Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Butterfly Effect by Jon Ronson

If you haven't heard of the concept of the butterfly effect, it's essentially "small causes can have larger effects". Ronson ends up immersing himself in the porn world so he can understand how the man who started the concept of free porn has changed people's lives, usually for the worse.  This was a free download on Audible for a bit. At about 3 hours long, it's well worth downloading and listening to.

We start off listening to how a man, Fabian, made his fortune offering up free porn. Illegal porn, uploaded by users after it's stolen from other sources. He doesn't worry about that, because he put a warning on the site to tell people not to upload stolen media. That should help.  Ronson, chasing the butterfly effect, travels to San Fernando Valley and interviews a porn director who laments his lost money because, as soon as his films hit dvd, they are uploaded for free. He barely makes ends meet, but yet continues directing porn.

We meet folks who create custom porn videos for anyone who has money, as well as a porn star whose 13 year old daughter found out the hard way what her mom did for a living....on the daughter's bed. What?? That is some damn poor decision making there, mom. Seriously.

In the end, we learn that even male porn stars can't "get it up" without help from free porn sites even when their naked female co-star is RIGHT THERE WAITING. It's a little crazy how much damage sites like this actually cause. And how much money the people who run them make.

Jon Ronson is always interesting to listen to, so give it a whirl.

Dear Fahrenheit 451 by Annie Spence

Sometimes, I enjoy reading books about books. My To-Read list on Goodreads is toppling at 1,775 books now so why not add more? I found this book on the new non-fiction shelf at my library, skimmed through it and decided I needed to read it.

Spence, a librarian, wrote love letters and breakup notes to the books in her library, personal or work. Through those letters, I only had one that shouted at me to mark as a to-read (Big Stone Gap series). Still, I was ok. Even getting one idea is good, right? The letters were funny and made me laugh.

The second section REALLY made my to-read list grow. Things like, excuses to make to get out of going out, book hookups, books about librarians, falling down the rabbit hole books, etc. I was constantly putting this book down and picking up my phone to add another book to my Goodreads list. Whew. I won't live long enough to read all of these, but that's ok.

This is the perfect little book to read in between your heavy hitters. I'm the type who loves to think about all the possible books I could read, and want to read, when I'm finally retired or find that sugar daddy. This indulged that habit.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King

Well now, this was an interesting book. I loved the premise. What happens if the women in the world fell into a deep sleep and men were left to handle things on their own? If you guessed guns and bloodshed, you would be right. I actually don't think King is too far-fetched with this notion.

The folks of Dooling are what you might think of a small Appalachian town. There's a women's prison and we meet some of the inmates and employees of the prison. Immediately, we hate Don Peters, a guard who freely takes what he wants from the inmates and threatens them if they speak up. He was a touch too on the nose to Trump (I assume King intended that). The prison psych doctor is Clint Norcross, whose wife Lila is the town Sheriff.

Lila is called to a homicide scene at a meth lab that is pretty brutal. En route, she clips a woman walking in the middle of the road. Evie Black is beautiful, nearly naked and seemingly crazy. Lila takes her to the prison for a psych eval.

We get into the mundane lives of the Dooling folk when, inexplicably, women start falling asleep and becoming cocooned in a gauze-like fabric.Destroying the fabric to "free the women" leaves them feral and ready to kill the ones who disturb them. Leave them alone and they end up in another place where women are the sole gender.

In this place, they form a pretty decent society and get along well. Back in reality, the men have lost their shit and are tearing up the town. They know Evie Black is the one woman in Dooling who can sleep and wake up so they form a mob (really, that's what it is) to get her.

This book is 700+ pages so much more happens and much more is explained. It really is a good story and it was slightly disheartening to read some of the threats and slurs against women in this book, only because I know they are said on a regular basis in this time.  The Blowtorch Brigade was sickening because I have no doubt that men would take sleeping women and torch them. Because, clearly, it must be the woman's fault - which is touched on here as well. My goodness, women want to wear pants and get abortions! This is their fault!

They threw a bit much into the pot, including a white cop shooting a black person, in my opinion. Not every social injustice needed to be represented. It got slightly overwhelming.

Not my favorite King book but still worth reading!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Between The World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

So once again, a TV show interview intrigued me enough to read the book featured. A bit late, you say? Yes, I know. Am I the intended audience? Probably not, but I learned some things anyways and isn't that the point?

Part I

Part II

Coates wrote this (granted as a literary device) to his son, to try and explain why things are the way they are for African Americans. I remember being disgusted over the cases he talks about in the book, like Michael Brown, but I am fairly certain I won't end up in the same fate. As a woman, I probably have a different fate, but as a white woman, an even different one. I have never read anything that gave such perspective of growing up black in America. Then, in Coates' time and now, in his son's time.

This is a short audio book, around 3 hours, but so well worth the read. I cannot imagine trying to defend your child, who was shoved by a white woman, and being told that the white man could "Have you put in jail" and know that what he said is true. Coates would have went to jail without defense even though he was watching out for his kid.

To read about his friends dying because they were "driving while black", how cops, very crooked cops, got away with it and were put back on the street, how terrified he was at being pulled over because it could have meant his life. That's a world most of us do not live in, and one we really do not understand.

