A Book Every Other Day

Reading mostly non-fiction pertaining to science, history, and culture. I also enjoy reading contemporary literature, but most of all anything that gets me thinking is the book for me.

Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West

Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West - Cormac McCarthy I don't know it was me or not. It probably was me. But sadly this book made me feel terribly underwhelmed. I have no problem with the violence, I am actually slightly amused that so many were jarred and shocked by the violence presented in this book. While personally I felt it was appropriate and accurate based on the time period. It is kind of like being shocked at the conditions the slaves endured on the slave ships. Spoiler alert, that was also horrific, but not unexpected.I know that the lack of punctuation didn't really bother me since I recently read and enjoyed Blindness by Jose Saramago. So I didn't have to much trouble figuring out who was speaking to whom.My favorite part of this book was definitely Judge Holden. He is an amazing character and is definitely deserving of Harold Bloom's praise. It is for Holden that I will give this book another go in the future.But for now, I am kind of glad it is over. Other than times spent with Holden, I feel underwhelmed, bored, with a bunch of others characters I felt no real attachment to, in a plot-less narrative following a band of violent thugs in the Texas-Mexico borderlands.And again, I am totally fine with plot-less narratives, but only if there are rich characters that can carry the weight of a narrative without form, which didn't happen in this book, since Holden was the only character of real interest to me, but he didn't appear nearly enough in the book for my tastes.

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1)

A Discovery of Witches  - Deborah Harkness First half was good, but after the action climax the book really dragged on. Spent to much time with thoughtful lovey dovey goodbyes. The blurb for the sequel spoke of a cliffhanger but I couldn't find one.Also the romance seemed a bit rushed and too much for me. No sex, seriously no sex, but a bit too many underlying promises of devotion and protection after knowing each other for three weeks.

The Eternal Dawn (Thirst)

Thirst No. 3: The Eternal Dawn - Christopher Pike My childhood has been violated.

A Mind of its Own: How Your Brain Distorts and Deceives

A Mind of its Own: How Your Brain Distorts and Deceives - Cordelia Fine An amazing looking to the ball of contradiction and self preservation that is the human mind. This book is lighter than Fine's other book The Delusions of Gender, which is still and probably always be my favorite of Fine's books, but so far I just love Fine's approach to the human brain with humor and great insight.

The Vampire Tapestry: A Novel

The Vampire Tapestry: A Novel - Suzy McKee Charnas One of the lamest flattest vampires I have ever read. Just horrible.

ROSEMARY S BABY

Rosemary's Baby - Ira Levin Maybe the movie ruined this book for me, the movie follows the book almost to the letter. It was a easy read, nothing to complicated, and just like The Stepford Wives complete with a backstabbing husband.

