Tags: reading

Reading

Alphabet Challenge Round 17

T is for The Tao of Dating by Dr. Ali Binazir. I got a mini ebook by the same fellow and it hyped that The Tao of Dating was the best selling dating guide on Amazon. I decided to see what he could offer me.


I will start right now by saying this isn’t your typical dating guide. It focused as much on personal development as it did with relating to the opposite sex. The book alternated chapters on how to improve your dating skills and how to better yourself as a person.


Binazir was not messing around when he titled his book. Taoism and the Tao Te Ching feature just as prominently as the dating advice. I really enjoyed the spiritual side that brought to this book. Back in 12th grade I had to do a project on Taoism (where it was drilled into that it was pronounced with a ‘D’ sound not a ‘T’ sound). It really resonated with me and it was spiritually soothing to see them again (mock if you must).


I didn’t agree with everything Dr. Binazir said. He wants women to honor the sacred feminine and have more passive roles in their loves lives at least in the pursuing stage. I’m currently working on I Do But I Don’t: Why the Way We Marry Matters by Kamy Wicoff.


Wicoff complained that men feel pressured to propose and fire back that women should let them do it in their own time. Women then have to fake nonchalance and be disingenuous to themselves so the men can feel true to themselves by proposing at their leisure. Dr. Binazir cited men proposing as one of the reasons women should hold back.


I think we need more balance in gender relationships but we also have to face the way the world is and try to make small changes. I’m not OK taking a completely passive role in my love life but I also have to recognize that I can’t control another person. Women either have to be OK playing a secondary role in their love lives or bucking gender norms consequences be damned. Personally, I’ll lay the groundwork and make it easy for him to ask but I never make the first real move.


Overall though, I really liked this book. I thought it had a lot to offer women on a couple of levels. Because the Tao Te Ching features so prominently, several pieces of the dating advice can also apply to life like being radiant or not over thinking. Since I had this on ebook I utilized the highlight and bookmark features. I can’t speak for how effective this will be at landing me men quite yet but I’ve got my eye on someone so we’ll see what happens.


A - American Virgin Vol. 1: Head by Steven Seagle
B
C
D - Divergent by Veronica Roth
E - Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
F - Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James
G - The Great Fables Crossover by Bill Willingham
H - How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown
I
J - Jane Austen Made Me Do It edited by Laurel Ann Nattress
K
L - A Little Night Magic by Lucy March
M - Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen
N - Naked City edited by Ellen Datlow
O - One of Our Thursdays Is Missing by Jasper Fforde
P
Q
R - Reality Bites Back by Jennifer L. Pozner
S
T - The Tao of Dating by Dr. Ali Binazir
U - Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman
V
W - White Girl Problems by Babe Walker
X - XVI by Julia Karr
Y - Yoga Bitch by Suzanne Morrison
Z - Zoo Story by Thomas French
Reading

Alphabet Challenge Round 15

A is for American Virgin: Head by Steven Seagle. Activating my nerd powers while on vacation recently, I found the only comic book store in the country of Bermuda. I have mad skillz.


This is the first trade in a mini-series about Adam, a young Christian whose life was centered around the virginity movement. We see more than that going on with his various relatives from lust to greed. Adam seems to be the most pure until something comes and shakes him to his very core. Cassie, the one woman he promised himself to for life, to love her and only her, was captured and beheaded while with the Peace Corp in Africa.


This trade introduces the characters and I think this series will ask some interesting questions about Christianity and the virginity movement. The first book doesn’t answer all the questions you have but Adam faces an on-going struggle as things come to test his faith.


A - American Virgin Vol. 1: Head by Steven Seagle
B
C
D - Divergent by Veronica Roth
E - Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
F - Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James
G - The Great Fables Crossover by Bill Willingham
H - How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown
I
J - Jane Austen Made Me Do It edited by Laurel Ann Nattress
K
L
M - Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen
N - Naked City edited by Ellen Datlow
O - One of Our Thursdays Is Missing by Jasper Fforde
P
Q
R - Reality Bites Back by Jennifer L. Pozner
S
T
U - Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman
V
W - White Girl Problems by Babe Walker
X - XVI by Julia Karr
Y - Yoga Bitch by Suzanne Morrison
Z - Zoo Story by Thomas French

Wonderland

Alphabet Challenge Round 14

X is for XVI by Julia Karr, a dystopian teen novel and a bitch of a letter to find. In this world, when girls turn 16 and boys turn 18 they must get tattooed to show that it’s legal for them to have sex. Your social standing and future opportunities is determing by your tier and nonstop advertisements remind you why it’s so coveted. Nina is just a normal girl but shortly before getting her XVI tattoo, her life is turned upside down when it is revealed that everything is not as it seems.


