You Are Here by Jenny Lawson

Jenny Lawson, the writer of Furiously Happy and Let’s Pretend It Never Happened, recently released a colouring book called You Are Here. It’s full of beautiful drawings by Lawson as well as tidbits of humour and advice.

I love it so much. The drawings are not like any other colouring book you’ve ever seen and the quotes make me laugh, learn and possibly cry.

The Rest Of Us Just Live Here

I liked the general themes of Patrick Ness’ The Rest of Us Just Live Here, more than the execution of the story.

In this book, as crazy events unfold in the background by Indie Kids (yes there are strange mystical hipsters), Mikey and his friends live somewhat ordinary lives as teenagers about to graduate high school. Mikey wants to find out what is going on, why the Indie Kids are dying, but realizes throughout that he isn’t, and doesn’t need to be the hero of this story.

My gripes with this book is that while I tried to sympathize with Mikey and his OCD, he eventually became super annoying. A lot of it read like someone constantly feeling sorry for himself for not having the girl of his dreams, or way too fixated on being jealous of Nathan, when it was obvious he didn’t need to be.

I also didn’t find the characters that relatable. Sure they suffered things like anorexia, OCD, and teen love but it read at times like it was written for someone without that much experience in the area. In the end it was a bit tedious to finish.

A Journey Through Food With Michael Pollan: Cooked

I just finished Michael Pollan’s book Cooked (also part Netflix series) which delves into the wonderful magic of cooked food through the four basic elements: water, fire, air and earth.

I now have a new-found appreciation for the magic of making my own food and the reasons that we should all be a more active producer, rather than consumer of food. Food is more than just sustenance to keep us alive. It can be a social ritual. A way to eat healthier. One of my favourite challenges was this: we can eat any food we want (even junk), but make everything yourself.

It will cut down on the amount of junk you will eat because it’s hard to make chips, ice cream, cake etc all at once. In addition, the process will make it more likely that you are eating real food rather than processed junk (that may or may not be real food).

Pollan takes us through the laborious process of barbequing a whole pig, making bread, braising, pickling, making beer and more. I was fascinated by the steps of each and though I’d never regularly make any of those, I think it would be fun to try once. The satisfaction of creating something from beginning to end has a strange appeal to me. It’s like building a complicated lego set, takes concentration but you end up with something cool (or in this case tasty) in the end!

This book has made me enjoy cooking and look for ways to make it more than just a necessity. After all, there are limitless things create (and eat) out there.

The Internet & Public Shaming

I’ve been reading Jon Ronson’s book So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed which tells the stories of people who’s lives have been ruined over various levels of mistakes.

You can read a few of these examples in an article published by Ronson for the New York Times last year.  One of these tales is of Justin Sacco who made an inappropriate AIDS joke on Twitter right before a plane ride. Her life was subsequently ruined: lost job, was shunned by her family and received numerous death threats. Her personal brand (or more commonly known as Google Search results) now is forever associated with that stupid tweet.

What this book made me realize is that I’m also quick to judge people on social media and the mob mentality can be very addicting and controlling. People on the internet seem to live on the mistakes people have made, not knowing the lives they may affect through shaming.

I know I personally make mistakes on a daily basis but this “Big Brother” thing where people are always watching is scary. For now on, I’m going to be more considerate before jumping on the internet hate wagon.

In Ronson’s book the shamers often quote themselves saying they “did the right thing” but should the right thing be ruining someone’s life or wishing them dead? I think no, and we need to learn to empathize and educate people instead of taking them down.

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

100yearoldman It’s never too late to start over. Even if you are an 100 year old man who is stuck in a nursing home. That’s the premise of of this Jonas Jonassan novel.

100 year old Alan jumps out the window in the beginning of the book and gets himself into a wild and somewhat absurd adventure. The chapters alternate between the adventure and telling the entire history of the 100 year old man’s life up to the point where he jumps out the window. The style of writing was adorable, but quite simple third person style with short sentences.

Alan’s life story delves with a lot of world history (partially fictional of course). As a person who has never quite been into politics and history, I learnt a lot of the political view points of past world leaders. I wish high school history was this exciting, or had elephants.

Dear J.K. Rowling, Stop Ruining Books

jkrowlingThis post isn’t really about the fact she killed some of the best characters in Harry Potter, but I thought she wasn’t going to do that again. Dear JK Rowling, The Casual Vacancy was a horribly written book.

I always finish books, so I have read the entire thing cover to cover. The characters, although living in a fictional society seemed like they were meant to be realistic. After all, she was trying to prove she could write an adult fiction novel that didn’t involve wizards and magic. However, Rowling draws stereotypes to their extreme. There’s the kid who thinks too much about being “authentic”, the kid who lives in a house of domestic abuse, the poor child living in the drug-addict ridden neighbourhood etc. It’s not even creative and the events in the book seem to be put in for mere shock factor. Drugs, rape, violence, deaths, infidelity.. basically the whole 9 yards.

Most of the book is about people being petty and selfish eventually succumbing to their desires. The children also enjoying ruining the lives of the adults and there is no resolution for these problems.

