Thursday, May 31, 2012

Introverts, Titanic, a thriller, Anne, Shangri-La, the madding crowd, and dystopia overload

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop TalkingQuiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If I hadn't already read "Caring For Your Introvert" then Quiet might have been more groundbreaking for me. As it was, I too often found myself nodding my head saying "I already knew this, and I agree. Now let's move on."

However, there is so much value in this book, even if it made me sad sometimes that its message was basically, "the world functions in a way that favors extroverts; here's how you can deal with it enough to not be rendered totally sidelined and underappreciated." Jeremy and I both mentioned how it was depressing to realize, as pointed out by this book, how much the workplace and the social scene and church and cultural norms (in the US, at least) stifle the natural way of the introvert. Basically, introverts are operating in hostile conditions almost all the time.

I appreciated the sections about Self-Monitoring - that really helped me understand the mystery of how I am able to function so well as a pseudo-extrovert when I want/need to. I also loved her idea of a Fair Trait Agreement. If only, if only...

I think Quiet will have the most value for someone who suspects, but doesn't know, that they are an introvert. To them, this book will be a revelation. I think extroverts will also enjoy learning about the "other side." For extroverts with introvert children, there is a whole chapter devoted to your situation (though I could have used a chapter for introvert parents with extrovert children. Poor Magdalena).

A Night to RememberA Night to Remember by Walter Lord

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Second reading.

I haven't read this book since I was a kid. What I was doing reading A Night to Remember as a kid...I have no idea. Just one slightly age-inappropriate choice of reading material, among many, from my childhood. (See also: Gone with the Wind and Not Without My Daughter.)

I liked it more this time around. I'm amazed at how well this book has aged. Whenever it referred to "these days," I had to remind myself that the author was talking about the 1950s. He did such a good job of giving a coherent retelling of the sinking of the Titanic, imparting just the right amount of information. A great read.

Imaginary GirlsImaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

FREA. KY. It might have helped to know this is a bit of a ghost story BEFORE I started reading. So let me do you a favor: this is a bit of a ghost story. Well, not a ghost story, but a supernatural story. Or a thriller. Or something. And it is super creepy in that awesome slow chill way.

However: maybe you get tired of hearing this from me, but I wish the author had let her characters steer clear of drugs and alcohol. There wasn't anything major in the book but I felt like it was always going on in the background and it bothered me. It would have been so much creepier without those references. In fact, I think I could have loved this book if the people in it hadn't been so moored to the worldly habits of high schoolers. It jarred me out of the otherwise spooky tone of the book.

Lost in Shangri-laLost in Shangri-la by Mitchell Zuckoff

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not fabulously engrossing, but a pretty straight-forwardly interesting read. I liked that the author wasn't afraid of some of the more humorous elements of the very serious rescue mission, like how the military air-dropped crates and crates full of Kotex pads to the female survivor of the plane crash while never getting around to sending her a single pair of underwear that she repeatedly asked for. I found that so funny. I also liked the female survivor's comment about how if the entire human race could be reborn, it should be as Filipinos since they are so dang efficient at anything they do. This is not your normal WWII survival story but it is a very entertaining one.

Far from the Madding Crowd  Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another solid Hardy book. Sometimes I like to think of all the Wessex characters inhabiting each other's worlds, like maybe Elfride is watching for Smith's ship at the same time that Bathsheba is running off to marry Troy and Tess is working as a milkmaid. It's fun.

Enclave (Razorland, #1)Enclave by Ann Aguirre

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Meh. Divergent + The Maze Runner = Enclave, but it's not half as fun. Also, this book has some weird ideas about rape. Namely (highlight to reveal SPOILER): there is a pack of young men living on their own in dystopian New York, and sometimes they kidnap girls who are living on their own, and then rape them in order to produce offspring to carry on their tribe. Or something. It's all referred to very obliquely in the book, but I'm pretty sure that's what was going on. Anyway, the leader of this gang is in charge of the whole operation, obviously, including the raping. And yet, within the course of the book, which I think spans only a couple of months, he is suddenly turned into a viable love interest for the heroine. What. THE HECK. Oh, also, one of the girls who was repeatedly raped by his minions is expected to hike around with this guy and not complain about it, at all. Just weird. I listened to this as an audiobook and you should have seen my face when the part where dude kisses the heroine happened. I was driving home from Abu Dhabi and I practically swerved off the road in surprised disgust and I'm pretty sure my face looked like I was tasting throwup in my mouth. Because maybe I was. END SPOILER.

Pandemonium (Delirium, #2)Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Pandemonium was marginally better than Delirium. Look, it's not this book, it's me. I can't get over these books where the heroes are so mystical and serious and the heroines are so eager and earnest and over-thinky that I can't keep myself from rolling my eyes. That's what I get for reading YA lit, I suppose.

You already heard my feelings about Anne of Green Gables, etc.


Sarah Familia said...

Far from the Madding Crowd is one of my very favorites. I love, love, love the description of the night sky near the beginning when he is staying out in the fields all night during lambing season. Also, it's nice to read a kind of happy Hardy book, even if awful things still happen. And I think Bathsheba is a wonderful name for a heroine.

Kathy Haynie said...

I had a meltdown last night, preparing a "getting to know you" activity for two wards' worth of young women. YW president is definitely outside my introvert comfort zone. I am ordering a copy of Quiet today. Thank you!

Britney said...

Like you, I wished Quiet had a chapter for introvert parents with extrovert children. Too bad we can't get my Emily Helen and your Magdalena together for playdates. :)

Anonymous said...

Scott read "Quiet" and I'm reading it now. I'd felt for a long time that in the US, at least, I was always operating at a disadvantage as an introvert. I feel validated to read that that is probably really the case.



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