Book Report!

Nameless Novel

Nameless NovelI was talking with a co-worker about movies, and found that we have similar interests in things that are strange and disturbing, so he recommended this book to me. It’s described as “infamous” because it is so depraved. haha It feels wrong to begin this post with such a disturbing book, but I make these lists in the order in which I read the books.

So what did I think of this one? It was okay. It definitely contained a lot of offensive material (to the exclusion of anything else), but it was so devoid of anything real that it wasn’t actually disturbing to me. There has to be some sense of reality, of humanity, of something you can relate to in order to evoke any real emotion or response, but because it was all just a jumble of outlandish lewdness and violence, it was almost like reading a string of unrelated words. I’m glad I read it, because it’s different from anything else I’ve ever read, but basically it was boring.

Also, I will reiterate that my Book Report posts are not book recommendations, just documentations of what I’ve read. I would definitely not recommend this particular book to 99% of people.

The Psychopath Inside

The Psychopath InsideI’ve been interested in serial killers for a while, and understanding what in the world makes them the way they are. Over the years, I’ve learned more about psychopathy and sociopathy (basically the same things), not only in relation to serial killers, but just as a way to understand those individuals we see regularly who seem to have no concern for anyone but themselves; people that I wouldn’t otherwise understand at all.

I heard about this book while listening to the author’s TedTalk on a podcast. His TedTalk was all about his neuroscience research and his discovery that he himself is a “low-level” psychopath. He breaks down what psychopathy is, and possible causes of it, as well as how it might be beneficial in some ways. Very interesting!

The Woman In White

The Woman In WhiteThis is considered to be one of the first mystery novels written, which sounded interesting to me. Unfortunately, I found it boring. It was a bunch of mess around inheritances because no one actually had real jobs back then so they had to just kill each other or pretend to be someone else in order to “maintain their status in life.” Also, it was too long for what it was. Meh.

Before Ever After

Before Ever AfterIt’s like a time-travel romance fluff. Meh, it was okay.

The Secret History

The Secret HistorySo good! It felt really meaty, like I was reading a “real book.” I’m not sure exactly what that means, but that’s what it felt like. It’s about a tight-knit group of college students who find themselves in a sticky situation. The timeline is the most interesting part, as we learn *what* happens before we learn *why* it happened.

The New Jim Crow

The New Jim CrowI read this for work. It’s about how our criminal “justice” system targets young black and brown men, and the name alludes to how it has become our society’s new way of segregating the races. I have no real response other than a sad, “yup.” This system is terrible in many ways, and it needs to be dismantled and rebuilt entirely.

A Visit From The Goon Squad

A Visit From The Goon Squad

The story follows a handful of characters whose lives intertwine, and the timeline is disjointed (you never know if you’re reading about things that happened last week or 2 decades ago). The characters aren’t particularly likable, and they don’t really do anything of interest. It wasn’t my thing. I think you need to read it in just a few sittings because picking it up a couple times a week (which is how I read) makes everything too messy. You can’t keep track of who’s who and what’s happening when. Oh well.

The Outcasts

The OutcastsI tend to like westerns, and this one seemed to have a cool heroine, so it seemed like a good prospect. It was okay, but I didn’t have much respect for the female protagonist (she made terrible decisions, and was a bit of a pawn), so it was kind of a let down. Though, one of the characters complained about the The Woman In White, which made me giggle.

Looking Backward

Looking BackwardMy dad mentioned this book to me (though he doesn’t remember it) when we were talking about economic/social structure, and communism/socialism/idealism. It was kind of a “You think things could be better? Read this book. You’d probably agree with him [you silly idealistic communist].” But in a nice way. 🙂

The book is essentially the author’s description of how he thinks society should (and possibly would?) be organized in the future. He wrote the book in 1887, imagining (fantasizing about) life in the year 2000, when everything is perfect, there is no poverty, no greed, nothing bad whatsoever, basically. He never uses the word “communism” (my favorite euphemism he used was “living in concert”), but socialism was pretty much what he described.

I mean…I don’t have any problems with his ideas, but throughout the book I was just imagining patting him condescendingly on the head like, “Yeah Edward, that’s a nice idea.” Kind of how people do to me. Of course he’s being naive. Of course it’s too perfect to ever occur in reality (especially expecting such a drastic change in just 100 years and without any growing pains, or sense of what steps it took to get to the end point). But I don’t think it’s unrealistic to believe that our economic and social structure could be drastically improved, and that we should work toward something like this. It was a nice model for inspiration.

