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(Full title is Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. Non-fiction books and their epic titles!)

I actually read this a couple of months ago, but I think it stuck with me well enough that I can still post my thoughts. I picked up the book because I recognized the author's name from The Checklist Manifesto, another nonfic of his that I liked.

This one is about how good we are at keeping very ill and very elderly people alive, and yet how bad we are at having honest conversations about the quality of ill and elderly people's lives rather than solely the duration.

Cut for length and subject matter (death and terminal illness) )

Crossposted from Dreamwidth. Feel free to comment wherever you're comfortable.

books!

Aug. 1st, 2013 04:02 pm
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At some point I got so behind on posting about books that I just gave up, so I'm granting myself amnesty. Here's my impressions of a couple of books I read while I was on vacation.

Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde )

Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley )

I also just read The Casual Vacancy finally, but that's a whole other post.

This entry was originally posted at http://pauraque.dreamwidth.org/33994.html. Comment here or there.
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A friend of mine was complaining today that he couldn't find any good novels where the main character was (like him) a gay guy. I read very little published fiction, and he doesn't read fanfic, so I couldn't help. But maybe you can!

He doesn't like paranormal stuff (no werewolves or vampires, he specified) nor is he looking for erotica/romance. Beyond that I think he's open to different genres.

Where should I point him?

This entry was originally posted at http://pauraque.dreamwidth.org/20320.html. Comment here or there.
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Gotta read. So busy. Gotta read anyway.


16. Alice Walker - The Third Life of Grange Copeland (review)
Pretty great novel. I already want to read it again.

17. Mende Nazer - Slave: My True Story (review)
The problematic implications of the way this book came to be written boggle the mind.

18. Reza Aslan - No god but God: The Origins, Evolution and Future of Islam (review)
Too big a subject for a short book, but has some good information.

19. Shirlee Taylor Haizlip - The Sweeter the Juice: A Family Memoir in Black and White (review)
Really great memoir about a multi-generationally-interracial family! So good.

20. Max Wolf Valerio - The Testosterone Files: My Hormonal and Social Transformation from Female to Male (review)
Someday I'll read a trans autobiography that doesn't display highly disturbing sexist beliefs. This is not that day.
pauraque_bk: (Default)
Gotta read. So busy. Gotta read anyway.


16. Alice Walker - The Third Life of Grange Copeland (review)
Pretty great novel. I already want to read it again.

17. Mende Nazer - Slave: My True Story (review)
The problematic implications of the way this book came to be written boggle the mind.

18. Reza Aslan - No god but God: The Origins, Evolution and Future of Islam (review)
Too big a subject for a short book, but has some good information.

19. Shirlee Taylor Haizlip - The Sweeter the Juice: A Family Memoir in Black and White (review)
Really great memoir about a multi-generationally-interracial family! So good.

20. Max Wolf Valerio - The Testosterone Files: My Hormonal and Social Transformation from Female to Male (review)
Someday I'll read a trans autobiography that doesn't display highly disturbing sexist beliefs. This is not that day.
pauraque_bk: (Default)
I am still doing this! I got distracted by the holidays, which brought me many books, none of which qualified for the comm. (I thought one did, but it turned out the author's name deceived me.) Then I got stuck for a while on a book that was really hard. Now I'm going again.


11. Octavia Butler - Kindred (review)
A time travel story, one I liked a lot.

12. Helene Cooper - The House at Sugar Beach: In Search of a Lost African Childhood (review)
[livejournal.com profile] thimble_kiss recced me this one and I'm glad she did. It's a memoir of the Liberian coup of 1980.

13. Greg Sarris - Keeping Slug Woman Alive: A Holistic Approach to American Indian Texts (review)
Was stuck on this for weeks, not because I didn't like it, but because literary theory is hard when you have no background in it.

14. Ofelia Zepeda - A Papago Grammar (review)
Hey, [livejournal.com profile] atdelphi! It's a grammar of an American language written by a native speaker!

15. Jin Xing - Shanghai Tango (review)
Memoir of a Chinese ballerina who is trans. Wanted to like it, but didn't.
pauraque_bk: (Default)
I am still doing this! I got distracted by the holidays, which brought me many books, none of which qualified for the comm. (I thought one did, but it turned out the author's name deceived me.) Then I got stuck for a while on a book that was really hard. Now I'm going again.


11. Octavia Butler - Kindred (review)
A time travel story, one I liked a lot.

12. Helene Cooper - The House at Sugar Beach: In Search of a Lost African Childhood (review)
[livejournal.com profile] thimble_kiss recced me this one and I'm glad she did. It's a memoir of the Liberian coup of 1980.

