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Posts Tagged ‘books’

so recently i took a very abridged, very free version of the myers-briggs personality test online, and found myself to be an esfp.

 

if i am to take this cheap edited internet version of psychology to heart (which obviously, as a 20-something, i must), i must accept the fact that i am a person who feels a guttural need to be amongst other humans — but just so happens to be crazy anxious and neurotic about that sort of thing. a shy extrovert, is what i am, and i do suppose part of aging is trying to reconcile what we need (people! people all the time) with the personal tools we have to work with (a very self-conscious demeanor, currently enjoying itself on a latte + a bottle of wine).

 

this is all to say, i find myself hanging out with myself on a saturday night, having a grand old time but unable to let go of the need to tell everyone about it. here we go!

let's all ignore my tiny pinky nail

i am in my third hour of npr’s tiny desk concerts. have listened to first aid kit three times so far. so have my neighbors; i must assume they love folksy swedes as much as i do.

forest frolicking

 

i have also been watching a whole bunch of netflix, obviously.

 

tv shows: united states of tara, sons of anarchy, the x files (duh), law & order svu (duhhhh)

movies: take this waltz (love hurts etc etc), the future (ok i admit it i love twee shit and will never stop), cave of forgotten dreams (oh werner).

 

later when the wine wears off i will be launching myself headfirst into wolf hall by hilary mantel; i have never read any of her work before but haven’t stopped thinking about her since reading the hugely fascinating profile published in the new yorker a little while back.

 

and so, in conclusion. i hope you all are enjoying family/friend/me time right now as well! we are looking forward to bringing festo back from the dead and hope you will stick with us as we do so. 2013! here we come.

 

[ stefanie ]

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have just finished reading half the sky by nicholas kristof and sheryl wudunn and i cannot cannot recommend it enough. i first heard about the book while reading this fantastic article in the ny times magazine last summer, and while the article definitely gets the point across successfully the book is still absolutely worth a read.

 

the book discusses sex slavery in southeast asia, rape and murder in the name of honor in africa, unimaginably high rates of maternal mortality all across the world, fistulas, female genital cutting, and the benefits of education and microloans; since studies have shown people respond with more compassion to stories of individuals than to mind-numbing statistics, each chapter is punctuated by photos and narratives of women’s lives. best of all, the authors don’t just present the sad state of affairs in the world today and then leave you to feel shitty all day — they repeatedly describe organizations and philanthropic efforts that WORK and also introduce opportunities for the reader to GET INVOLVED and SUPPORT SUCCESSFUL EFFORTS TO CHANGE THINGS. thank goodness, because it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed when faced with an overwhelmingly shitty situation.

( at one point while i was reading the book i was telling a friend about it when he scoffed a little and asked if endlessly talking about inequalities makes them worse rather than better — the whole ‘post-race’ argument that was continuously brought up during the 2008 election, that if we would just stop talking about black or white or male or female then slowly differences would fade from our collective consciousness. i think mostly he was trying to be a dick on purpose, but just in case, i definitely do not think that not talking about it is the solution. when women are honor-raped every day, when girls are systematically prevented from educating themselves, when female sex workers are kidnapped from their families and kept prisoner by beatings and drug dependencies, the absolute worst thing we could possibly do would be to not talk about it. i think a lot of us don’t quite know the extent of how difficult and dangerous it is to be a woman outside of america/europe/developed nations in general, and learning about the scary reality is the only way to motivate oneself to take action. )

while the authors respect legislators’ efforts to solve inequities through laws, policies, and UN bodies, they repeatedly point to overwhelming evidence that the far more effective route is one that emphasizes grassroots, localized organizations founded or run by local people who understand local culture and customs. microfinance, for one example, has been shown to be hugely successful, changing entire communities through $65 loans to individual women. so, here is a very short list of some websites and organizations mentioned in the book that are worth checking out and contributing to:

kiva.org

globalgiving.org

camfed

engenderhealth

novo foundation

global fund for women

of course there are tons more avenues to examine if you, too, are impassioned and eager to help. very worth the research. now go buy the book, now.

