Article

Important artifacts and personal property from the collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, including books, street fashion and jewelry by Leanne Shapton

Important artifacts and personal property...Blurb:

In Leanne Shapton’s marvelously inventive and invented auction catalog, the 325 lots up for auction are what remain from the relationship between Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris (who aren’t real people, but might as well be). Through photographs of the couple’s personal effects–the usual auction items (jewelry, fine art, and rare furniture) and the seemingly worthless (pajamas, Post-it notes, worn paperbacks)–the story of a failed love affair vividly (and cleverly) emerges. From first meeting to final separation, the progress and rituals of intimacy are revealed through the couple’s accumulated relics and memorabilia. And a love story, in all its tenderness and struggle, emerges from the evidence that has been left behind, laid out for us to appraise and appreciate.


In a nutshell:

I read it in: English

I liked it: I loved the idea, I kind of liked the result

For people who like: Fiction that looks like non-fiction, putting two and two together without being explicitly told what happened.


My thoughts: 

I was quite fascinated with the idea of an auction catalogue to tell the story of a relationship. It sounded intriguing, interesting and different. When I started reading this book I realized how much work it must have been to put this together. There are photos of the couple (standing in for Lenore and Hal were Sheila Heti and Paul Sahre), tons of letters and notes, various items, clothes, pictures of cakes and what not. The thought that someone put a part of the lives of two fictional people together in that way is fascinating.

However, I would have liked it better if those people were a little less hip and outstandingly original, but a little closer to everyday people in everyday life. There are a few short conversations that Lenore and Hal had written on brochures during a concert etc. and the dialogue to me sounds just too much of a good thing. Listen to this (about the poodles on the cover):

I can tell you hate them/ No!/ But I love the dogs, the dogs love you, they are perfect pets, as they do not poo./ Dearest Hal, they are not our pal, their breed is a pain, a firm hand must train./ Lenore, Lenore, fear not evermore, these unbroken pups you’ll soon adore./ You win, dark knight, at least they don’t bite.

Often there would be song lyrics scribbled down in books, unfortunately I knew none of the songs, and so couldn’t relate too much. The clothes are mostly vintage clothes, the items are all vintage or artsy. Everything was just a little bit too extraordinary. I mean, who on Earth would go as a litmus test on Halloween? I just couldn’t relate to those two and frankly, I didn’t give a damn whether they would stay together or not (even though, of course, it was clear from the start, they would not). Also, I saw no reason why they would auction off the things they did. Why would you sell on your bathing suits after a break up?

Most of the hints as to what happened in the relationship of the couple we receive from notes to each other, emails, letters (who nowadays writes postal letters from the US to Europe, esp. when the other is only gone for a week or two?) either to each other or from friends or family to either Lenore or Hal. I must be missing something completely because I think that basically the same effect could have been achieved with an epistolary novel of some kind. Maybe in the style of Love Virtually. Somehow I simply expected more of that auction catalogue idea and it didn’t deliver it.

All in all I enjoyed reading this (I love catalogues in general), but the book left me a bit disappointed in the end.


Product info and buy link :

Title

Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris: Including Books, Street Fashion and Jewelry

Author Leanne Shapton
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing
ISBN 9781408804728
I got this book from I bought it
Buy link Buy Important artifacts….

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Article

Joseph Goebbels by Curt Riess

Blurb:

Well, it is a biography of Joseph Goebbels, what else can you say?


In a nutshell:

I liked it:  x Yes       No

For people who are: interested in history, the Third Reich, National Socialism, WWII


My thoughts: 

To my disgrace I have to confess that I knew next to nothing about Joseph Goebbels, except for that he was in charge of the Nazi propaganda. I don’t remember how I even came across this book but when I decided to read about WWII for the One, Two, Theme challenge I added it to my list.

I got a German edition from 1950 (the book was published first in 1949), it is also available in various English editions. Curt Riess is a German-born journalist who emigrated 1933 to the US and worked as a war correspondent for the US Army. He published this biography in 1948 after researching documents he found in post-war Germany and interviewing relatives, friends and employees of Goebbels.

I can’t say I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, but it did keep me reading on and on. I finished it within a week, but read other things in between, as the whole story is rather hard to digest. The war itself is only mentioned “in passing” as Goebbels himself had rather little to do with the operational, military side of things. Also the known atrocities are only talked about on a few occasions, like for example when he was asked whether it was true that concentration camps existed and he – “after checking back” – answered that there was no such thing.

