Monthly Archives: June 2014

Fifty Shades of Grey – E. L. James

image(1)Book Description (Amazon): When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.

Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.

Erotic, amusing, and deeply moving, the Fifty Shades Trilogy is a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.

This book is intended for mature audiences.

My Review (Spoilers!):

Executive Summary: unique

So I went on vacation for ten days and during that time, I read only books that I wouldn’t read during my real life. 🙂 I’ve been wanting to read these books for a while, and mainly just because of the press that they received. I don’t like making opinions about things that I’m unfamiliar with, and I also don’t like to be unfamiliar with things that are are so popular. I have also never read a smutty romance novel before so this was altogether new for me. I will do my best to review it in a PG-13 sort of way.

Anastastia (Ana) Steele is preparing for her interview with Christian Grey, CEO of Grey Enterprise Holdings, Inc., in place of her roommate Kate Kavanaugh who is sick. Kate has provided Ana with a list of questions and a tape recorder. Ana arrives at the interview, stumbles through the door, and is completely and totally awkward (they aren’t her questions). Despite all that, Christian seems to be interested in her. He allows her to stay longer than her allotted time and asks her questions about her future. She doesn’t have any plans post-graduation (which is in a few weeks) except move to Seattle with Kate and try to find a job. He suggests that she should intern at his company but she replies that she doubts that she would fit in, and then the awkward interview is over.

Ana returns to Vancouver (Washington) and thinks about Christian the whole way. Smart, gorgeous, confident but also arrogant and cold. When she returns to her apartment, Kate asks how it went. Ana tells her that she was upset that she didn’t get any back story about Christian from Kate before the interview causing her to ask awkward questions. Kate apologizes and during this tells Ana that Christian is in fact quite young, only 27. Later after Kate has reviewed the tape, she tells Ana that it is good material, but she really wishes that she had a picture to go with the article (it’s for the school newspaper). The two begin talking and Kate is astounded that a guy finally had an effect on Ana.

Ana was raised by her step-dad, Ray, rather than her mother who is now on husband #3, Bob. She doesn’t seem particularly close to either parent. Ray is friends with Jose whose son (also Jose) is friends with Ana. Jose is a photographer and has a major crush on Ana that is not reciprocated.

That weekend, Ana goes to work at her job at Clayton’s, a family-owned hardware store where she’s been working for years. As she’s ordering items, Christian Grey comes in and wants to know whether she will help him locate some cable ties, masking tape, and rope. Ana, being completely clueless about what this book is about, offers him some coveralls to keep him clean while he’s doing his renovations. (I thought that bit was funny honestly.) She musters up some courage to ask him whether he will be around for a photo to go with the article, and he gives her his card.

She gets home and lets Kate know that they have a photo if they can get a photographer, and they call their friend Jose who agrees. Kate knows that it’s unbelievable that Christian would “accidentally” stop at Ana’s shop, but Ana is still skeptical. Ana calls Christian and they set up a photo shoot for the next day.

They snap some photos, and at the end of the shoot, Christian asks Ana to have coffee with him. She nervously agrees. The conversation is basically Christian’s interrogation of everything about Ana–her friends, her parents, her lack of experience with men and traveling. She begins to reciprocate, and asks him if he has a girlfriend. He says no, he doesn’t do the girlfriend thing. Since she knows from the interview that he isn’t gay, she’s a bit confused about the response. As they are leaving, she trips and is caught by Christian. At this moment Ana realizes that she desperately wants him (duh) but she’s too afraid of rejection and putting herself out there that she thanks him for everything and goes home.

When her final exams are finished, Ana arrives home to a package of first edition volumes of Tess of the d’Urbervilles (I am not in any way familiar with this book. Perhaps I should add it to my list of classics that I need to read.) from Christian with a quote from the book. Kate and Ana decide to celebrate graduation by going out bar hopping with Jose. Partway through the night, Ana decides to drunk dial Christian Grey who comes and rescues her as she vomits in the bushes. (Christian’s brother Elliot comes too and takes a liking to Kate.) Christian takes Ana back to his hotel room and puts her drunk, unconscious ass to bed.

