12.31.2012

Happiness, where art thou?

Wokini: A Lakota Journey to Happiness and Self-UnderstandingWokini: A Lakota Journey to Happiness and Self-Understanding by Billy Mills
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is an inspiring book about a young Native American boy from the Lakota tribe who goes on a quest to figure out how to be happy after the death of his sister. It was a quick read and I enjoyed it. It definitely got me thinking about various aspects of my own happiness.

I can't remember how I came across this book in the first place, but it sounded interesting and was.  Billy Mills is from the Lakota tribe and won an Olympic gold metal at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics for the 10,000-meter run.

This book is the 22nd book I read this year, which means I met my goal.  It was close, which was why I chose a quick read for the last two days of the year.  Next year I'll challenge myself to read 24 books.  We'll see how it goes.

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12.30.2012

What's this? 3 posts in one day??

Carry the OneCarry the One by Carol Anshaw

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I think this book had an interesting premise, and it was very well-written, but it ultimately left me flat.

***Warning that this might contain some spoilers.  I'm not recommending this book to anyone, but if you still want to read it, a couple of plot points are mentioned.***

The three main characters in this story are siblings Carmen, Alice and Nick. Some of their friends and lovers make up the minor characters. After Carmen's wedding, most of these characters jump into a car being driven by Nick's girlfriend, Olivia. Both Nick and Olivia are high, and they end up hitting and killing a young girl.

The story then follows these folks over the next 25 years or so. (The author does the time transition in an interesting way. You read several paragraphs into a chapter, and realize by various references that several years have gone by. I found that strange at first, but got used to it.)

Valerie and mopeds don't mix

Deb gave this to me for Christmas--I love it!
So, as I mentioned in my previous post, I had an incident with a moped while on vacation over the week of Thanksgiving.

My family (20 of us) went on a cruise to the eastern Caribbean:  Nassau, The Bahamas; St. Thomas; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Grand Turk.

We left out of Miami on Sunday, November 18th,  and arrived in Nassau on Monday.  My sister and I originally planned to just walk around the town a bit, but when we got off the ship, we saw a stand to rent mopeds.  We should have stuck with our original plan, but instead, we each did a test ride on a moped in a little alley way and then we were on our way to a beach the moped guy recommended.  After maybe 10 minutes, traffic was rushing by me, and I got nervous and tried to stay to the left as much as possible (they drive on the opposite of the road in Nassau), and then I crashed.  I think I just got too close the curb, but don't really know or remember exactly what happened.


Getting back to the movies

It's Oscar season and I'd been wanting to go to the movies since after Thanksgiving. But, due to an injury I sustained while riding a moped in the Bahamas (more on that in another post later), I couldn't sit with a bent leg for two hours at a time. Then, when my leg was feeling better, I caught a nasty cold with a bad cough. I hate being in a theater with a cough. I annoy myself, so I know I'm annoying other people too. My sister (who also had a cold/cough since before Thanksgiving) told me about this strange concoction someone recommended to her of Bragg's organic apple cider vinegar, raw honey, and water, to knock out colds.  In this YouTube video the girl says to take it at the first signs of a cold, but I took it after a week, and well, after a day and a half, it worked*!  And, I was finally able to hit the movie theater.

12.29.2012

How To Be Black by Baratunde Thurston

How to Be BlackHow to Be Black by Baratunde R. Thurston

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a great satirical look at race that I enjoyed and could completely relate to. The book is part memoir--Baratunde Thurston discusses his childhood--living in a rough DC neighborhood at the height of the crack-cocaine epidemic, yet attending Sidwell Friends school and getting Chelsea Clinton to sign his yearbook. It's also part guidebook: he provides "guidance" on "How To Be the Black Friend," "How to Be the Black Employee," "How To Speak for All Black People," etc. I've been "the" black friend and "the" black employee, so these made me laugh. (He lets you know upfront that the book will not turn non-black people into black people. I think it's still worth them reading the book for funny insights into what black people go through.) The chapter on "How To Be the Next Black President" was a bit too long, but still amusing.

Baratunde also interviewed other comedians, bloggers, artists [4 (or was it 5?) black people and one white guy--the creator of the "Stuff White People Like" blog] for their take on race relations, so the book is also part social commentary.

I read the book on my Kindle, but from reading the reviews here, it sounds like I should check out the audio book as well, to actually hear the interviews. I definitely look forward to that.

Here's an interview with Baratunde so you can hear about the book in his own words:

12.10.2012

I finally finished a book

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: 3 of 5 stars

I've been reading this for a long time, but it took me a while.  There's nothing wrong with the book--I've just been busy.  According to Myers Briggs testing, I'm as strong an introvert as you can possibly be. This book really appealed to me, and I enjoyed reading it. It was interesting to see research and explanations for the differences between introverts and extroverts, and I saw myself throughout the book. I really wish I could keep copies in my pocket to give to people when they ask, "Why are you so quiet?" or "Why aren't you saying anything?" Or to people who think I should change and be more outgoing. No I shouldn't. I'm fine the way I am. I do think it's a must read for everyone, not just introverts.

I didn't give more than three stars because of the huge focus on raising introverted children. Since I have no kids, that didn't do anything for me.

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