Oct. 1st, 2009

eleneariel: (Fashion (lady in grey))
Something comfortable - so far this day has included a 5:30 am wakeup call, a rummage sale and breakfast out. Coming up is shopping, a birthday party, and work.

Day 274 )
eleneariel: (Reading (is the key))
 1.   The Cult of Personality Testing, Annie Murphy Paul
I mean no offense to the many of you who like personality tests and know your INFJ/ENFP/HTTP/whatevers by heart, but I've never really been a fan - used merely for fun, maybe, but even then I have a problem being "told" who I am or being labeled and put into a box. That's just me personally, though - what was interesting in this book was the subtle and not-so-subtle ways some of these tests can be used by schools, businesses, and other institutions, and the ways these decisions can affect your life - not to mention the serious question raised about how accurate these tests are anyway (not very, according to this book).
This excerpt pretty much sums up both the book and my reservations about personality testing:
In life, he observed, our actions are driven not only by our personalities, but by the situations in which we find ourselves. We adjust our behavior according to our role (worker, parent, friend), to the occasion (a meeting, a family outing, a party), and to a thousand other details of our ever-changing environment. Such mutability, though "acknowledged in the abstract" by personality researchers, was ignored by them in practice, largely because it seemed to defeat the possibility of accurate measurement. From the time the very first personality tests were developed, psychologists attributed stable, consistent personalities to their subjects - not because they had proof such personalities existed, but because the task of assessment would be much easier if they did.
The Rorschach and the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory imagine us as an assemblage of ailments, the sum of our sicknesses; they are like "mental thermometers," in the words of one critic, equipped to detect illness but incapable of describing health.
These tests have serious real-life consequences, in our classrooms, courtrooms, and workplaces. And [...] the narrow, self-interested way we've been imagined by institutions has left us without a satisfying way to imagine ourselves. 
2.   Lunch Lessons, Ann Cooper and Lisa M. Holmes
I blogged about this one rather extensively here: I liked it!
3.   Fruits Basket Vol. 1, Natsuki Takaya
A bit of fluff, really, but I bought the first couple for the library and needed to read one to know what it was like and who to recommend it to. Very girly, but innocuous.
4.   Feeding Frenzy, Stuart Stevens

Two American friends go on a wild European road trip in a vintage Mustang (whose brakes sometimes work) on a quest to eat in all of Europe's 3-star restaurants on consecutive days. It's a witty and madcap adventure, although I felt there was a little something lacking when compared to many of the other fantastic food memoirs out there.
5.   Light Raid, Connie Willis
Engrossing, as WIllis' books usually are - although as so often happens, I was left wishing more had been explained (I am particularly curious as to why all the grecian overtones to Hydra corp), but the plot was tight, the romance charmingly un-mushy and just right, and ... well, reader, I liked it.
6.   Sweet Love, Sarah Strohmeyer

It was pink and had a cupcake on the cover. So I read it.  Plus I've read some of Strohmeyer's other books and found them to be rather original and charming for chick-lit. This one didn't really work for me, though. It started out light enough, but randomly fell into several deep un-funny storylines that didn't go with the tone of the rest of the story, and the ultimate romantic pairing just didn't seem right. Too much was left hanging unexplained.
7.   Hip-Hop Matters, S. Craig Watkins

This is a good example of how I am curious even about things I have little to no interest in. Hip-hop and hip-hop culture is not my thing at all, and yet I saw this book and was all like, "hm, I should read that." And it was interesting.
8.   Flight, Sherman Alexie

Easily my pick of the month, although with the caveat that it's - harsh. There's harsh language, a harsh storyline, and harsh questions brought up. I read it in the space of just a couple of hours, mostly because it was too painful to keep reading and yet to painful to put it down. Rather than try to describe it, I'll direct you to the New York Times review, and just tell you that I think it's one of those Important books that speak to the deeper parts of humanity, and it'll make you uncomfortable, but I think it's important to read. Particularly for those who work with troubled kids in any way.
9.   Fullmetal Alchemist, Vol. 4, Hiromu Arakawa
10. Fullmetal Alchemist, Vol. 5, Hiromu Arakawa
11. Fullmetal Alchemist, Vol. 6, Hiromu Arakawa

I'm kind of rationing these because I could just sit there and read them one after another! Winry is really becoming one of my favorite characters. Aw.
12.  Virus of the Mind, Richard Brodie

The writing sort of annoyed me at points - it seemed weirdly informal for the subject matter, also he kept using the word "kablooey" - but the mind-controlling memes/mind viruses are something I find endlessly entertaining.

What brand soft drink do you buy? The ones that sell the most cost twice as much as unadvertised store brands. The extra money goes into television advertising, sending out the spores of ever more penetrating mind viruses that literally take control of your mind and make you push your shopping cart over to their shelf. Successfully programming your mind to believe that you prefer that brand, advertising agencies are among the most brazen and calculating of the mind virus instigators.

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