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07:01 pm: (long-overdue) books
Oy. It’s been a while, and of course I’ve forgotten most of what I’ve read. What I remember is mostly pretty good though.

The first real book I read on my iPad was Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The other free books I downloaded were both horrible “romance” (one was about a prostitute, just to give you an idea) novelettes that were not worth the time it took to figure out they weren’t worth the time. I would’ve sworn I’d read P&P before – several times, even – but I either :gasp: had never read it or continue to suffer from CRS, which is no particular surprise. In any case, I don’t imagine anyone needs me to tell them it’s marvelous, in its own way. I immediately downloaded Emma and Sense & Sensibility, though I’ve not read them yet.

Baumeister and Tierney’s Willpower (Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength) is one of the best nonfiction books I’ve ever read. Ever. It’s about the science of ego depletion, which turns out to be quite different from what’s commonly thought in some ways (and not at all in others). Fascinating stuff. So fascinating that I’ll be devoting an entire blog post to it shortly. Really, really good.

I read Julie Garwood’s The Ideal Man a couple of weeks ago, put it in the blog stack, and promptly forgot it. Hmm. Doesn’t say much for it, does it? Reading the book flap reminds me that I actually quite liked it. Young surgeon-heroine (I do like a strong, smart heroine), macho FBI (?) protector-hero, implausible but compelling plot. Reasonably well-written sex scenes. Borrow it from me or wait for the paperback.

I finally got around to reading Alan Lightman’s Einstein’s Dreams while I was in Boston. As I’m sure everyone but me already knew, it’s… odd. It’s a series of short essays, ostensibly by Albert Einstein, about time. Each explores a different possibility – time is running backwards, time is visual, many variations on time being relative. I found it alternately compelling and boring. Definitely odd.

I happened to read it the same day that Emily Rapp's Notes from a Dragon Mom went viral, which was a bit freaky. (If you haven’t yet, go read the essay. Prepare to cry.) Lightman’s “14 May 1905” describes a place where time stands still. As you move closer to it, time slows down until it stops when you arrive. Here’s one paragraph:

“And those who return to the outer world… Children grow rapidly, forget the centuries-long embrace from their parents, which to them lasted but seconds. Children become adults, live far from their parents, live in their own houses, learn ways of their own, suffer pain, grow old. Children curse their parents for trying to hold them forever, curse time for their own wrinkled skin and hoarse voices. These now old children also want to stop time, but at another time. They want to freeze their own children at the center of time.”

Reading Lightman and Rapp (“How do you parent… without a future”?) in such close proximity messed with my head. So many parenting decisions are future-oriented (he wants as much screen time/ as few veggies as he can get, but reading and salads are better for him than Nintendo and ice cream). Until I’d read Rapp, I hadn’t thought really concretely about what the lack of time does to parenting choices. Blows them to hell and gone, of course, because all any parent wants in those circumstances is for their child to be comfortable and happy. The hell with the future when there is no future. If I really lived each day as if it were my last (Steve Jobs had a fair amount to say on that subject as well), I’d be eating a lot more chocolate, working a lot fewer hours, and taking more vacation.

I’d also be fatter and broker and a lot less happy in the future as a result.

I finally finished Robert Sutton’s Good Boss Bad Boss months after starting it, so not the most compelling of his books (that would be The No-Asshole Rule). Sutton wrote a series of posts for HBR that summarized the book pretty well, which might be a better use of reading time than the whole book… unless you have a burning need to get into details about boss-dom (which I will want to review shortly, so this one’s staying close for when I need it).

David Thorne’s The Internet Is a Playground is intermittently hilarious, like Thorne’s blog, which comprises semi-fictitious* descriptions of interactions Thorne has with clients (he’s a graphic artist). Like anyone truly hilarious, he is occasionally offensive (he seems to find overweight women somewhat of a personal affront, which is both immature and obnoxious, but that’s kind of his shtick). When he’s funny, though? There are few better. I’m particularly fond of “Simon’s Pie Charts” and "Missing Missy.” I recommend going potty before reading them.

I picked up Jennifer Weiner’s Fly Away Home from CostCo. I do like a discount. This is the seventh of her books I’ve read. I’m not sure I remember the differences among them, most of which come down to “chubby Jewish heroine makes good.” I like chubby Jewish heroines, and Weiner writes reasonably well, so I enjoy them. This one’s about a woman and her two daughters, alternating chapters from each perspective. Interesting approach. I’ll keep buying Weiner’s books as the paperbacks show up at discount places.

I’ve now read the first five of Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs books, and I like them just fine. The first, especially, took a while to grow on me, but now I enjoy them. I won’t pay full price, but they show up in my Amazon offers periodically. They take place in the 1920s and 30s. I don’t usually like historical mysteries, but Winspear has a relatively light touch with the historical details and quite a modern spin in some ways (Dobbs is a feminist and a quiet champion of gay rights). I suspect I’m learning more about the era than I recognize – just as I learn about Alaska from Dana Stabenow or sailing from Sam Llewellyn.

* Or possibly real, which would be even better.

Current Location: Longmeadow
Current Mood: okayokay


Date:October 27th, 2011 11:55 am (UTC)
Guess I'll have to start a new list!
Reading: the one task I hope I never run out of.

[User Picture]
Date:October 27th, 2011 01:28 pm (UTC)

Yes indeed!

Excellent point.
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