Friday, September 15, 2017

Book Review: "The Secret History of Wonder Woman" by Jill Lepore

If you are looking for a quick, bite sized book that will tell you all about Wonder Woman in big, broad strokes this....is not the book for you. Are you looking for an incredibly detailed, well researched, and interesting book that gives you the real long game about the creator of Wonder Woman, the huge influences on him who made Wonder Woman who she is and more? DING DING. Here is the book you are looking for!

So, the man who created Wonder Woman was....uh...a renaissance man of sorts. Yeah, that's it. He invented the detector! He got fired from almost all of his jobs! He was not classically handsome but must have had a pretty magnetic personality or something because the women in his life put up with A LOT. And yeah, that plural is indicative of lovers and wives...which he usually had one of each for many many years in a polyamorous scenario.


Have you heard the rumors about the reason that there are so many chains and cuffs and ropes and Wonder Woman being tied up is because her creator had some BDSM tendencies? That is not a complete untruth. Though lots of times it serves as a metaphor for women being shackled to traditional gender roles. (And by that I mean, it was 1932 if you were female you went to high school, you got married, you had kids, that's it. Any deviation from that path and you were getting eyebrows raised and people tittering about you. I would never have guessed that: birth control, the women's suffragette movement, and so many other things would have contributed to a comic book!

A thing that this book mentioned in passing that got me weirdly angry is that there were so many women who did work on comic books of the time that were given no credit for their work because they were women. And that's just all kinds of bullshit. Where's a book about the unsung women of the comic book world?!




21855259

Friday, September 8, 2017

Book Review: "American Fire: Love, Arson and Life in a Vanishing Land" by Monica Hesse

This was picked for my work book club. I had heard a lot of buzz about it but couuuuuldn't actually have told you what it was about. True crime is not generally what I find myself reaching for as far as nonfiction is concerned, but it turned out to be a really interesting read.

The author went out of her way to tell you about the community where the story takes place. This is one of those books where the setting itself is a character, and if you didn't get a feel for the place the rest of the book wouldn't make as much sense. 

There's a main couple in this story and I feel like everyone who has gone to a bar, or lives in a state that has a strong drinking culture - for better or for worse- (#DrinkWisconsinbly!) has seem a version of the main couple in the story. I think that was one thing that kinda of made me chuckle at this book. All of the people in this book were interesting, well thought out/fleshed out people. (I mean, it's nonfiction, these people are real but I feel like you got a whole person, not just a weird snapshot, 2D version)

Also, learned so so so so so much about how volunteer fire departments worked! I've never lived in a place that didn't have a city/municipal fire department so that was interesting to me as well.

This very well researched and through book read really fast and kept me hooked until the end, which is quite a feet considering you know who committed the crimes from about the first 10 pages onward!




32191677

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Poetry confusion.

So, I struggle with poetry. I want to like more of it. There's some that I really like. I like the Romantic poets, like Blake and Coleridge. I like some Tennyson. I can be down for some Shakespeare sonnets. (Though if I am reading Shakespeare it's Hamlet or Macbeth, let's be honest.) 

I keep saying I'm trying to get more into TS Eliot because I like the Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock and The Wasteland. 

But when I try to get into more of his poetry or, you know, literally any other poetry I feel like I don't know where to start. I know I probably can just jump in anywhere and that's fine (like there's no wrong way to read, we all know that) but I always feel like I'm starting at the wrong place. Apparently I need chapters and chronologicalness to make me confident in what I am doing bookwise.

Does anyone have any suggestions? Poets? Poems? Poetry for Dummies?

I will say, poetry that rhymes or is more lyrical in nature is the most appealing to me. I feel like that's my only parameters.

And because the internet is full of whatever you need at your fingertips I found one of my favorite pieces of poetry. I thought it was a Longfellow, and it kind of is, but it's actually "his" because he translated it into English.


Image result for soul from thy casement look

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Book Review: "Blink- The Power of Thinking Without Thinking" by Malcolm Gladwell

Several of the very smart scientist ladies that I work with have been talking about Malcolm Gladwell's books lately and I thought I would jump in and try one for myself. This is not my most favorite nonfiction read (that's a pretty crowded category to be fair) but I still learned a lot. 

One of the things I learned kind of made me sad. I always assume that everyone in them as a little psychic ability in them. Just your gut instinct on why you do or don't do something. This book tells me it's just because my brain is moving a lot faster than I thought that it was. Which FINE OKAY SCIENCE but that's just a little bit less fun.

The two parts of the book that I found the most interesting were:

The Pepsi Challenge. A thing when Pepsi did a study giving people one sip of Coke and Pepsi, with the sippers not knowing which was which, to see what they prefered. That section goes into what was weird about that study (who ever drinks just one sip of something?), what factors made it turn out the way that it did and finally an answer on why New Coke was a thing. 


