Category Archives: Non-Fiction

You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson


Image Description: book cover of You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson. The cover mostly consists of robin’s egg blue background, with title text and author text up the top of the book, in the foreground is a close-up head-shot of Phoebe Robinson with a serious expression on her face. Her hair is styled in a short-bob style two-toned afro that curls around her face.

Title: You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain
Author: Phoebe Robinson
Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads
Publisher and Format: eBook from Plume
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

About the Author:
PHOEBE ROBINSON is a stand-up comedian, writer, and actress whom Vulture.com, Essence, and Esquire have named one of the top comedians to watch. She has appeared on NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers and Last Call with Carson Daly; TBS’s Conan, Comedy Central’s Broad City, and @midnight with Chris Hardwick; as well recently landing a recurring role on the new Jill Soloway show for Amazon I Love Dick.
Robinson’s writing has been featured in The Village Voice, NY Mag, and on Glamour.com, TheDailyBeast.com, VanityFair.com, Vulture.com, and NYTimes.com. She was also a staff writer on MTV’s hit talking head show, Girl Code, as well as a consultant on season three of Broad City.
Most recently, she created and starred in Refinery29’s web series Woke Bae and, alongside Jessica Williams, formerly of The Daily Show, she is the creator and costar of the hit WNYC podcast 2 Dope Queens as well as the host of the critically-acclaimed WNYC podcast Sooo Many White Guys. Robinson is the author of the New York Times best-selling book, You Can’t Touch My Hair and Other Things I Still Have to Explain, a collection of essays about race, gender, and pop culture. Robinson lives and performs stand-up in Brooklyn, NY, and is busy planning her upcoming nuptials to Michael Fassbender.

About the Book:
Being a black woman in America means contending with old prejudices and fresh absurdities every day. Comedian Phoebe Robinson has experienced her fair share over the years: she’s been unceremoniously relegated to the role of “the black friend,” as if she is somehow the authority on all things racial; she’s been questioned about her love of U2 and Billy Joel (“isn’t that . . . white people music?”); she’s been called “uppity” for having an opinion in the workplace; she’s been followed around stores by security guards; and yes, people do ask her whether they can touch her hair all. the. time. Now, she’s ready to take these topics to the page—and she’s going to make you laugh as she’s doing it.
Using her trademark wit alongside pop-culture references galore, Robinson explores everything from why Lisa Bonet is “Queen. Bae. Jesus,” to breaking down the terrible nature of casting calls, to giving her less-than-traditional advice to the future female president, and demanding that the NFL clean up its act, all told in the same conversational voice that launched her podcast, 2 Dope Queens, to the top spot on iTunes. As personal as it is political, You Can’t Touch My Hair examines our cultural climate and skewers our biases with humour and heart, announcing Robinson as a writer on the rise.

General Observation:
~Diverse Books Reading Challenge: While this novel does address a specific category of racism and microaggressions, the experiences of woman of colour who lives in New York and works as an actress/comedian, it is important that non-white people get the opportunity to share their experiences.
It’s also important for white people to recognise that racism and microaggressions can occur in multiple ways. It not always racial slurs, sometimes it’s white people pretending not to notice that you’ve been standing at the register for fifteen minutes or following you around the store to make sure you’re not shop-lifting.

~Exactly What It Says On The Tin: Phoebe Robinson explains thoroughly why you can’t touch her hair and other racial things people should know by now. Phoebe Robinson goes into detail the complicated relationship people of colour, and especially women of colour, have with their hair. That the choice to have natural hair could be a difficult decision with far reaching consequences.
While I was aware of the racial double-standards that can occur regarding people of colour and their hair, I hadn’t realised just how much time, money, and effort went into maintaining a “passable” or “acceptable” Level of hair presentation. I especially enjoyed the “The History of Hair” chapter.

~Let Me Entertain You: While the novel does dedicate a lot of space to racism in America, it’s not the only thing Phoebe Robinson talks about. My favourite chapters are the series of letters that Phoebe Robinson writes to her niece Olivia, which is kind of a funny coincidence as I also have a niece named Olivia, and I found some of the pearls of wisdom Phoebe Robinson wished to bestow upon her niece amusing and relatable.

In conclusion, due to the racial tensions currently occurring in the United States of America, I can’t help but feel that while this book is funny and engaging, it is also depressingly relevant. To be honest, a lot of the topics covered in the novel seemed obvious to me, but the fact that Phoebe Robinson felt the need to write an entire novel dedicated to these topics prove that it’s not obvious to everyone.

