Book 328: A Jane Austen Education – William Deresiewicz

Deresiewicz, William - A Jane Austen EducationWarning: Goodreads rant – skip to second paragraph. I’m not sure what jumped up everyone’s butts on Goodreads (I shouldn’t really be surprised), but this book doesn’t deserve as much vitriol as it has received on the site. So many people trashed it without even finishing the book, many obviously had read the synopsis (Amazon Affiliate link) and yet were shocked at what they read.

The book definitely deserves a lot of the criticism, but it doesn’t deserve the pure vitriol that Goodread’s reviewers thew at it. Sure, I wanted to smack Deresiewicz for being an insufferable grad student, but it’s very clear in the synopsis that the book was going to be full of naval gazing. He made a couple of questionable sexist and classist comments and he may have reduced a lot of Austen’s genius down to basics, but it would definitely work for people who are not familiar with Austen. Seriously, if you can’t find the good in a book, why bother finishing and trashing it? Just move on to the next book.

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Book 326: What Matters in Jane Austen? – John Mullan

Mullen, John - What Matters in Jane AustenNeither a bad end to 2014, nor a bad start to 2015, this was well worth the read. It wasn’t all I thought it would be, but considering it was a galley I got ages ago (2012 I think) and never read (Sorry!) I’m glad I finally read it. I think I’m going to spend a lot of time with Austen this year. A few friends and I are doing a Jane Austen book club and I have quite a bit of non-fiction I’m looking forward to reading about Austen and her life. I hope everyone sticks with me throughout! I received a copy of this novel from the publisher and received nothing in return for my honest response.

What worked best for this book was the selecting of 20 themes and then talking about them across Austen’s novels. I’ve read all of her novels at least once and a few of them much more. You can look at the chapter titles to see the themes, but the ones that stood out most to me where when Mullan spoke about Austen’s mastery of novels and groundbreaking skills as a writer.

“She did things with fiction that had never been done before. She did things with characterization, with dialogue, with English sentences, that had never been done before.”

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Book 54: Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence – Doris Pilkington Garimara

Garimara, Doris Pilkington - Follow the Rabbit-Proof FenceI know I say this regularly, but I can’t do justice to this book in my response. The more I think about it (I finished reading it last Wednesday), the more I realize I don’t know how to talk about it.

My local book group decided to do this book and movie, and it was an excellent choice even if I did miss the discussion! It was particularly relevant as Garimara died in April 2014 and is there a better way to honor a writer’s passing than reading their works?

I’m not sure, but if I had to guess I would say there are quite a few books out there about the Stolen Generations, but I’m not sure how many are first hand accounts. And that is where this story truly hits home. Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence is as much Garimara’s story as it is her mother and aunt’s. And to find out at the end that her mother made the journey a second time with one of her children and the incredible journey in the book and movie becomes that much more powerful.

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Book 51: That Crumpled Paper Was Due Last Week – Ana Homayoun

Homayoun, Ana - That Crumpled Paper Was Due Last WeekEven though I am incredibly organized, I often think I can be much more organized and wonder how other people stay organized, so when I first heard about this book from Ann on Books on the Nightstand I knew I had to get a copy. I loved the title and wanted to read more about it the organizational suggestions. I grabbed a copy from my local library and here I am.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and it’s set up like many other self-help books: suggestion, how-to, summary and any worksheets or tools you might need. :, does a great job of offering many suggestions for every hurdle, which is great. There weren’t too many new tips or tricks that I felt I could use, but what I found great (and could see where it would help out a teen or pre-teen) is that she explains WHY you should do some of the organizational things you are told to do and doesn’t just tell you to do them. I also really enjoyed Homayoun holistic approach to organizational management for teenagers, from health and fitness to school and extra curricular activities she really pushed for the young men to take control of their own lives and schedules.

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Book 31: An Unquiet Mind – Kay Redfield Jamison

Jamison, Kay Redfield - An Unquiet MindAfter hours and hours of discussions about a personal relationship with someone who experiences bipolar disorder/manic depression and recommending I read this book on multiple occasions, my therapist finally made me take this book with me after an appointment one week and I’m glad she did. I won’t go into that relationship here, as it wouldn’t be appropriate, one day I might write about it on my other blog at some point, but I doubt it, so on to the book.

I was pleasantly surprised as I read this book with how easily accessible it was. I was concerned it was going to be too scientific and not personal enough for me, but I feel it struck an excellent balance between the two. In the last few chapters she goes in-depth into how and why she decided to write the book and one of the big decisions had to do with her personal experience and how it influenced her entire career and research focus and opportunities.

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