This book has a fantastic premise. I just wish the writer had done more with it. I wanted her to develop the characters a little more, to get a little deeper. Some of the relationships were somewhat abrupt. The end also left a lot of things unresolved. It was also sort of rushed, like Karr needing to make an ending and wanted all things tied up.


XVI is part of a series so I think it was detrimental to the book not to spread it out a little more. The way all the loose ends had to be rapidly tied up made it feel like a second book wasn’t an option. I just felt like the book needed a bit more. I love the premise but I just like the book.


A
B
C
D - Divergent by Veronica Roth
E - Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
F - Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James
G - The Great Fables Crossover by Bill Willingham
H - How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown
I
J - Jane Austen Made Me Do It edited by Laurel Ann Nattress
K
L
M - Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen
N - Naked City edited by Ellen Datlow
O - One of Our Thursdays Is Missing by Jasper Fforde
P
Q
R - Reality Bites Back by Jennifer L. Pozner
S
T
U - Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman
V
W - White Girl Problems by Babe Walker
X - XVI by Julia Karr
Y - Yoga Bitch by Suzanne Morrison
Z - Zoo Story by Thomas French

Sweet Lips

Charm Me Not

I’ve been reading the Tao of Dating for the letter T in my alphabet challenge. It was that most women, when asked about their husbands, admitted to not only not falling instantly in love, they didn’t even like him that much!


Currently, the Western model of romance dictates instant chemistry and attraction. If you don’t have that spark, then why try? If you lose the spark, a lot of people just call it quits. If the person you married isn’t your Prince Charming or soulmate anymore, shouldn’t you go find one who is?


The idea of wining, dining, and intense romance is a very recent. Marriages started because it was an easier way to raise children and verify paternity thousands of years ago. Marrying for love is a recent, convenient, and (if the numbers are to be believed) a less than ideal development.


I’ll be the first to argue that the reason many marriages lasted as long as they did because until recently, women didn’t have any other viable options. 60 years ago divorce was expensive and women usually had to raise the kids on their own making crap wages at dead-end jobs. Now it’s a lot easier for women to escape bad marriages but with all new marriage starting out with 50/50 odds, are all modern marriages that bad?


No. India has the option of divorce now but a lot of arranged marriages work, seemingly better than Western marriages. Yes they’re raised in that culture but their relationship is under less pressure to perform to unrealistic romantic standards. Arranged couples can learn to love each other over time. They aren’t expected to be instant soulmates (another dangerous romantic idea).


Women are force fed a romantic fantasy from the time we’re toddlers when a lifelong commitment is about a lot more than rose petals, fancy dresses, and carriage rides. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but that Prince was raised to be charming, not sincere.


Life offers screaming, spewing babies, serious illness, unexpected job loss, ailing parents, and mundane routines. When dealing with all of the above, you aren’t going to be madly in love with your partner 24/7 and that’s good. As the TOD says: “Madly in love is still mad, and mad people tend to make silly choices."


I believe that relationships need some romance but in many ways, love is a choice. Loving someone long-term is a conscious decision and requires effort. You have to decide if that’s the person you want to stand by when life hits them hard. You have to decide if this is the person you want in your corner when life slams into you. You have to decide if this is the person you want around when life isn’t doing much of anything to you at all.


This is why people recommend marrying your best friend. You know their faults, their bizarre habits, you do stuff together, and you don’t always like them but you love them anyway. I’d much rather marry my best friend than some insincere charmer from a crappy movie.

Shake It

Alphabet Challenge Round 13

Z is for Zoo Story. I really enjoyed this book. It was informative, well-written, and well paced. The story never dragged and I was never bored.


I appreciated how French focused on all aspect of the zoo. We heard about the keepers, their relationship to the animals, their relationship to each other, the history of some of the animals, species extinction and conservation, the politics of running a zoo, and traits of the various species. I never knew elephants sometimes buried their dead and can be incredibly destructive to ecosystems or that chimps lead violent viking-like raids


French didn’t sugarcoat things and the account felt fairly unbiased. The zoo wasn’t perfect but the world isn’t perfect either. Definitely put this on your to-read list.


