Archive for May, 2013

Portrait of Virginia Woolf by George Charles B...

Portrait of Virginia Woolf by George Charles Beresford Deutsch: Die zwanzigjährige Virginia Woolf, fotografiert von George Charles Beresford (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently had a discussion about this book with some friends and coworkers who were reading this book for a book club. I was somewhat shocked to realize they hated the book and thought there was too much talking going on, which is all the reasons why I love To the Lighthouse.

My previous encounter with Virginia Woolf, let me raising my hand and running away scared when someone would ask the question Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. I am, or was. She isn’t exactly the easiest writer to wade through. But I am glad I got assigned this book for a class because I picked it up for a class on Modernism, something I would never read on my own, and I ended up truly enjoying this book and Woolf!

To the Lighthouse is mostly about the Ramsay family. The first part of the book follows one day and has almost no dialogue or periods and lots of introspection. The book really has the family and their guests, they love to entertain, questioning every comment and every thought. They don’t act without deep introspection and questioning of motives and feelings. The same holds true after they say or do anything.

Mrs. Ramsay questions whether she loves her husband and why she thinks she might not love her husband. Does she think she is better than him? Does the fact that he understands her and her motives make her good wife? Does everyone have roles? What makes a good mother?

The second part, probably the most bizarre and abstract shows us that Mrs. Ramsay died as did two of her children. The third part has the remaining family and even some of the guests back at the summer house ten years later with little seeming to have changed.

Mr. Ramsay is still a grumpy old man trying to recapture something of his previous life. He forces his two children Cam and James to take a trip with him to the lighthouse. Only Cam and James are locked into internal debates of staying true to an unspoken bond against their father, their desire to be independent, and wanting to earn their father’s live. Each moment brings a different thought and each person seems to lack consistency and constantly change their thoughts and opinions. Each moment is an epiphany and a new battle. It almost is exhausting.

Except, I don’t think it is exhausting because I think Woolf’s novel might seem annoying; however, I think it is more a reflection of real life. We are constantly changing. We are always thinking and analyzing, whether we are aware of it or not, our brain is always working through issues. I think as humans we are pretty inconsistent people, making Woolf’s introspections kind of accurate. Maybe we are quick to think the novella annoying because it is highly accurate? Of course, the Ramsay’s are exaggerated, but they are still us at their core and I think that is what make this such a great book.


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Dexter Morgan

Dexter Morgan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Being a psychology and english major has some serious advantages, especially when it comes to reading. So what better book is there to read than a book about a Sociopath that is actually decently written?

M.E. Thomas is a female sociopath and this book really looks at different aspects of her life and how she navigates life as a sociopath. We quickly learn there is a cultural difference between psychopaths and sociopaths. Sociopaths actually can follow the rules and are rarely violent. They are capable of love (though their love is selfish), highly successful (it is thought that many CEOs are actually sociopaths), and quite intelligent. I realized after reading this book and doing some research that I have a sociopath in my life, my sister.

All joking aside, reading this book I truly did feel like I was partially reading about my sister. Selfish. Successful (she did get my brother-in-law to be a success), she can be charismatic and loveable when she chooses, she likes relationships on her terms, she thinks of herself first, she loves albeit selfishly, she is not truly empathetic and rarely shows grief. That said she is one of my favorite humans on the planet and no one can make me laugh like my sister but after reading Thomas’ book, I think I have an understanding of my sister and why she is the way she is. I think it actually makes it easier to love her too.

M.E. Thomas books part memoir, part cultural study, part scientific observations is a great read and incredibly fascinating, even if you do not have a loved one with this condition. I think with shows like Criminal Minds and CSI we think of sociopaths as violent killers or Dexter’s. There really is more to them though. They can love and they can be the best to love you because they have a good sense of loyalty and they have the ability, if they choose to exercise it, to be the most fun people to hang around. While they lack empathy they have a very straight forward sense of justice. They think with their heads and not their hearts. Probably the person I would want defending me in court or sitting on the jury when it came time to decide if I was going to be sent to jail or not. They are real people. They still have feelings, those feelings just do not dominate them like they do “normal” people or empaths.

It is definitely work a worth reading if you are looking to get outside of your comfort zone and learn about a group of individuals who gets badly misrepresented or if you just need something fascinating to read.

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Cover of "Thirteen Reasons Why"

Cover of Thirteen Reasons Why

13 Reasons Why I hated 13 Reasons Why

I hate trashing books. I honestly do. I have to on this one because it made me so angry. Not uncomfortable good literature angry, but what is this book teaching kids angry. When did I become that person who cares what happens to the youth of America? I am not sure the answer to that question but I am thinking that this book made me that person.