I would think that all the material Riess used must be fairly unspoilt and fresh as it was collected directly from remains of the propaganda ministry or from people who knew Goebbels personally and rather well.

There are a lot of quotes from Goebbels writings that show a glimpse into what he was really thinking and how he managed to be such a convincing devil’s advocate even in cases where he personally did not believe in what he was preaching.

If you are only slightly interested in the Third Reich and in one of its key figures, this is a must read.

Product info and buy link :

Title Joseph Goebbels
Author Curt Riess
Publisher Ballantine Books
ISBN ASIN: B0007EQ3Y6
Buy link Buy Joseph Goebbels: A biography

 

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Article

Essays in love by Alain de Botton

essaysinlove_cover

Blurb:

"Essays in Love" will appeal to anyone who has ever been in a relationship or confused about love. The book charts the progress of a love affair from the first kiss to argument and reconciliation, from intimacy and tenderness to the onset of anxiety and heartbreak. The work’s genius lies in the way it minutely analyses emotions we’ve all felt before but have perhaps never understood so well: it includes a chapter on the anxieties of when and how to say ‘I love you’ and another on the challenges of disagreeing with someone else’s taste in shoes.While gripping the reader with the talent of a great novelist, de Botton brings a philosopher’s sensibility to his analyses of the emotions of love, resulting in a genre-breaking book that is at once touching and thought-provoking.

My thoughts: 

This is the second book I read for my “relationships topic” for the One, Two, Theme Challenge. I have been ogling some of Alain de Botton’s books for quite a while and finally decided to start with this one, as it was his debut novel. It certainly won’t be my last.

I absolutely loved his style here. Basically it is the story of a romance from the very beginning to the end and a bit further on, so that the reader knows that the cycle (at least for the male narrator) started all over again. And a cycle it is. The story is divided into chapters, like for example, “Romantic Fatalism”, talking about that the chance meeting of the soon to be lovers is actually fate, “The Subtext of Seduction”, talking about how to seduce the beloved properly and the thoughts behind it, “Contractions”, here black clouds are showing up on the horizon, and “The Jesus Complex” where eventually the one who was left behind comes to the conclusion everything is the other person’s fault. Every chapter describes one or more specific, often mundane, situations and then reflects upon them with the help of numerous philosophers. Really everybody will recognize him- or herself in those scenes, or, if not in a specific situation, at least in the general thoughts that are lying behind it.

I read some reviews on amazon saying that the romance was incredibly predictable and therefore the book was highly unoriginal. I disagree. The book was original simply BECAUSE the romance was so ordinary and predictable. The whole point of the book is to show how every romance takes its course in a predetermined way and the reason our romance here is so predictable is that everyone has experienced exactly that before.

I was not too enthusiastic about both the male and the female character. Probably I sympathize more with Chloe, however, because the man turns out to be a total jerk right after their first night together. She cooks a wonderful breakfast for him and he insists on having a certain jam, a flavour she hasn’t got. He acts so stupidly that I would have kicked him out right away, but Chloe puts up with his crap – amazingly what love can do to you. The narrator himself, who can’t explain his own behaviour at the time, later comes up with a reason for it which is not completely unfeasible.

This is what I liked about the book. Every little detail and nuance is looked at from all sorts of perspectives and talked about. I found it very insightful. I also liked the language, I don’t think there was one sentence I found boring or too much.

A nice little touch – if somewhat trite – was the fact that the beginning and the end of the romance not only take place on a plane, but also that the exact same sentence describes the landing of the plane and  the disembarking of the passengers. The circle is closed.

If you want to know more about ordinary relationships, how they work and about their dynamics, this is a must read.

Disclaimer: If you are a romantic and want to stay that way, better not touch this book. It takes a relationship apart and scrutinizes it minutely. The result is 100% realism with no room for romantic idealization. 

Judith has mentioned she didn’t like this book too much. If you would like to read what she had to say you can go the the comments of this blog post where she copied her Shelfari review.

 

Title Essays in love
Author Alain de Botton
Publisher Picador
ISBN 978-0330440783
Buy link Buy Essays in Love
Article

He’s just not that into you by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo

Blurb:

For ages women have come together over coffee, cocktails, or late-night phone chats to analyze the puzzling behavior of men. He’s afraid to get hurt again. Maybe he doesn’t want to ruin the friendship. Maybe he’s intimidated by me. He just got out of a relationship.

Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo are here to say that — despite good intentions — you’re wasting your time. Men are not complicated, although they’d like you to think they are. And there are no mixed messages.

The truth may be He’s just not that into you.

Unfortunately guys are too terrified to ever directly tell a woman, "You’re not the one." But their actions absolutely show how they feel.

He’s Just Not That Into You — based on a popular episode of Sex and the City — educates otherwise smart women on how to tell when a guy just doesn’t like them enough, so they can stop wasting time making excuses for a dead-end relationship.

Reexamining familiar scenarios and classic mindsets that keep us in unsatisfying relationships, Behrendt and Tuccillo’s wise and wry understanding of the sexes spares women hours of waiting by the phone, obsessing over the details with sympathetic girlfriends, and hoping his mixed messages really mean "I’m in love with you and want to be with you."

He’s Just Not That Into You is provocative, hilarious, and, above all, intoxicatingly liberating. It deserves a place on every woman’s night table. It knows you’re a beautiful, smart, funny woman who deserves better. The next time you feel the need to start "figuring him out," consider the glorious thought that maybe He’s just not that into you. And then set yourself loose to go find the one who is.

My thoughts: 

This is the first book I read for my “relationships topic” for the One, Two, Theme Challenge. I don’t know exactly what I expected other than an entertaining read, but I was disappointed. Yes, it was an entertaining read, but other than that reading it is as enlightening as reading no book about relationships at all.

The book takes various situations, e.g. he doesn’t call when he said he would, he puts you down in front of others, he doesn’t want to marry you…., and evaluates them. The result of that evaluation is invariably the same, “he’s just not that into you”. Greg Behrendt’s world is black and white. If the man doesn’t do what he said he would and/or doesn’t do what you expect him to, dump the loser!

He doesn’t call on Monday, like he said, but on Tuesday? What a jerk! Dump him! He doesn’t want to marry you even though he knows how important it is for you to get married? You know now what to do.

Admittedly, there are some situations where the dumping is appropriate, but in others a readiness for compromise would help a bit. Also, your own feelings towards the jerk seem of no importance. You might be crazily in love with the guy who’s just not that into you. Doesn’t matter, get rid of him anyway.

The basic statement of the book “Better to be alone than to be with someone that makes you unhappy” might be sane and sound, but I am not sure that 100% of the women out there would agree with that. Liz Tuccillo, the co-writer of this book and the girl voice likes Greg’s wisdom and lives by it. Strangely enough, even though he assures the female reader continuously that she is a. hot stuff (how he knows this is beyond me, not all of us are hot stuff) and b. a better man is somewhere out there waiting for her, Liz is still single at 40 something and looking.

I’m ambivalent about this. Some advice is good, makes sense and should be followed, but that is advice that your mother would give you, too. The writing style is entertaining and every woman recognizes herself in the stories. However, a few more shades of grey would have done a great deal to make this book more helpful all in all.

Title He’s just not that into you
Author Greg Behrendt & Liz Tuccillo
Publisher Simon & Schuster
ISBN 978-1416948674
Buy link Buy He’s Just Not That Into You
Article

One, Two, Theme challenge 2011

One, Two, Theme challenge

For the One, Two, Theme Challenge 2011 I have finally decided on my three topics. I went through my TBR pile and built my themes around it to make sure I get some books read that have been sitting on my shelf for quite some time.

My three themes are Wicca, WWII and Relationships.

Now, what books to choose?

 

1. Wicca

I went to a site Poppy Red recommended (Witchvox.com) and found out that one of the books I already owned is one of the most popular ones as well. Lucky!

I plan on reading:

  • The Spiral Dance by Starhawk
  • The Real Witches Handbook by Kate West (already have that one as well)

I might add

  • Wicca for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham that Angelique suggested.

That leaves me with one fiction book I still need. Does anyone have any recommendations?

  • After a look around and from recommendations I might read "The Forest House" by MZB.  

 

2. WWII

  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
  • Joseph Goebbels by Kurt Riess. This is a biography that came out in 1950. Kurt Riess was working for the US Army at the time; he searched archives and spoke to people who worked for Goebbels etc. right after the war.

 

3. Relationships

  • He’s just not that into you by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo
  • Essays in Love by Alain de Botton
  • Important artifacts and personal property from the collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris including books, street fashion, and jewelry by Leanne Shapton

    This book – as non-fiction as it sounds – is a fictional auction catalogue that portrays the rise and fall of a four-year-relationship.

I think this is going to be a fun challenge for the next year.