Power in Ambivalence

Power in Ambivalence

book review on

nonsense

“Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing” by Jamie Holmes

Is there power in not knowing? What do we gain when we are in the dark, confused, and unsure about where a string of events or our lives in general are going?

Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing by Jamie Holmes assures the reader that strength can come from ambiguity and ambivalence if we only know how to harness the doubt.

In this slim volume of 230 pages of heavily researched text (and an additional 100 plus pages of notes) there is a blend of science, history and modern events that couple to illustrate Holmes’ point that perhaps not knowing everything is a good thing. Being willing to be a patient person who doesn’t crave the closure most humans are hard-wired to go through hell and back to receive, can pay off in the workplace as well as for a more fulfilling life.

Holmes struggles with the point he may be trying to make through his series of complex speech and examples. Maybe it’s no coincidence that a book on ambiguity and confusion is an indefinite and unclear thing. Go figure.

Examples to make the point that sometimes there is no hard and fast point on things are pulled from various places including the Waco, Texas incident with the Branch Davidians; the unpopularity of Midi’s in the late 60’s and 70’s; Ducati racing and improvement strategies; natural disasters and our perspectives after the fact; card decks that aren’t all they appear to be at face value; and the very real and very terrifying over testing that happens in the medical field every day. The most effective of these examples comes across in the chapter, “Fifty Days in Texas” that highlights the negotiations behind Waco, what went right, and why things went terribly wrong when closure was seized too firmly and grey areas were miscoded to disastrous consequences.

The book is broken into three parts that include: “Making Sense,” “Handing Ambiguity,” and “Embracing Uncertainty.” Holmes uses these three parts to try and make sense of the confusion, and overall satisfies this reader.

Even with the complexity of getting through the book, the work is interesting and entertaining. I come away from the book with no solid conclusion on anything, and an inability to say anything for certain. In this respect, Holmes has succeeded in creating Nonsense.

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Spinster’s Beautiful Cover Design Draws More Interest Than Content

spinsterSpinster’s Beautiful Cover Design Draws More Interest Than Content

a book review by

Erica Tuggle

If we were judging Spinster by its book cover, this one would be a home run. The attractive, young looking woman on the front, proclaiming spinster-hood seems like a battle cry feminists can rally behind. Not to mention that this design is coupled with the well-written book blurb within the inside flap of the book, promising us insight into why over 100 million women (and growing) are electing to forgo marriage in favor of more freedom; ignoring the choice set before all females from the earliest playtime imaginings, who to marry and when?

With such a high bar to clear, a bar of such intrigue, it was highly disappointing to find that this book missed the mark. Spinster promised to include Kate Bolick’s story of electing to remain single and embrace all the opportunities it affords, but in actuality, the book leans heavily on the memoir aspect and lightly on pertinent interesting information.

Bolick, 45, (pictured on the cover, and looking all of about 28) details her life thus far through her relationships with men referred to in an alphabet soup of single letters, and also through her “awakeners”: Neith Boyce, Maeve Brennan, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Edith Wharton. The factoids about the women who influenced Bolick’s decision to remain unattached are interesting, but not penetrating. Bolick’s own story of relationship interactions reads like a polished and fussy journal entry of hindsight revelations. I was desperately seeking interesting reasons why women would choose to buck tradition and go their own way, but Bolick’s window is small and extends no further than Victorian era ladies and her own privileged upbringing and opportunities.

Bolick failed to get an emotional or intellectual response from me with Spinster. The only moment I found myself wanting to hear her story was when she related her last days with her mother with the reader. Perhaps, like Bolick opines of other literary works, Spinster is akin to some books find you when you need them, and I’m not the demographic she was searching for. At least I can offer kudos to her for her choice in “spinsterhood” and for sharing her story.

I received a copy of “Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own” through the site Blogging for Books.

Book Review: Furry Logic (10th Anniversary Edition)

This month I requested from Bloggingforbooks.com a copy of Furry Logic “A Guide to Life’s Little Challenges” by Jane Seabrook. I was in need of a light, fluffy read to deal with the holiday madness that is in full swing, and Furry Logic came through on this front. The book is full of bright, cute renderings of birds, cats, reptiles, and other animals of both domestic and exotic claim. Accompanying these are clever, sassy, sometimes inspirational one-liners. (i.e. “I try to take it one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once). It will be a quick read for adults, but is an enjoyable giftbook option for pretty much anyone. It could also be an enjoyable storytime addition for a child. If you are in need of a light, fluffy, fun read, pick this one up.9781607747161

Book Review: Curl Up with Love Letters to Felines and, of course, Your Own Kitten

The days have turned chilly, and it’s getting harder and harder to drag myself from the warmth of the bed and into the cold winds of winter. With one to┬áthree fat and sassy felines on the end of the bed at any given time, it’s even more difficult to leave the purring and languishing to join the supposed “real world” of work and (shudder) humans who claim the “dog person” status.

And this all has been made so much harder after reading “A Letter to My Cat,” by Lisa Erspamer a book whose sole purpose seems to be making me want to run home and cuddle with my kitten. This is a beautiful book, filled with wonderful photography of cats, cats and more cats. If I wasn’t a crazy cat woman already, I could appreciate how just downright pretty this book is. And then, as an added bonus, the book is full of anecdotes and odes to cats from all walks of life. Most of the cats of the book are companions to the rich and/or famous. Jackson Galaxy (The Cat Daddy from the show “My Cat From Hell), Kat Von D, actor Fred Willard, actress Amy Smart, Dr. Oz, musician Joe Perry, and Mariel Hemingway are just a few of the celebrities who are included in this book paying homage to their cats. The stories range from amusing to touching to inspirational. And of course, the main selling point of this book is that it features a letter written to Internet superstar cat, Lil Bub.

This book would delight any cat lover, and might even convince someone of the dog loving persuasion that adding a kitten to the household might not be such a bad idea. With our Internet already overrun with cat love, this book finds good company in being a print version of the best of the best kind of love for our companions and all their antics. Seriously, already, go buy it!
-Anna RK

PS: If you are a dog lover, don’t fret, Erspamer did a collection of epistles to pooches called “A Letter to My Dog.”

PPS: I received this book courtesy of the BloggingForBooks Web site. All the thoughts and opinions expressed herein this blog though are my own.