The other part was the very very end about people auditioning for orchestras that play their instrument behind a screen. It is supposed to help take out people's bias and holy cow it sounds like there's a lot of bias floating around in that world! Basically, women can't play brass instruments. Stick to the flute and the violin and the clarinet women of the world or else be ready to face some unfair and unbiased scrutiny! #smashthepatriarchy


I gave this book a solid 3 out of 5. Some of it was interesting but then some of it seemed to go on for far too long on any certain topic.





40102

Thursday, August 24, 2017

DNF: "The Physics of Everyday Things: The Extraordinary Science Behind an Ordinary Day" by James Kakalios

I have a Did Not Finish review for you today.

I picked this book from Blogging for Books to review because I was like "Hey, I like nonfiction. This is probably harder on the science then I am used to, but I can handle it. I'm a badass!". Dear reader, I AM a badass, but I am not great at science comprehension which is what you might need to be to really enjoy this book.

I thought the format was really great though. It goes through a person's average day and points out the uh, physics of the everyday things. Like how bluetooth speakers work and how an airplane stays in the air and all of that type of thing. I knew I was in trouble with this book when I hit this sentence:

To understand how the toaster converts electrical energy into heat and light requires and understanding of thermodynamics, electromagnetism and quantum mechanics".

Even with the simplest of explanations and many many pictures this was not going to be something I could really comprehend AND enjoy learning about.

So, while this wasn't a good fit for me, maybe it is a good fit for you! If it sounds interesting give it a shot!





31752980

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Book review: "Salt to the Sea" by Ruta Sepetys

I can't remember how Salt to Sea ended up on my TBR but I am sure glad I did. The fast moving story and the short chapters made me want to sit down and read it all at once, but alas  half hour lunch breaks would not allow it.

The book's short chapters are narrated by four different people all thrown together in the horror and panic and chaos that was the end of WWII in Europe. Each of the 4 people are making their way towards a port city where they are hoping that a boat will get them to safety. Most of them are running away from things in their past, that inevitably leak out little bit by little bit as the story goes on. However, one of the people is a douche bag moron who is looking for glory and all I could do was root for an untimely and violent demise for him. Which, you know, in a book about WWII the odds are pretty good. 

The characters were varied and interesting and believable and the last 4 or 5 chapters in the end are tense and scary and makes you feel happy that you are reading on dry land. Unless you are reading this on a boat. Then put on your life jacket and sit on the deck.

I liked that this book had such short, easily digestible chapters. AND that they were clearly marked with who was narrating what. I hate it when books switch between narrators and you spend the first 10 pages of each chapter trying to figure out who is talking. It's format makes it for a good book that you can put down and pick up again easily, or one that you can blow through in one sitting. 


I will give it 3.5 out of 5 stars!






25614492

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Book review: "Color: A Natural History of the Palette" by Victoria Finlay

While this book lacked the conversational tone that I prefer in my nonfiction books it still gave me a lot of really interesting tidbits that I can share with you.

-When you rub a thin layer of graphite around a canonball it makes it pop nice and cleanout of it's cannon. And you can also, you know, write with it.

-When Gutenberg printed his first few Bibles he couldnt keep the ink from fading. Luckily Jan Van Eyck, the famous painter. started making oil based ink a few years before and Gutenberg took that idea and ran with it. If not for Van Eyck those pages could be blank now!

-The author talks about what Victorian ladies who through the use of their white face powder, slowly poisoned themselves with lead. THAT was super interesting and sad.

-Did you know that if you swish our hand around a container of mercury (DONT DO THIS AT HOME) with the direction it's going it feels like water, no resistance. If you go against it, it's like an unstoppable force. Take of your jewlery when you do this, or else it will eat the rings off your hand immediately. PLEASE DON'T SWIRL YOUR HAND IN MERCURY.

- If you're a synaesthetic your brain can make connections between things that the majority of people don't. A man named Scriabin associated musical notes with color. But the problem is, if Scriabin heard an F flat he might see the color green. But it another person with this condition hears an F flat he sees navy blue. The connections are not universal between people. Which would be awesome. But also weird.

-There's a whole page that talks about Jan Van Eyck's most famous painting "The Arnolfini Marriage". There is probably no other painting in the world that is open to more interpretations than this painting. Are the couple happy? Are they pregnant? Are they in love? Is it significant that the window is open and she has a hand on her belly?! No.Clear.Answers. I could sit in art history classes forever just about this painting.

So while the writing style wasn't my favorite I still learned a lot. My other super small criticism is that she spends time in Iraq and Syria and while she does talk about the Taliban (it was written in 2003, so still post-9/11) I feel like the picture over there is a bit different now....

19596