30 January 2002

Reads & Listens, January 2002

The Moon By Whale Light by Diane Ackerman
I love Ackerman -- she blends poetry and science into something so compelling I can't help but fall head first into her books. And the penguins! Can't go wrong with penguins!

Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary by Linus Torvalds
So, you're married to a code monkey who's all penguinified. For your own protection, you want to learn about the cult he's joined, but you don't want end up trolling on slashdot. This is the book for you.

Journeys to Self-Acceptance: Fat Women Speak by Carol Wiley
Collection of uplifting essays discussing the myths and stereotypes about women and fatness. I recommend skimming it whenever you come down with The Horribles.

The Invisible Woman: Confronting Weight Prejudice in America by Charisse Goodman
This book makes me want to stand up and start slapping people around. I can "accept" myself, but without a major social shift acceptance doesn't mean a thing.

Fat!So? Because You Don't have to Apologize for Your Size by Marilyn Wann
Thin does not equal healthy. Eat nutritious foods, get some exercise, and stop fucking worrying about your knee dimples.

My Year of Meats by Ruth L. Ozeki
Kept forgetting this was a novel and not an autobiography. Well written, thoughtful, and weirdly humorous.

One Hand Tied Behind Us: The Rise of the Women's Suffrage Movement by Jill Liddington & Jill Norris
This book uses much unpublished material and interviews to paint a vivid picture of the suffrage movement in the Great Britain.

Can't Buy Me Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Feel by Jean Kilbourne
Marketing influences how we feel! Industry doesn't care about you! Industry just wants to manipulate you into consuming! Simply shocking, dahling.

Myrtle of Willendorf by Rebecca O'Connell
On the onset, this book seems to employ a lot of stereotypes. Not only is Myrtle fat, she's also depressing, sloppy, and constantly eating. How flattering is that? Not very, but then Myrtle isn't very happy with herself, either. It's only in the end, when she paints her "masterpiece" does she become beautiful -- not by morphing into a someone else, but by accepting herself. This is a delicious book. The descriptions of the characters, the setting, and the food make me want to read it again and again. The only thing that would have made it perfect where if I could see her masterpiece.

Dying for Chocolate by Diane Mott Davidson
Cute. A murder mystery and recipes all in one slim volume.

Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah
While I found this book profoundly moving, Adeline's perfect goodness got to be a bit much.

J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century by Tom Shippey
Veddy interesting, but not sure it stands out from other Tolkien biographies I've read.

The Culture of Fear: Why Americans are Afraid of the Wrong Things by Barry Glassner
People who are afraid, consume.

The Foods of Israel Today by Joan Nathan
Beautiful illustrations, lovely text, and some truly yummy recipes. Foodie erotica.

Catering to Nobody by Diane Mott Davidson
First book in the Goldy Bear series (I started out of order). A lot of fun to read, but not very filling.

Wake Up, I'm Fat! by Camryn Manheim
Funny hah-hah and funny ouch. Who wouldn't want Manheim as an older sister or friend? Nice legs, too.

The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World by Lawrence Lessig
Sometimes, I read books to increase my cred with other people. Generally speaking, this never turns out to be a good idea. I like Lawrence Lessig and I enjoy listening to what he has to say, but (about half way through this book) I became lost and couldn't make heads or tails out of what I was reading.

The Onion Girl by Charles De Lint
Finally, Jilly's story. Unfortunately, I've been waiting so long to have it told and read so much de Lint in the process, that I don't care. All his books are too much a like and, while familiarity can be comforting, it can also breed contempt.

The Other Wind by Ursula K. Le Guin
Yummy. I always wondered what would happen with Tenar and Tehanu and hoped there would be another book some day. The Earthsea books, along with Cooper's Dark is Rising series, and Pierce's Darkangel trilogy were the defining reads of my adolescence.

01 January 2002

Just Another Awkward Girl With Too Many Books

As with most biblioholics, my addiction began at a very young age. I was one of those awkward girls who preferred books to people and couldn't see the point in crushes or boy band worship. Anne Shirley was much more relevant to my life than the New Kids on the Block. This would have made me a social pariah, I think, except that I learned to at least try to hide my ignorance and nod knowingly when my friends talked about hotboybandofthemonth. I probably did a bad job of it, but they didn't take the piss out of me too much and I managed to muddle through child and young adult hood fairly unscathed.

My favorite books were mostly science fiction and fantasy -- C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia, Madeleine L'Engle's Wrinkle in Time books, and Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising series. Unlike most girls I knew, I never got into horses or unicorns, but I did like a few books about animals -- Anna Sewell's Black Beauty, E.B. White's Charlotte's Web, and Richard Adams's Watership Down. I also liked (and still prefer) books about "non-girlie girls" like Anne Shirley, Laura Ingalls, and (later) Signy Mallory.

The first "real" (adult) book I remember reading was Jane Eyre in fourth grade. While the teacher was spouting off about "Fire Safety Week" I was sneak-reading the book I had tucked under my desktop. This was a small disobedience I would commit again and again. I felt I couldn't help myself -- books seemed a lot more relevant than school work. My parents and teachers were obviously confused about how to deal with me -- yes, I wasn't paying attention in class, but I was not paying attention in order to read books.


Why start with Jane Eyre? I had read a YA novel about a fat girl named Franny who spends her time hiding in her closet reading books and eating (It All Began With Jane Eyre: Or, the Secret Life of Franny Dillman by Sheila Greenwald). I identified rather strongly with Franny and thought I might love the book she loved. And I did. I've read my copy near a dozen times since then and can still quite safely call it one of my favorites.
"Is your book interesting?" I had already formed the intention of asking her to lend it to me some day.
"I like it," she answered, after a pause of a second or two, during which she examined me.
"What is it about?" I continued. I hardly know where I found the hardihood thus to open a conversation with a stranger; the step was contrary to my nature and habits: but I think her occupation touched a chord of sympathy somewhere; for I too liked reading, though of a frivolous and childish kind; I could not digest or comprehend the serious or substantial.
                             (Jane Eyre, Chapter V)