Saturday, February 25, 2012

Bossypants by Tina Fey

I think Tina Fey is hilarious, and hearing her take on her life was awesome. There is no question in my mind that she deserved the Mark Twain Prize .

I get to boss my puppy around. His name is Zeb, and he is a lovable poop machine with a bladder the size of a peanut.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Day Wall Street Exploded: A Story of America in Its First Age of Terror by Beverly Gage

Gage examines why the first decades of the twentieth century was an anxious time when “the entire structure of American institutions…seemed up for grabs, poised to be reshaped by new movements and ideas” (8). She argues that the rise of corporations and Wall Street were coupled with intense economic discontent that led to the activities of revolutionaries who were dedicated to overthrowing the capitalist system through terrorism.

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

I read this for my Atlantic World seminar as an example of literature that can illuminate the complexities of the Atlantic world and its multidirectional networks of exchange. Additionally, it gives a lot of insight into the economic thought of the period. Also, it freaking rocked to read some literature for a graduate seminar. Novels, I have missed you.

In the United States of Africa by Abdourahman A. Waberi

In thinking back over the books that I have read, I realized that I have a predictable tendency to gravitate towards American and English authors. Due to this revelation, I decided that I needed to broaden my literary choices. I have no idea how I discovered Waberi's book since Djiboutian authors are not normally on my radar, but I decided that reading fiction written from an African perspective could only be a positive thing.

This work is essentially a thought experiment. What would happen if Africa had been the colonizer instead of the colonized? It is the most complex 80 page book I have ever read.

The Participatory Museum by Nina Simon

Simon has some interesting ideas about museums. She wants museums to become places where people actively participate and connect over creating and sharing content. I agree with some of her ideas and think that, when implemented cautiously and with great consideration on the part of the institution, they have the potential to help people have more fulfilling museum experiences. That being said, I think that sometimes she goes too far in abandoning all institutional authority and that her vision for a fully participatory museum does not really seem to resemble a museum at all.

If you would like to check it out, you can read the full text of the book online here.

Waiting by Ha Jin

I had been wanting to read something else by Ha Jin since I read The Bridegroom in my freshman Intro to World Lit class. ("After Cowboy Chicken Came to Town" is still one of my favorite short stories.) He tells the story of a man who married a good women that he can only see for a few weeks every year because of his job as a medical officer. Over the years, he falls in love with a nurse at his base and tries to work up the courage to ask for a divorce. The years of waiting and what it does to each of the characters makes for a compelling story.

Bicycles are part of the story; it's not that much of a stretch.

Sacred Gifts, Profane Pleasures: A History of Tobacco and Chocolate in the Atlantic World by Marcy Norton

Norton argues that through chocolate and tobacco, Amerindians influenced European society. Both of these goods are cultural artifacts that are bound with “knowledge and techniques” that were transmitted back to Spain along with the material goods (4). Colonists became acquainted with tobacco and chocolate as they made allies in the America. Some of them took their tastes back to Spain where they continued to use both goods in many of the same ways that Amerindians did, which is related to Norton’s central theme of syncretism (9).