[ stefanie ]

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on a recent train ride i read extremely loud and incredibly close by jonathan safran foer and white noise by don delillo.

i cracked open extremely loud and incredibly close around 10am and was finished around 5pm. the, loveliest book, ever. it’s narrated by a little boy whose dad died in 911, and it’s about a quest he goes on to find some shit out. i laughed, i cried, i felt like a huge weirdo for having such noisy reactions in the quiet car of the amtrak train. one of my favorite passages is from the very first page, here it is so you can read it:

what about little microphones? what if everyone swallowed them, and they played the sounds of our hearts through little speakers, which could be in the pouches of our overalls? when you skateboard down the street at night you could hear everyone’s heartbeat, and they could hear yours, sort of like sonar. one weird thing is, i wonder if everyone’s hearts would start to beat at the same time, like how women who live together have their menstrual periods at the same time, which i know about, but don’t really want to know about. that would be so weird, except that the place in the hospital where babies are born would sound like a crystal chandelier in a houseboat, because the babies wouldn’t have had time to match up their heartbeats yet. and at the finish line at the end of the new york city marathon it would sound like war.

another part i really really liked comes later, when oskar (the narrator) meets a sorta eccentric old man who lives in the apartment above him. the man has this fantastical card catalog with a card for every person he’s ever met or head of; each card has the person’s name and a one word description of who they are.

he slid out drawers from the cabinet and pulled cards from the drawers, one after another. “henry kissinger: war! ornette coleman: music! che guevara: war! jeff bezos: money! philip guston: art! mahatma gandhi: war!” “but he was a pacifist,” i said. “right! war! arthur ashe: tennis! tom cruise: money! elie wiesel: war! arnold shwarzenegger: war! martha stewart: money! rem koolhaas: architecture! ariel sharon: war! mick jagger: money! yasir arafat: war! susan sontag: though! wolfgang puck: money! pope john paul II: war!” i asked him if he had a card for stephen hawking. “of course!” he said, and slid out a drawer, and pulled out a card. “stephen hawking: astrophysics” “do you have a card for yourself?” he slid out a drawer. “a.r. black: war husband”

another thing i really liked is that whenever oskar is sad or upset he says he has heavy boots. sometimes he has very very heavy boots. you gotta read it.

and then there’s white noise, which i’ve been meaning to read for a billion years. am still in the process of reading it, but it’s really good, and a lot easier to get through and enjoy than, say, infinite jest and other well-known examples of post-modernist literature. while there are lots of books i read slowly and love anyway, usually the mark of a good book (for me, at least) is how quickly i finish it; that is, how loath i am to put it down. white noise is engaging enough to be a page turner, but still incorporates deeper meanings and scathing cultural commentaries like the best of ’em.

after a toxic chemical cloud descends over the narrator and his town, his family is forced to evacuate. while stopped at a gas station, he is briefly exposed, and a statistical computer program quickly assures him of his imminent death. this was a paragraph i liked reading:

i wanted them to pay attention to the toxic event. i wanted to be appreciated for my efforts in getting us to the parkway. i thought of telling them of the computer tally, the time-factored death i carried in my chromosomes and blood. self-pity oozed through my soul. i tried to relax and enjoy it.

 

let’s start a festo bookclub, like oprah’s but better.

[ stefanie ]

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I’ll be honest enough in saying that, for the most part, I do judge books by their covers.  I always have.  In fact, I even wrote a college essay about it.  But, rather than shamelessly acknowledge my tendency with pride and conviction (because there is legitimacy to this type of judgment!), I recoiled in fear of what they might think of my inclination towards assumption.  Hell, I practically apologized to them, resulting in my failure to win their approval and acceptance.  I will take this opportunity to Carpe Diem, and publicly acknowledge my relentless quest for the greatest books in existence, the main qualifier being, naturally, their cover (read: NOT the sleeve).

I have much more to say on the subject and so little time to do it in.  Therefore, I will leave you with the following:  A brief catalog of 20th Century book cover design. Now seriously.. even if the story is bad, these books are winners.

[diane]

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