Delaney, Thackary, Ackerman, Eugenides, Goleman, Resch, Casagrande, Dickens, Hedges, Lehrer

I do a lot of data entry at work. Instead of spending my time listening to the same old music from my ipod, or waste time disliking songs on Pandora, I listen to audiobooks from the Downtown library. While I recognize that this isn’t exactly “reading,” sometimes I feel that I absorb books better through hearing them than reading. There are lots of time to think in between the words about the book material and still do my work at the same time (at least half) efficiently. This is making me hella smart. However, I don’t presume to read, in the strict sense, every book I listen to. There are unfortunately times that I zone out and actually focus on work. So take these reviews with a grain of salt. Calm down. Take a deep breath and accept my imperfect musings on books I have never seen in print, but profess that I am reading with my ears.
I’m mostly doing this get this huge sudden wealth of literature out of my head, and to connect with those people who have read them. So please, PLEASE, comment if you’ve read it/want to read/want to learn more/want to disagree/want to say other things/want to steal my head/want to tell me to stop reading so many audiobooks and to pick up a piece of paper with print on it sometime!

I’ve read a LOT of books this way. Since I can’t remember exact quotes, I have a section called “paraphrases of note.” Here’s some overly broad reviews from books that I have read so far. Later I will go more in depth with books that I’m currently reading.

Title: Venetia Kelly’s Travelling Show
Author: Frank Delaney
What I Remember of the Plot: Irish kid joins circus in Victorian Era.
Verdict: Meh. Modern book. Didn’t really get into it, but at least I finished it. That doesn’t happen with most modern books.
Paraphrases of note: There are the parents that you grow up with, and then the parents that you choose. The second ones are the ones you always wanted.

Title: Vanity Fair
Author: William Makepeace Thackary
What I Remember of the Plot: Two girls and their lives, the good, simple one, and the bad, crafty one. Pretty much the Reese Witherspoon movie.
Verdict: FAN-tastic! I love it. I’d read it in paper form to get even more out of it.
Paraphrases of note: Oh man, the bad girl is a delight to read, but the good girl is a great study for a paper. In the middle, you realize that the good girl is so violently good just because she can’t put her great energy into anything bad because of her upbringing, so she puts all her energy in lying to herself about her husband and constructing a life that doesn’t exist. In other words she is WHOLLY SELFISH. And in the end there is this great moral smackdown of the good girl. She finally marries that nice guy that is the only nice person in the book and has loved her forever but is not romantic or attractive so she didn’t pay attention to him. But she has lost his love by all the waiting, and now he can’t really love her. The last sentence is something about how she tries to win him over the rest of her life, but he will always love their children more. Yes, you got SERVED.

Title:Ah-choo! The Uncommon Life of the Common Cold
Author: Jennifer Ackerman
What I Remember of the Plot: A whole bunch of things that will make you more germaphobic than usual.
Verdict: Fun, and damaging to my sense of security.
Paraphrases of note: None of those medications work: cough drops, cold medicines, decongestants, mucinex, airborne, vitamin C, etc. Cough drops are candy with menthol in it. You are just going to have to wait it out.

Title: Middlesex
Author: Jeffery Eugenides
What I Remember of the Plot: The history, through three generations, of a Greek-American hermaphrodite.
Verdict: Fun! Maybe my favorite modern book yet. The ending was a little TOO crazy, though. Thoughts on this book, anyone?

Title: Destructive Emotions: how can we overcome them? A scientific dialogue with the Dalai Lama
Author: Daniel Goleman
What I Remember of the Plot: A recording of many prominent western philosophers and religious leaders questioning the Dalai Lama on anger, love, etc.
Verdict: Very interesting, though too thick for me to finish. I would like to know more about Eastern philosophy.
Paraphrases of note: “Why is it that you Westerners don’t ever think of self-kindness?” Western philosophy has only selflessness (kindness to others) and selfishness (thoughts/kindness to yourself). There isn’t really anything in between.

 Title: Intuitive Eating
Author: Elyse Resch
What I Remember of the Plot: Retraining yourself to eat intuitively: when you are hungry, stop when you are full, etc.
Verdict: They made some good points, and I think it could be a workable method. Probably wouldn’t suggest it to someone that has a real problem with eating emotionally however, since it doesn’t address that problem. It’s a self help book, so it is made more interactive than others. “Pause the CD and get your favorite thing to eat that you don’t think you can eat. Now eat it, one bite at a time, thinking about each bite. Now throw the rest away!”
Paraphrases of note: “Diets never work because your immediate need of autonomy always trumps the future goal of losing weight.” It’s a good point that diets make you feel oppressed, and important to remember.

Title: Grammar Snobs are Big Meanies: a guide to language for fun and spite
Author: June Casagrande
What I Remember of the Plot: GREAT: tired of Grammar Snobs? This book goes over all of those grammar quirks that snobs usually zing you on, and teaches you how to zing them back. Grammar myths debunked.
Verdict:  Very fun. Well written. The girl is a disgruntled former newspaper editor, tired of people writing in their grammar corrections.
Paraphrases of note: Nothing in particular except my continuing conviction that language is fluid and grammar depends on the people that use it, not the other way around.

Title: David Copperfield
Author: Charles Dickens
What I Remember of the Plot: The life and times, rise and fall and rise of young simpleton David Copperfield.
Verdict: Why are men in Dickens novels so STUPID! David takes the whole book to realize that his cute little wife is weak minded and selfish, and then she conveniently dies. Disturbing connotations from the sad story of the working class, smart and nice girl that is lost to the clutches of a upper-class man. Everyone talks about how she should be dead if she isn’t already when she runs away. That’s how I want to be remembered…?
Paraphrases of note: LOVE the crazy guy. What was his favorite saying? Something about “I just can’t see how they took all out of King James’ head and put it into mine”? Dickens loves people with limited faculties but really warm hearts. I love that.

Title: I Don’t Believe in Atheists
Author: Chris Hedges
What I Remember of the Plot: Son of a prominent theologian but atheist himself, Hedges lays a smackdown on atheist culture. Or religious culture. In either case, mostly the Right Wing. Very depressing and malicious.
Verdict: Hated all life by the end of it, and definitely Chris Hedges.
Paraphrases of note: Erased from mind.

Title: How We Decide
Author: Jonah Lehrer
What I Remember of the Plot: Overview of level 2 subconscious decision making. Scientific and psychological, yet readable.
Verdict: VERY INTERESTING! *** My favorite so far.
Paraphrases of note: Your conscious reasoning is best for decisions with one or two variables. Larger decisions with multiple variables are best for subconscious reasoning. EX: buying a house. Best to sleep on it and see how you “feel” the next day.

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