13. Greg Sarris - Keeping Slug Woman Alive: A Holistic Approach to American Indian Texts (review)
Was stuck on this for weeks, not because I didn't like it, but because literary theory is hard when you have no background in it.

14. Ofelia Zepeda - A Papago Grammar (review)
Hey, [livejournal.com profile] atdelphi! It's a grammar of an American language written by a native speaker!

15. Jin Xing - Shanghai Tango (review)
Memoir of a Chinese ballerina who is trans. Wanted to like it, but didn't.
pauraque_bk: (Default)
6. Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day
Impressive, written tightly and well; I enjoyed it even though it wasn't quite my genre. (Can you believe I've never seen the movie?)

7. Hanif Kureishi, Midnight All Day
Only good thing about these short stories is that they're short.

8. Atul Gawande, The Checklist Manifesto
Excellent nonfic about doctors who think they don't make mistakes.

9. Keri Hulme, the bone people
Raw, painful, poetically-written novel, but pulls punches at the end and kind of ruins itself.

10. Virginia Hamilton, In the Beginning: Creation Stories from Around the World
Lovely stories, but was she the right person to tell them?


The Remains of the Day and The Checklist Manifesto are the only two out of this bunch that I'd unhesitatingly recommend. Onward, onward!
pauraque_bk: (Default)
6. Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day
Impressive, written tightly and well; I enjoyed it even though it wasn't quite my genre. (Can you believe I've never seen the movie?)

7. Hanif Kureishi, Midnight All Day
Only good thing about these short stories is that they're short.

8. Atul Gawande, The Checklist Manifesto
Excellent nonfic about doctors who think they don't make mistakes.

9. Keri Hulme, the bone people
Raw, painful, poetically-written novel, but pulls punches at the end and kind of ruins itself.

10. Virginia Hamilton, In the Beginning: Creation Stories from Around the World
Lovely stories, but was she the right person to tell them?


The Remains of the Day and The Checklist Manifesto are the only two out of this bunch that I'd unhesitatingly recommend. Onward, onward!
pauraque_bk: (Default)
Here's my first five [livejournal.com profile] 50books_poc posts. Since I seem incapable of writing short book reviews *facepalm*, I'll try to reduce them each to a few words.

1. Nick Bruel, Bad Kitty vs. Uncle Murray
Cute graphic novel for kids, won't be tiresome for adults reading to/with them.

2. bell hooks, Bone Black: memories of girlhood
Fabulous, amazing, intimate, empowering, A+++.

3. Ma Bo, Blood Red Sunset: A Memoir of the Chinese Cultural Revolution
Memorable story but seems to lack insight and perspective, and is dragged down by an author/protagonist who's too hard to sympathize with.

4. Thich Nhat Hanh, Teachings on Love
Has good parts, but I liked other books by this author better.

5. Frederick Matthew Wiseman, Voice of the Dawn: An Autohistory of the Abenaki Nation
This really spoke to me. When my schools tried (and failed) to teach us about Native people, I wish they'd used a book like this instead. Loved it.


This is so much fun. I'm not worrying about getting through 50 books in a year, but if I keep going at this rate, it's going to happen anyway.
pauraque_bk: (Default)
Here's my first five [livejournal.com profile] 50books_poc posts. Since I seem incapable of writing short book reviews *facepalm*, I'll try to reduce them each to a few words.

1. Nick Bruel, Bad Kitty vs. Uncle Murray
Cute graphic novel for kids, won't be tiresome for adults reading to/with them.

2. bell hooks, Bone Black: memories of girlhood
Fabulous, amazing, intimate, empowering, A+++.

3. Ma Bo, Blood Red Sunset: A Memoir of the Chinese Cultural Revolution
Memorable story but seems to lack insight and perspective, and is dragged down by an author/protagonist who's too hard to sympathize with.

4. Thich Nhat Hanh, Teachings on Love
Has good parts, but I liked other books by this author better.

5. Frederick Matthew Wiseman, Voice of the Dawn: An Autohistory of the Abenaki Nation
This really spoke to me. When my schools tried (and failed) to teach us about Native people, I wish they'd used a book like this instead. Loved it.


This is so much fun. I'm not worrying about getting through 50 books in a year, but if I keep going at this rate, it's going to happen anyway.
pauraque_bk: (Default)
Oh wow, I just found out that [livejournal.com profile] 50books_poc exists. I wanna do it. As soon as I read what the challenge was, I felt that familiar sense of resistance which I've learned means I shouldn't actually resist. Because it isn't based on actual reluctance -- it's the feeling of my brain fighting with my ignorant gut.