The Asylum

The AsylumA page turner! It had a lot of similarities to The Woman in White (hidden identities, inheritances, mistaken parentage, accidental commitment into an insane asylum), but it was much more interesting. It was fun, suspenseful, and sometimes scary. Loved it!

Book Report!

The Heart Goes Last

This is the fourth episode in the Positron Series. I can’t really say much about it, because it’s still in progress. The plot has thickened, our protagonists have been filled in on their missions to take down their community’s managers, and we’re now about to see what the world looks like outside of their dystopian village.

The Highly Sensitive Person

As a Highly Sensitive Person, it was nice to hear that some of my more annoying quirks are shared by others like myself. For example, I always noticed that I perform extremely poorly just when it most matters (i.e. when I’m being assessed, tested, or scrutinized in any way like during auditions, work training, or dance performances). I can do just fine when no one’s looking, ya gotta believe me! It is maddening.

And it was helpful to learn why this happens: HSPs are at a continually higher rate of sensitivity to stimuli, so when anything more is added (i.e. stressors), we become overwhelmed and we shut down, whereas most others simply have heightened arousal (e.g. nervousness) or some lucky ducks experience improved performance. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really seem like there’s a whole lot I can do about this problem.

Another thing to note about this book: a lot of the information was referenced in and/or related closely to information in Quiet (a book about introversion which I also read recently).

The Black Moth

The gal wrote this book when she was like 19. Nutso! I read this because I really like Robin Hood-type characters, which can include Highwaymen. I just think the whole concept of a Highwayman would make for a really good story, but I’m not really aware of any yet (I should totally write one :)). When I heard of this one (“The Black Moth” is this Highwayman’s nickname), I thought I’d check it out.

It was alright, kind of just light and simple. It is a “Regency Romance“, so the dialogue is old-style and some things just feel odd in a modern light. One such puzzling element: the height of the drama revolves around the lead female character being physically abducted and brought back to the villain’s house to be raped (or rather, forced into marriage, and then raped). Pretty dark, right?

Well, when she is *SPOILER ALERT* saved at the last moment (literally, the villain is about to tear her dress off, and the hero breaks in through the window or something similarly Errol Flynn-esque, and they have an almost-deadly sword fight), the hero and his band of helpers (including some of the heroine’s own family members) stay and eat dinner with the villain in his mansion. And the story pretty much ends with that happy little scene. Wha…? As a woman, and ya know, a human being, I found that offensive.

North and South

Ughhhhh this book was the worrrssssttttt. It was like it was trying to be Pride and Prejudice, but without the charming characters, believable plot, or witty dialogue. It went on forever, nothing happened, and worst: the characters were completely unlikable. It took me forever to read.

Ready Player One

What a great book! I should apparently only read dystopian novels, since I seem to always like them. So this one takes place in near-future America (about 30 years from now), in which the economy has completely collapsed, and climate change is looming yet larger, but people are kept pacified by escaping into an ever-available virtual-reality-ongoing-multiplayer-video game-type of thing.

The protagonist is competing in a global, virtual, easter egg hunt with very real (and mortal) consequences. The creator of the hunt grew up in the 1980s and was obsessed with the decade, so the book constantly throws out references to 80s pop culture, which was really fun. Very fun, satisfying ending too.

Start with Why

I read this because it was referenced by the CEO at my new job (part-time, an organization that works with technology in schools). I guess the idea is okay..I don’t disagree with it. In fact, it’s often my mantra (as in “Why again are we doing things this way..?”). But it’s not the “make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons” book that I anticipated. What it’s really saying is, basically, when big corporations do a good job of marketing a desirable lifestyle to its customer base (what I believe Sinek actually means when he talks about “the WHY”), people will buy their product and the company will make more money. Which is like..well…duh.

I did like one line, which paraphrased Thomas Friedman (“The World is Flat”..which I should read): “Pessimists are usually right and optimists are usually wrong but all the great changes have been accomplished by optimists.” So true. Being a realist, people (i.e. optimists) often consider me to be a pessimist. They can call me whatever they want, ’cause I know I’m right. Too bad I’m useless.

 

Eleanor and Park

A friend of mine (June of the Moon) lent me this one and said it was really good. I was wary (it’s a YA romance…and I’m just..always dubious about everything in life ever), but I really enjoyed it. I just finished it about an hour ago. It kind of helped to show me what romantic love is (or at least this version of romantic love). I guess that’s mainly what this book is, in essence: one long definition of young love. I was also really grateful that the ending was not unhappy. The beginning eludes to a really tragic ending, so I was none too pleased about that, and braced myself for it, but was pleasantly surprised when it didn’t happen! It was a nice (though not unblemished) world  to visit.