Skip to main content

Book Review: Summer Homework Edition

          Hey, it's Carly and Grace, typing to you from under an umbrella by the side of a pool at a house in the Hamptons.  (Not bragging at all!!)  Okay, I'll admit we don't own this house.  We're here because of the charity of a marvelous family friend, Ellen, who rented the house and invited us to stay with her.
          Aside from whacking each other with pool noodles, grilling, and running on the beach, Grace and I have been working on our summer homework, and because of this we've both ended up reading books we might not have otherwise.  So we're going to review The Omnivore's Dilemma and The Secret Life of Pronouns for you!
Me, studiously trying to read, while Grace lies on my back...
The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan is an interesting dissection of the issues we humans face every time we enter the supermarket. As omnivores we can eat almost anything under the sun (and absolutely everything in the supermarket) it can be very difficult to know what we should be eating. Michael Pollan looks at where exactly all our food comes from - which for the most part turns out to be corn and the whole first third or so of the book is all about how corn is produced and how it has changed through the years - and whether or not we really should be eating it. He uses economical, environmental, and ethical reasoning (which, as a vegetarian, I appreciate). 
     - Grace

So studious
The Secret Life of Pronouns by James W. Pennebaker is ... much more interesting than it sounds, I promise!  It's all about how the small words that we use, called function words, say a lot more than we all realize about our character.  For example, a person who uses "we" and "you" a lot and "I" very little is likely to be arrogant, while a person who uses "I" at very high rates may be depressed.  Our pronoun choices also change depending on whether we're speaking to a person of higher or lower status than ourselves.  And if someone is trying to deceive you, they will say "I" less and use simpler and shorter sentences.  Liars may also use more performatives, meaning phrases such as "I promise you that..." or "I'm telling you..." to distance themselves from the actual deceptive statement that they are making.  This book will teach you so much about yourself and the people around you, and all you'll have to do is listen to the little common words we use every day.  
     -Carly
Beachwork...because I'm at the beach, not home

Popular posts from this blog

Best Reading from my First Semester

Ok, my only excuse for this long-ass hiatus is that I started college, and what with exams, essays, friends, newfound independence, and minor dramas, I nearly forgot I had a blog until this week.
But I'm back now, and here to tell you about the best books and stories I read during my last semester.

Novels
1. Citizen: An American Epic by Claudia Ward - A multi-media masterpiece about modern racism, with a particular focus on microaggressions.
2. Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward - The story of a young girl coming of age in an impoverished area of Mississippi, on the brink of one of the great natural disasters of the last decade.
3. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison - A classic allegory of the racial justice movement in America.
4. Beloved by Toni Morrison - Possibly my favorite book ever, Beloved is based on the story of Margaret Garner, a woman who escaped slavery with her children and, when recapture seemed inevitable, killed her children to their being returned to slavery.
Shor…

Book Review: The Spanish American Short Story, edited by Seymour Menton

I love the cover of this book.  Look closely - it's a little skeleton man clasping his hands over a cup of black coffee.  I don't know what it means, but it's delightful.      Anyway, I read this collection of short stories in Spanish - El cuento hispanoamericano - for a class I am taking this semester, but it is also available in English.  According to my professor, it's a unique book in that it offers the best representation of Latin American short stories throughout modern history, with details about literary movements and authors as well.  I liked some stories better than others - "The Tree" by Maria Luisa Bombal and "The Ruby" by Ruben Dario were my favorites - but even the ones I disliked, such as "Secret Love" by Manuel Payno, were included because they were representative of a certain movement or regional style that was worth acknowledging.        My only issue with this book is that a story I just mentioned, "The Tree,&…

Book Review: Che by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon

I'm back with another graphic novel!  And this one isn't about zombies - it's about Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, better known as Che Guevara.  This beautiful, color-illustrated comic book is a biography of the revolutionary figure, from the famous motorcycle trip he took through Argentina partway through medical school, to his success as an Argentinean communist fighting for Fidel Castro in Cuba, to his capture by government soldiers while aiding rebels in Bolivia, and subsequent execution without trial.
     A good fourteen pages of the novel are spent describing in brief the history of every country in South America.  I admit that I found this section boring at first.  But honestly I benefited from it, first of all because in high school I learned very little about South American history.  World Wars I and II got a lot of attention in my history classes, but the revolutions of Latin American countries did not.  So this book gave me a crash course.  Second of all, t…