Reading, Rating, and Reviewing through my own personal lens.
Every week in my Gratitude Sunday post I list what books I am currently reading. This page will give ratings and reviews of whatever I feel worthy of a few words.
1. Worth every minute.
2. Almost as much.
5. Don’t bother.
Moody Bitches: The Truth About the Drugs You’re Taking, The Sleep You’re Missing, The Sex You’re Not Having, and What’s Really Making You Crazy (2015, socioendocrinology) by Julie Holland. There are some books I can’t wait to be done with. This was one. I kept reading only to make sure my assessment was correct. The title was chosen for sensationalism and sales. Choosing the word bitch for a book title perpetuates the subjugation of women. And by another woman? For shame. I learned nothing new from this book except that I am a more scholarly reader than I often give myself credit for. Let me make one thing very clear. We. Are. Not. Bitches. We are women. We are moody. That is NORMAL. Men are moody too. That is normal. This author started loosing me early on, but sealed the deal when she called her own daughter a “moody little bitch”. And when she claimed fat makes women stupid, and proceeded to call them “fatheads”, I was totally done. None of the content of this book is funny or amusing. Read this book only if you are an average reader who knows nothing about the physical science and psychology of women. Prepare to be insulted.
Rating: 5 Really. Don’t bother.
God Help The Child (2015, fiction) by Toni Morrison. Morrison just writes amazing stuff. Beloved spun my head so hard I read it three times in a row. Her newest novel, God Help the Child, looks at abuse in a different way, her different way, when she talks about skin color and how it affects people of color and others. How does one go about finding love when you have not experienced love or even acceptance? Or accept being touched when a parent never touched or wanted to touch you? Or live with the knowledge the people who are parenting you stole you because your biological parents didn’t want you and threw you out on the street before you were grade school age? Is a lie ever acceptable to get love or be touched? Sometimes love comes unbidden; it appears and you take what you are given.
Rating: 1 Must read
A History of Loneliness (2015, fiction) by John Boyne. Set in Dublin, this story of a man’s life in the seminary and subsequent service as a priest in the Catholic church, is hard hitting and real to anyone who has ever been honest with themselves about what they believe as his best friend from seminary school is placed on trial for pedophilia. The story explores the isolation of priests and cover-ups by men in authority through the life history of one man whose tragedies in life are typical of most of us on this planet, but religious dogma does not interfere with the story. Loss of innocence, of faith, of family and its accompanying grief are hallmarks in this finely woven story. Having read Boyne before (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, one sitting it was so riveting) I had high expectations, and he did not fail. The author chooses difficult themes and makes them humanly readable with a well placed punch.
Rating: 1 A must read.
When Patty Went Away (2015, fiction) by Jeannie Burt is an impressive first novel by an Oregon author. Ms Burt lulls us with simple language, short plain words, lyrical and sweet, laying down the quiet days of farm life in the nearly waterless high desert of Eastern Oregon where water can destroy or restore. The characters come into their own with each passing paragraph and page. The strength of the protagonist is subtly reflective of the setting in his constancy, resilience, and growth. Poverty in the area nearly becomes its own character as teenaged Patty succumbs to modern times trying to survive in this life after the mental illness of her mother and abuse at the hands of her step-father. Patty’s rescue is a startling change to the life of the protagonist and, like life, twists and turns in unexpected ways. No spoilers. Must read.
Rating: 1 Could not wait to get back to it.
It’s My F—ing Birthday (2002, fiction) by Merrill Markoe. Truly a fluffy summer read, light and light-hearted, Markoe plays with her subject, who (spoiler alert) does not resolve her issues, but comes to terms with them. The author’s application of humor was fun and appreciated by this aging reader. Not quite diary style the chapters are a yearly entry of the year’s events and the celebration of the day. Our heroine is an art teacher, with the usual weird parents, odd boyfriends, and her inner bad girl who talks to her in her head. One caveat: the author uses misplaced modifiers which creates interesting pictures. Example: “waiters in fashionable haircuts with khaki pants”. Now, of course, we all know what she means. But what she says is funnier and not right. The waiters are wearing both the khaki pants and the fashionable haircuts. Haircuts don’t wear pants. As there are several of these in the story I also blame the editor for failing the author in recommending more clarity in the sentences. Just because a book is humorous does not give it license for sloppy writing. Still a quick and fun summer read if these don’t bother you.
Rating: 3 Funny, But Meh.
Vanessa and Her Sister (2014, historical fiction) by Priya Parmar. Some good fiction delving into the lives of Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf. The author had obviously done her research and was well versed in the facts known about the Bloomsbury group in England in the 19-oughts and 1910s, an exciting and interesting time in American history as well. This fictionalized version was an easy read, if a little slow and pedantic. I felt like I was receiving a history lesson, not just a fictionalized version of reality. Parmar writes well enough; I enjoyed the story and the writing because it was an easy read, not much challenging or thought provoking. All allegations of misbehavior were couched in understatements and the kind of language used back then regarding affairs, homosexuality, and mental illness, in other words, not much is stated openly and blatantly as in contemporary works with contemporary subjects. The novel did have its own sort of rhythm and lyricism, and flowed easily for historical fiction. 6-2-2015
Rating: 3 Nice Enough Read, But Meh
Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs (2015, sociology) by Johann Hari. Very interesting, well researched treatise on why we should stop punishing people who use drugs and start treating them like humans. I found his research fascinating; I agreed with most of his points and disagreed with very few. He carefully shows why the laws are what they are today and how they could be changed through current examples of challenging the status quo. Like him I think drug users, including alcohol (the most dangerous harm producing drug on earth) users, should be treated with compassion and caring. Drugs should be used by adults only if necessary, and never encouraged for children (and I would say people under 21, not 18) as the brain continues to develop until about age 24. He also shows how and why people become addicts or users, mainly because of trauma and isolation. His research shows if legalization took place, drug use would increase by a miniscule amount especially when efforts are made to educate children and adults about the risks of drug use, and providing the most at risk with human/community connections, homes, and gainful employment rather than stigmatization and punishment, and most users are able to stop or control their own levels of use to maintain functionality when provided with these simple human comforts. I like the idea of regulated use and access, but I’m not sure I agree with the notion of taxing drugs to create a revenue stream. I loved his main point that if we took drugs out of the hands of the criminal cartels the drug wars have created, crime rates would rapidly decrease. That alone would put tax dollars already being (mis)used back into the tax stream. His research appears solid and his arguments extremely logical. Must read for yourself. Read more about the book and the movement. 6-4-2015
Rating: 1 Worth Every Minute