Brain: This would be fun and I'd read a lot of books I'd like, especially the sf/f authors that always get mentioned when someone claims falsely that sf/f is all written by white people, but have never gotten around to reading.

Gut: It'll all be depressing and make me feel guilty, just like the books I had to read in school.

My gut is stupid. I hardly liked *any* of the books I had to read in school, including the ones by white authors. And of the ones I did like, some were by authors of color. And to the extent that the depressing/guilty thing is true, a lot of it was directly caused by my teachers, not the books they set. Nobody ever told me that the point isn't to feel guilty and depressed, the point is to listen, question your assumptions, and discard assumptions that are wrong -- and, you know, to enjoy the book, if it is actually a good book. I do enjoy reading, but I had a lot of teachers to whom this concept was apparently foreign, and even for the ones who tried to show us what was cool and interesting and admirable and enjoyable about Shakespeare or Salinger, it was amazing how their demeanor and the questions they asked shifted when we read POC authors. And not just books that actually were depressing; everything became somber and dry and take-your-medicine-it's-good-for-you, often for absolutely no reason. It was like being beaten over the head with a white guilt stick.

If the prospect of reading another OMG CULTURAL DIVERISTY book makes your class groan because they know what's coming, you are doing it wrong and making shit worse. I cringe at the thought of how those reactions affected the (many) non-white kids I went to school with. How could it come off as anything other than "oh no, we don't want to hear about YOU again"?

Well, fuck you, crappy teachers. I'm going to go read some good books, and you can't stop me.
pauraque_bk: (Default)
Oh wow, I just found out that [livejournal.com profile] 50books_poc exists. I wanna do it. As soon as I read what the challenge was, I felt that familiar sense of resistance which I've learned means I shouldn't actually resist. Because it isn't based on actual reluctance -- it's the feeling of my brain fighting with my ignorant gut.

Brain: This would be fun and I'd read a lot of books I'd like, especially the sf/f authors that always get mentioned when someone claims falsely that sf/f is all written by white people, but have never gotten around to reading.

Gut: It'll all be depressing and make me feel guilty, just like the books I had to read in school.

My gut is stupid. I hardly liked *any* of the books I had to read in school, including the ones by white authors. And of the ones I did like, some were by authors of color. And to the extent that the depressing/guilty thing is true, a lot of it was directly caused by my teachers, not the books they set. Nobody ever told me that the point isn't to feel guilty and depressed, the point is to listen, question your assumptions, and discard assumptions that are wrong -- and, you know, to enjoy the book, if it is actually a good book. I do enjoy reading, but I had a lot of teachers to whom this concept was apparently foreign, and even for the ones who tried to show us what was cool and interesting and admirable and enjoyable about Shakespeare or Salinger, it was amazing how their demeanor and the questions they asked shifted when we read POC authors. And not just books that actually were depressing; everything became somber and dry and take-your-medicine-it's-good-for-you, often for absolutely no reason. It was like being beaten over the head with a white guilt stick.

If the prospect of reading another OMG CULTURAL DIVERISTY book makes your class groan because they know what's coming, you are doing it wrong and making shit worse. I cringe at the thought of how those reactions affected the (many) non-white kids I went to school with. How could it come off as anything other than "oh no, we don't want to hear about YOU again"?

Well, fuck you, crappy teachers. I'm going to go read some good books, and you can't stop me.
pauraque_bk: (Default)
I've just finished reading White Like Me by Tim Wise, which came highly recommended, and did not disappoint. I couldn't put it down.

The basic premise of the book is that even when individual white Americans do not do anything personally to harm people of less privileged races, we are still accountable for collaborating with the racist structure of our society by accepting the privileges that have been extended to us because of our color.

More and more. This got long, I'm afraid. )

*

Another really good book, which is not about racism per se but does shed a lot of light on it, is Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond. I read this quite some time ago, and it made a very big impression on me too.

One of the questions that I think hasn't been asked seriously enough about racism is... why? If people of different races are not inherently different, then why are they, in fact, in different positions? And why are Eurasians the ones who are more dominant, rather than the people of another continent? I'd wondered this for years, but I don't think I'd ever voiced it, for fear of being thought offensive. It's a legitimate question, though, and deserves an answer.

Diamond's book answered this question to my total satisfaction. A couple of key points. )

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