She awakes in the morning completely flustered. Christian’s assistant Taylor has bought her new clothes (as hers were covered in vomit). She showers and has breakfast with Christian. He’s very angry with her (somewhat understandably) for putting herself in such a reckless situation by not eating and going out drinking. (This starts 3 books worth of Christian pressuring her to eat which is really annoying.) They begin talking about her new apartment in Seattle and other mundane things, but eventually the conversation makes an erotic turn. Then Christian mentions that he won’t touch Ana until he has her written consent. Uh, ok.

As they are riding the elevator to leave the hotel, Christian suddenly proclaims, “Oh, fuck the paperwork” and then presses Ana up against the elevator wall in an intense make-out session. He then takes her back to her apartment where Kate and Elliot are waiting. Along the way, they make plans to fly to Seattle that evening in his helicopter, Charlie Tango.

After finishing her shift at Clayton’s, Ana meets Christian to fly to Seattle. They go to Christian’s place where he provides her with a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). This seems fairly reasonable for someone who is like the biggest CEO of everything (or whatever). Once signed, Ana asks Christian whether they can make love tonight and he tells her that he doesn’t make love, that there’s more paperwork, and that she needs to see the playroom.

The playroom has a variety of cuffs, whips, crops, paddles, etc. inside it and Ana begins to realize that there’s a bit more to this situation than just a sexy billionaire who is sort of interested in her. As she begins to ask questions, Christian reveals that he is a Dominant (dom) and he wants her to be his submissive (sub). Ana is obviously shocked but continues to go along with it to find out all of the details. They won’t have any sort of “normal” relationship, only the Dominant/submissive one because that is the only relationship that Christian is interested in.

He provides her with a list of rules which include the obvious that she is to obey any instructions that he gives her. The other rules include how much sleep she must get, how much food she should eat, what sort of clothes she should wear, exercise schedules, personal hygiene and personal safety. And also that she is not allowed to enter into any relations with anyone except Christian. (This is the part of the book that I thought was interesting. It is where the book shifts from being a typical romance story into something a bit more edgy.)

Ana is held up on some of the silliest reasons –him buying her clothes suggests that she’s a ho. Or that he shouldn’t mandate how much she exercises (um, you should be exercising that much anyway). Not like, hey this guy is going to control my entire life.

They move on to the “hard limits”, essentially everything that will not be done in the playroom no matter what, and Ana reveals to Christian that she’s not really sure what her hard limits are because she’s a virgin. He’s pissed as obviously this is totally unexpected, and he wouldn’t knowingly let a virgin become a submissive. So he goes against everything he knows and “prepares” her with lots of basic vanilla sex. Like a full day’s worth, and then Christian’s mother shows up just to say hello (awkward), and then Christian and Ana, contract in hand, leave to go back to Portland.

On the way back they stop at a restaurant and Ana learns why Christian doesn’t do the whole relationship/vanilla sex thing. He was brought into the dominant/submissive lifestyle by one of his mother’s friends when he was only 18. And he’s had 15 subs since then.

In the meantime between seeing Christian, Ana goes over the contract. She goes back and forth between being completely appalled by the idea and considering the possibility. Also in the meantime, Christian sends her a laptop to do some *ahem* research on. And also so that he can keep track of her. (Um, this book was written in 2011. How did an English/journalism/whatever major get through college without a computer connected to the Internet?)  She does some research on her new computer, goes for her first run ever, and then sends Christian a coy email telling him that she’s seen enough and it was nice knowing him. He shows up in person to remind her how nice it was to know him.

She responds to him with her issues about the contract, and satisfyingly, she has a lot of them. They address them at dinner on Wednesday. Ana ends up leaving early as the conversation overwhelms her.

Christian is the speaker at her college graduation. (Kate is the valedictorian and also gives a speech, which is weird because I don’t know any colleges that have valedictorians or current students as speakers at the graduation.) He talks about hunger as he was adopted at age 4 and somehow remembers what it was like to be hungry at ages 1-3. (I’m not saying it’s not a nobel cause; I’m just saying it’s a little forced.) After the graduation, Christian meets Ana’s stepdad Ray who likes him.

After graduation, they continue through the list. Christian agrees to try to separate and maybe go out as “normal people” one day a week. But only if Ana accepts his graduation present to her–a new car. They do some nasty stuff, and then for eye rolling, Christian spanks her. And she sort of likes it. But the emotion overwhelms her, and later that night, she sends him an email about how let down she feels that he never stays with her. So of course he shows up (again) to see if she’s ok, and she falls asleep in his arms.

