Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Porcelain: A Memoir



Book 14 of 2017 is Porcelain: A Memoir by Moby.

I'm learning that autobiographies make very good audio books when read by the author. This may be the only type of audio book I will entertain.

Considering I enjoyed Moby's music but always considered him a little mainstream and elitist, this was a nice awakening. Yeah, he is a geeky little balding white guy who grew up very poor but he truly does love music and is a real musician. This made me respect him that way.

Realising that not all celebrities are rich and that it can take a decade to have an albums selling millions was awakening for me. I always assumed they were on private jets and sipping on Champagne while eating caviar. Not the case it seems.

The end felt a little rushed. The final chapters reflecting on his childhood and his mother would have been nice if they were extended but it feels like he didn't really want to go there. That made you feel his sadness, all the more.

This was a great view in to the New York music scene in the 90s. Much in the style of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Mental note: Must read that again.

5 bowls of brown rice and vegetables out of 5.

Should I read this? Yes, yes and yes. You don't even have to be in to his music.
What did I learn? Famous does not automatically equate to rich.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

That most vulnerable moment

There is a moment each night that is the most raw time in my day.

It is the moment that I slow down and am nice to myself, without exception.

Seattle winters and springs are cold and rainy times. The weather is grey. The people are grey. The deep long breaths are grey.

When all is done in my day and work has wrapped, friends have shared hugs and wine and the door is locked behind me, I stop.

My bra is flung in the clothes hamper. My shoes are shoved under my bed. Then. Then, I peel off my tights.

Everything that happened in the day is replayed. Dashing to a friend in need; Listening patiently to some very mediocre male mansplaining my obvious mistakes in executing my job; Applying compassion when I don't quite understand why someone is melting down; Laughing until I snort coffee through my nose; and Getting shit done at work.

Was a I good person?
Did I treat everyone decently?
Can I be strong yet gentle?
Would my parents be proud of me?
Do I like myself?

I'm not sure how other people do it but I like this moment. It is my rawest moment. It is my kindest moment. It is how I plan to be better tomorrow.

I often wonder how others end their days.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Red Rising




Book 13 of 2017 is Red Rising by Pierce Brown.

Everyone has been recommending this book to me for the last 6 months so I had to read it. It didn't take long because it is a very easy read and thoroughly enjoyable.

This has the flavour of old sci-fi and a lot of the Hunger Games. It's done very well. This is part of a set and I will certainly read the rest.

5 discriminations based on skin colour out of 5.

Should I read this? Yes, if you get excited about the small rising up to slay their oppressors.
What did I learn? This isn't just the future. It's the present too.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

The Girl Who Drank the Moon




Book 12 of 2017 is The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill.

This was such an odd book about magic but I loved every single second of it.

I have nothing to really compare it to except maybe Night Circus for the phantasmagorical storyline.

5 stolen babies out of 5.

Should I read this? Yes. Absolutely, yes.
What did I learn? Your magic is only a curse when at first you don't know how to control it.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Life After Life



Book 11 of 2017 is Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.

This book has been on my To Read list for quite some time. It turns up a lot on "best books of the year" lists. I can not for the life of me work out why.

The idea is good. It is a WWII Groundhog Day but in the end, I couldn't like the main character or her family. One thing I will say is that the first half of the book was thoroughly boring. The second half almost redeemed it but is it ever worth sticking with it?

2 alternative lives out of 5.

Should I read this? No, don't.
What did I learn? Nothing is perfect. No life is perfect. I'd rather just do it once.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

The Golden Keel




Book 10 of 2017 is The Golden Keel by Desmond Bagley.

People often ask me how I find books from vast arrays of genres. The answer is that I go off recommendations from my friends. That is why GoodReads my primary reading discovery source.

In the case of this book, I picked it up because Desmond Bagley was one of my Mum's favourite authors when I was a child. In fact, both my parents enjoyed The Golden Keel. That made this book extra meaningful to me.

Books that people recommend are a glimpse in to who they are. Once I witness someone share many similar book likes with me, I learn to trust them implicitly and vice versa with books some have like that I did not.

The Golden Keel is a great heist adventure on stormy seas with pirates and unusually for my normal set, characters from South Africa and Italy.

My tropical Mum told me today (when I was half way through this book) that the first time she read the word avalanche was in one of his books and he described it perfectly. That brought an awareness when I was finishing this. This book talks about sailing and a lot of books do but Bagley describes perfectly what a concept or actual thing is in a way that is easy to understand. That is a talent, especially with sailing terms. He also described being trapped under something heavy in a way I felt I'd experienced in ways although I never had.

If you pick this up, keep in mind that it was written in 1963 and reflects the post war boom times in many countries. That said, it could be set right now too.

5 heavy keels out of 5.

Should I read this? For sure. It is a funny and easy read.

What did I learn? I need to read more books about great adventures. Why did I ever stop?

The North Water




Book 9 of 2017 is The North Water by Ian McGuire.

This book is full or gore and great examples of the worst kind of men imaginable. I did not enjoy it at all. There wasn't anything that redeemed it in any way.

It is hard to say if my quest to read more female authors and the eight I read prior to this book meant that the very male story, characters and theming seemed over the top. The killing of animals, people and an awful chapter about pouring puss out of a man's abdomen was just too much. It wasn't even done in a way that made it fit properly. It was like the author would pause once in a while and describe something disgusting in great detail. That behaviour also distracted from the story.

Two polar bears out of five.

Should I read this? No. There are many better books in this genre.
What did I learn? Reading a majority of male writers desensitises me things I don't like in some male writing. There is certainly a different voice.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Men Explain Things to Me



Book 8 of 2017 is Men Explains Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit.

I have to stop reading similar books one after the other. This is good writing. This is relevant to what is happening in the world at the moment and certainly to my work.

The only complaint I have about this book is that it seems to lack purpose. It is a bunch of very well written essays that are not pulled together to draw a conclusion or make a point. That is thoroughly disappointing.

Four mansplainers out of five.

Should I read this? I wish I could have every man I know read this but in reality, it will be the women. Read it and know you are not alone. Find your confidence and don't let anyone shake it.
What did I learn? You should carry yourself with the confidence of a mediocre white male :P

All the Single Ladies - Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation




Book 7 of 2017 is All the Single Ladies - Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation by Rebecca Traister.

I am a feminist. That's not new news to anyone who knows me. This book isn't about being single and justifying that. It is about research backed data that explores the idea that western women are now in control of their own lives and choose how men will participate in.

My concern when starting this was that it would be bitter but it was kind, respectful to all and hopeful.

Five strong women out of five.

Should I read this? For sure. It is not just for single women.
What did I learn? So much that I would need a post all about this. The data she presents is solid and then accompanied by anecdotes too which made it more human. I now like that kind of non-fiction.