Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Mini Book Reviews for April and May!

Here are the books I read the last 2 months! HOORAY!

39. Ignore Everybody - Hugh Macleod

This one was a short but cute inspirational book, more geared towards someone in business and art. It had some nice suggestions on productivity and following your creative compulsions. Nothing ground breaking, but still a good read. It originally caught my attention because of the title, and I thought it was going to be about hermiting yourself away from the world, saying "SCREW YOU GUYS!" and immersing yourself in your own pleasures. It's not.
I did find his references to his business card comics tedious after a while. Like...okay, we get it! This book is based on a blog, like so many these days, but I was hoping for more. His drawings are cool, though.

40. The Vagina Monologues - Eve Ensler

I'm on an Emsler kick because of "I am an Emotional Creature" (now in mass quantities at my workplace as my staff pick) - I'm surprised I had never actually read the Vagina Monologues as I had seen video of it many times. There's some great bits (bad, unintentional pun?) in this book and yet again, a powerful read for women, as all of her books are. Emotional Creature is still my favourite.

41. The Good Body - Eve Ensler

A monologue with herself, mostly, about her relationship with her body, and the irony of caring how she looks despite being an outspoken feminist. There are also other monologues/stories about body image from other women, woven in with her own. REALLY good!

42. The Hipless Boy - Sully

I really enjoyed this - it was a random grab in the library. Illustrated bits and pieces of the author's life, which is always my favourite type of comic :)

43. The Visual Miscellaneum - David McCandless

This was a fun read, full of graphs and data visualization. There is a lot of backlash on Amazon as to the validity of some of the information, but regardless, it's really fun to look through. I especially love the graph of which country is best at what - Canada is best at single parent families, USA is best at serial killers, etc. I find it pretty disturbing that Siberia was listed as best at abortions! There is an updated graph on the website Information is Beautiful if you want to see it yourself. Apparently Canada now is best at drinking fruit juice ;)
Even if some of the graphs are confusing (which I didn't notice), it does a good job at showing the bizarre things in our world, the excesses of unimportant things, greed, and the weird priorities of human beings.

44. Born to Run - Christopher McDougall

THIS BOOK IS FANTASTIC. I am not even a runner, and I was totally fascinated with this book! A random grab at work (I like reading about extreme athletes), it ended up being put aside for a few weeks, and I started to read it on the bus to work, where I planned to return it as I had not gotten around to reading it yet. But I was hooked right away! It made me WANT to run. There is so much interesting stuff in here, and the writing is superb. It's about a tribe of people in Mexico called the Tarahumara who will run hundreds of miles without stopping, and enjoy it. Seemingly impossible feats become real.
There is also a ton of eccentric people in this book, exciting races in the canyons, debunking of all the stupid fancy running shoes and Nike (basically, you're best to run barefoot or in cheap shoes - the fancy padded ones actually weaken you), and lore about hunters who catch their prey by exhausting them. REALLY great, check out this book. It's also what convinced me to get the Vibram Five Fingers shoes. When I started barefoot hiking last year, I was hooked. Now I have some shoes to protect me in other types of environments (no matter how odd they look).

45. Necessary Targets - Eve Ensler

A play about the effects of war on women. Well written and of course, powerful. The introduction "When we think of war, we think of it as something that happens to men in fields or jungles." This book is a series of conversations with several females affected by the war in Bosnia, led by a trauma counselor/writer and a psychiatrist. Are they helping the women, or exploiting them for their own means? Do they actually care, or are they there because they want to write books, etc?

46. Occy: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Mark Occhilupo - Mark Occhilupo and Tim Baker

Another surfing book - this was a really great read because Occy became a surf legend when he was really young, and then basically broke down and became the opposite - like an Elvis of the surf world. Fat, lazy, a hermit, hiding away from the world. The awesome part of this book is that he had a comeback in his 30's and won a world title, which was basically thought impossible, but he did it. And of course, Occy is an insanely likable guy, so while reading the account of his life (from his, and other people's perspectives) you're elated that he succeeded, because reading about his downfall is really rough. You just want to smack sense into him. Luckily, he found that sense and his "Elvis years" just made his success even more inspiring.

47. Green Porno - Isabella Rossellini

WEIRD and GREAT. So, the lovely actress Isabella dresses herself up in bizarre costumes and acts out the mating habits of certain creatures, mostly sea life. There is a DVD that comes with the book, but you can see some of the shorts on youtube, here's one!! You need to watch these, they're hilarious and fascinating!

48. How Sassy Changed my Life - Kara Jesella and Marisa Meltzer

Ohhhh Sassy, how I miss you, even at age 32! If that magazine was still around, you better believe I would still buy it (I guess BUST is the next best thing, these days). This slim book became known to me because it was a special order of someone at work - I promptly went to the library on my break and got it for myself! So many memories, and the whole story about the inception and downfall of this much loved magazine. If they weren't so expensive on Ebay, I'd snag them all up again.

49. Girl Power - Marisa Meltzer

I read this one at work, all about girl rock in the 90's, riot grrrl, foxcore (wtf, I never heard this term in the 90's, yuck), and the transition of "girl power" to the mainstream, the Spice Girls, and more. Really interesting. Made me want to listen to Bikini Kill and wear stompy boots with babydoll dresses again. Time to go vintage shopping.

50. Drugs are Nice - Lisa Carver

Thanks to my 90's nostalgia, Lisa Carver was reintroduced to me, and this is her autobiography. This woman is a dynamo, a revolutionary, and a badass. She is the type of person who will go out and do something just to have the experience. Her life goes kind of like this: grows up in Dover with sick mom, moves for a year with her father who she finds out has killed people and is newly out of prison, starts a "band" called Suckdog which is mostly noise and nonsense, writes to other crazy musicians, meets and marries a French musician with whom she writes bizarre operas/stage performances, becomes a prostitute at a massage parlour (while married), starts her famous zine Rollerderby, gets involved with Boyd Rice who is known as a neo-Nazi, gets pregnant, has a baby who is genetically disabled...and so on. So interesting, and very well written. Lisa Carver is a fantastic writer.

51. Dear Diary - Lesley Arfin

A collection of diary entries from age 11 to 26, a timeline from childhood into heroin addiction and rehabilitation. Of course this takes place over the 90's, which is what drew me into it. There are some cute illustations throughout - this book is in our humour section for some reason, though I didn't really find it very funny. The neat part about this book is that after the entries, Lesley will write something ABOUT the entry, seeing it from her adult perspective, and sometimes even interviewing the people in her life as they are NOW. THAT is what makes this book awesome. I enjoyed it bigtime. Once she gets into the heroin I was not as into it, but it was still interesting. She sort of glorifies drug use, though.

52. Female Chauvinist Pigs - Ariel Levy

I guess I'm really into feminist books, lately. This one is about the rise of Raunch Culture, and reading this really raised my eyebrows. I agree with pretty much all of it, too. Read the reviews on this one, they're more in depth than I can get in a mini review. Basically, it's about how women have basically stopped trying to become a strong and powerful force of their own, and instead tried to be more "like a man" (whatever that is - I think most guys even struggle with this). I found all this truthful as it's all around us, and even looked at my own behaviour. Now, this isn't to say this book describes ALL women, but I would guess that it describes the vast majority, as I really pay attention to how girls are.

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