04 April 2017

The Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik

              I read The Notorious RBG pretty much immediately after I heard about it. I have always been very interested in the goings on of the Supreme Court ever since I was a kid, and the fact that the name of the book called to mind the rapper Notorious BIG was the icing on the cake. I think the book was well put together. It had a lot of fun elements like the cartoons people drew and the various RBG Halloween costumes, particularly on an adorable baby. It was also very informative about her life, and I learned quite a bit about her husband, which was pretty neat and her workouts which were actually pretty impressive. The book was put together by two young women who were head over heels fans of Ruth Bader Ginsburg so there was an obvious bias, but I wasn’t too put off by it, because I knew from the outset that they were fans, and I didn’t feel like I was being tricked or anything.
                Overall, I enjoyed reading it and there weren’t any surprises outside of her personal life which was actually pretty fascinating. I would feel pretty comfortable recommending it to anyone. However, there are two things that I got from the book which I’m not sure the authors intended, but they are concepts I have been thinking through a lot even before I read the book, but which have been solidified for me since reading it.
                The first is an insight I had while talking to an atheist friend of mine about abortion. I have come to the conclusion (and maybe everyone is already here and I’m just late to the party) that people on both sides of the abortion question need to admit that the debate is over whether the fetus has life. On the pro-choice side, the much used “if you don’t like abortion, don’t have one” makes no sense if you truly realize that people who are pro-life really believe that fetus has life. If we believe it has life, and we do, we can’t just rest with not having one in the exact same way we can’t rest with not committing murder but being fine with other people who do. And on the pro-life side, we need to realize that people who are pro-choice really don’t believe the fetus has life. They really don’t. So calling them baby killers or assuming they hate children is really not very fair. That maybe seems much more obvious now that I have sort of, worked through that. And maybe you’re reading this like, “duh.” But this was actually a very helpful insight and helped me talk to my friend in a way that made her not think I hated women. The reason this book made me think of this is that RBG apparently did not like the way Roe v. Wade came about. Mainly because she wanted the process to be slower and to be implemented state by state so that people would become more comfortable with it. See, she’s exhibiting what I’m talking about. She assumes that pro-lifers really are just kinda backward in how they see women and once the modern world kicks in for us we’ll slowly get used to it. She isn’t realizing that the people who don’t approve of abortion will NEVER approve of it, because they’ll NEVER not see it as murder. Because we believe it’s truly a life that is ending.
                The second insight came when I was reading about the alleged “dark time” of the court, when Justice O’Connor had left the bench and before Justice Kagan and Justice Sotomayor came on. So,RBG was the only woman in the Supreme Court. The writers of the book talked about how sad it was that no little girl could dream about being on the court without a good representation of women. I was taken aback when I read this because I realized that during that exact period of history, there was a little girl who was pretty sure she was going to get into Constitutional Law and eventually end up on the Supreme Court: me. It’s weird because at the time I didn’t even pause to consider whether I was “allowed” because only one woman was on it. I just assumed I could do it. Much later, after Justices Kagan and Sotomayor were appointed I actually changed the course of my studies realizing that actually I really didn’t want to go to law school, I just found constitutional law really interesting and that was all. But it made me think about this concept of needing role models of our same gender. I wouldn’t go so far as to say, no one should have role models, and yes, if a woman does something to make history, I think it’s pretty cool. But I kind of think we are at a place in our society where we as women can kind of drop the vicitim act. I grew up in a pretty conservative Christian home (oh and I was homeschooled so, triple threat) and I was never given the impression  that I couldn’t do anything because I was a woman. I just, did what I wanted to do. Maybe if more women just…did what they wanted to do we would all be better for it. (You know…in reason, if you want to be a bank robber, I’d probably say don’t do that)
                I actually didn’t mean for this to be semi political, but I don’t really have a lot to say about the book, but I thought I’d just talk about things it stirred up for me. Read the book if you want. Or not. You could potentially get away with reading her Wikipedia article, though the book layout itself was pretty fun.