This review is admittedly more of an open letter to Hannah Baker about this book and why her actions are wrong. Sadly, I can see some teenagers already considering suicide seeing this as a romantic way to avenge themselves. Only, it is not so much vengeance as bullying. Bullying is never fair but it is much worse when it is from beyond the grave. You, Hannah Baker, are a coward and do not deserve to be immortalized in words let alone a movie.

Gripe 1) Can we discuss that the main character commits suicide and the school makes no big deal about it. There aren’t like psychologists on staff helping them through this. In this age, schools are so completely safety and emotionally conscious of their students.

Gripe 2) If you want to kill yourself. Fine. I think it is selfish, but that is your prerogative. What is not ok, is to blame every single person around you, including someone you admit did NOTHING. I am looking you at Hannah Baker.

Gripe 3) So not only have you killed yourself and forced the individuals you blame for this to listen to your tapes about why they are to blame, but you never give a tape to the individual who did the worse thing in the ENTIRE BOOK.

Gripe 4) It’s ok for you to blame a girl for thinking she stole your boyfriend, but that same girl gets raped and you let it happen and YOU STILL PUT IT ON THE TAPES and still send her those tapes? Oh and she didn’t know she was raped so you broke that to from the grave on a cassette tape. Now not only did she find out she was raped from a dead chick, but also now everyone else knows she got raped and you ask that they don’t tell the cops?!? Who are you to say that? (Gripe 5).

Gripe 6) Clay Jensen did nothing to you. NOTHING. Is it ok to have him vomiting from emotion and forever be scarred by your voice from the grave.

Gripe 7) Mr. Porter truly seemed to want to help you and you did not give him an opportunity. He didn’t run after you, but maybe he was calling for help or your parents. Remember, he wasn’t the real guidance counselor but the english teacher. You already made up your mind, Hannah Baker.

Gripe 8) You put Justin on the list twice, once because he exaggerated a romantic encounter with you but a second time because he let Jessica get raped. You were in the closet and let it happen, how you do you blame him for what you did too!

Gripe 9) You blame Courtney twice as well. The first time because she wanted to use you to get to a party, this does not necessitate ruining someone’s life. It truly doesn’t. The second because she got out of the hot tub, which was something you were not smart enough to do and YOU KNEW what was going to happen (Gripe 10).

Gripe 11) The random kid who you gave the tapes too, why involve him? He did nothing wrong, same with your parents (Gripe 12).

Gripe 13) Alex said you had a nice ass but what did he really do to hurt you. Yes, it caused some things but everything ANYONE does causes a reaction. That is life. Yes life is hard but that doesn’t mean we can all just give up for no reason. Did you ever think your actions are bullying and that they may cause some of the people on the tapes to kill themselves? That you ruined lives? That’s bullying only no one can stand up to you.

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Good Ole’ Abe

Team of Rivals. Awesome.

I always had a prejudice about our 16th president dating back to my sophomore year of high school when I learned he didn’t really free the slaves, he only freed the the slaves in the Confederacy and had done nothing about those in the Union. Flash forward 10 years later when I pick up Team of Rivals.

I admit I owe Honest Abe an apology. Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book is not for the faint of heart. It is a long and detailed examination of President Lincoln’s rise to the presidency and how he kept the Union intact, despite the fact it should have been an easy win for the Confederates. After reading Goodwin’s book I realize that he was in fact a political genius. He did the impossible over and over again. While he did not free the slaves on paper, he used political mastery to make it an inevitable option, which I think is even better.

When we think of President Lincoln, we think of the Civil War and Fords Theatre. I don’t think any of us stop and think about that he should have never even become President. He lacked the same education as his rivals, and future Cabinet members. Those same more educated rivals, Chase, Seward, and Bates, had more diplomatic and political experience. They were more popular… and yet, Abraham Lincoln was the one who won the nomination and then had the skill to win the presidency, and the foresight and intellect to stock his Cabinet with those same more experienced men who ran against him!

Think about that. The same people who want to see you loose become your most trusted allies. It created an incredible cohesion at a time when the country was falling apart. Can you see any current politician stocking his Cabinet, and the important positions, with enemies and partisans from the other side of the aisle? It shows what a one-of-a-kind man Lincoln was. In an era where our economy and environments might be on the brink of collapse, unemployment, genocides abroad, we need someone who can see past party lines and keeping things kosher and who instead can really make some waves.

If you want to look at it in a different light. We all remember Abe Lincoln. He sits on a chair tall and might overlooking our nation’s capitol as a warm memory of justice and equality. Polls show he is still the most beloved president of all times. He just had an Oscar winning performer, Daniel Day Lewis, play him in a biopic based on this book. Does anyone remember Bates and Chase? When I think of the name Seward I only think of Seward’s Folly (the purchase of Alaska) and not about all the great things he did under Lincoln. Maybe that suggests the way to get remembered is to shake things up the way Lincoln did and be ready to cause some change.

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