The Female Brain

The Female Brain - Louann Brizendine The train wreck started with the initial characterization of the hormones. Establishing the hormones with a particular gender and giving them “jobs” that fit with gender roles does not bode well for the hope to see an objective look at the female brain without sexist stereotypes or gender roles muddling the examination of evidence.Then it got into the book. At the beginning, it casually implied that PMS is scientifically valid. I was disappointed in that since there are quite a few medical professionals that have come out to say that the hormonal effects on a woman’s emotional state before menstruation is pretty much a social construct. It would have been nice to see some facts and studies laid out about the opposing theories that exist, but no it picked a side, and presented it as if there was no debate. Even the prevalence of the common side effects among women around menstruation would have been nice, but this book is woefully barren of many figures for a science book. And sadly at times it is even without facts.Many times the author states a common pop culture bit of pseudo-science psychology that many have heard, but there is no real scientific evidence for it being true. The first “fact” that had a lot of “truthiness” to it was the fact about how many words men and women say in a day on average. “Men use about seven thousand words per day. Women use about twenty-thousand.” This is scientifically false. Men and women actually say the same amount of words per day, around seven thousand.The second “fact” I had some real beef with was the statement that males are more likely to be on the autistic spectrum, and girls aren’t. That is a twisting of data and leaving out social behaviors and expectations out of identifying children on the autistic spectrum. The truth is boys are diagnosed more often than girls, however this does not mean that girls aren’t autistic. Typically the expression of autism is different between boys and girls, due to how the different genders are conditioned to socially interact, a boy with autism is more likely to have a angry outburst while the girl is more likely to be reserved and quiet. In the end the angry outburst gets more attention and therefore a diagnose occurs, while a quiet child is hardly seen as problematic, and therefore no source of that favorable behavior is sought.“Men are on average twenty times more aggressive than women.” While this is the social construct that is in place in many societies, there is plenty of data that put in a power position, women are just as likely to be as aggressive as men can be. As more women are rising up in the ranks of businesses, guess what, rates of women sexually harassing male employees are going up as well. Also there is a lot of speculation about that the cases of husbands who get physically abused by the wives are drastically under reported, mainly due to the social stigma that men are the aggressors and women are the victims.“Girls are motivated—on a molecular and neurological level—to ease and prevent social conflict.” How would that explain mean girls?Oh and here is a big one: “85% of twenty- to thirty-year-old males think about sex every fifty-two seconds and women think about it once a day—up to three or four times on fertile days.” Not only is this statistically impossible, but it is incredibly sexist too. It reinforces the concept that females aren’t naturally sexual, and that men are naturally hyper-sexual. And it makes a woman who enjoys sex look abnormal. It is covert slut-shaming.And her justification about why less women enter into science and math professions totally ignores the documented fact of stereotype threat that goes into effect when women go against expected female behavior. If you give a test to boys and girls, both will perform similarly, however if before the test if the teacher says “oh the boys always do well on this test,” there is a drastic bump in the boys’ score and a drop in the girls’ score. The same thing happens when women enter into male dominated fields, and the result less women enter into those fields, and less women remain in those fields.The thing is that most of these scientifically baseless “facts” are social fallacies that people started saying to justify sexist concepts about the genders. The fact that the author uses them, to support her theory, in my opinion, makes her the book lose all credibility. And as I said, since many of these statements she uses have no scientific merit, what about the references in the back?In most science books I read there are either footnotes or superscripts that connect a statement stated in the book to the corresponding source in the bibliography. In this book, while there is a bibliography, there is no connection from any statement made to the sources in the back. Which makes sense, since the original scientific papers and such, in no way supports what the author theorizes and definitely not the fallacies she uses.A big problem is that most of the book is anecdotal. She ends up presenting a very narrow view of experience to justify her theory. She explains the neurological structures of the brain, and then she goes into an anecdote as if it confirms what she thought about the expression of the brain structure. She doesn’t take into account social conditioning and pressure.It pains me to no end that this book not only masquerades as scientifically valid but people are just lapping up this neurosexism and recommending that everyone else drink the kool-aid, ultimately perpetuating sexist stereotypes and reaffirming gender roles that have been constructed.This book tells girls "Of course you are the emotional irrational mess society says that you are! I can prove it with 'science'! Don't bother your pretty little emotional wreck of a head with math and science you are just not wired to understand it anyway."For anyone who says that they loved this book, I would highly recommend the book Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine. Please for the love of sanity read this book and really try to understand the science behind claims and studies and don't just buy into it because it feels true without any real meat of evidence to add to the claims.

On the Road

On the Road - Jack Kerouac, Ann Charters I loved the rolling descriptions of traveling across America, the descriptions of the transient people Sal meets, but after a few trips across the US, I felt that the rolling beautiful descriptions were spaced farther and farther apart by more encounters with Dean Moriarty.I understand the appeal of Dean Moriarty and his failings, but after a while he really just annoyed me and the more I saw of him the less I enjoyed this book. Dean Moriarty reminded me of Finny, from A Separate Peace, except more wild, selfish, and womanizing. This book also didn't have much of a plot except following Sal on his encounters across the US and ultimately into Mexico. I didn't mind the lack of structure for the first half of the book, but for the second half it got a bit old and I wanted something a bit more to sink my teeth into.All in all, I enjoyed the first half, the second half kind of dragged on. It was alright, but I don't necessarily see how this book started a movement.

Inherent Vice

Inherent Vice - Thomas Pynchon Slow, confusing, flat characters. It might be good if you are familiar with the sixties and private eye narratives, but for me it just didn't do it for me.

The Half-Life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date

The Half-life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date - Samuel Arbesman Repetitive, obvious, long-winded, and writing was dull.

How We Decide

How We Decide - Jonah Lehrer Everything I expected through paradox of choice to be. The only difference is that How We Decide wasn't a disappointment.

Varamo

Varamo - César Aira, Chris Andrews Beautiful, quirky, hilarious, and thought provoking.

PARADISE

Paradise - Koji Suzuki, Glynne Walley, Tyran Grillo Intriguing premise. A love story that transcends time and parallels the migration of Native American and Polynesian, tracing it back to their common Asian ancestors. Story is told in three parts. A story of love and longing starting in Asia, marked with separation. The second part, moving closer to North America, and the last finally meeting.First two parts are good, but I felt the last part is where the story falls apart. Took certain themes too literally and the conclusion kind of descended into the absurd, taking away from the actual events of the scenes.Writing style is pretty simple, nothing to write home about. The basic story is good, but the characters are still pretty flat.

Warm Bodies

Warm Bodies - Isaac Marion The first 150 pages were really good, however after that point where the explanations of the plague and the cure started to pop up, I have to admit it lost me there.Beginning and middle really good, the end just feel flat.