Available For Purchase: Amazon | Audible | Book Depository | Kobo Books

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The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher


Title: The Princess Diarist
Author: Carrie Fisher
Social Media: Twitter and Goodreads
Publisher: Transworld Digital
Format and Price: Ebook at $16.99
Rating: 5 out of 5

About The Book:
The Princess Diarist is Carrie Fisher’s intimate, hilarious and revealing recollection of what happened behind the scenes on one of the most famous film sets of all time, the first Star Wars movie. When Carrie Fisher recently discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved—plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognized. Today, her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon is indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a (sort-of) regular teenager.

With these excerpts from her handwritten notebooks, The Princess Diarist is Fisher’s intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time—and what developed behind the scenes. And today, as she reprises her most iconic role for the latest Star Wars trilogy, Fisher also ponders the joys and insanity of celebrity, and the absurdity of a life spawned by Hollywood royalty, only to be surpassed by her own outer-space royalty. Laugh-out-loud hilarious and endlessly quotable, The Princess Diarist brims with the candor and introspection of a diary while offering shrewd insight into the type of stardom that few will ever experience.

General Observations:
~Before, During and After: The Princess Diarist goes through three phases: Carrie Fisher’s life before Star Wars, during Stars Wars and after Star Wars. I must confess the before and after periods were more interesting to me that the segment during Star Wars.

That is not to say the during Star Wars segment lacked for interest. I liked reading about how she was nervous for her audition, how she was afraid she would be fired for not losing weight, I enjoyed reading about her hair and make-up sessions and her talking to the cast and crew, these parts were genuinely interesting. But a large chunk of the section was Carrie Fisher being obsessed with Harrison Ford.

As it was a three-month affair with little substance, it was far more interesting to Carrie Fisher than it was to me, but given Carrie Fisher’s age at the time, it’s understandable. There’s a reason why some people re-read their old journals containing passages written by a love-sick teenager and wish to burn them, however, I’m glad Carrie Fisher resisted that impulse (even if it did drag on a little too long).

~Sexism in Cinema: Seriously, Carrie Fisher is one of the greatest examples of Sexism and Misogyny in Cinema, while Harrison Ford and even Mark Hamill get to move on from Star Wars and complete other projects, Carrie Fisher is immortalised in that stupid metal bikini outfit (seriously, Madame Tussauds Wax Emporium has immortalised Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in that particular outfit with Jabba the Hut holding the chain and lurking right behind her, what the holy fuck?). Carrie Fisher is a brilliant writer and damn good actress and she deserves/deserved better than that.

~Right In The Feels: Unlike Wishful Drinking and Shockaholic, The Princess Diaries were difficult for me to get into, I suppose when you read memoirs detailing Carrie Fisher’s problems with alcohol, then read chapters from a nineteen-year-old Carrie Fisher’s perspective about how she doesn’t like to drink, there can be some disconnect.

I suppose the biggest problem I had with The Princess Diarist was that parts of the book were long segments of introspection of a young woman, starting out as an emerging artist, playing the role of entertainer to cover up the fact that she was deeply unsure and insecure of herself, in other words, it was deeply and uncomfortably familiar.

Wishful Drinking and Shockaholic are the recollections and reflections of an older woman who knows that she has bi-polar, the recollections and reflections of The Princess Diarist are from the perspective of nineteen-year-old woman who isn’t aware that she has bi-polar yet, and is struggling to figure out who she is and what she wants, as well as how to deal with undiagnosed mental health problems.

It was difficult to for me to grapple with the idea that, at one time, Carrie Fisher could be someone like myself, which I suppose was the purpose of the book, one must be a princess before one can become a general.

In conclusion, an interesting insight into the mind of Carrie Fisher, a legendary icon, at a particular stage of her life. It’s a little slow to get into, and there’s not as many jokes, but I consider it a worthy read as I was glued to every page.

Available For Purchase: Amazon | Audible | Book Depository | Kobo Books
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Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematorium by Caitlin Doughty

Image Description: The book-cover of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematorium by Caitlin Doughty. The cover is mostly white, the title text in black and red taking up most of the cover space, in between the title-text and the author-text is the picture of a silver surgical tray with a pile of ash within it.
Title: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematorium
Author: Caitlin Doughty
Social Media: Twitter, Ask A Mortician Youtube Channel, Goodreads, and The Order of The Good Death
Publisher: Canongate Books
Format and Price: Ebook at $12.59
Rating: 5 out of 5

About The Author:
Mortician Caitlin Doughty—host and creator of “Ask a Mortician” and the New York Times best-selling author of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes —founded The Order of the Good Death. She lives in Los Angeles, where she runs her nonprofit funeral home, Undertaking LA.

