Monday, May 27, 2013

A few book reviews

So, I just finished reading Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich.  Writer Barbara Ehrenreich and her editor conceive of a sociological experiment wherein Barbara tries to earn a living wage working in minimum wage situations.
It made me super grateful for the advantages I've had and the changes that have come down since she wrote it in 2001.  But it also left sort of a bad taste in my mouth.  I can't tell whether I think that she's a wimp (although some of the jobs she does sound like absolute hell) or it's that I agree with her.  It's a complicated feeling.  She's very pro-Union, which doesn't bother me most of the time and annoys me the rest of the time.  I am ambivalent.
At the same time I was reading Nickel and Dimed, I was reading The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University by Kevin Roose.  Kevin Roose is a student at Brown.  While working for journalist A.J. Jacobs (whose excellent book A Year of Living Biblically actually pointed me to The Unlikely Disciple), Roose gets the idea to spend a semester at Liberty University, an evagelical Christian school founded by televangelist Jerry Falwell.
Overall, I enjoyed the book but it felt a little like Roose didn't know what he wanted to include or leave out.  There are some threads that he picks up and that don't really go anywhere.  A certain number of those are bound to end up in a project like this, but one can't help but wondering if they shouldn't have been edited out.  For example, the story he starts the book with doesn't really ever resolve.  But it's a solid read for anyone who is interested in how evangelical christians are socialized in an institutional setting.
This book did depress me, though, and for no reason actually related to the text.  Roose talks about the Virginia Tech in his semester and it made me realize we are the same age.  Didn't I want to be a writer at some point?  But I don't have a book and this guy does.  Damn it all.  I better get off my butt.
In side news, the house is still wet, and sort of is getting a musty smell.  We're doing what we can, but it is much slower going than we would like.

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