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GirlInterruptedReading

Girl Interrupted Reading

Books = Life.

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Hip Hop Family Tree Book 2: 1981-1983
Ed Piskor
To Rise Again at a Decent Hour: A Novel - Joshua Ferris
  Not bad and kept me reading. Paul O’Rourke is a mess. To Rise Again at a Decent Hour focuses on the world, society, religion and baseball. Paul wants to fit in the world but he can’t understand it. Basically Paul avoids having an internet presence and only uses it to check up on the Red Sox until someone makes a website for his dental practice and post about religion. He is pissed and wants to know why this is happening and by who, which he does find out, he is an Ulm. Most of the book focuses on what an Ulm is, his connection, whether or not it is a hoax and just him getting sucked more and more into it.This isn’t the first time he tried to find a place, he dated an employee of his and fell in love with Judaism. He loved the customs, the history and the sense of family, but he’s an atheist. Paul doesn’t understand why someone born into Judaism can be an atheist and a Jew, but not him (become a Jew while being atheist). He’s spending more time corresponding with people posting under his identity being consumed by it and people become concern over the statements his fake online self are saying. He just wants to figure out if there is any truth to what he is being told about the Ulms and himself.

This book makes you think about religion vs family/tradition while being humorous. For a book about society, religion, doubt, and faith it’s not preachy or favoring one opinion over the other. It is respectful. It’s also not a heavy read, its light and the plot moves along well, but it is still complex. I did feel like there was something missing towards the end, it gets jumbled up. It was going in all kinds of directions and circling around a message that wasn’t fully formed.

 

How to Build a Girl - Caitlin Moran

I can't decide between 3 stars or 4. So we'll say 3.5. I am unfamiliar with Caitlin Moran, I know the she wrote the book How to be a Woman and is somewhat a feminist activist. I wasn’t sure what to expect from How to Build a Girl, I thought it was biography/social science and it took me by surprise to actually be fiction. Johanna is from a poor family and trying to find herself, she also wants to get laid. She decides to try out a persona she calls Dolly Wilde, who is a cynic music critic and has outrageous conversations about sex.

I liked a lot about the book, the music mentioned, the attitude towards sex, and the overall coming of age story, but it felt unrealistic coming from a teenager perspective and that is because it isn’t. There are times in the story where Dolly/Johanna explain something and then mention how she sees it in hindsight, yet that isn’t part of the story. We are led to believe the perspective is being told by Johanna at the time it happens. So this just irritated me a bit. My second issue the absurd ideas Johanna has about her self and her role in sex. I get it can take people awhile to figure this out, but Caitlin went to the extreme. Everything else I loved, I laughed out loud at many parts. The plot has a good flow to it and it;s even though this is an extreme version of finding yourself it is relatable.

Priya's Shakti

Priya's Shakti - Ram Devineni, Vikas Menon, Dan Goldman Ram was in India when the 23 year old girl known as Nirbhaya was gang raped by 4 men and killed. Priya’s Shakti is a reaction to what he saw in the aftermath of this terrible rape. Many men blamed women for being raped because of how they dressed and acted. This led to a deeper problem with how women are seen and treated in India.

The comic focuses on Priya, she is told she can’t go to school to become a teacher and her responsibility is to care for the house. She is harassed and raped by men, when she tells her family they lay the blame on her. The gods, Parvati wants to help and while doing so the god Shiva awakes and punishes the world for how they are behaving by not allowing anymore babies to be born. In order to get him to change his mind Parvati has Priya show Shiva that most people are good and that they can change for the better.