When Ana arrives to work, a package awaits her. It’s a Blackberry (yeah because those were cool in 2011) so that she can’t avoid Christian’s emails no matter where she is. She simultaneously loves and hates it. Taylor comes by to pick up Ana’s old car, and Ana, Kate, and Jose have one last night out before they move. She briefly speaks to Christian when she gets home as he has left her a bunch of messages (doesn’t he have a job?)

Elliot helps Kate and Ana move to Seattle. Elliot is a lot different than Christian–warm and fun. They are both adopted along with a sister Mia who is arriving soon from Paris. When they arrive to their new apartment, a bottle of champagne is attached to a helicopter balloon from Christian.

Ana arrives at Christian’s to get her OB-GYN appointment to get on birth control. Maybe that’s common for rich people. It seems weird. Christian begins instructing Ana on her submissive duties per se. What do do, where to sit, to respond with “Sir”, etc. After Ana’s nap due to sexual exhaustion, they head to the Grey’s for dinner. Ana learns that Elliot is joining Kate on her vacation, and Ana announces that she is going, last minute, to Georgia to visit her mom. (Right because unemployed poor people buy flights last minute. I’m employed and not-broke and I search for the absolute best deal every time.) Christian is very upset that she hadn’t told him this so after dinner, he takes her out to the boathouse to um, introduce her to the lifestyle again.

They continue their “50 shades of fucked up” relationship learning a bit about each other. Christian’s birth mother was a crack whore and died at the hands of her pimp when he was a child which of course explains a lot of his issues. His adopted mother was the doctor at the hospital where he went for treatment.

Ana goes to her interviews, rocking the one she really wants–Seattle Independent Publishing (SIP) with Jack Hyde. She then heads to Georgia to visit her mother. Arriving at the airport, she finds that she has been upgraded to first class (Honestly she should have just taken Christian up on the private jet offer. Let’s be real here.) She meets her mom and step-dad, and they go to the beach. Her mom can tell that Ana has met someone, and Ana takes her mom’s advice because “she is on her fourth marriage. Maybe she does know something about men after all.” Um, I think she might not know anything about men if she’s on marriage #4. ??? Ana and her mom go to the bar for drinks, and unsurprisingly, Christian is there. Ana was mad that he had had dinner with “Mrs. Robinson” the night before, so obviously to fix everything, he flew to Georgia in his private jet. Does this guy ever actually work? She spends the night at his hotel, and in the morning, they go gliding, which in fairness sounds awesome. Christian returns to Seattle while Ana remains a few more days with her family.

Ana returns to Seattle, first class of course, and goes straight to Christian’s. They continue with the possibility of the contract (not fully sure why this is still in discussion) and she decides that she wants to know how bad it can get. So he shows her, and she can’t take it. Through some emotional turmoil, she tells Christian that she doesn’t think that she can be what he wants, and she leaves, returning the computer, Blackberry, and car. Taylor drives her home where she curls up and cries.

Verdict: 3 stars.

I know that seems a little high, but I think there is value in bringing women’s sexuality to a mainstream audience. The story is not particularly creative or deep, but I have certainly read many more contrived novels. In general, I found the writing to be decent, however I really wish that the author had found another way to describe Ana’s “inner goddess”. I literally cringed every time I read what her inner goddess was doing. Every time.

I enjoyed the general idea of the story too. It was something outside the mainstream, but not so far that it would be hard for people to understand. I also thought she did a good job with the ending because it certainly did make me want to read book 2.

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Let’s Pretend This Never Happened – Jenny Lawson

photo(13)Book Description (Amazon): When Jenny Lawson was little, all she ever wanted was to fit in. That dream was cut short by her fantastically unbalanced father and a morbidly eccentric childhood. It did, however, open up an opportunity for Lawson to find the humor in the strange shame-spiral that is her life, and we are all the better for it.
In the irreverent Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson’s long-suffering husband and sweet daughter help her uncover the surprising discovery that the most terribly human moments—the ones we want to pretend never happened—are the very same moments that make us the people we are today. For every intellectual misfit who thought they were the only ones to think the things that Lawson dares to say out loud, this is a poignant and hysterical look at the dark, disturbing, yet wonderful moments of our lives.

