Saturday, March 20, 2010

Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler

I always knew Chelsea Handler was irreverent, but I had know idea she was quite that bad. Terry lent me this one, and we both agree that the prison story is the best one in the whole book.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcom Gladwell

Rapid cognition. The idea that your initial reaction, which may occur in the blink of an eye, can lead you in the right decision even if you cannot explain exactly why you made that choice. The idea that it is necessary to recognize when your implicit attitudes do you more harm than good. The discovery that it is better to think longer about small decisions and go with your gut reaction on large choices (like which grad school to go to?) for optimal satisfaction. The author also repeats himself a lot, just like he did in The Tipping Point, which means that by the end of the book, I was just waiting for him to stop prattling on.

To pull out my dad's favorite quote from the book: "But what I have sensed is an enormous frustration with the unexpected costs of knowing too much, of being inundated with information. We have come to confuse information with understanding." Props to him for passing the book along.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What I Wish My Christian Friends Knew about Judaism by Robert Schoen

Schoen is funny, really funny. He takes a light-hearted approach to explaining Judaism to Christians, a tactic I fully appreciate. He covers everything from bar mitzvahs to shabbat to kosher hot dogs. There is of course more to Judaism then bagels, menorahs, and Fiddler on the Roof, but Schoen uses them all to explain a different world view. The book will not help with any deep, theological inquiries, but it is great if you happen to be looking for a brief introduction to Jewish culture.

The Passing of the Baton: Christian Brothers University--A Memphis Midtown University in Transition by Br. Terence McLaughlin

CBU was the last place I wanted to go for college. I had big dreams about leaving home, studying international relations, and never, ever going Greek. Thankfully, my wishes made as an eighteen-year-old did not come true. CBU has become a second home for me and introduced me to the incredible world of Midtown Memphis. I have spent four remarkable years living with my best friend, being challenged as a history major, forming close, working relationships with my professors, and (arguablly most importantly) learning how to have fun. Of course CBU has its problems, but I firmly believe that there is much more good than bad. I feel blessed to have gone to a school where all of my professors know me by name and my diverse group of friends regularly push me to do things that I find terrifying. The knowledge that I am leaving this special place in just nine short weeks is saddening. I know that no matter which graduate school I enroll in, it will not have the same atmosphere that this place does. St. John Baptiste de la Salle, pray for us. Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Yet another borrow from Angela's bookshelf--she is a good enabler. You just need to read this one for yourself, oh anonymous reader. No words of mine are going to do it justice.

"Every moment before this one depends on this one." Much like the connect-the-dots theory of life events that I am fond of.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Ironically, I have never thought of books as precious. They have surrounded me my entire life. I have old friends and new favorites, but it has never been a struggle to get to any of them. Zusak pushed me out of my mental comfort zone by forcing me to imagine what it would be like to fight to get words and then to understand them. He found beauty in the midst of horror and made me rethink what I have always taken for granted. Leisel is special, you should meet her.

Many thanks to my mom for letting me borrow this book before she had a chance to read it.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Anthem by Ayn Rand

"For I know what happiness is possible to me on earth. And my happiness needs no higher aim to vindicate it. My happiness is not the means to any end. It is the end. It is its own goal. It is its own purpose."

It is interesting to read an author that has influenced so many people. I think she is dead wrong about collectivism though. Thanks to Terry for letting me borrow it.

Women with Men by Richard Ford

This book just reaffirmed why I do not normally go for short stories. Characters do not get developed fully, there's generally not a lot of complexity, and only rarely do they seem to stay with you. I get the feeling Ford never planned on publishing these three, or at least did not plan on publishing them in the same collection. The characters in the first and last story share a lot of traits and mannerisms. Actually, both seem like sketches that could have been combined to create one, more dynamic character. All three point to the idea that there is a lot of distance between those that are closest to each other. Even if that is true, it is depressing to read about. I do love the picture of Cameron and Fili though.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Book of Ruth

Right after I read Esther, I thought I would reread Ruth since it is only a few pages long. So much love there.

Book of Esther

We were talking about the Hebrew Bible in my Judaism class, and Dr. Dault challenged us to read a book in the Bible while keeping in mind everything we were talking/reading about in class. I decided to take him up on that challenge and reread Esther. I forgot how much of a bad ass she was. My reading happily coincided with Purim. Purim Sameah!