Review: Outliers

“Their success is not exceptional or mysterious. It is grounded in a web of advantages and inheritances, some deserved, some not, some earned, some just plain lucky – but all critical to making them who they are.” page 285

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Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell.
Little, Brown, and Company, New York, 2008.
Adult nonfiction, 309 pages including notes and index.
Lexile:  1080L  .
AR Level:  7.8 (worth 13.0 points)  .

What do geniuses, rice paddies, hockey players, a Korean airline, a small town in Kentucky, and young Jamaican twins have to do with each other?  These topics and more are woven together in Gladwell’s explanation of success.

Outliers

This book goes beyond the ten thousand hours to achieve mastery theory to examine what else can effect our success or failure in life.  Gladwell looks at how community can change health, how Germany jumpstarted the Beatles, what made one Jewish lawyer wildly successful while his father struggled, and what linguistic difference makes Chinese children understand math more easily.

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Target Picks: 2017 Roundup

The list of all my Target picks so far, some stats about them, and the plan for 2018.

In December 2016 I started an experiment.  Every month, I would purchase a diverse book from Target.  I didn’t have a timeframe for reading or reviewing them and there was no particular genre or age level.

Some were books I’d heard of or been anticipating, others were books I simply picked because they had a POC on the cover, the title was diverse, or the author was a POC.  I did occasionally see a few books which I already owned, and didn’t rebuy those.  While most were books I wouldn’t have picked outside of this challenge, I never chose a book that I thought I would dislike.

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Review: Tiger Boy

“Theirs was the only property for kilometers where a grove of tall sundari trees provided shade for the house and most of the yard.” p. 22

Tiger Boy by Mitali Perkins, illustrated by Jamie Hogan.
Charlesbridge, Watertown, MA, 2015.
Middle grade fiction, 140 pages including glossary.
Lexile:  770L  .
AR Level:  5.1 (worth 3.0 points)  .

Neel lives on an island in the Sunderbans, but might have a unique opportunity for a scholarship to a boarding school in Calcutta.  But he’d rather stay on his beloved island with his family.  A tiger cub escaped from the nature preserve, and an unscrupulous man wants to find it to sell.  Can Neel find the cub first?  If he does, will not studying ruin his chances at the scholarship?

Tiger Boy resized

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Review: Dreamland

“Children of the most privileged group in the wealthiest country in the history of the world were getting hooked and dying in almost epidemic numbers from substances meant to, of all things, numb pain.” p. 8

Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones.
Bloomsbury Press, New York, my edition 2016, first published 2015.
Adult nonfiction, 374 pages including index and notes.
Not leveled.

Dreamland is the far-reaching narrative of America’s unprecedented struggle with opiate addition.  It looks inside doctor’s offices and pharmacutical marketing, studies villagers from Xalisco, Nayarit in Mexico, and interviews street addicts, rehabilitation workers, and more to form a comprehensive picture of how this situation developed.

Dreamland cover
Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones.

This book doesn’t entirely fit my usual review criteria.  After all, the author and the majority of people in it are white, although there is a substantial Mexican and Mexican-American element present.  However, I decided it was close enough to my usual topics (since addicts are generally not a privileged group, even if they are white or privileged in other areas) to discuss here.

America’s opiate epidemic has been getting a lot of attention because it’s affected a lot of people that those in power don’t usually think of as potential addicts – middle class Midwestern white suburbians.  Another, lesser known, oddity of the problem is that nearly all of the black tar heroin dealers in American’s smaller cities are from small towns in the tiny Mexican state of Nayarit.

Quinones interviews addicts, dealers, medical professionals, reformers, and law enforcement to provide as accurate a picture as possible of how this came to be.  Most of the people he talks to are white, Mexican, or Mexican-American, although he does talk to some people of color, and he brings up the disparity between political response to this ‘epidemic’ and previous reactions such as the ‘war on drugs’.

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Review: Stories Julian Tells

“If she was laughing at me, I was going to go home and forget about her. But she looked at me very seriously and said ‘It takes practice,” and then I liked her.” p. 62

The Stories Julian Tells by Ann Cameron, illustrated by Ann Strugnell.
Random House, New York, my edition 2006 (originally published 1981).
Realistic fiction, 71 pages.
Lexile:  520L  .
AR Level:  3.4 (worth 1.0 points)  .
NOTE: This is the first book in the Julian series.

Six first-person short stories revolving around Julian Bates.

The Stories Julian Tells resized
The Stories Julian Tells by Ann Cameron, illustrated by Ann Strugnell.

I’ve already reviewed two later books in this series, Gloria Rising and Gloria’s Way.  Series order isn’t strictly necessary, although a few things change as the series progresses (new characters are introduced, the boys get a dog).  At this point, the main characters are just Julian, younger brother Huey, and their parents.  Gloria is introduced in the final story of this book.

First, I’d like to give some credit to Ann Cameron.  It was unusual in 1980 for a white woman to chose to write a book about middle class black children.  (Keep in mind this was less than 20 years since The Snowy Day.)  And generally speaking, her books still hold relevance today and I haven’t spotted any major issues in the ones I’ve read.

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Review: The Magic of Tidying

“It was this that inspired me, from the age of fifteen, to undertake a serious study of tidying that led to my development of the KonMari Method.” page 2

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo.
Ten Speed Press, Penguin Random House, New York, 2014.
Adult self-help, 213 pages including index.
Not leveled.

A method for decluttering and organizing your home or office from a famous expert.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up resized

Is the minimalism movement big in other parts of the world too?  In America it’s trendy to declutter and simplify right now.  Book blogging has ironically led to me buying many more books (because I feel such a time pressure when trying to review library books ), and it’s time to downsize the books.

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