About The Book:
From her first day at Westwind Cremation & Burial, twenty-three-year-old Caitlin Doughty threw herself into her curious new profession. Coming face-to-face with the very thing we go to great lengths to avoid thinking about she started to wonder about the lives of those she cremated and the mourning families they left behind, and found herself confounded by people’s erratic reactions to death. Exploring our death rituals – and those of other cultures – she pleads the case for healthier attitudes around death and dying. Full of bizarre encounters, gallows humour and vivid characters (both living and very dead), this illuminating account makes this otherwise terrifying subject inviting and fascinating

General Observation:
~I Found This Humerus: The book is filled with witty and hilarious observations, it filled with fascinating and funny one-liners about dealing with people and people dealing with death, which isn’t always the best combination as Death can bring out the best in people but also the worst. The Staff of the Westwind Cremation & Burial are also hilarious and surprisingly sweet.

~Highly Educational: It’s fascinating to peek behind the black curtains of the Funeral Process, the funeral process, the embalming process, the cremation process and I loved knowing all the gory details. Caitlin Doughty also mentioned a lot of different cultures and how they proceed with their Grief and Death rituals and, surprisingly, I found myself agreeing with a lot of Caitlin Doughty’s observations. Caitlin Doughty is very passionate about Death rituals, which are fascinating all on their own, but also how the problems in Western society have emerged because we have lost our rituals and thus haphazardly implement new ones to fill the void (whether we are aware of it or not).

~Right In The Feels: As this is a book about Death, and while I highly recommend it, it is not for the fragile, as there will be moments where Caitlin Doughty is making joke or telling a funny story and it will make a sharp turn into the terribly sad (which shouldn’t be too surprising given the topic), however, these moments aren’t jarring as the comedy and tragedy is equally balanced and mixed together well. I felt it was necessary to point out the economic environment and economic hardships that impact upon people’s behaviour. The chapter about the processing the dead infants and the story about cutting the hair of an eleven-month-old baby-girl was so sad.

All in all, a hilarious book about an interesting job, anyone who has read and enjoyed Jenny Lawson’s books Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and Furiously Happy will definitely enjoy this, my friends and family are most certainly getting a copy of this for Birthdays and/or Christmas

Available For Purchase: Amazon | Audible | Book Depository | Kobo Books
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Monthly Forcast: June 2017

Image Description: an image of a bookshelf filled to over-full from an unknown library. The books displayed on the shelves are a mixture of reference books in paperback and hardback formats of various sizes, colours and languages.

This is the monthly forecast for June, which includes three reading challenges I probably won’t complete, I doubt I’ll get through all the books listed here (especially since I need to finish my Novel Outline for Volume II: Orion by the end of June), but I will at least attempt to eliminate a few books that have been on my TBR pile for a long time. If you’d like to join me, and read along as well, let me know in the comments section down below.

Australian Women Writer’s Challenge:
The Australian Women Writer’s Challenge is a reading challenge to help promote books written by Australian women.

Image Description: The book-cover of Damned Whores and God's Police. The cover features a white woman with shoulder-length brown hair and 70's style aviator glasses, there is a yellow filter over the cover with the title and author text in white.Damned Whores and God’s Police by Anne Summers
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Image Description: the book cover of Reckoning: A Memoir by Magda Szubanski. It's a head and torso photo of Magda Szubanski, whom is also wearing round black glasses, a black long sleeved shirt and leaning against a doorframe.

Reckoning: A Memoir by Magda Szubanski
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RMFAO Genre Challenge – Non-Fiction:
The monthly theme for the RMFAO Genre Challenge is Non-Fiction, I’ve chosen Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serano and The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher.

Image Description: The book-cover of Whipping Girl by Julia Serano. The cover of the book is simple in design, it's got a solid red background with the title text and author text in a large white sans-serif font, between the the title and the author's name is a yellow box of text with read writing, the text is as follows Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serano
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Image Description: The book-cover of The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher. The background is red, while the foreground contains a close-up, side-long image of Carrie Fisher dressed as Princess Leia Organa (from the movie Star Wars) with a pen through one of her coiled buns of hair. The title and author text are imposed on top of the picture.The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
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Diverse Books Reading Challenge 2017 – Sexuality and Gender Identity:
Sexuality and Gender Identity books are LGBTQIA+ books (books about them and books written by them) and I decided to pick Out on Good Behaviour by Dahlia Adler and The Stillwater Files: Asylum by K. A. Cook.

