I was a non-believer of Gretchen Rubin for a long time. She became famous with her book The Happiness Project, in which she realized she was unhappy and so spent a year investigating and doing things that would make her happier. Theoretically this sounds like a nice pursuit until I learned that she basically had it all already – a beautiful family, a loving and handsome and wealthy husband, a posh home in New York City, etc. I still respected her pursuit of happiness because I wasn’t about to begrudge anyone of that, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t roll my eyes at her “woe is me” situation.
This is an outstanding collection of essays examining different aspects of our society. I really enjoy Tolentino’s sharp, incisive cultural critique, even if it tends to digress into side topics and lose the original train of thought, and her writing is very distinctly hers. In particular, her writing is dense. She comes off as intimidatingly intelligent and well-spoken through these essays (and she is – she went to UVA and was accepted to Yale) – the kind of writing that makes you wonder if you’re just not smart enough to understand what she’s saying – and doesn’t shy away from tackling complicated topics with sophisticated language and strong opinions. At the same time, she’s quite graceful in admitting when her perspective is limited, whether because she’s young and attractive (not her words, she’s too diplomatic for that), or because she’s Asian and can’t speak to the white experience, etc.
This book is a total whirlwind to read. I first picked it up one winter break in college, and it immediately grabbed me until I was done just a day later – it was just impossible to put down. I’ve since come back to it a couple times (especially interesting as the restaurant industry has overhauled itself in the past decade or so) and recommended/gifted it to countless people, and I have to say, it’s still as good as it was that first time through.
I loved this book. Even though I’d call myself only a casual runner at best (and that’s when I’m actively running at all), Born to Run really ignited an excitement in me to not only run more, but also to simply enjoy it.
The main story about the eventual race between the Americans and the legendary Tarahumara was really interesting to read, but the two most fascinating parts for me were: 1) learning the evolutionary history of how humans became uniquely designed to run, and 2) as mentioned above, that you can sheerly love the act of running itself and have fun doing it. The bushmen’s hunt near the end was also extremely vivid – the storytelling made it seem like running your prey to exhaustion was the most natural thing to do in the world, and genuinely like running at an easy lope for hours on end was what we were born to do.
McDougall alternates the science/history sections and anecdotal sections so you get a good balance between entertainment and knowledge, and his pacing is even and gradual, making his ideas easy to follow and digest. This book also popularized those dreadful-looking toe shoes (Vibrams being the biggest brand) under the idea that they allowed you to run more naturally – the closest sensation to running barefoot while still wearing something protecting you from the ground. Even though that theory has since been disproven, the other premises in its pages were still fascinating and more than made up for that misplaced endorsement.
I can definitely see myself coming back to this book throughout my life.
First off, I just have to say how much I LOVE the cover! It’s eye-catching and fits the subject perfectly…although to clarify just in case, know that this book is not about robots and AI (not directly, anyway), but about Silicon Valley during the growth years.
This was one of my most anticipated reads of early 2020 (can’t believe I posted that in January, seems like a lifetime ago). How’d it stack up? I was maybe a little disappointed by it overall, but it was still an entertaining and informative read.
I’ll be honest: this wasn’t exactly a voluntary pick. I usually never choose books like this for myself, being a fiction lover all the way, but as things go, it was an accidental selection from the NYPL ebooks page. I’d been impatiently looking for Wizard of Earthsea for weeks, saw a Le Guin book scroll by, and without thinking, checked it out. Then I opened it up and – surprise, it was actually a collection of her blog posts from the later years of her life! Quarantine being what it is, I gave it a shot and settled in.
What a great read! Lori Gottlieb is a columnist for the New York Times and The Atlantic (she’s the therapist in their Ask a Therapist series); I’ve been loosely following her writings there for a while and have always really appreciated her intelligence and empathy, so when she came out with a full-length book about being a therapist and going to therapy herself, I knew it had to be interesting.