Category Archives: Book review

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson – don’t bother

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good LifeThe Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Well…that’s time I’ll never get back. The title is funny. There…I said something nice.

The description is laughable. “Generation-defining self-help guide”? “superstar blogger”? …I have never heard of this guy (mini-bio says he writes “personal development advice that doesn’t suck”…which tells any discerning adult a lot…) but if he’s defining a generation, we’re in a world of hurt. And if this is meant to offer help, self or otherwise, it’s worse than I can imagine.

I gather he thinks he knows something. No. I get the impression that he thinks he’s funny. Also no. But…he is highly repetitive and he is vulgar and churlish (don’t tell me that I missed the point of the title…I didn’t…he’s just not that good and has virtually nothing of value to offer to anyone with a brain.) This noxious mess oozes with self-indulgent frat-boy immaturity. I get the odd feeling that if the grabber actually could read he’d endorse this. No thinking adult needs to read this. Don’t waste your time. One star bonus for the title from what it really deserves.

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A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony – typical Anthony

A Spell for Chameleon (Xanth #1)A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I read, and remember liking, this back when it came out. While Anthony is an anachronism today, he was one even when this was published in 1977. His sexism is pervasive – integral to the story? no; seems he just like being perverse. Some is couched: on page 53 of the paperback, he has a farmer laughing about the main character accidentally groping a female centaur and then he says that farmers had “an earthy sense of humor”. “Earthy”? “Lecherous” or “vulgar” is correct in the context he created. Constant references to females growing “shrewish”, or losing their looks…

And some is not couched. Only 3 pages after the “earthy” commentary, he describes a date rape surrogate trial (to protect innocent parties) with the outcome that would make a good ol’ boy, or a billionaire golf course owner, smirk. And two pages after that, a bit character, talking to the main character about an attractive female participant in the acted out trial: “Better have Wynne show you.” “Wynne?” “Your opposite. The one you almost raped.” [Note, the main character was conscripted to play a role, and the outcome, as noted, was in the favor of the male players…] “Not that I blame you.”

Yes, he went there. And that is a theme/attitude common throughout the first third of this book. Do we dismiss Anthony’s deplorable references for culturally relative reasons, or do we hold him accountable? I regret introducing Xanth to my third son, who read nearly all of the series (I stopped after four – and the fourth was pushing it too far.) As a teen, I seemed to have been largely oblivious to Anthony’s sexism, but it bothered me as an adult when I read some of his other series.

Now…there’s actually a decent story in here, despite Anthony. [Yes, I know…because of Anthony]. I will probably reread the other two of this trilogy to see if Anthony’s style – intriguing first novel of a trilogy, weak filler middle novel, sometimes okay conclusion – fits my memory. Now, I know that this particular series went beyond three…he’s still writing these things… It’s almost as if he’s in competition with himself to see how many inane stretches of wordplay he can work into every page. And they often get in the way of a potentially good story.

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Timekeepers: How the World Became Obsessed With Time by Simon Garfield

Timekeepers: How the World Became Obsessed With TimeTimekeepers: How the World Became Obsessed With Time by Simon Garfield

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Published in the UK in 2016, this is due to be published in the U.S> in 2019, and I got a review copy from NetGalley.

Garfield writes a easy read, smoothly transitioning between his explorations of how we observe, mark, display, portray, are influenced by, and bound to time. From faster ways of getting to one place from another (speed records of trains in the 19th century), timing of Beethoven’s symphonies, breaking a four minute “barrier” (I detest that term in its colloquial context, but whether sensational or lazy on the part of writers, it’s a common fallback) for a human mile-runner, time management, movie-making, historically long speeches…there’s something here that should interest just about anyone. Of course, there are elements that are not of interest to everyone (which some readers/reviewers lazily identify themselves as “bored”) – details of watchmaking probably don’t hold as much fascination for others as they do for me.

I think there is a good deal more exploration and Garfield did a very good job with his.

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Religions and Extraterrestrial Life: How Will We Deal with It? by David A. Weintraub

Religions and Extraterrestrial Life: How Will We Deal with It?Religions and Extraterrestrial Life: How Will We Deal with It? by David A. Weintraub

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I pulled a thread from a post I saw and eventually drilled down to this book by Weintraub. Be warned: the first word in the title really doesn’t come into play until 2/5 into the book. Weintraub spends that time talking mostly about detection of extraterrestrial life. Then he dives into religion in general and individual religions in specific.

Well, not exactly individual religions. Given that there are so many flavors of Christianity, he addresses many of the different sects in discrete chapters. And then he goes off in to the non-Christian religions. I was surprised to see Jainism and the Bahá’í Faith!

There is a lot of information packed into this book. Weintraub did his research, and this is rather academic. His conclusions might actually work in theory, but I suspect for the common practitioners of the different religions – most of whom that I’m encountered seem to not really know that much about their faiths that isn’t told to them from the pulpit or dais – might not agree with the doctrines.

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