Basic rights and decency from others are not extended to African Amercians. And yet, people wonder why they are "so angry at everything". Wonder no more. In his eloquent way, Coates explains it to you. So you really need to listen.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee

I was pretty excited to read this book for my IRL book club. I had heard a lot of good things about it and actually really enjoyed reading it. Sounds weird, considering how dark the book is, but I loved the writing. The book club was pretty full for this book and we had some great discussions on apartheid, South Africa, and what being in disgrace means. We also had some really good wine.

The basis of this novel is a professor, David Lurie, who ends up seducing (that's not the right word and I'll explain in a moment) a student of his. Lurie is 52, twice divorced and something of a sex addict (or just a man - you call it). He sleeps with prostitutes, chases young women, and views women through the filter of their attractiveness to him. His student, Melanie, is 20 and in the initial stages, this very much feels like a rape. Lurie even recognizes it:

"Not rape, not quite that, but undesired nonetheless, undesired to the core. As though she had decided to go slack, die within herself for the duration, like a rabbit when the jaws of the fox close on its neck. "

He continues on, not caring that he, as her professor, is doing any wrong. Finally, Melanie and her father bring up charges against Lurie. He loses his job and moves to his daughter's farm to get away from Cape Town. Things really do not work out much better there. He's immediately critical of his daughter's appearance, critical of the life she has made for herself and critical of her friends. Bev Shaw is one such friend who he is initially angry with:

"He does not like women who make no effort to be attractive"

He does try to settle in and help out on the farm as well as in the animal welfare clinic with Bev.  Petrus is, initially, Lucy's help but ends up taking over part of the farm and no longer in the position to help. In fact, I believe, he cooked up an attack on Lucy and David in order to gain the rest of the farm. David is burned, Lucy is raped and all the dogs on the property are shot. Devastation.

David begins sleeping with Bev, Lucy turns inward and things start collapsing. The ending is a fairly surprising and upsetting turn of events. Disgrace is a place no one wants to live. Yet, everyone ends up there, trying to get out.

Considering the news of the day, this was a timely book to read. Amazing that the book club picked it a year ago, with no idea what was on our horizon in America. I didn't like many, if any, of the characters but they led me along with them anyway. It's astounding how people can orchestrate their own fall from grace (David) and how disgrace is forced upon others (Melanie, Lucy).

I've not seen the movie but will give it a try and report back!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Big Damn Classic of 2018 - You Choose!

My awesome friends and readers choose my 2017 big damn classic to be Moby Dick by Herman Melville and I am tackling it much like one would eat a whale....a small bite at a time. Seriously, guys, 135 chapters about whaling is what you chose??

Well, here's another chance to choose my Big Damn Classic for next year. I really had a hard time narrowing it down to just 5 choices. I consulted all sorts of books to decide on a book (people do this, right?) and between my 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die and 100 Banned Books, here's what I came up with:

Click here to vote!

First up, Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. I wanted to add in an Indiana author and one who has been banned on multiple occasions and Vonnegut fit the bill. This is kind of a big deal for me to want to read since I really don't like reading war stories, but if you've been reading my reviews you can see that I've been reading them more often. SH5 is about the bombing of Dresden in WWII and is one of the most censored books in the past 25 years according to 100 Banned Books. More than enough reason to read it....sticking it to the man.

Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak is also on the list. An epic Russian tale that Russia banned because it "cast doubt on the validity of the Bolshevik Revolution" and Russia forced Pasternak to refuse the award for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1958.  It was finally published in Russia in 1988. Don't you know that if you protest a book too much people will want to read it?

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo is back from 2017's list! Don't think that makes it my preference. Just know that it's back because I've been singing songs from the musical. It's also one that I think I'll need encouragement to read, much like Moby Dick.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, lest you think I'm all about foreign writers. Why haven't I read this yet? Why haven't I followed Huck and Jim down the river? Officially first banned in 1885, immediately after being published in 1884, this one LIT PEOPLE UP.

Lastly, but not least(ly), I added Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky because it really is a big damn classic. Raskolnikov has a theory that so-called extraordinary men are above the law and can, literally, get away with murder. He tries to prove this theory by killing two women.

So there you have it. Now it's up to you to choose my book for next year. Voting will close at the end of 2017 and you can vote as often as you like!

Paper Girls vol 1 by Brian Vaughan

Sometimes it pays to grab a Kindle deal of the day. I had heard about Paper Girls on the now-defunct Books on the Nightstand podcast so I added it to my Goodreads To-Read list. Goodreads awesomely sends out deals based on your list and Paper Girls was a $1.99 deal. So I grabbed it. I actually thought I would hate graphic novels on my Kindle but it was pretty cool. I could zoom in on each section then back out to see the whole page.

I started and finished Paper Girls in one evening, probably less than an hour, and immediately bought Volumes 2 and 3, heck with the deals.

Essentially, we have four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls who set out to deliver their papers on November 1st, 1988 (hell morning). They team up because apparently Halloweeners out past curfew are dicks and always harass the girls (color me surprised at teenage boys being assholes). Erin is new to the job and happily hangs with Mac, Tiff and KJ after she's harassed by a Freddy Krueger wannabe. Mac seems to be the toughest of the group and the first girl to get a paper route.

Things start getting really weird when a group of guys attack Tiff and KJ and steal the walkie talkie the girls are using to communicate. The guys don't speak English but we really don't know what they speak. The girls try to follow them and end up in an abandoned house and find a ..... what is that? No time to find out because shit starts happening.

People vanish, giant bird dinosaur things come out of the sky and strange strange people are out in the streets. The girls are on their own.

This flung itself out into a crazy weird time travel but not really kind of way and I LOVED IT.