Memories of My Melancholy Whores

Memories of My Melancholy Whores - Gabriel García Márquez I love literature, and in particular I do love Spanish literature. Even translated the language is so rich and poetic.I have read Gabriel Garcia Marquez's work before. I have enjoyed Chronicles of A Death Foretold, and A Hundred Years of Solitude. Therefore, when I saw Memories of My Melancholy Whores I was looking forward to rich characters with elements of nostalgia and romanticism.However quickly I was confronted with a sad and darker theme wrapped up in beautiful language and masquerading as the narration of a hopeless romantic.The premise of the book is this: a 90 year old man, who had never been in love, decides he wants to gift himself sex with a prepubescent virgin for his 90th birthday. So he calls his favorite brothel, and gets the madame to arrange a meeting with a girl who meets his specifications.Eventually, the madame finds a girl and he gets a call to go over to have sex with this girl. But upon getting there he is told that she was so nervous and afraid that she essentially had to be sedated and he goes into the room with a naked 14 year old girl.He cannot wake the girl, and so he decides to not have sex with her, and just sleeps next to her, still paying her.So even though the sex does not happen, I find this book is filled with the sickening idolization and fetishization of this girl by this man for a year. He continues to see her, recreating their first meeting, she is asleep and he touches and fantasizes about her, but no sex. He builds up this ideal perfect image of her, he controls what she looks (to a certain extent), and he interprets anything from her as an admission of love/fondness/intimacy, despite the fact that she is asleep for all of their meetings.He imagines he has conversations with her through her body language as she sleeps. That when she wears his gifts that she is doing it to please him rather than to fill a request for a client. He writes messages to her on the mirror and the irony is that she can't even read or write. He doesn't know her voice or even her name, he makes up a name for her deciding that is who she is and refuses to even learn her real name less it ruins what he believes is the "real" her.Throughout this whole book, the man is convinced as well as everyone around him is convinced that he is in real love, and in a real relationship. The consent of the girl is completely implied from the perspective of everyone, who interacts and speaks with him. "Why don't you marry?" "She is crazy about you." Everyone who speaks, implies that there is a real connection except the one person who never speaks, the girl herself.Her voice is disturbingly absent from this novella, and sadly I feel like this reflects the society that we live in. The fetishization of youth and virginity, does not empower young girls, but silences them. It silences and paints over who these girls really are and prevents them from being who they can be. It teaches this girls what to expect and what to do to receive this sickening adoration that is glorified by our culture. What to do for a man to dedicate all of his time and thoughts to you, for a man to write letters upon letters filled with his love and idolization for you. To give into the image that is placed upon you, is what one should do to receive what you are told is the greatest position you can achieve.This book couldn't help but to take me back to when I was working in retail when I was a teen, and the sad fact that I received the most offensive sexual comments from men over 70. Men who thought that I should fall head over heels, or be reduced to a blushes and giggles when they confessed what they thought about my body. What they wanted to do to me "if only they were a few decades younger". Things said from the standpoint that I should be grateful for their "admiration". Even giving me tips on how I could be just a little bit more attractive, as if that obviously was my goal, to be as attractive as possible.Just like this man just assumes that everything this girl does, is for due to her love for him, and not for the fact that she is the sole breadwinner of her family and needs the money, it seems like there is a portion of men in our society that just assume that everything women do is for them, for their affection, attention, and admiration.I don't know whether to recommend this book as a means to analyze the sick fascination with virginity, youth, and the role of women from the perspective of the patriarchy or to tell everyone to run, run as far as you can from this book. It has a disturbing rosy image of themes that ultimately support rape culture, and the submissive role of women, by making it seem "worth it" if it enables a man to experience what he believes love feels like. That dragging and subjugating a young girl into prostitution was some how worth it since she was able to give a man a feeling of love and she got a few gifts in the mean time.I personally have never felt more disgusted and appalled with a book. And if Gabriel Garcia Marquez's intention was to make me feel disgusted then this man is a genius, but if his goal was to sympathize with a old but flawed man who learned to be a hopeless romantic through fetishizing a fourteen year old girl, I don't know what to think about him anymore. If there was an ounce of conflict or regret in this man for feeling this way about a fourteen year old girl, then this book can be redeemed, however the narrator shows absolutely no remorse for not only what he is imposing on this girl, he also shows no real remorse for any of his other actions of violence against women he admits to.

Pygmy

Pygmy - I feel like Chuck Palahniuk is more for the young and rebellious. That edgy read that tears away and perverts the mundane of suburban life and the American dream. I get it, but I am a bit over it.Reading a few Chuck Palahniuks are enjoyable until the message and delivery get a bit repetitive. At times it seems like he is shocking just for the sake to shock and to shove down what amounts to be the same "fuck the system" message.I liked Fight Club, I liked Survivor, Choke was okay, Lullaby was like really?, and now Pygmy is "meh, what other tricks do you have besides making exaggerated caricatures of perverted social norms coupled with repetitive pointless graphic content?"I am not against graphic content, I like it when it has a point, and I am not sure that Chuck Palahniuk really has a point to drive home that requires such repetitive devices. It is like a knife you have used to much and now it is dull. Either Chuck Palahniuk needs to sharpen his tools by updating his methods and delivery or get new sharper tools.

Currently reading

Golden Boy
Abigail Tarttelin