It is a short story on a very deep and heavy topic. It’s not perfect, but it’s good and addresses something that needs to be. I’m not too familiar with Hindu, but that didn’t hinder my understanding of the story. It’s beautifully drawn and decently written, but what really gets you in is the ideas behind the story because it is based on sad truths that need to change. You can read it for free on the website posted above. #standwithpriya

Euphoria

Euphoria - Lily King Euphoria is so good! It took a few pages to get into the story and understand what was going on like understanding who is who, where they are and what they do. Once you get that down though, you are sucked in. I had to pace myself and not rush to finish the book in a night (made myself go to sleep). The main characters Nell, Fen and Bankson are anthropologist in New Guinea during the 30s. I know very little about anthropology, Lily King did great explaining what it is and showed how the three do their work, but honestly it sounds like boring work but she makes it interesting. Nell and Fen are a toxic couple and Bankson is lonely since he’s been on his own. Fen is selfish and extremely jealous of Nell, and even though Bankson is into his wife and he knows it, having him around helps them get along somewhat better. I loved how into Nell is in her work and so comfortable with the tribes she studies and just genuinely cares about them (especially true towards the end of the book). Wished it was longer!

Hausfrau: A Novel

Hausfrau: A Novel - Jill Alexander Essbaum K wow. I do not understand the mediocre reviews for Hausfrau. It is beautifully written, the author is a poet and it shows. Its tragic from start to end. Anna’s is depressed and isolated after spending 10 years in Switzerland, she hasn’t connected with anyone and is not part of the community. She has a history of this, but is has become too much. Anna has had affairs and continues to have them, she’s trying to fill a void/pain with sex, but its a short term solution. Her husband Bruno is reserved, she has 3 kids, one that isn’t her husband’s, no close friends in Switzerland or in the US, she’s just going with the flow and its making her miserable. The book is a mixture of past events with her first affair partner (father of her baby girl), her psychiatric meetings, and events unfolding in the present. The last third of the book is painful, the last chapter is beyond words.

Maybe I like Hausfrau because the emotions Anna describes are familiar. I think everyone can find something familiar about being passive to an extent. The book reminded me a lot of The Bell Jar and Anna Karenina, but in a style of it’s own. Highly recommend!

Love & Misadventure

Love & Misadventure - Lang Leav Love & Misadventure is a collection of poems about the different stages of love. I liked a few of them, but most aren’t anything remarkable & memorable. Thought it was a decent first collection of young love poems.

Lullabies

Lullabies - Lang Leav Lullabies is more of the same that was in Lang Leav’s Love & Misadventure. A few poems strayed away from the love theme and they were by far the better poems. I was disappointed that her poetry didn’t grow between the books.

Penguin Classics Little Women

Penguin Classics Little Women - May Louisa Alcott I never read Little Women before *GASP*.

I KNOW! I’m so glad I finally did though it was wonderful! I loved all the sisters (Jo and Beth especially) and their neighbor Laurie. The book moves at a easy pace and although not many big events happen, the entire story is interesting and just has a good flow to it. It goes through their lives as kids to adult women taking the reader through their adventures over the years. It is filled with good moral lessons and just overall a good read! Not much else to say considering I’m probably the only book nerd who never read this before so everyone already knows how great Little Women is.

The Quiet Room: A Journey Out of the Torment of Madness

The Quiet Room: A Journey Out of the Torment of Madness - Lori Schiller, Amanda Bennett It’s no secret I like memoirs by people who have mental illness, but The Quiet Room goes deep. Lori Schiller is schizophrenia and manic depression (bi-polar) and the way she is able to write about her disorders brings great insight. She doesn’t remember it all and parts she felt were important that she didn’t remember she had family members or doctors write what she was like during that time. She hears voices and experiences mood swings, she lived a normal life at first with these issues, she graduated high school when it first started and did great in college before it took over her life. She tries to commit suicide, she is hospitalized and develops a drug problem.

Lori does not hold back on her emotions and actions that occurred. It allows the reader to learn and empathize with her. I liked that it is addressed there is no cure, you will always have your mental illness, so the best people can do is fight the symptoms so they can live their life. I think many people dismiss lesser disorders as being something that can be stopped and cured, that a person isn’t trying hard enough, but this book shuts that down and explains how it actually works. Lori explains the treatment process and how medications are guess work until doctors find the right combo. Her experiences at hospitals vary, some want to cure her and get her out to have a high turn over rate, but this doesn’t work for her. It’s not until she goes into long term care does she start to improve. Highly recommend reading

Dealing with China: An Insider Unmasks the New Economic Superpower

Dealing with China: An Insider Unmasks the New Economic Superpower - Henry M. Paulson Jr., Michael K. Carroll I’m going to keep this short, unlike Dealing With China. It’s long, its boring, it goes into great detail about interactions the author, Paulson, experiences he had while working with China and being a government official, but it doesn’t explain much at all past the dialogue shared. Some chapters (or parts of chapters & definitely not enough to make the book worth reading) were interesting, overall though I just could not care. More background was needed to explain China’s history and a more broader sense of the changes that were made, we only see Paulson’s view and it is very limited and confusing when not put into greater context of China’s ways.

