Apr. 5th, 2017

osprey_archer: (books)
What I’ve Finished Reading

William B. Irvine’s A Slap in the Face: Why Insults Hurt - And Why They Shouldn’t, which is about the history and social function of insults. It includes a chapter about friendly teasing & ambiguous insults, which I found especially interesting, and also a fair amount of space on how to respond to insults - one of the suggestions was to say “Thanks,” which I think is beautiful in its simplicity and ability to throw the insulter off their game. (Probably not for backhanded compliments, but otherwise.)

He also talks about the self-esteem movement a bit, the main point being that the movement saw the correlation between high self-esteem and achievement and got the causation backwards - probably, excuse my grumpiness, because cooing “You’re so special!” at everyone is so much easier than taking the time and effort to foster genuine achievement.

Irvine also makes the point - which ought to be obvious, but lots of commentators seem to miss it - that if the Millennial generation seems narcissistic, it’s because that’s the inevitable outcome of inflicting “You’re Thumbody special!” programs on a generation. You can’t din that in a generation’s ears for years and then act shocked, shocked! when they take narcissism tests and answer “Yes” to the question “Are you special?”

Unread Book Club progress: I finished Virginia Sorenson’s Miracles on Maple Hill, which has lots of delightful detail about tapping maples, wildflowers, the countryside, etc. It doesn’t go very in-depth about Marly’s father’s PTSD, but after all it’s a book about Marly, not her father, and I did think the author did a nice job showing how her father’s less-than-joyous return from a prisoner of war camp has affected Marly while balancing that with the more light-hearted “And then we met the resident mountain hermit!” bits.

What I’m Reading Now

Tolkien’s translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. I must confess I had some concerns about it: I skipped a lot of Tolkien’s poetry when I read Lord of the Rings, and long-form poems in general are not my thing. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much I’m liking it so far. (It helps of course that I already read & liked the story in prose.)

I’ve also started reading Margaret Stohl’s Black Widow: Forever Red, which suffers a bit from not being my Natasha headcanon, ha - but we’ll see if Stohl wins me over to hers as I keep reading. I’ve only just started, so she’s got plenty of time.

What I Plan to Read Next

Warren Lewis’s The Splendid Century: Life in the France of Lewis XIV is waiting for me at the library. Warren Lewis is C. S. Lewis’s brother and mainly remembered for that these days, although (according to The Company They Keep) his books about French history are well-researched and well-wrought reads in their own right. I have long meant to learn more about France and this seemed like a good spur to give that a go.

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