My Review (Spoilers!):

Executive Summary: amusing

My best friend lent me this book to read. I was moderately familiar with The Bloggess so I was pretty excited to read it. As we learned from our book club*, funny books are pretty difficult to write, and in general I found this one to be pretty funny.

Jenny Lawson was born in Austin, Texas, but moved to Wall, Texas at age 3. Their high school yearbook was titled “Where’s Wall?” which honestly I can completely relate to because I grew up about 10 miles from town (and that town has a whopping 2000 people). So a lot of the “funny stories about growing up in the middle of nowhere” rang really true to me.

However, let’s be clear. I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania. We had running water that wasn’t poisonous and basic amenities unless you were Amish, like my neighbors, and chose not to have those. My father didn’t hunt (but basically everyone else I knew did), and he didn’t own a taxidermy shop. So I guess there is some difference between small towns after all.

Jenny recalls a series of exceedingly unique childhood events including running into a partially cleaned deer (gross), having poisonous tap water (terrifying), having pet wild animals (my sister’s friend had a pet raccoon and it was awesome), and having a taxidermist as a father (seems a bit counter-intuitive to the previous point). The two latter points though appear frequently throughout the book.

Like when her dad brought home a dead squirrel that he hid in a Ritz cracker box and used like a puppet to try to convince the girls that it was a magic squirrel.

Or like when her father brought home a bunch of turkeys (but he thought they were quails) that followed the girls to school and pooped in the cafeteria.

The book is really a series of unrelated short stories. Most of them are pretty funny, and at least some of them you can read on her blog (I had read about the metal chicken as well as some of her taxidermy acquisitions on there). The general gist of things is that Jenny is a person with a pretty unusual childhood (especially to most people), a social anxiety disorder, and a marvelously colorful family. Due to basically only those 3 things, she encountered some unusual situations and made the best of them–by creating a blog/writing a book to share the humor of them with others.

I did find it interesting that a few of those embarrassments (growing up in a small town and having a dad for a taxidermist) she later fully embraced. She moved from Houston to a small town to raise her daughter, and as an adult, she started becoming interested in collecting taxidermy (albeit taxidermy wearing funny costumes). There’s probably some sort of psychological explanation there, but I don’t dabble in that. 🙂

Verdict: 3.5 stars

Like I said, the book is funny, and that is a pretty major feat. However, none of the stories are that related to each other (aside from the fact that they all happened to the same person), and often times, they are completely unrelated. Like there was a chapter in which her dog died, and then in the next chapter, he was alive again. (He was not a zombie; the chapters were simply out of order.) She did make a note about it partway through the second chapter, but it was still confusing. To read a book like this is a bit exhausting. Especially in the way that I did which was straight through (I was on a plane). I think if I had read it like I read blogs, one story each day, it wouldn’t have felt so overwhelming. That being said, if you like taxidermy and general peculiarity, certainly check out her blog. It is really funny. (Also I learned that most people believe that cats are immune to scorpions, however, it is probably more likely that cats just can detect and avoid being stung by a scorpion better than people can.)

*Our book club had a comedy/funny category last year (2013) where we read Bossypants. We determined that it was too difficult to find funny books that would appeal to everyone that we axed that category for 2014, substituting literary fiction instead.

 

 

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Freakonomics – Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

photoBook Description (Amazon): Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool?

What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common?

How much do parents really matter?

These may not sound like typical questions for an economist to ask. But Steven D. Levitt is not a typical economist. He studies the riddles of everyday life—from cheating and crime to parenting and sports—and reaches conclusions that turn conventional wisdom on its head.

Freakonomics is a groundbreaking collaboration between Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, an award-winning author and journalist. They set out to explore the inner workings of a crack gang, the truth about real estate agents, the secrets of the Ku Klux Klan, and much more.

Through forceful storytelling and wry insight, they show that economics is, at root, the study of incentives—how people get what they want or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing.

My Review (Spoilers!):

Executive Summary: interesting

So this was the first audio book that I have ever listened to. In many ways, it was great. I listened to it while running, and because it’s chock full of information, I paid more attention to the book and less attention to my aching body (I’m the sort of person who is whining after 10 steps). However, the downside is that because the book is so chock full of information, there are times where an audio book can be a bit tedious like at the end when tables full of names are being read. Luckily, I also own this book in hard copy, so I can reference it as needed. The book was co-authored by the economist who came up with the data for the book and a journalist who helped make it more palatable. (The journalist was also the speaker for the audiobook).

