Book Review: Evil: The Science Behind Humanity’s Dark Side

Who is evil? What is evil? Dr. Julia Shaw makes the argument that evil is a subjective concept in which we, as a society, need to have a more nuanced discussions around.

Dr. Shaw dissects evil throughout eight chapters and asks the reader to think about each example of evil through a different lens. It was a fascinating examination about evil. With each example, she asks us to examine our gut reactions and move away from naming behaviors as evil until we examine the underlying causes. It takes some of those uncomfortable topics and makes the reader really think about them without the labeling or othering that typically comes when discussing ‘evil’ topics..

If you’re interested in human behavior or human psyche, then you will love this.

Who’s has this on their TBR list? Who has read this book?

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Book Review: Girl Wash Your Face

I’m about to be in the minority but Rachel Hollis book is not impressive.

I was having doubts about her in the first four chapters. Then we arrived at Chapter 5. It could have been a good chapter but then she detailed her borderline abusive first year of her relationship with her now husband. The title of the chapter gives the indication that she realized having a man is not important. When in reality, she is perpetuating the myth of the big gesture. She is perpetuating that if you give an ultimatum then the man will change. Threats will make someone change.

The reality is that if he acts like an asshole, he is an asshole. This chapter tinged the way I took the rest of her advice. I find that the “lies” she is trying to correct, she was still doing them herself.

Beyond that, I found her writing style to be convoluted. She has some good points but they were lost in the way she wrote about them. I found her to be privileged and unable to see her privilege.

There are a plethora of self help/self improvement books out there. There are plenty of other ones that can actually help you get to where you want to be.

April Book Dump

I have no idea what I even did with April. I finally had some more time for myself. I picked up two books that I started in January and put down after about 20 pages. April felt like the right time to puck them up again.

April brought a lot of big changes to my life. It seems fitting that I finally finished two self improvement or self help books this month.

I finally finished the Year of Yes. Shonda Rhimes is my new hero. It also has caused me to dive head first into catching up on Grey’s Anatomy. For those who care- I will also be catching up on Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder. I have a whole new found respect for Shonda Rhimes. I need to see all of her bodies of work.

I also finished Jen Sincero’s You are a Bad Ass. Everyone had those moments where they doubt how awesome they are. Her concise chapters drive home her points in a fun and relatable way. Anyone can benefit from reading her book and I recommend that everyone does.

Who has read either of these books? What self help or self improvement book would you recommend?

An Anonymous Girl

May’s book club pick was An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen.

Jessica is a makeup artist trying to make ends meet in New York City. By chance she heard about a study from a client. She shows up for the study and is sucked into the mysterious Dr. Shields study on morality and ethics.

Jessica is looking to make some extra money and finds herself sucked into Dr. Shields study. Each task she accomplishes is directly followed by a large financial reward. She quickly realizes that Dr. Shields is not giving her the full story and that she may be a pawn in a dangerous game of cat and mouse.

This is the second book I’ve read by Hendricks and Pekkanen. They do a great job of setting up the reader to have the rug ripped out from under them. This is our May Book Club selection and I can’t wait to discuss it with everyone.

Who has read this book? What did you think about it?

The Age of Light

The Age of Light is an intriguing historical fiction novel based on the life of Lee Miller. The novel focuses on her life in Europe. Miller first arrives in Europe and begins working as a photographer. She meets Man Ray on her travels through Paris and becomes his apprentice and later, business partner and lover.

The book focused a lot on Lee Miller’s relationship with Man Ray which I found to be puzzling. She only spent three years with him before moving on to become an accomplish photographer and war correspondent. Miller spent her entire life attempting to get out of Man Ray’s shadow. The story weaves between the past and her present (1960s) when she has been asked to produce a piece for Vogue about the art they created together.

The book explores the galleries, the parties, the sexual experimentation and drug experimentation that was pervasive in 1920 Surrealism circles. It was a bit raunchy at times to read and I’m not sure how much it added to the story. However, I don’t know much about these artists. This may have been a tame retelling of their actual lives.

The big takeaway from the book was that Lee Miller was a powerful woman. She had adversity her entire life. Men were constantly trying to sabotage her or hurt her but she never allowed them to derail her. She lived her life on her own terms.

