book review · books · features · lists · shanti

Fiction-Non-Fiction, Economics Edition

Hi Virtually Readers! Uni has started again for me properly and I am extremely busy and trying to figure out how to keep fitting Virtually Read into my life. I’m also panicked that I’m going to stop loving reading somehow, but that seems stupid, right? Does anyone else ever feel that way? I wrote an article about how to read and study at the same time and feel like a bit of a hypocrite because I’m not very good at following this advice. Anyway, I’ve been thinking lots about the economy because it matters a lot and also needs a total restructure because capitalism really sucks (this is what you learn at university). I like to read economics books because I feel like that helps me to understand the financial system better. So this edition of Fiction-Non-Fiction recommendations is themed around the economy!

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Sacred EconomicsTess of the Road

Okay, full disclosure: I’m not actually done reading Sacred Economics. I’m about a third of the way through. It’s a book about why the economy is broken, and how it is set up in systems which perpetuates injustice and inequality. Beyond that, Sacred Economics is a book about healing the economy, understanding it enough to actually change it. I don’t know enough about policy to understand how these concepts could translate, but I really appreciate this visionary book. Tess of the Road is on the surface a very different book. But like the global economic system, Tess is shattered in hidden and blatant ways. The novel is about her quest for something larger and more mysterious–something underneath–an embodiment of the principles of the world and the way they exist. I reckon it pairs beautifully with Sacred Economics.

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Talking to My Daughter About the EconomyThe Islands at the End of the World

Talking With My Daughter About the Economy is an excellent, readable primer on fundamental principles that govern economics. If you’rs a bit intimidated by learning about the economy, I hightly recommend it. To be honest the ‘talking to my daughter’ aspect of the book was somewhat contrived in a ‘now child listen to my wisdom and I will contextualise it by entioning your iPad’ sort of way. Still, it’s a good idea. The Islands At the End of the World is similarly centred on a father daughter relationship, where a father and daughter are navigating a broen world made more frightening by their inadequacies. Together, with resoucefulness and vision, they can understand why they are so lost. Again, it sort of matches on a deepre level.

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No LogoTheir Fractured Light

Naomi Klein is a bit of a legend, and references to this tome, which I read ages ago but should probably read again, are all over the place in my reading for an Advertising critique paper I’m doing. In this book and This Changes Everything (also a great economics book!) she details some of the ways that the global economy is injust, particularly in the context of large corporations. Their Fractured Light is also about confronting massive corporations, from within and without, and seeking justice. It uses an astonishing range of characters to examine different responses to inequality. It’s also a fabulous adventure story.

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Naked EconomicsSpinning Silver

I read Naked Economics a few years ago when I was just reading non-fiction for Lent (this year I’m mostly vegan). Now I read HEAPS of non-fiction. I don’t really agree with the premise of Naked Economics; it’s very much a status-quo, liberalism-inspired approach to the economy (does anyone else find it confusing that liberal politicians don’t follow policies of economic liberalisation?). Charles Wheelan places far too much faith in the power of the trickle-down effect, for instance. Nevertheless, it’s important and useful to know how people with different economic opinions than me justify that position. Spinning Silver is a stellar book, and has a character who is venal and money focused. But as a compassionate writer, Naomi Novik gives Miriam the context to explain how she became that way, and the book is all about how money matters and how different people understand it.

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Doughnut EconomicsStation Eleven

Doughnut Economics, like Sacred Economics, is an invitation to reimagine the economy. It goes beyond identifying problems, and is quite data driven (compared to Sacred Economics, which is heavily philosophical). I really enjoyed it–although I don’t really know what I can do as a non-economics student who does not make policy. The principles of Doughnut Economics is that the systems of the world–social and cultural systems, ecological systems, climate systems, and of course financial systems, are deeply intertwined. Station Eleven demonstrates the same thing, by showing how interconnected different aspects of the world are, and what happens when they’re broken (The World Without Us is a non-fictional approach to the same thing). If you long to understand the world as interconnected in fragile and resilient ways, you’ll love both of these books.

do you understand economics? do you want to? and have you read any of these books?

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book review · books · shanti

Returning to Ingo

Hi Virtually Readers! I really enjoyed writing a post about Emily St. John Mandel’s books the week before last and it made me think that I should do a bit of a series or group reviews, which are more fun and interesting to write in some ways than single reviews. So it’ll be Ingo this week and Naomi Novik next time and maybe Madeliene L’Engle and Zadie Smith after that—a blend of new-to-me authors and rereads. Anyway, the Ingo books are ones which I treasure deeply, so much that I hauled them back to New Zealand from India. I appreciate their whimsy and wisdom just as much now as when I was 8 and 11.

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blogging · books · features · shanti

Interview: Michelle Cooper, Author of Dr. Huxley’s Bequest

Hi Virtually Readers! Remember a few weeks ago when I reviewed Dr. Huxley’s Bequest, a really wonderful exploration of the history of medicine that covers a lot of ground? It’s a fascinating book, and Michelle Cooper, who wrote it, is one of my favourite authors. She is an incredible researcher, and uses her characters and stories to bring history–and now science–to life. She was gracious enough to let me interview her (which I promptly derailed by losing her email in my spam folder). If you want to learn about Tasmanian Devil milk and Michelle’s research process, you’ll definitely want to read the interview below.