I am not an economist, so I think the best way for me to review this book is to briefly discuss the points that are made, and if you don’t believe me, you will just have to read the book to get the background information that justifies them. And some of these topics are VERY surprising.

In the introduction, many of the points that will be discussed in detail in the book are presented. Unfortunately, I didn’t really like this, because I think it made the discussions about the points less shocking when they occurred.

Crime in the 1990s was terrible. Experts believed that the crime was only going to continue getting worse and worse. However, by 2000, the overall murder rate in the US had fallen to its lowest level in 35 years. Many theories were suggested for the drop in crime–gun control laws, police strategies, etc. However, the real reason for the drop in crime had occurred more than 20 year earlier. Roe vs. Wade. Yes, that is correct. The ability to have abortions was the main contributor to the drop in crime.

Is a real estate agent worth getting to help you sell your house? You would think so. They are more knowledgeable about the market than you are. However, in reality real estate agents list someone else’s house for an average of 10 days less than their own, and they sell their own houses for an average of 3% more. The reasoning behind this is that the amount of increase in their cut of the sale price is so minimal that it makes no difference to them.

Money buys elections, right? Actually statistically, money does not matter. What matters is how appealing the candidate is to voters.

What do school teachers and sumo wrestlers have in common? According to the book, they both cheat. Well, ok, not all of them, but some of them definitely do. And there are ways of determining who and how. Teachers cheat on standardized tests. Sumo wrestlers throw some of their matches to allow some of the others to make it to the upper echelon (there is a huge disparity between being top tier and middle tier). This is all tied to incentives. In many places, teachers receive a bonus for getting good test scores in their classes (and like I mentioned, the sumo wrestlers have a major incentive too). There are many examples of the benefits and drawbacks to incentives. For instance, in the 1970s, researchers began to offer a small stipend for blood donors. What happened? less people donated blood. In 1987, seven million American children instantly disappeared. The IRS started requiring social security numbers for dependents on tax forms. Providing an adequate incentive without it being abused is walking a fine line indeed.

The next section is about the KKK. And honestly I’m almost tempted to not discuss it at all. It’s so worth learning about yourself. So I guess you’ve been warned. Skip this section if you want to read it yourself. You won’t regret it. The KKK was formed after the Civil War, and was fairly dormant until 1915 when a book was written which promoted its agenda. It became hugely popular (8 million members including President Warren Harding) but waned again in WW2. Post-war, however, it began to rise again in popularity. A Jacksonville man named Stetson Kennedy (related to those who made Stetson hats) was unable to fight in the war, but wanted to wage his own war against bigotry after his childhood black nanny was raped by a group of Klansmen. He decided to infiltrate the Klan to spy. One day he saw some children playing a spy game where they had secret passwords, and an idea was made. Stetson contacted the producers of the Superman radio show (aired nightly) who loved his idea. (Superman has always fought against America’s enemies but after WW2, he was fairly light on work.) Stetson fed the Superman producers details including passwords, positions, etc. which they wrote into their episodes. (The Klan structure is such that the top dog is called the Imperial Wizard. Below him, a Grand Dragon. Below that, a Great Titan. All officer positions began with Kl, i.e. Klaliff, Klokard, Klabee, etc. So without any work, the Klan was silly enough to easily write into the show). The Klan membership fell dramatically. Despite debilitating the Klan, Stetson Kennedy always felt that his most influential idea was the idea of “Frown Power”–encouraging people to frown when they heard a bigoted speech. 🙂

The book now ties back to the real estate market discussed in the introduction segued in by the power of information. Information is what brought down the Klan. Information, or so we believe, is why we hire real estate agents. The main interesting tidbit from this section is the ten common real estate terms: fantastic, granite, spacious, state-of-the-art, !, corian, charming, maple, great neighborhood, gourmet. The five that correlate to a higher sales price are: granite, state-of-the-art, corian, maple, and gourmet. The other five correlate to a lower sales price. In summary, don’t use generic adjectives in your listing. Buyers tend to assume the worst.