The Age of Light is Whitney Scharer’s debut novel. This was the 2019 February selection for the Odyssey Bookshop First Edition Book Club.

Fed Up

Most women can understand what Gemma Hartley is talking about in her book Fed Up. She documents how women have been carrying the emotional labor for generations in all spheres of life. And what makes it harder to identify is that for so long, it was just accepted as normal that women needed to carry all of the emotional labor.

I think that it takes a lot to put your own experiences, your own relationship, out to be dissected by the public. I give her (and her husband) a lot of credit for putting their own struggles out into the universe to be consumed. There are points of the book that are not a flattering version of the author but she leans into it. Her honesty is refreshing. Her research is intriguing.

Overall I found the book to be absolutely fascinating. It is a book that should be read by everyone. It was interesting to take an academic look at emotional labor. Hartley did a lot of thorough research and made some interesting connections. I’m glad that she took the time to examine emotional labor and I think people are better for having read this book.

Who has read Fed Up? Did you find it to be as interesting as I did? I’d love to talk about it further. Any men want to chat about their feelings after reading Fed Up?

March Book Dump

March Book Dump is here! I’m continuing to cruise through my goal of reading all my First Edition books from the Odyssey Bookshop. I have high hopes for April. More daylight and warmer weather means lots of time for reading outside.

The Age of Light– A historical fiction about Lee Miller and Man Ray’s romance. Delightful story about two historical figures I previously knew nothing about. It was told from Lee Miller’s point of view.

Those Who Knew by Idra Novey – This is Novey’s second novel and it did not disappoint! We follow three woman who are all tied together by a violent up and coming politician.

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen – Can I just say damn ladies? Why you gotta be so dark?! This is the team’s second novel and it does not disappoint. If you loved The Wife Between Us, you’ll definitely get caught up in this book.

I’ll Be Gone In The Dark

Let’s start off by saying that I never realized how active my imagination is until I read this book. I had to stop reading this book for awhile because I kept having nightmares about the Golden State Killer. I have no idea how Michelle McNamara spent years researching, tracking and chasing down every single detail about these crimes.

With that being said, it was her obsession with her research that may have killed her. McNamara was haunted by these cases. She had insomnia caused by her research. She passed away in April 2016. Her death was attributed to an accidental overdose of a lethal combination of prescription drugs.

Her book was released two years after her death.

Due to her steadfast commitment, McNamara is the reason the Golden State Killer was finally caught. Unfortunately, she didn’t live long enough to see what her research led to. McNamara’s book was published posthumously and the details that she was able to pull together helped to lead the detectives to him. She had the advantage of looking at all the pieces in aggregate, years after the attacks stopped. She was only concerned with finding the truth.

This book is a must read for any true crime fan.

#AlwaysForPleasure

I had the opportunity to hear Laura Lippman at the Albany Book Festival last Fall. She was a funny speaker and she mentioned her twitter account.

She is a prolific tweeter. Recently she started a conversation about doing something for Lent rather than giving something up. She suggested that everyone read 100 pages a day. The conversation was started when she RTed an article from a NY Times author (Article Here) who said they couldn’t read, watch a movie or keep a conversation without being distracted by their phone. Lippman made the commitment to read 100 pages a day throughout Lent.

She gave it a hashtag:

And a movement is born!

It’s really easy to spend your evenings mindlessly scrolling through any number of social media channels. I’ve fallen prey to it. I’ll be spending Lent recommitting to reading instead on scrolling through social media each night.

Join me! Use the hashtag #AlwaysForPleasure and #LLWL tell me what you’re reading!

February Book Reviews

Short month means short list of completed books, right?

**Cringe**

And one of the books I finished I started in 2018.

**Cringes even harder**

I started a handful of books this month but I had a hard time completing anything. Unique to this month is the fact that I highly recommend both of the books I read.

The Best American Short Stories 2018 Edited by Roxane Gay – I already wrote a review on this but THIS WAS GOOD. I haven’t picked up many shirt story collections but when I saw Roxane Gay was the editor I said “TAKE MY MONEY.” She did not disappoint. She selected diverse and thought provoking stories.

Fed Up: Emotional Labor, Women and the Way Forward by Gemma Hartley – The article that ignited the internet has become a book. I’ll be writing a long post on this later but the big takeaway is I think this should be required reading for everyone.