Books, Professional Development

Book 503: Win at Losing – Sam Weinman

I’m still making headway on my pile of galleys/ARCs from the end of 2016 and early 2017.* Now this one is read I think I’m down to under five!

This is another one of those Tarcher Perigee books that I wouldn’t necessarily go out of my way to read, but the publisher reached out to me and it sounded interesting enough that I figured why not through it into the mix and thankfully, it covered a lot more than just sports (which I was really worried about at first).

The entire premise of this book is Weinman’s son throws a fit after a tennis match he “clearly” should’ve won, but didn’t and Weinman pondered the idea of losing and not just losing, but losing in such a way that it became iconic in certain aspects of our culture.

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Culture Corner, Reading Events

An Evening with Rebecca Skloot

So this sounds a lot fancier than it was. I’d love to say I sat down one-on-one and picked her brain about what is arguably one of the mos successful book responses I’ve ever written for this blog. And we’re obviously besties, I mean Ms. Skloot favorited my “On the Blog” tweet this past year,

2015 09-29 Radcliffe College DNA Seriesbut alas I didn’t get to sit down one-on one. However, I did get to attend a really cool talk as part of a Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study of Harvard University lecture series: The Past, Present, and Future of DNA.

I first read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks back in July of 2012, two years after its original publication and a year after it came out in paperback. Apparently this was far enough ahead of the curve that my response was the highest visited response on this site until recently. (Thanks Mr. Coehlo!) Not to be a hipster or anything, but yeah that.

2015 09-29 Radcliffe College Skloot EventWhen I found out about the lecture from my friend Martin, I jumped at the opportunity. I remembered really enjoying the book and I knew that it had become this cultural phenomenon through book groups and word of mouth. What I wasn’t expecting was how packed the auditorium was. I’m glad I got there as early as I did because not only was the main auditorium full, but the balcony and two over-flow rooms were as well! It was cool to see Radcliffe up-close and personal as I’ve only ever walked around/by it and never walked through the grounds, unlike the main Harvard campus.

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Books

Book 363: Her Best-Kept Secret – Gabrielle Glaser

Glaser, Gabrielle - Her Best Kept SecretMany of you might not know this about me, but when I have a problem that I don’t know how to deal with my first response is to research it as in-depth as possible. That makes it a bit awkward when I blog about everything I read (this is my journal reading journal as much as it is your review site). At the same time it’s great because I get to share interesting books, like Her Best-Kept Secret (Amazon Affiliate link), that I never would have read. And I force myself to explore and synthesize in-depth a lot of topics.

If you see me on a day-to-day basis you’re aware that someone close to me has a lot of problems with alcohol, it’s kind of obvious they are a “she” based on the book title. In reality, I’m not sure it would’ve mattered if they were a she, because after reading The Irrationality of Alcoholics Anonymous (link to the article) in The Atlantic I knew I wanted to find out more about non Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) programs and I figured Glaser was a great place to start as she mentioned her book in the article.

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ARC, Books

Book 269: Playing by the Book – S. Chris Shirley

Shirley, S. Chris - Playing by the BookI wasn’t sure what to expect with this novel, but with a southern religious protagonist I knew I needed to read it to see how the author handled this and I am glad I did. I was a little hesitant at first as the last two book I read from this publisher, 50 Shades of Gay and The Hunger Gays weren’t amazing, but this one was excellent. I received a copy of this book from Riverdale Avenue Books and this is my honest opinion and I received nothing in return.

Playing by the Book is the story of Jake Powell and his journey from Preacher’s Kid (PK) in small-town Alabama to an elite summer journalism program at Columbia University in New York City. This is the first time he’s away from home and needless to say it is the experience of a lifetime. Not only is this a coming out story, it is a true coming of age story. Many young adult novels over emphasis one or the other, but this novel intricately tied the two together.

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Books, Professional Development

Book 253: The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg

Duhigg, Charles - The Power of HabitCharles Duhigg refers to this work as “a framework for understanding how habits work and a guide to experimenting with how they might change” (loc. 4405) and, not surprising, that’s exactly what it is. The Power of Habit provides an overview of how people, businesses and social movements have harnessed the processes behind building habits. And there is no doubt that Duhigg is a good writer. I found myself tearing up on multiple occasions, more for the story itself rather than his writing, but his ability to select the examples and write about them in such a way to evoke emotions is undeniable.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog you’re well aware that I spent 2013 working hard to make progress towards getting healthier physically. What I didn’t take the time on last year was my mental health. I knew coming in to 2014, I wanted to read books about various topics that I think could help me in my future relationships and friendships, my self doubts and even my future career (apparently a lot of the self-help books are found in therapy, business and self-help; odd?). So be forewarned this blog might get more personal than it ever has in the past.

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2013 Challenges, Books

Book 195: Loot: The Battle over the Stolen Treasures of the Ancient World – Sharon Waxma

Waxman, Sharon - LootSorry for the long post in advance, it’s been a long time since I’ve read a book about museums and antiquities and I forgot how much I love them and how much they make me think!

This book has been on my to-be-read shelf since July of 2011 and I can’t believe I waited this long to read it! I will never forget my first Anthropology class in undergrad and the professor going off on a tangent about the looting of the museums after the fall of Saddam Hussein. It pretty much guaranteed I would be an Anthropology major. (I later switched to cultural anthropology and focused on gender in the media, but still the people were awesome!) The intrigue, the drama, the affairs and the crimes, it could be a spy novel if it were fiction and not fact! This book will count as a bonus book for my 2013 Mount TBR Reading Challenge.

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Book Group, Books

Book 100: Snow Falling on Cedars – David Guterson

If I had a ranking system for the novels I read and it was based on beauty, Snow Falling on Cedars would definitely be towards the top of that list. It has to take an amazing writer/wordsmith to make me want to live on a small island off the coast of Washington State and take up farming of some sort. I read this book for my Books into Movies book group at the local library and I am VERY glad I did. I plan on watching the movie later this evening or tomorrow.

Snow Falling on Cedars focuses on a murder trial, but it is not just a legal story, or a love story, or even just a war story as you might think from the back cover. It is a novel about a town forced to look into the mirror and see the harsh truths and realities simmering just under the surface. Set almost ten years after the end of World War II, the novel was a lot broader and a lot more powerful (and suspenseful) than the back-cover synopsis led me to think. But, more than anything, what took my breath away was the vitriol of some of the (surprisingly mostly female) characters and their overt racism. I was surprised at how upset I was at various points throughout the novel when placed into a character’s shoes and how they were treated.

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