How to Be Richer, Smarter, and Better-Looking Than Your Parents by Zac Bissonnette is a treatise on economy. Every young person should read it as a primer on how to enter the world and excel. As a reader, you have to get past the snarky tone of writing in it, but its underlying message is a good one: plan for your financial future so you have choices, think about every expense no matter how trivial, design your financial life with intentionality. Even older people may find some modern tips for saving money, for example, prescription eyeglasses online. By the way, I’m not sure how young people can be better looking than their parents except for the young thing, and I don’t remember how he addressed that part in the book.
In The Language of Flowers: A Novel, a girl who ages out of the foster care system, finds her family after many years. This is very sweetly written, and actually is surprisingly positive for all the challenges that this group of people face. There is a certain feeling of destiny as the main character falls back into the family she bonded with most strongly. Yet, she is still unable to make a family.
What I found the most surprising was the idea that being a part of a family takes skills, and if these skills are not taught, the next generation won’t have any idea how to make a family.
I love the layering of meaning that the author, Vanessa Diffenbaugh, creates with the flower meanings. She is very kind to her characters, giving them space to find their way, but not making them perfect, just true.
I have an interest in the farming movement, the hippie return to the land movement. I saw this autobiography, This Life Is in Your Hands: One Dream, Sixty Acres, and a Family’s Heartbreak (P.S.) at Mother Earth magazine. Melissa Coleman’s parents, Eliot and Sue, were some of the pioneers in this movement. They moved to a small piece of land in Maine and built their farm from nothing. Yet, this is Ms. Coleman’s autobiography of this time, told first from her perspective and then adding to her memories with talking to others. She was frustrated with her father’s drive to make the farm succeed, at, what she believes, the expense of his family. It is interesting to read how even though she loves her parents, and she tries to understand them, she does hold them in a bit of judgement for her unconventional childhood. It seems a reoccurring theme with the books I read lately, of the parent’s selfish dream overtaking the child’s need for a childhood.
My neighbor just opened a little free library. Now, if you don’t know about this movement check out their website at Little Free Library. Essentially you buy or build a small box about the size of a bread box. Then it’s like the “leave a penny, take a penny”, but with books! In other words, if you see a book you like take it, return it if you like when you are done or put different one in.
Our neighbor had a little party with cookies and lemonade for the grand opening. Many neighbors came down to bring books and take books home. I traded Swiss Family Robinson and Eastern Mushrooms for Girl with a Pearl Earring and Trout Country. Steve also donated a copy of his book: How I met Van and Numan Future, Present and Past: Or my first impression of the future by So Cal Punk. It was a great evening of visiting with neighbors who are obviously readers!
Thomas Thwaites chose an interesting thesis project: build an industrial object on your own from absolute start to finish. He attempts this with sort of perverse success and good humour. He deconstructs an inexpensive toaster and then sets up his parameters. He travels to several places on a student’s budget for raw materials and resources several different people to gain ideas on how to manufacture a single toaster. While he is semi-successful in that he has semi-functional toaster, he is too afraid by its odd construction to turn it on.
The book is written in the same sort of voice as A.J. Jacobs. Mr. Thwaites struggles to sustain the voice through the whole book, even though the book is rather short. The end seems rushed, possibly because he had a deadline for his thesis.
In this book, Peggy Orenstein documents her rocky path to parenthood. Unlike many of us, who had a child by doing less, i.e. stop actively trying to not having a child, her path was much harder because she struggled with a long period of infertility. As a journalist, she is very detailed about the ordeal she went through. She is also very honest about her obsessive feelings during that time, how it nearly ruined her marriage and had health consequences. She talks about how some doctors had slightly dishonest ways of presenting information to her and her husband, and the common difficulties they had with adoption. She also very frankly deals with her own feelings of guilt that she didn’t start the child making process earlier when she was more fertile. It is a wonderful story, very well written and personal.
Waiting for Daisy, Peggy Orenstein, Bloomsbury 2007
Normally, a third sequel is a well run dry, but Men in Black 3 while not breaking new ground, was still a fun movie to watch. I like Will Smith movies, and this film is centered on Will Smith even more than the other Men in Black movies. I love that Will Smith movies are not usually violent and usually end on a positive note. He has a casual humor that he’s taken all the way from the Fresh Prince of Belle Aire.
The narrative, as with the other films, is simple and cartoonish. The villain is distorted and perverse in an interesting way, but is given only enough time to crack a few jokes, not enough to become annoying. I really enjoyed the scene when he interacts with himself, (time travel is involved) and the audience discovers that he is so awful even he can’t stand himself.
If I had any criticism, it would be that the aliens weren’t as inventive as in the other film. I still chuckle a little when I think back on the scene in the post office when we (along with the movies’ characters) discover that nearly every one is an alien, or in the first MIB when they use the tabloids to find their alien activity. Still, it is a worth while, enjoyable film to watch, although I think I could have waited until DVD for it, if it didn’t cross three of my favorites in one: Will Smith, sci fi and Men in Black.