Monday, January 24, 2011

What I've Been Reading

About a month ago I sat at the computer requesting book after book from the library. And wouldn't you know it, they all came in around the same time, so for the last few weeks I've been spending a lot of time trying to get through all of these books before they had to be returned.

Here's a bit of what's been on my nightstand:

*Whiter Shades of Pale
If you've ever popped over to Stuff White People Like, then you know the basic premise of this book, which is that white people like a lot of the same stuff, some of which is kind of pretentious, so let's make fun of that. This book takes it a step further though and divides the topics by geographic places known for exceptional whiteness, like Seattle, San Francisco, and yes, Portland. (Some strengths of the Portland white person include "strong legs from bicycling; well read thanks to Powells; good taste in music.")

This book was funny. For a while. But then I got sort of tired of being reduced to a stereotype. And I know I shouldn't complain because white people have been reducing other cultures to stereotypes for years and frankly, it's our turn, but it just got old. Plus, I felt is if there was a notion throughout the book that all white people have money, and if they don't it's because they choose to be poor by having a "low paying, high status [among other white people] job" like museum worker or book store clerk. Again, I get that this is all tongue in cheek and part of the larger joke, but I just stopped finding the joke funny. The last time being poor was funny was on Roseanne, and I'm sorry Christian Lander, but you are no Roseanne.

*What It IsOh, I just love Lynda Barry. This is a difficult book to really write about because there was no story or plot to it, just a lot of Barry's signature drawings and doodles, with a few words or short stories mixed in, mostly centering around what inspires someone to draw, write, or do any kind of art. Lynda Barry fans will love it.

*Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined AmericaI was motivated to read this book after reading Daphne's incredibly well written review and of course I loved it. I had planned on doing a full review here, but it was due back at the library before I got around to it and now I don't remember all the key points I wanted to talk about. But, I do remember the last section really striking a chord with me because it was all about how positive thinking helped contribute to the real estate mess this country is in right now.

I know of a lot of people down in southwest Florida-mostly older business associates of my dad's-people who owned successful companies and who at one point were what I consider very wealthy. But when the real estate market was doing well, they got too caught up in it and refused to see that one day the bubble would burst. I know people who not only have a second mortgage on their house, but also a third mortgage. I know a man who owes upwards of a million dollars on a home that's now worth around $250,000. Sure this can be attributed to greed or bad banking practices but a lot of it boils down to people only seeing the positive and refusing to even think that the negative could happen.

As for me, I continue to be a realist. Anymore, I hope for the best but expect the worst. With that attitude, I'm rarely disappointed.

*Feminism and Pop Culture

I consider myself a feminist but I'll admit that there are times I forget that I should really be more outraged. Women have definitely come a long way since Donna Reed, but the fact that there is a totally naked Brooklyn Decker on the cover of the my husband's latest Esquire magazine proves that we haven't really come that far. This book addresses all the many messages we're assaulted with on a daily basis through television, movies, and books and magazines. It was an interesting read, but fairly simplistic. I certainly don't consider myself well read when it comes to feminist literature, but this book wasn't really breaking any new ground, even for me. That being said, the book quoted and made reference to a lot of other female writers who have written about the subject with a bit more depth, so it's definitely a good jumping off point that I would recommend.

Next up on the reading list: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

What have you been reading lately?


~ The Jolly Bee ~ said...

Keep being real Tammie....I saw that book on Daphne's blog too. Our library doesn't have it. I keep meaning to request it. Thanks for the reminder. And, I have a stack about a foot high on my nightstand. There's no time to craft -- I gotta get these books back to the library.

Haleine said...

I love how you're always reading such an eclectic bunch of books. I read the traveling pants series a while back and, for the most part, I really enjoyed it.

I've been reading a steady stream of trashy vampire romance novels of late. They require absolutely no brain power which is perfect for me since I currently (maybe I should say 'usually') have very little in the way of brain power.

Daphne said...

Oh, so glad you got it and liked it! Wasn't it interesting? I keep thinking about it.

You liked Good Grief, right? I just got that from the library...

The WoodLand School said...

Interesting group of books, Tammie!

I read Nickel and Dimed (Ehrenreich) a few years ago ... and it plucked my last nerve! In fact, I was so annoyed by Nickel and Dimed that I must confess I am reluctant to read her again ... although the premise of this book might make me reconsider.

I just finished The Dressmaker of Khair Khana. FABULOUS READ!!! It's the real-life story of a woman in Afghanistan during pre-Taliban years ... and how her life changed during Taliban rule and after 9/11. Highly recommended!

Dani said...

I've been reading cookbooks and photography manuals.

And The Omnivore's Dilemma.

mandy said...

I'm supposed to be reading out of eden for my bookclub, yes! bookclub! which i'm so excited about. but haven't been able to get to the library because number 2 is sick and number 1 is afraid of the children's librarian, i'm not even kidding.

I'm impressed by how varied your current reading has been I get stuck in a genre or on an author, how long has it been since I've read non fiction? too long. excited to check some of these out.

Lia said...

Nothing. I haven't been reading anything and it's bothering me a bit, but apparently not enough to make me read something. I can't remember the last book I read. I think it was this summer.

I have ben trying to crochet more, though. And sleeping. I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.

Jessie at Luna Pacifica said...

I'm a realist too. I dig.