Saturday, January 15, 2011

All About Love: New Visions

A coworker of mine recommended bell hooks to me. I'm glad she did. The book's premise is an interesting one, and I agreed with a lot of what hooks' argues. Hooks contends that many in our society have forgotten how to love, what it is to love. If you love someone, you do not abuse them, physically or mentally. Hooks believes that there is a difference between affection and love, that many confuse the two.

Anyone who thinks "falling in love" is something that happens to you against your will -- that love is not a choice -- does not know love. Love is a choice, a decision you make to commit to someone; it is something you have to work for.

Hooks covers spirituality, familial love, romantic love, commitment, honesty, values, community.

I haven't read as much non-fiction as I should. I've never read any "self-help" books and I have barely scratched the surface in philosophy, sociology and feminism. This is a book of essays on various topics concerning love -- the first in a series of three by hooks. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in really examining yourself, your values and relationships.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"What is the What"

I'm having difficulty putting into words what I want to say about this book. It had huge emotional impact for me and really illuminated the tragedy that has happened in Sudan over the last decades. African history in general (let alone country-specific events) is vague to so many Americans. "What is the What" is a must-read for anyone with any interest in modern-day Sudan. Beautifully written, gripping and funny. Eggers' brings home a frightening tragedy while making it compelling and accessible. Achek's story is the epitome of triumph over tragedy.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

"The Art of Racing in the Rain"

I bought "The Art of Racing in the Rain" by Garth Stein as a Christmas gift for someone and ended up reading it myself because I decided giving any family member a book narrated by an old dog about to die just seemed cruel.

And if you think that's a depressing beginning, it just gets worse from there. After the dog, Enzo, reveals in the first two pages that he is reflecting on his life with his owner Denny and his family as he dying -- he then informs you Denny's wife ends up dying, too. And then he proceeds to go back in time to allow you to become emotionally involved with Denny and Eve and their daughter Zoe before Eve dies.

And then it gets worse again, but I won't tell you about that part and ruin the meat of the plot for you.

I'm making the book sound terrible: it's not; it's just terribly depressing. It's actually beautifully written with wonderful characters and an interesting, if slightly melodramatic, plot. If you can get past how utterly heart-wrenching the book is (and let me tell you, the downward spiral in Denny's life kept going far longer than I expected), the book of course ends up being an ultimately uplifting story.

But, wow, I went through a full box of tissues before reaching the uplifting bit.