Monday, March 24, 2014

The 2014 Goodreads Challenge: Ahead of Schedule

Goodreads:  Do you use it?  Do you like it?  I think it was the lovely brains behind My Adorable Smalltown Life who let me in on this way to get book recommendations and track what you are reading.
As someone who enjoys reading, and reads a lot (thank you public library!),  I've found it really great to track what books I've started, but had to return because I couldn't renew them again, in addition to keeping on top of all the interesting books I want to read . . . someday.  When I have time.
Fortunately, I use public transit, so I get to read at least once a day on my way home from work (I'm not gonna lie, I usually nap/meditate on my way *to* work).
The downside to this is that sometimes, my 'currently reading' list gets really long, since it includes not only the books that I've actually got going, but the books I started but had to return AND the books that I've picked up from the library but haven't started yet.  Seriously, Goodreads needs to get on top of some sort of better tracking for library users.

In any event, I was updating my Goodreads lists after picking up my holds at the library on the weekend, and I've noticed that I'm way ahead of schedule on this year's reading challenge!  I set a challenge of 30 books, since that is about what Goodreads thinks I read last year.  Apparently, I've already read 14 books, and I'm not sure how that happened!

Here's a little breakdown of what I've completed, in no particular order, in case you are looking for new reading material:

     This book was a really fun read.  The author travelled around the USA and looks in depth at some of the foodie culture - especially some of the ones that are a little more out there.  I would definitely read this again

    Also pretty awesome, even to my vegetarian self.  It is an actual historical look at livestock farming in the USA, mostly concentrating on the late 1800s through the present day.  It was really interesting to see how and why factory farming evolved, and then the development of organic farming in the 1980s and 1990s.

The XX Factor by Alison Wolf
     This book gave me some issues.  The author talks about how gender equality in the work world has led to greater social inequality among women.  From my perspective, what she really was talking about was how rich people have used gender equality to stay rich or increase their wealth, not that feminism has inadvertently created a greater income gap.

     The introduction to this book was a little rough, since I am of a younger generation than the author, and she talks about some cultural things that are very specific to growing up when she did.  However, most of the book is an interesting look at how the feminist movement has been sidelined and appropriated by culture to promote the image of a woman who does everything and does it perfectly.

     This was alright.  It was clearly aimed at kids in their early twenties who are still figuring this grown-up business out, but it was filled with practical advice on a lot of different topics.  Also, the author has a pretty good sense of humour.

    Another social studies book on female parenting in the Western world.  I gave it four out of five stars because the author uses her personal story of burning out as a great backdrop to discuss serious issues like family/parental leave, etc.

     I had a lot of high hopes for interesting projects and gardening advice out of this one and was kind of let down.  A lot of the gardening projects are not really useful outside of the warmer climes of California, and much of it is kinda basic in some ways.  The book is organized really well, and it is a nice read if you are just starting out with these sort of things though.

     This one by the same author as above was much more interesting for me.  Lots of neat things you can make yourself.  If I can find a used copy to buy (cheap) I think this book would come in super-handy in case of zombie apocalypse.  They even made their own wood ash lye so they could make soap from all non-purchased ingredients!

     The power of intuition.  Not a bad read.

     Short stories from a Russian author translated into English.  I don't know if it was the translation, but a lot of the stories, while interesting, felt rough and unfinished. 

The Circle by Dave Eggers
     Holy crap was this an awesome read of fiction.  Go to the library right now and borrow it. Go!

     Pretty good.  Amazing one line quotes, good overall story, but I didn't realize that it was the start of a series (I think it might end up being a trilogy) when I picked it up.  

     Overall, I liked this book.  It is filled with examples of families who made their schedules work in order to share as equally as possible in raising their children.  Unfortunately, 98% of the examples are in the kinds of employment that are already well known for their flexibility (freelance graphic designers, etc).  The ideas are sound though - just needed more diversity in the actual examples I think.

     This whole thing read like a promo for the author's own website, and is advice for entrepeneurs that has been around forever.

Feel free to leave me new book recommendations!  My list is not overly large - yet!