Thursday, January 25, 2007

Thursday thoughts

Why is it that every time I request multiple books through my library's ILL system, they all come in at once? I can't possibly read everything before they are due back. Oh well - I will try my hardest. Feel like I am in a fog today, so this will be a short post, but wanted to share some of my recent acquisitions and "borrows."

Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in GirlsDuring a trip to Barnes and Noble on my lunch yesterday I picked up Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls by Rachel Simmons (see description from below).

There is little sugar but lots of spice in journalist Rachel Simmons's brave and brilliant book that skewers the stereotype of girls as the kinder, gentler gender. Odd Girl Out begins with the premise that girls are socialized to be sweet with a double bind: they must value friendships; but they must not express the anger that might destroy them. Lacking cultural permission to acknowledge conflict, girls develop what Simmons calls "a hidden culture of silent and indirect aggression."

The author, who visited 30 schools and talked to 300 girls, catalogues chilling and heartbreaking acts of aggression, including the silent treatment, note-passing, glaring, gossiping, ganging up, fashion police, and being nice in private/mean in public. She decodes the vocabulary of these sneak attacks, explaining, for example, three ways to parse the meaning of "I'm fat."

Simmons is a gifted writer who is skilled at describing destructive patterns and prescribing clear-cut strategies for parents, teachers, and girls to resist them. "The heart of resistance is truth telling," advises Simmons. She guides readers to nurture emotional honesty in girls and to discover a language for public discussions of bullying. She offers innovative ideas for changing the dynamics of the classroom, sample dialogues for talking to daughters, and exercises for girls and their friends to explore and resolve messy feelings and conflicts head-on.

One intriguing chapter contrasts truth telling in white middle class, African-American, Latino, and working-class communities. Odd Girl Out is that rare book with the power to touch individual lives and transform the culture that constrains girls--and boys--from speaking the truth.

The Bastard of IstanbulI also picked up The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak (really looking forward to this one). From Booklist:

The new Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk has faced charges for making anti-Turkish remarks regarding the long denied mass killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire during World War I. Acclaimed Turkish writer Shafak has also been hauled into court for "insulting Turkishness." The case was dropped, and her bold and penetrating tale of the tragic repercussions of the Armenian genocide will live on. In her second novel in English following The Saint of Incipient Insanities (2004), Shafak tells a many-faceted, mischievously witty, and daringly dramatic story that is at once a study in compassion, a shrewd novel of ideas, a love song to Istanbul, and a sensuous and whirling satire. The novel's ruling force is gorgeous Zeliha, the unapologetically sexy proprietor of an Istanbul tattoo parlor. An unwed mother at 19, she has raised her daughter, Asya (now 19 herself and obsessed with Johnny Cash), in a chaotic, food-centric household that includes her mother, grandmother, and three sisters: Banu, the pious clairvoyant; Cevriye, the high-strung history teacher; and Feride, the neurotic. The sisters haven't seen their Americanized brother, Mustafa, for almost 20 years, and are stunned when his 19-year-old stepdaughter, Armanoush, whose mother is from Kentucky and whose father is Armenian, arrives in Istanbul to search for her Armenian roots. As Asya and Armanoush forge a tentative friendship unaware of all that they actually share, others panic over the looming revelation of shocking secrets. Shafak weaves an intricate and vibrant saga of repression and freedom, cultural clashes and convergences, pragmatism and mysticism, and crimes and retribution, subtly revealing just how inextricably entwined we all are, whatever our heritage or beliefs.

My library stack includes Alan Brennert's Moloka'i, A Venetian Affair by Andrea Di Robilant, The View from Castle Rock by Alice Munro, and Under the Duvet by Marian Keyes, among others.

And last but not least Vienna Prelude by Bodie Thoene. This was one of those books I read when I was maybe 13 or 14 and loved the story and cover art. Of course as an adult, I couldn't remember the title or the author and have always sort of been searching for it wherever I go. Well, after reading another blogger's post where Vienna Prelude was recommended, I reserved it at the library not realizing this was the book I had been searching for all of these years! Imagine my surprise when it was waiting for me!

I've decided to resign from the From the Stacks Challenge. With time running out and my library pile growing, it's just not going to happen. I don't know why I insist on signing up for these challenges (ok, maybe I do - they always sound like fun) - I never finish them. I admire all those of you that do!

Maybe this wasn't such a short post after all :) I leave you with this:

Tom Cruise hailed as 'Christ' of Scientology

What the ???? All I can do is laugh. He he he HA HA HA HA!


nutmeg said...

The subject matter of the Vienna Prelude is right up my alley. It has a very high rating on Amazon! Would you call it more popular fiction than literary? I read both - I'm interested!

Kirsten said...

nutmeg - I would call Vienna Prelude more popular fiction from what I remember. I loved it at 14 - I can still picture myself sprawled out on my twin bed at my parents house one summer evening staying up half the night to finish it. The next day I went right back to the library to get the remaining books in the series. I hope I enjoy it as much now and I did then!

Anonymous said...

I have got to get that book, Odd Girl Out. My daughter is ten and is just on the cusp of these things...I'm already seeing this stuff starting to happen.

*shudder* Oh, how I remember those middle school and high school days. I would never go back. Never.

(PS glad you liked my book, Kirsten!!)

Carl V. Anderson said...

Hmmmm...I think I'd be worried if Tom Cruise was being hailed as the savior and messiah of my religion. Yikes!!!

Sam Sattler said...

It's amazing how many times that happens to me, too. I generally have about 10 books "on request" from my library system at any given moment (they seem to cut me off at about 12, tops, anyway). I've had as many as 8 be ready for me to pick
up at one time and, since they are on other request lists, I can't renew them for additional time. Sometimes I go a couple of weeks with nothing coming in...other times I can't handle them all. Weird cycles.

Anonymous said...

This is exactly why I always am bringing stacks of books back unread to the library. They all seem to come in at the same time, and usually there is a line for them and they can't be renewed. Three weeks checkout? Ha--right. Good luck making a dent!

Anonymous said...

Some interesting books you have there! And don't you know it's a universal library creed that all requested books must arrive at once? :)

Kirsten said...

colleen - I know I'd never go back to those middle school and high school days :) And your book was truly awesome!

carl v., sam houston, danielle, and lesley - Isn't it always the way? I received another email this morning alerting me to more books that have come in for me at the library. Think this brings my library stack up to 20. And I will never finish 20 books in three weeks. I'll have to pick and choose I guess and reluctantly part with those that don't make the cut.

Amat Libris said...

I've heard off Odd Girl Out and thought it sounded interesting, but I've never read it in case it dredges up to many primary school memories. As for high school . . . girls can be bitches, but trust me, boys can be far worse.

I well know the feeling of being snowed under with library books - even though I don't use the request system and the checkout period is four weeks. Fortunately I can renew books over the internet - and frequently have to!