02 January 2017

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

I began reading Moby Dick in the summer of 2016.
Let me tell you more about that summer. I flew out for my little sister’s wedding to begin with.
First let me tell you about her wedding. It was great. We all really like her husband. Their colors were orange and blue and they had an outdoor wedding which was very beautiful. Her dress was the perfect dress for her and she looked so happy. They are having a very good time together, and they seem to be enjoying married life.
Let me talk a little bit about married life in general. On average, I’m going to throw out there that it is very enjoyable, and I prefer it to single life. There are a few things no one really prepares you for like, how do you buy gifts for someone if you share the same bank account? But on the whole it’s very nice.
Bear with me reader, while I talk about banks. I actually happen to prefer the credit union system. I don’t like all the hidden fees banks have, and I like the fact that I am a partial owner of the credit union. Also ours has a Keurig machine where you can get free coffee or tea or cocoa.
Let me talk for a bit about Keurig machines. I do appreciate how quickly you can get your coffee, but I find that the flavor is slightly compromised….
What am I doing you ask?
I’m writing like Herman Melville. At least I’m writing in the way Herman Melville wrote Moby Dick. He could not stay on track. He would start to tell the actual story and then get side tracked for like ten chapters talking just about the whale’s head. Seriously. Just the head.
If you don’t know the story of Moby Dick it’s the story of a captain whose one goal in life is to hunt down and kill this white whale named Moby Dick. He’s obsessed with destroying Moby Dick so much he will literally stop at nothing to achieve this goal The story is told by one of the sailors on board, and that’s really all you need to know. Oh yeah, also it’s a BILLION pages long and definitely doesn’t need to be.
Are you getting how much I didn’t like this book. If not, I hated this book. I think I’m supposed to love it and come out the other side enriched for my reading of this book, but I did not. Honestly, I’m not sure why it’s become such a big deal. I was just bored the whole time. I actually saved it for night time reading because it really helped me fall asleep. Though sometimes it was SO boring that it made me angry, which doesn’t make for restful sleep.
I didn’t like Moby Dick. Not one bit. But I read it so....

22 November 2016

A Sudden Light by Garth Stein

     I did not like this book. I said I would start writing reviews even if it was just to say “I liked it” or “I did not like it.” Well, I did not like this book. The weird thing is I remembered reading The Art of Racing in the Rain by the same author and loved it. It was a book written from the perspective of a dog, and I self avowed dog-hater liked that book. So, I was pretty excited to find this one.

     A Sudden Light was the story of a boy and his father who return to their family home to help out his aunt who has been taking care of his aging grandfather. The boy’s father and aunt wanted to put the grandfather into a facility that could take care of him better and sell the house. But as soon as the boy moves in he realizes that the house is haunted, or the grandfather is haunted, or maybe the boy himself is haunted by a homosexual ghost who is some distant relative and doesn’t want the land to be developed but rather wants it returned to nature because….because he loves nature. Also as it turns out the aunt actually has been creating dementia like symptoms in the grandfather because she’s actually crazy.

     I think it’s biggest flaw was that it felt incomplete, like the author hadn't decided what his book was going to be about. I couldn’t tell if this was a book about man’s destruction of nature, or a book about bringing justice to the homosexual community, or a book about a boy bringing redemption to his family. I think it was the latter. I say I think because it felt super scattered and in the end I felt like he lost his family. Nearly literally. I’m not going that deep into it because I actually don’t really think it’s worth a read. I hated the end. No, let me revise that. I HATED  the end. 

   At the beginning of the book I got a clue there was a line that said something like “The gravel crunched under the car like dried bones.” Really? I realize you are setting up an atmosphere, but don’t beat me over the head with it. I didn’t heed the warning and I wasted some time reading this. Don’t do it. I'd have to read it again to be sure, but I think I can say The Art of Racing in the Rain was really good. So, I'm not ready to write off this author entirely.