Monday, April 10, 2017

Review: Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John J. Ratey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I listened to this book on my iPhone through an Amazon program, and it truly helped me understand the science of exercise. Through studies done on schoolchildren, Ratey makes a convincing argument for encouraging exercise and fitness programs not as a form of competition, but for improving the body, mind, and spirit. Students should be pushed to achieve their individual fitness goals more so than to compete against others, and if they do, they are more likely to exercise into adulthood. I had mixed experiences with gym classes as a kid growing up, so I appreciated this book. Truly, it proves that exercise is beneficial to the body and to the brain. For us walkers, runners, and exercisers out there, this book provides further encouragement not to live a sedentary lifestyle.

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Review: Reading in a Participatory Culture: Remixing Moby-Dick in the English Classroom

Reading in a Participatory Culture: Remixing Moby-Dick in the English Classroom Reading in a Participatory Culture: Remixing Moby-Dick in the English Classroom by Henry Jenkins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book really was food for the soul, in addition to increasing my academic and pedagogical knowledge. I have developed a true passion for fan fiction as both a creative writer and as a scholar, so I really enjoyed reading about how to integrate fan fiction and popular culture into classroom settings, as related to the study of literature. I was less interested in the parts of the book specifically related to Moby Dick, but I understood why that context was there. The ideas the book suggests really can apply to any primary text, though. I enjoyed learning more about New Literacies and Henry Jenkins's work as related to the English Language Arts classroom. If you're interested in multimodality and fan fiction, I would definitely recommend this book.

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Review: Queer: A Graphic History

Queer: A Graphic History Queer: A Graphic History by Meg-John Barker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was a bit dense, but it was an interesting read. It helped me to better understand queer and poststructural theories. I thought the creator did an effective job of balancing the visuals with the texts related to theory and history. I would recommend the book to people who are interested in nonfiction comics/graphic novels and in queer theory. We read it for the graphic novel book club at Avid Bookshop and had a great discussion about it, as some of the topics are very timely

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Review: The Intuitives

The Intuitives The Intuitives by Erin Michelle Sky
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you have an advanced middle or high school student who loves fantasy/speculative fiction, adventure stories, and stories of friendship, I highly recommend that you give that kid this book! It is a page turner that is great for lovers of suspense and adventure. The characters are very well crafted, and the plot line reminds us of the importance of the imagination, intuition, the unconscious mind, and most of all friendship. Recommended.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Guarded

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Guarded Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Guarded by Andrew Chambliss
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I would give the art an A, the Buffy/Kennedy storyline a B, and the Billy the Vampire Slayer twist at the end an A. Sorry, but I've never been a fan of Kennedy, so I think that's part of why I wasn't as into this one. I was excited to see Wolfram and Hart make an appearance, though, and I'm glad Buffy is still in touch with her Slayer roots. Overall, it was fun; not one of my favorites of the Buffy comics, but fun. I look forward to the next ones.

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Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Guarded

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Guarded Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Guarded by Andrew Chambliss
My rating: 4 of 5 stars



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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Review: The Feminine Mystique

The Feminine Mystique The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am super happy that I read this book. I can understand why it has gotten some criticism, and a book of this nature written in the present day would have to better address intersectionality. There would need to be more attention paid to the issues of women of color, poor women, immigrant women, LGBT women, etc.

That said, as a feminist scholar, I'm glad I read this book. I think it was an important book for the time it was written, and it was brave enough to address the stigma against homosexuality, the faulty theories of sexuality by Sigmund Freud, and capitalism's role of keeping women in our place. There are times when I felt angry while reading the book, on behalf of the women who came before me. But it was a good anger that made me feel even more fired up to be a woman writer in a world that sometimes still discourages women in the arts and female academics.

It's because of books like this and women like Betty Friedan that the Women's March took place on January 21, 2017, and why we will not go backwards. Yes, we have a president who can talk about grabbing women by the pussy, who can mock and bully people including a disabled man, and who can make blatantly racist comments in public and still get away with it enough to be President of the United States of America, which is sad. As someone who was bullied and mistreated as a kid, it truly breaks my heart. But we're not going down without a fight, and we're not allowing him to pass illegal laws that are unfair to our immigrant brothers and sisters, and we're fighting against his attempts to tell women what they can and cannot do with their bodies. It's because of this surge of ultra-conservatism that haven't been around since I was a small child in the 80s that books like this need to be re-read and re-examined.

Thank you, Betty Friedan. If it weren't for women like you, I might have joined a sorority in college even though I didn't really want to, gotten married in my early twenties, and ended up in a job that didn't fulfill me. I doubt I would be a writer and an almost professor who has now written a full draft of my Ph.D., and who has written a middle grades fantasy novel that, while it will probably remain in a drawer forever, paved the way for me to write other books. There was a time when I as a woman wouldn't have been able to do these things, but now I can. More books need to come, and more voices need to be represented in the women's movement. But Betty Friedan's was a voice that started a chorus that will continue to sing. Especially now.

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