his, but I’m grown. Don’t tell me how to read. Besides I love George Orwell’s 1984 so it only made sense for me to start here with Haruki Murakami.

I am going to attempt to summarize this mammoth now. The year is 1984, Aomame is on her way to an assignment and is stuck in traffic on the expressway, she leaves her cab and goes down an emergency staircase, she emerges into 1Q84. She is a gym instructor, but also works for the Dowager killing abusive men, without leaving a mark and making it look natural. Our other character is Tengo, he teaches math and writes fiction. Him and Aomame knew each other in school and were in the same class for 2 years, they weren’t friends or even talked but, when they were both 10 Tengo defends Aomame and later she grabs his hand. This even both stuck with them for the next 20 years. Tengo gets involved ghost re-writing a 17 year old girl’s, Fuka-Eri, story about the religious compound (Sakigake) she ran away from. He thinks this is just a story, but it is very real. The Little People control everything and the leader (Fuka-Eri’s father) can hear them. Fuka-Eri’s guardian is using her book as a way to create publicity for the girl and then have her go in hiding to force police to look into Sakigake’s compound to find out about what happened to her parents. Sakigake is upset at the book selling and wants to put a stop to it going after Tengo. Meanwhile, Aomame is assigned to kill the leader of Sakigake because he is raping girls who haven’t had their period and using religion as an excuse to do so. The leader wants her to kill him, he explains why he had sex with those girls and the role of The Little People. He knows about Aomame’s longing for Tengo and tells her Tengo feels the same way, but that they can’t be together, she either has to kill the leader and Tengo lives, but she is hunted by Sakigake, or she lets the leader live and Sakigake continues to go after Tengo. She kills the leader and goes into hiding. The rest of the book is Tengo searching for Aomame, Aomame is in hiding, but also watching for Tengo, and Sakigake closing in on Aomame and understanding how to get to her through Tengo.

There is so much more to the book that my loose summary, but that’s the build up to the end. Like I said it is a long book, but it’s a good book and really gets you interested. I didn’t mind the length of the book until towards the end, the 3rd book is definitely they weakest section, but it’s still good. There is repetitiveness, but that’s expected since it was originally a series, books always gotta remind readers a little bit what happened before (but if you are reading all 3 in a row it feels unnecessary). When a book is over 1k pages long and the author is giving out long descriptions of characters cooking food, you want to scream (he didn’t do it too much though, but still). The plot is interesting. It’s a slow build up and then drops big revelations fast at a good pace, it keeps you hooked. There is great background to the characters and just a lot of depth to Aomame and Tengo. It’s not just reading about their lives for the events in the main plot, but also their past and what they are like in their life when it doesn’t surround the plot of the story. It has fantasy elements, but it’s like reading everyday life. It’s a satisfying read, the time and effort going into reading 1Q84 is worth it.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kesey
  Loved it. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is told from Bromden’s perspective, a native american everyone assumes is deaf and illiterate. He has been at the asylum the longest and roams around the ward cleaning while overhearing conversations. A newcomer McMurphy is the main focus of the story, he is loud and rebellious. He tries to get the others to lighten up and likes to test the main rigid nurse. He gets to her and gets the other men to rise against her as well. They are constantly battling each other, trying to get the best of the other, Bromden get’s to witness a lot of the planning and the events unfold. McMurphy gets Bromden to talk and Bromden is shown a way out of the fog being around him. The final showdown between McMurphy and Big Nurse is a much awaited match and it is a worthy ending.

This book is just about perfect. I loved that it’s told from Bromden’s view and that he’s just in the background in most of these scenes that he’s witnessing. Even though Bromden isn’t the main character the plot is around he still very insightful about what he is seeing and his past. It can be hard to understand what he is talking about at first, but it becomes easier. I loved the relationship between McMurphy and Bromden, it’s so simple. McMurphy is obnoxious, but you root for him. He’s doing these guys some good. The Big Nurse is a bitch, but she’s doing her job and trying to make it go smoothly, so you also understand where she is coming from. Seeing these two butt heads and test each other is funny but tense. The ending is crazy, even though I had a feeling what was going to happen, I kept willing it not to happen. But even what I thought wasn’t the full ending. It’s beautiful ending in its way.


Me and Earl and the Dying Girl - Jesse Andrews
  Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is not your average young adult novel. The me being Greg who wants to be casually social with everyone and avoid close friendships is guilted by his mom into hanging out with the dying girl, Rachel. Greg has been around Rachel before in Hebrew school, he was always able to make her laugh, but things got awkward when he kept avoiding her invitation to hang out. Now Greg is hanging out with her and still able to make her laugh, with his odd sense of humor. His other friend-but-not-really-more-like-a-coworker-making-&-watching-films, Earl meets her and ends up showing her the films him and Greg have made, no one is allowed to see them, this freaks Greg out that Rachel has seen them, but she understands to keep it a secret and she actually really likes them. Once it is clear Rachel is going to die Earl and Greg set out to make a film just for her, despite not knowing much about her.

What I liked is it’s nothing you would expect from a young adult book about a teenager with cancer. They don’t fall in love, Greg is hanging out with her because she has cancer and his mom pressured him to do so, he can’t truly express what he is feeling, and he is beyond modest when he gets complimented. The story is told from Greg’s perspective, he’s writing a book about the experience. The style of writing got on my nerves, the constant self depreciating and teenage boy talk was over the top. The story is realistic though, Greg knows nothing about Rachel, but wants to make her happy in her final days and when he tries to express what he is feeling it just falls flat, because how can you put that in words. He feels like shit that he can’t define what he feels and thinks he’s a shitty person because he can’t. I loved that, its accurate.


The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness - Michelle Alexander
  This is one of the most important books I have ever read. Basically Michelle Alexander shows how The War on Drugs and mass incarceration is the new racial caste. She explains how slavery began, how slavery ended, the new racist laws during reconstruction, the fall of the laws, the rise of Jim Crow, the fall of Jim Crow and then finally the rise of using the prison system to continue to target black communities and treat them like 2nd class citizens. It might sound crazy at first, Michelle couldn’t believe it at first either, but she spells it out point by point. My mind was blown. The thing is you probably already know and heard a lot of the statistics used, but seeing them all together and how they add up is shocking. The New Jim Crow is informative of the history that cause the mass incarceration of black, the policies made under both political parties that targeted blacks by instead using the world criminals to avoid blatant racism in the public. It explains how the courts are able to continue this caste, by protecting itself with rulings that prevent people to even bring up it is racially bias. The book also explains what it truly means to be a felon, how it is legal for our country to discriminate against felons, and what it is doing to the black communities.

I highly recommend reading The New Jim Crow especially with the current events going on. This needs to be talked about and brought to light. It makes me upset that our country can ignore this problem.