Category: Reviews

Crap Taxidermy

crap taxidermy kat su ten speed press 2014Crap Taxidermy by Kat Su, 3/5

Equal parts gross, funny and WTF?  This small collection of images makes a fun novelty gift, but I think it’s more suited to its original website format: www.crappytaxidermy.com.

Why I read it: Came across it on Imgur and got a copy for my boyfriend’s dad (who does good taxidermy, not the crap kind).

Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang

chitty chitty bang bang fleming random house 1964Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang: The Magical Car by Ian Fleming, 2/5

A strange little story, with a spindly plot and uneven tone that is sometimes fanciful and sometimes much too serious for the children that are presumably its audience.  I did like the playful illustrations by John Burningham, which are quintessentially 1960s.  Surprisingly, there is very little resemblance to the 1968 film, which I love (though it turns out that what I love about it is probably Roald Dahl’s influence, not Fleming’s inspiration).

Why I read it: my sister thought I might enjoy it.

My Fight / Your Fight

my fight / your fight rousey regan arts 2015My Fight / Your Fight by Ronda Rousey with Maria Burns Ortiz, 3/5

I’ve never been much of a Rousey fan, but there’s an undeniably voyeuristic appeal to this first-hand account of the rise of the first woman to make it big in MMA.  Rousey’s work ethic, mental strength and accomplishments are inspiring and her prose is tolerable.  However, written before her only two losses, the book feels premature and some of the warrior rhetoric rings a bit hollow in light of her subsequent complete disappearance from the martial arts scene.

Why I read it: A guy from the gym brought his copy in for me.

Opera Anecdotes

opera anecdotes mordden oxford university press 1985Opera Anecdotes by Ethan Mordden, 2/5

This collection of short stories connected to opera just barely managed to keep my attention as I read a little bit before bed every night (more for its soporific effect than for any entertainment value).  It didn’t help that the connecting prose between anecdotes was awkwardly written to a peculiar degree, and I recognized very few of the featured singers and impresarios.

Why I read it: the title caught my eye while I was browsing books in the thrift store.

The Five Love Languages

five love languages chapman northfield publishing 1995The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman, 5/5

It took an effort to get past the cringe-worthy cover and subtitle, but this book is well-written and explores concepts that can apply to a variety of relationships besides marriage (such as between friends, family members, or people who are dating).  Using common sense and many examples from his years of experience as a marriage counselor, Gary Chapman proposes that, while everyone needs to feel loved, each individual tends to recognize and express love in primarily one of five ways: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch.  Two people with loving intentions who speak different “languages” can be left each feeling uncared for and confused as to why their expressions of love aren’t accepted as such.  Chapman encourages people in relationships to notice which of the five categories their partner might belong to and adjust their own behavior accordingly.  It seems to me that this could be a bit forced and awkward in some cases, especially if the other person knows you very well and notices that you start acting out of character.  I think it makes more sense for everyone to learn each other’s love languages, not so that they can necessarily speak them, but so that they can appreciate love in its different forms.  For example, if someone prefers to hear affirming words, they should learn to appreciate the love of a person who makes time for them or quietly does helpful things.  Or if a person wants their partner to show they care by giving them gifts, they should also realize that a kind word or touch can be equally meaningful and heartfelt expressions of love.

Why I read it: One of my sisters said it was interesting and it is important to me that the people I care about feel loved.

Twilight of the Idols

twilight of the idols nietzsche oxford world's classic 1998Twilight of the Idols, or, How to Philosophize with a Hammer by Friedrich Nietzsche, 1/5

Nietzsche’s opinions are as monstrous as his ego and as depressing as his life.  With supreme self-confidence, he makes sweeping statements about human nature, existence, and philosophy, while generally avoiding any in-depth analysis or reasoning that might substantiate his sensational claims.  His writing is so bizarre and baseless that I felt compelled to look him up on Wikipedia and try to figure out why on earth he gained so much credibility in the philosophy world.  The exercise was unreassuring.  It seems that Nietzsche’s primary life experiences were academic, he was socially isolated, addicted to drugs, extremely resentful of his religious upbringing and was actually residing in a mental institute when this book was published.  Not exactly the sort of person you’d want to turn to for theories about life, the universe and everything.  Usually, I’d try to write more specifically about the contents of this book so that I could remember it, but in this case, I’d be more than happy to forget that this particular collection of ravings even exists.

Why I read it: Recognized the title while browsing in the thrift store.

Tarzan of the Apes

tarzan of the apes edgar rice burroughs bed book 2005Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs, 4/5

This is a bittersweet little story, written with the refined yet melodramatic style (and casual racism) that characterizes a lot of literature from the early 1900s.  Like most people, I was already familiar with the characters and story line, but I recognized very little of pop culture Tarzan in this original tale.

The edition is noteworthy because it is printed in landscape format, supposedly making it easier to read in bed.  I really enjoyed the novelty, but didn’t think it was any easier to read lying down than a normal book.

Why I read it: A lovely birthday gift from one of my brothers and his family.