House of Leaves

House of Leaves - Mark Z. Danielewski I DID IT! I somehow got through this book despite being scared as fuck to read it at night, but i pulled through and DID IT!

House of Leaves is a total mind fuck. It several stories in one. The main one being around Karen Green & Will Navidson moving into a house that is bigger inside than it is outside. It causes additional strain on their marriage and they are documenting the strange addition to their house as Navidson and a team of men go explore the darkness. Except this is actually a movie, that isn’t real and created by an older blind man, Zampanò in his book that is analyzing the Navidson movie. He does into great detail to make the movie seem like it actually existed, he uses a mixture of real sources and made up ones (including fake interviews with Stephen King) to pull this off. Except Zampano is dead and his work got into the hands of Johnny Truant who decides to edit and add his own notes about his life and his findings. His life spins out of control and he’s wondering if its happening because of the book. Confusing right? But it’s not! The notations and fonts really keep you on track of what is happening to who. I don’t think there was a moment where I was confused.

The book is fucking scary, but it’s also about relationships, the main one being the relationship between Karen Green and Will Navidson (husband & wife), the strain before the house, the additional problems because of the house and then eventually clarity that leads to repairing their bond. The other focus is on what the hell is going in the house, why is there this never ending room that expands and shrinks, multiple theories are thrown out there, but then you remember this is a novel about a novel about a fake movie that is being edited and the editor is also wondering is this somehow a real house and movie and is it making him crazy. He is not a reliable character at all and that just adds to it. Ultimately the ending is up in the air, the reader is left to make their own conclusions about Navidson’s house and Johnny (which is actually expected given some of the things said about the hallway, some people have to know and become obsess, while others can walk away from it and not care they don’t know the reason for it).

No doubt House of Leaves is intimidating, it is a long book and sounds complicated, but the layout of the book actually makes it shorter (many pages only have a few words), a good 200 or so pages are not part of the plot, but made up of index, exhibits and 2 appendixes. As for complicated, as I said I never felt confused about what was going on and was able to keep track. Mark Z. Danielewski is just a fantastic writer I guess, because I cannot believe he wrote something so in depth that was still easy to follow. It sucks you in, it plays with your mind and spits you out. Just amazing.

All the Rage

All the Rage - Courtney Summers This book broke me. I’m gonna try to review it, but if it comes out as gibberish, sorry.

I was looking forward to reading All The Rage, I saw the description of it a few months ago and it caught my attention. Rape culture has been in the spotlight lately, but still nothing has really changed and this book is based on the rape culture problem. I never read a Courtney Summers book and I’m not a fan of young adult books usually and only read them here and there (I’m just not that age anymore). So i wasn’t sure what to expect from All The Rage. Romy is an outcast and treated like shit at school because she was raped by a popular student who happens to be the sheriff’s son, but no one believes her because nothing happened to the boy who did it. But the story opens up with Romy remembering it and waking up in the woods, this confused the hell out of me for like a third of the book because the next chapter says 2 weeks earlier yet everyone is shunning her already so the rape already happened, yet the first chapter made it seem like it had just happened and the story was now going back before it did, but no. Once I got all that straightened out I was more captivated by the plot.

How Romy is treated is awful, how she feels about herself is hard to read, and how she lashes out and keeps everything to herslef almost makes you dislike her, but you get why she is behaving that way. The ending took me by surprise, it felt unfinished though, so maybe a sequel? I cried my eyes out at times and I don’t want to go into much detail about what happens, you just need to read it. It’s a hard read emotionally, but a good story that needs to be read.

Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation

Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation  - Corey Powell, Bill Nye I grew up very confused about religion and science. The church was teaching us God created Adam & Eve and that lead to us. School was teaching evolution and showing us proof of it with fossils, including dinosaurs. This lead me to think Adam & Eve and all the people around Jesus time were created then somehow destroyed and evolution restarted things, I thought this until I was 9. I think once you have a basic understanding of science (especially evolution) it puts major pressure on your religious beliefs. Science can explain things with proof, it doesn’t guarantee to be right but its making a guess at it using measurable and observable metrics, where as religion you are told just to have faith and not think too deeply about it. Luckily I didn’t learn much about creationism in school, at most it was a definition or a paragraph in my text books that was read and moved on from. Basically I don’t think this book is targeted to me, I already believed in evolution and took advance geology classes that explain some of the more complicated chapters of Undeniable, but I enjoyed the book non the less, it was a refresher for me.

I loved Bill Nye growing up and he writes about science beautifully, can really feel the passion and the way he explains things makes it very understandable. The shade he throws at creationism is hilarious. Undeniable makes me wish Bill Nye will write a text book for evolution, because it is a difficult concept to grasp, but he explains it so well. He explains the history, importance and the possible future of evolution throughout the book and calls out ignorance from religious leaders while doing so. Unfortunately I don’t think the people who need to read this book will because they are stuck in their way, but its great for people who like science or are just curious. If you were a fan of Bill Nye growing up you won’t be disappointed!

Rational Ritual: Culture, Coordination, and Common Knowledge

Rational Ritual: Culture, Coordination, and Common Knowledge - Michael Suk-Young Chwe The fuck did I just read? It felt like the introduction chapter was rewritten for each chapter hammering in the same points that were made in the first chapter. Not all that informative, explains metaknowing aka knowing others know and know they know others know too. Goes into some detail about how and why commercials work and why circular seating is ideal. That is about it and it just kept reexplaining this over and over again. The book’s examples are outdated, it was originally published in 2001 so its kind of expected but it was then republished in 2014 with a afterword that didn’t address social media and the internet at all.

Girlbomb: A Halfway Homeless Memoir

Girlbomb: A Halfway Homeless Memoir - Janice Erlbaum The description of Girlbomb is a memoir of Janice Erlbaum as a 15 year old who in the 1980′s left home and went to a shelter. The book is so much more than that. It reads like story and held me captive throughout the book, the author did a great job at capturing her life. Janice leaves home because her mom keeps taking back her abusive husband, Janice’s stepfather, and she’s had enough. She goes through hell at a shelter and group home, acknowledges her white privilege and how it benefits her in the situation, but it is still hard on her. That was all I was expecting from the book but it continued on past that, it goes into Janice’s need for attention and love, how she is an outcast within her group of friends and tries to feel a void with drugs and men. The detail written describing the scenes and how Janice felt is heartbreaking and uncomfortable at times. There are times when I felt annoyed with Janice for making shit harder for herself but she is just trying to cope with her messed up life and it is clear she sees a pattern. Her mom was the same way and she is becoming what she hates. The book ended well, not making it seem like she learned her lesson and was turning over a new leaf, just that she realizes what she is doing and wants to change but it takes time and baby steps and will see what happens.

I would of liked if the author gave an update on her life instead of ending it where she did. The book was written in 2007 and the time described is in the 1980s so it’s not like she doesn’t know how she turned out, if she kept on the same path or managed to change. Oh well. Great book, I was very surprised by it.

Slaughterhouse-Five

Slaughterhouse-Five - Kurt Vonnegut This book is weird, the narrator Billy Pilgrim is unreliable and there are so many genres mixed up, but all of this is what makes Slaughterhouse Five good. Kurt Vonnegut addresses war and the casual attitude towards it like its no big deal (especially by people who weren’t there) in a sarcastic manner. His writing style is to the point, not much detail, just the facts/points you need to know for the story to continue. The content is heavy but it reads light, that is remarkable to me. I look forward to reading more Kurt Vonnegut.