You come to really care for this one troubled teen with a drug addicted mother and get tricked into thinking her life will be better in the end. BUT THEN SHE FUCKING DIES. I’m not one to judge graphic content matter in a book, but all of the events in The Casual Vacancy were pointless. They didn’t lead anywhere or teach anything. I’ve read books that made me cry or made me think deeply about a subject. This book just left me vacant. Maybe that was what she wanted. Haha, you got me J.K. Rowling.

JPod – Douglas Coupland

Recently I read Douglas Coupland’s JPod and thought that it would be more appropriately titled “I FUCKIN’ HATE DOUGLAS COUPLAND!!!”.

The reason for this is he writes himself in as one of the book’s most annoying characters. He makes references to himself at the beginning and then appears at very odd moments during the book. The plot in the 3rd part of the book revolves around the main character’s (Ethan) friends and family talking about this secret project with Coupland that is completely confidential. Ethan is left out of this investment until the very end. When you find out what it is (an electronic globe of some sort), it is an underwhelming end to the book. What does a globe have to do with a group of people who code and create video games?

This book left me a bit conflicted. While it was a very and fun read, the plot left me underwhelmed and disliking the author. I’m not sure if that was Coupland’s intention, but if it was than he was successful. It was really fun to follow jPod’s office antics. The characters themselves were all damaged and unique in their own special way. The things that happened were extreme and took really unexpected turns. Some things were blown out of proportion though and in some ways I wish the story was more believable. Maybe he was aiming for that “WTF” factor but it resulted in the book having very little substance.

Ethan’s mother runs a marijuana grow-op and gets herself into trouble with men (and women) who fall in love with her. His father is a wannabe actor who has an affair with Ethan’s schoolmates. His brother sells sketchy real estate. They all become friends with an Asian mobster kingpin in charge of human trafficking. Entertaining, but bizarre. I just wish the end had more meaning or point to it. In the end I was left unsatisfied.

The Book of Lost Things – John Connolly

At first glance, The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly entices you with it’s beautiful golden cover and a leaflet that describes adventure. It appears to be a beautiful little fairy tale for children. However it is anything but that.

The book isn’t really geared towards children as there is plenty of violence and gore. In addition, the first half of the book I found really hard to get through because David, our hero, spends most of it mourning over the loss of his mother.

The book also ruins some classic fairytales by twisting them in morbid ways. There’s the Crooked Man who is a parody of Rumpelstiltskin, Little Red Riding Hood who had sex with a wolf and basically created the twisted “Loups”, a very obese Snow White and a few others.

This all just to teach a little boy that he should not hate his stepmother or be jealous of his step brother. It’s definitely a tale for adults who grew up on fairy tales and maybe explored the realms of Brother’s Grimm. It definitely wasn’t one of those you can’t put down type of books. Major plot holes were resolved in a quick manner towards the very end. In the end I was left unsatisfied.

The Future of Music- A Book Written in 2005, Read in 2012

I won the Entertainment Marketing award when I graduated Metalworks Institute and it came with a $300 gift certificate to Music Books Plus. I’m slowly plowing through my books, but I recently finished The Future of Music- Manifesto for the Digital Music Revolution by David Kusek and Gerd Leonhard.

I read the entire book, but it didn’t take me long for me past the prologue to ask “When the hell was this written?” It was written in 2005.

While the book had some interesting points, such as music should be as easily accessible as water, there were predictions that were hilarious. Napster with a legal streaming service that works? Sorry, it was dead since it was sued. In 2005, Facebook was only a year old and the iPhone wasn’t even released for another 2 years. It’s strange to see how much has changed in 7 years, or even in my lifetime. I lived through vinyl, cassettes, CD players, MD players, mp3 players and now that has all shifted on to one device.

While the book does mention how our entertainment hubs will combine into one, it rarely mentioned Apple. It’s a well written book for someone who isn’t as knowledgeable about the music (or even entertainment) industry, but for someone like me who’s been through schooling, it was a little redundant and stating the obvious.

While technology has changed a bit, there are things that remain somewhat similar. Media companies are still trying to fight the consumer for downloading media, which as stated can only have negative impact. In addition, the book stresses the revolution of streaming music, which last year at every digital music summit, still seemed like a big deal. However, as some artist’s have stated, it takes thousands of listens to make a couple of bucks.

Even though there are a lot of things in this book that are laughable. I really liked the idea of future music being as ubiquitous as water. We pay for water without thinking about it. It’s routine. We even pay for premium water (in bottles, Evian etc..), with the guarantee that it is better than what comes out of taps. iTunes and streaming services are closer to a way of music being so easily accessible but not everyone is ready to pay for it like we do for our water yet, nor the most simple way. Whatever lies in the “future” of music, isn’t going to be a singular solution.

For your entertainment purposes here’s a list of other things that didn’t exist in 2005:
– Twitter
– iPad (or any other useful tablet for that matter)
– Youtube was a baby
Hypem had only just started
– PS3
– Justin Bieber