Jumping to a completely different topic, the book now turns to why drug dealers still live with their moms. The reason is not hard to guess if you know that drug dealing is regarded as a business operation. Just as in any business, the people at the top make the most money, and the people at the bottom make the least. However, the way that a drug dealing business works is that the people at the bottom do the most dangerous work and the people above all get a cut of what they bring in which leaves a huge disparity between the top and the bottom, aka a pyramid scheme. Additional information gleaned from this chapter: crack dealers have a 1 in 4 chance of being killed (you are better off being on death row), and black Americans have been hurt more by crack than any other single cause since Jim Crow. Yikes.

Jumping back (this book seriously jumps a lot) to one of, if not the most controversial topics of the book–that crime in the 1990s was reduced because of the availability of abortion. The chapter begins in Romania. In 1965, Nicolae Ceauşescu became the dictator of Romania and made abortion illegal. Previously to this, Romania had had one of the most liberal abortion policies in the world. Obviously Ceauşescu wanted to strengthen the numbers of his tiny Romanian warforce as he also banned contraception and sex education. The plan worked, in theory, as the birth rate doubled in just one year of the abortion ban. However Ceauşescu’s plan was short sighted. These children had limited food, education, etc. and as time went on, the children eventually (1989) rose up against Ceauşescu forcing him to flee. He and his wife were captured and executed. The children of the uprising were mostly between ages 13-20 and may not have even existed to oppose him if Ceauşescu had left the abortion laws as they were. In the United States, an opposite trend was happening. The mothers who knew they were not in situations where they would be able to provide appropriately for their children had abortions thus eliminating future juvenile delinquents. This is statistically backed in the book. I realize it’s a hard thing to believe regardless of your views about abortion. However, the book does provide a bit of a thought exercise as to whether or not abortion is worth the drop in crime. In my opinion, less people would have abortions if they believed that the child would be taken care of–either by them or by another family (not in foster care forever). However, until we as a society figure that out, I think that there will continue to be abortions.

Tying onto that, if babies are born, what are parents supposed to do with them? Obviously you fret over them, get them into the very best schools, and put them into every activity possible. Right? …right? I don’t have any kids, but most of my friends do. (And honestly after reading this section of the book, I may consider it 😉 ) So anyway, I know that the parenting information is all over the board. This chapter points out that most of it…doesn’t really make an iota of difference. Basically it’s fear mongering (one of my absolute biggest complaints about our society). Parents want to keep their children safe and smart, so they will do everything it takes. Obviously bad parenting makes a large difference in society as referenced in the abortion study, but how about good parenting? It’s hard to measure personality or creativity, so those are neglected from the book. The book’s study is solely based on school performance. The book lists out 8 factors which are strongly correlated to test scores and 8 factors that are not.

Factors that are correlated:
The child has highly educated parents (+)
The child’s parents have high socioeconomic status (+)
The child’s mother was 30 or older at the time of the first child’s birth (+)
The child had low birthweight (-)
The child’s parents speak English in the home (+)
The child is adopted (-)
The child’s parents are involved in the PTA (+)
The child has many books in his home (+)

Factors that are not correlated:
The child’s family is intact
The child’s family recently moved into a better neighborhood
The child’s mother did not work between birth and kindergarten
The child attended head start
The child’s parents regularly take him to museums
The child is regularly spanked
The child frequently watches television
The child’s parents read to him nearly every day.

Let that sink in. Basically nature >>> nurture. And the reason that I said maybe I should re-consider having a child? My husband and I meet all the + (pre-baby) characteristics. According to this, we could basically have a baby, do nothing else, and that child would do at least above average on test scores.

The last section of the book is in regards to naming said baby. While it is somewhat interesting, it’s also very tedious. You’ll have to read it yourself.

Verdict: 4 stars. Really ~3.75.

I enjoyed this book. The studies were all very surprising, and the data to back them up was strong but also interesting. I wished that there had been a bit more cohesion throughout. I thought that the underlying points about information and incentives was very useful to ponder, and the authors could have probably used these points to tie together the entire book if they had chosen to. I also wished that the introduction had not given the conclusions of the studies that it listed. I realize that it was trying to entice the reader, but I think that it went too far–making those sections less interesting when I got to them. All in all though, it was an interesting read, and I did learn that I should list my own house when I want to sell it!

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