A
B
C
D - Divergent by Veronica Roth
E - Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
F - Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James
G - The Great Fables Crossover by Bill Willingham
H - How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown
I
J - Jane Austen Made Me Do It edited by Laurel Ann Nattress
K
L
M - Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen
N - Naked City edited by Ellen Datlow
O - One of Our Thursdays Is Missing by Jasper Fforde
P
Q
R - Reality Bites Back by Jennifer L. Pozner
S
T
U - Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman
V
W - White Girl Problems by Babe Walker
X
Y - Yoga Bitch by Suzanne Morrison
Z - Zoo Story by Thomas French

Reading

Alphabet Challenge Round 12

Y is for Yoga Bitch by Suzanne Morrison. The book says she’s a cynical smoker who goes on a 2 month yoga retreat to get in touch with her spiritual side. The problem I have with books who advertise ‘I’m cynical and have problems’ and then resolve all the problems by the end of the book already had one foot in the door.


One memoir I read about a woman who decided to change her life with magazines complained about her terrible relationships but she was already in therapy and had a quality boyfriend candidate waiting in the wings. No memoir has someone go from totally-flawed to totally-fixed. There’s always some groundwork.


Morrison was the same because while she was a cynical coffee-loving smoker, she was also a yoga junkie before she left. She idolized her teacher and loved doing yoga so she was open to spiritual awakening no matter how agnostic she proclaimed to be. One of her reoccurring points is that she enjoys the theatricality of religion. Like many of us, she probably just wants something she can believe in.


She gradually warmed to the ideas and practices of people drinking the Kool-Aid (among other things). When she became the perfect yoga student with meditation, concentration, and a seizure-like vision, I wasn’t that shocked. The beginnings of that were already there. You can tell by the way she talks about the female yoga teacher she adores and idolizes her in the beginning. Her thirst for approval was obvious but not unfamiliar.


Eventually the teacher is revealed to be flawed and human. Morrison claims to enjoy knocking her off the pedestal and kicking her former idol. She wanted something to believe in but her cynicism loved that this latest ‘god’ wasn’t perfect.


At the end Morrison seems to be unchanged but in retrospect she admits to being transformed in a way she didn’t realize yet. Morrison has a good voice and this was an interesting story to tell.


A
B
C
D - Divergent by Veronica Roth
E - Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
F - Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James
G - The Great Fables Crossover by Bill Willingham
H - How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown
I
J - Jane Austen Made Me Do It edited by Laurel Ann Nattress
K
L
M - Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen
N - Naked City edited by Ellen Datlow
O - One of Our Thursdays Is Missing by Jasper Fforde
P
Q
R - Reality Bites Back by Jennifer L. Pozner
S
T
U - Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman
V
W - White Girl Problems by Babe Walker
X
Y - Yoga Bitch by Suzanne Morrison
Z

Reading

Alphabet Challenge Round 11

F is for Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James. What started as a racy Twilight fan fiction became a digital bestseller and then became a New York Times bestseller. There was a bidding war for the movie rights. Copies can be found anywhere books are sold and I do mean anywhere.


For all the hype, I'm going to say something nobody wants to hear: What was the big damn deal? I really don't see what all the hype is for. I don't hate it but I certainly don't love it.


I see echoes of Twilight in James's work with Grey's protectiveness and extravagant gifts or in Ana's inexplicable and immediate devotion. James did change some things to suit the work like who left whom and why.


James changed the most crucial thing between this and Twilight; there are no vampires, just adults into BDSM. They characters have sex and lots of it. The problem was that all the intrigue Twilight had because of vampires is gone. It's been replaced with sex scenes and it's not that much more interesting for it


The quality of writing is mediocre. People bash Twilight for being poorly written but I didn't think Fifty Shades of Grey was any better. The characters aren't that compelling, the plot isn't that interesting, and writing isn't that good. For all the hype and people singing its praises, I give it a hearty "meh."


A
B
C
D - Divergent by Veronica Roth
E - Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
F - Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James
G - The Great Fables Crossover by Bill Willingham
H - How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown
I
J - Jane Austen Made Me Do It edited by Laurel Ann Nattress
K
L
M - Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen
N - Naked City edited by Ellen Datlow
O - One of Our Thursdays Is Missing by Jasper Fforde
P
Q
R - Reality Bites Back by Jennifer L. Pozner
S
T
U - Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman
V
W - White Girl Problems by Babe Walker
X
Y
Z

Wonderland

Alphabet Challenge Round 10

E is for Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card and starts with a caveat: When you recommend books to your friends, don’t oversell the book. My friend read this when she was younger and ‘lost’ her library copy because she couldn’t stand to be without it. I wasn’t quite as in love partly because this book was oversold to me by multiple people. It was excellent but not the pinnacle of literature my friends made it out to be.