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books · features · shanti

What I look for in genres

Hi Virtually Readers! I’ve been thinking about genre in books a lot lately because I’m taking an English course that is essentially about genre. We’ve talked about romance, gothic, romantic comedies, and we’re about to start detective stories. I’m really appreciating some of the things this is making me think about–especially the conclusion that there is no such thing as a ‘pure’ genre. All stories use elements from different genres. For instance, the book ‘Trouble is a Friend of Mine’ is ostensibly a mystery story, but it also has elements of comedy and horror. I thought that I’d talk a little bit about what I look for in different genres, and some of my favourite books from each of those.

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book review · shanti

Save the Date: not for me

I’ve liked Morgan Matson’s previous books: the pathos of Second Chance Sumer, the calm American-ness of Amy and Roger’s Epic detour, the brightly lit The Unexpected Everything, the punchy format of Since You’ve Been Gone. But something about Save The Date really didn’t work for me. It felt forced and farcical, which is not necesserily a bad thing, but didn’t really work for me.

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books · features · shanti

Diagnosis: Stress Reading

Remember YA Psychologist? You should, because YA Psychologist was great. Anyway, in that vein, I thought I’d talk about a disease which has been afflicted me greatly recently: stress reading. Of course I read stressfully, when I am forced to read things for educational purposes. But I mostly read stressfully because of libraries. I love libraries and everyone should support them. But they do have due dates. This is particularly acute with digital books: because they’re digital, I don’t have to physically return them which makes me less likely to do so, and I also have ppor impulse control and end up with a whole lot of books that I don’t have time to read. But stress reading can happen to anyone, so I thought I’d share a diagnosis manual, because why not medicalise everything?

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Symptoms:

  • feeling like you have to read fast otherwise you’ll let people down
  • looking at your bookshelf and feeling panic rise within you
  • losing all self control when requesting books from publishers and at the library
  • having more than five books on your ‘currently reading’ list
  • not being able to read because you have so much to read

Possible Causes:

  • trying to read too much
  • underestimating how long it will take you to read things
  • going overboard at the library
  • prioritising what you read and therefore losing control of everything that is not a priority
  • Acquiring every book that is recommended to you
  • having other things going on in your life that mean you can’t read as much as you plan to

History:

This problem is almost as old as the written word. Since Lady Murasaki wrote The Tale of Genji in the 11th century, more and more books have appeared, and many of them would probably be great–if you had time to read them. Want to be readers tend to accumalate all the books they want to read, and consequently, are unable to actually read them. Book doctors through the centuries have diagnosed stress reading, and linked it to library fines, miscellaneous non-bookish responsibilities, and the ownership of book blogs. Cases have risen particularly in the last seven years with the rise of digital ARCS and digital libraries.

Treatment:

Unfortunately, stress reading is a recurring condition. No matter how you treat it, it will probably flare up again, probably when you have other things to worry about. Still, treatment is not futile. If you have a severe case, try to go on a book buying and library ban until you have read everything you have. Secondly, remember that a lot of pressure is self imposed. you can simply choose to return books without reading them. If you have books from publishers that you must review, don’t beat yourself up if they’ve been publisehd for a while by the time you review them. Healing will take some time; to find joy in reading and maximise chances of success, read slowly, read for enjoyment, and take breaks.

In case it wasn’t clear…I almost constantly have a low-grade case of stress reading. But I’m coming to terms with my condition, and am going to try to read a book I own for every library book I read from now on. Let’s see how that goes….

Do you suffer from stress reading? what do you do to treat it? tell me in the comments!

books · features · lists · shanti

Non-Fiction Fiction Pairings

I am growing to love non-fiction. I know that not everyone reads non-fiction, which is fine, but if you don’t have much idea where to start, I thought I’d do a post pairing books popular in the blogosphere with some non-fiction books I love. If you recognise these books, or think you’d enjoy them, then definitely see if you can pick a copy up. I’ve tried to group books that are similar in content and tone, even if they come at it from totally different angles.

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blogging · discussions · shanti · writing

Book Bloggers Responsibilities

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about whether it is a book bloggers responsibility to promote reading, and if you want to know my thoughts on that, go read the post! but I also promised to write a post about book bloggers responsibilities in general, and this is that post. What are a book blogger’s responsibilities? After all, this is something we do by choice; not just reading, but reading and then making things out of it. Do we have any obligations? And what does that mean for me?

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blogging · books · shanti · tags

NOPE Book tag

Hi Virtually Readers! I’m so sorry that I’ve barely been posting–well, I’m actually not that sorry, because I have been busy even though I’m on holiday at the moment, and I have been putting real people before my computer, which is hard to do but anyway….the blog has been neglected! but I am here today, and I am doing the Nope book tag, which Lara tagged me for (thanks, Lara!). This will be hardish, because I’m usually pretty positive about books, but I will try.

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book review · books · shanti

Review: Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now

Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now is an incredibly complex novel, and one that fits a lot into it’s short timeframe of seven days. I loved Tiffany Sly and I love all the pieces of her that Dana L. Davis uses for her story. It’s a story about figuring stuff out, and how the process is more important than any potential answers.

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