It’s an excellent book. It explores the human condition and human endurance. The battle scenes are well described and interesting to visualize. The characters are interesting but secretive. It describes warfare in a way that’s accessible for young ages which is not easy.


If you read it as a young person, reread it as an adult. You’ll take away very different things. It’s a good read at any age. The book also contains several truths about war and the human condition that are remarkably poetic. A forthcoming blog will contain some of my favorite quotes from the book.


There is only one slightly negative thing I have to say. Between the technicality of the writing and the necessary isolation of various characters, I just wasn’t as attached to this book as some of my personal favorites. However, I think that was the point given the level of isolation Ender endures


A
B
C
D - Divergent by Veronica Roth
E - Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
F
G - The Great Fables Crossover by Bill Willingham
H - How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown
I
J - Jane Austen Made Me Do It edited by Laurel Ann Nattress
K
L
M - Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen
N - Naked City edited by Ellen Datlow
O - One of Our Thursdays Is Missing by Jasper Fforde
P
Q
R - Reality Bites Back by Jennifer L. Pozner
S
T
U - Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman
V
W - White Girl Problems by Babe Walker
X
Y
Z

Forbidden Fruit

Fifty Shades Roulette

I heard this on the morning radio show I listen to and I thought it was brilliant. Everyone has heard of Fifty Shades of Grey. It started as a fanfic and has become a NYT bestseller. I’m working on it for the Alphabet Challenge to see what the fuss is all about.


The Kane Show felt the same way and created Fifty Shades of Grey Roulette. To play you need a copy of the book (Kindle probably won’t work). You must put all of the page numbers on little pieces of paper and put them in a box (or hat or whatever). Pull out a page number, go to the page and begin reading aloud. Any time words or phrases you can’t say on the radio or around small children (e.g. nipple, fuck, penis, I came) say an animal noise instead.


It was hilarious! “Now I’m going to moo you.” “He put his hand on my meow.” “I felt his hard woof against my belly.” Add the audio book narrator voice and it only gets more entertaining. Traffic sucked on my commute that morning so this definitely brightened my day.

Wonderland

Alphabet Challenge Round 9 AKA What Would Jane Do?

J is for Jane Austen Made Me Do It, a collection of short stories inspired by and focused on Jane Austen and her characters. Love or hate her, everyone in the western world knows Jane Austen. This anthology is for those who love her. The only rule for these stories is that Jane Austen, her work, or her characters must play a crucial role which has lead to an incredibly diverse collection of stories.


Some tales are about contemporary characters and how Jane Austen impacts their world. Others are continuations or back stories about characters from her works like Emma and Persuasion. Others have Jane Austen as a ghost or her characters making appearances in the modern world. Some are written with contemporary dialogue and others are written with the grammar and style of Austen’s time. I will admit going back and forth between writing styles was a bit jarring at times.


In order to appreciate this collection you must enjoy Austen’s original works as well as the more modern takes on her work. I don’t mean Pride & Prejudice & Zombies but things along the lines of Jane Austen Ruined My Life, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, or The Private Diaries of Mr. Darcy. (All of the noted titles are by contributing authors.) Austen purists won’t have as much fun here.


My favorites from this collection are Jane Austen’s Nightmare (awesome!), A Night at Northanger, Jane Austen and the Mistletoe Kiss, Nothing Less than Fairy-land, the Ghostwriter, Intolerable Stupidity, and What Would Austen Do? The last one is the only tale told from a male perspective. It was a nice change and indicative of who this collection is written for.


A
B
C
D - Divergent by Veronica Roth
E
F
G - The Great Fables Crossover by Bill Willingham
H - How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown
I
J - Jane Austen Made Me Do It edited by Laurel Ann Nattress
K
L
M - Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen
N - Naked City edited by Ellen Datlow
O - One of Our Thursdays Is Missing by Jasper Fforde
P
Q
R - Reality Bites Back by Jennifer L. Pozner
S
T
U - Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman
V
W - White Girl Problems by Babe Walker
X
Y
Z