Image Description: The book cover of Out on Good Behaviour by Dahlia Adler. The cover has two white women with brown hair, cuddled up together, face to face, on a checked picnic blanket. The woman on the left is wearing a scarf and a coat, while the other woman is wearing a black shirt with plunging neck line that reveals two rose tattoos on both sides of her chest.Out on Good Behaviour by Dahlia Adler
Amazon | Book Depository | Kobo BooksImage Description: The book-cover of The Stillwater Files: Asylum by K. A. Cook. The book-cover has a stained-brown colour (much like an old map) with a large black vintage style key placed between the title-text and the author-text.The Stillwater Files: Asylum by K. A. Cook
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Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher

Image Description: the book-cover Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher. In the background is a light-pattern that resembles the Aurora borealis, in the foreground is a plastic doll of Princess Leia with the palms of her hands covering her eyes.
Imsge Description: the book-cover Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher. In the background is a light-pattern that resembles the Aurora borealis, in the foreground is a plastic doll of Princess Leia with the palms of her hands covering her eyes.
Title: Shockaholic
Author: Carrie Fisher
Social Media: Twitter and Goodreads
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Format and Price: Ebook at $11.99
Rating: 5 out of 5

About The Book:
Bad news… for anyone who thought Carrie Fisher had finally stopped talking about herself. This time, the electro-convulsive shock therapy she’s been undergoing is threatening to wipe out (what’s left of) her memory. But get ready for a shock of your own. Not only doesn’t she mind paying the second electric bill, she loves the high-voltage treatments. It’s been a roller coaster of a few years for Carrie since her Tony- and Emmy-nominated, one-woman Broadway show and New York Times bestselling book Wishful Drinking. She not only lost her beloved father, but also her once-upon-a-very-brief-time stepmother, Elizabeth Taylor, as well as over forty pounds of unwanted flesh, all the while staying sober and sane-ish. And she wants to tell you, dear reader, all about it. She wants you to someday be able to remind her how Elizabeth Taylor settles a score, how she and Michael Jackson became friends, or how she ended up sparring with Ted Kennedy on a dinner date. And she especially wants to preserve her memories of Eddie Fisher. Shockaholic is laugh-out-loud funny, acerbic, and witty as hell. But it also reveals a new side of Carrie Fisher that may even bring a pleasant shock your way: it is contemplative, vulnerable, and ultimately, quite tender.

General Observations:
~Diverse Books 2017: Alongside Wishful Drinking, I’m nominating this book for the “Main character with an Invisible Disability” category. In this memoir, Carrie Fisher talks about her struggles with addiction, which is connected to her adult-diagnosis of Bi-polar. It was comforting to read about Carrie Fisher’s struggles because, in a way, they were familiar and foreign at at the same time. We need more people like Carrie Fisher in the world, more people who are willing and able to talk about their struggles with mental health because the more we talk about our struggles, the more accessible they become, and gradually our collective stories will destroy the stigma of mental health.

~Expansion Pack: Wishful Drinking kind of gives a basic overview of things, Shockaholic goes into more details on some of the significant events in Carrie Fisher’s life, like waking up next to her white-republican-gay-friend and the sequential drug-addiction problems and, unfortunately, when it comes to addiction, sometimes you have to get to really bad place before you realise something needs to change. Fortunately Carrie Fisher was able to get the help she needed and it eventually lead her to pursue Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) and hence the name of the title. Carrie Fisher also uses her book to dispel some of the myths surrounding Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT), acknowledging her own previous bias towards it, but she also talks about some of the side-effects as well, such as problems with short term memory.

~Right In The Feels: Her chapters that feature her friendship with Michael Jackson and her relationship with her previous step-mother Elizabeth Taylor were amusing, interesting and insightful, however, it was the chapters that focused on her relationship with her father Eddie Fisher (who she cared for in his later years until he died) was the one that had me tearing up. It was bitter-sweet that Carrie and Eddie were able to reconnect and have the relationship Carrie always wanted with her father later in life. There’s an especially touching moment in the book when Carrie starts talking about how she has a recording of her father singing preserved in her phone, that way she’ll always be able to remember.

In conclusion, just go read it, it’s highly entertaining and you’ll whizz straight through it (I certainly did).

Available for Purchase: Amazon | Audible | Book Depository | Kobo Books

Image Description: A pink and purple coloured button with the text ‘Read Diverse Books 2017’ in white text with the word ‘Diverse’ written in rainbow coloured text. there is also the white outline of a clip-art picture of a laid open book
Image Description: A pink and purple coloured button with the text ‘Read Diverse Books 2017’ in white text with the word ‘Diverse’ written in rainbow coloured text. there is also the white outline of a clip-art picture of a laid open book

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

Image Description: the book-cover of Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
Title: Wishful Drinking
Author: Carrie Fisher
Social Media: Twitter and Goodreads
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Format and Price: Ebook at $13.99
Rating: 5 out of 5

About The Author:
Carrie Frances Fisher (1956 – 2016) was an American actress, screenwriter and novelist, most famous for her portrayal of Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy.

About The Book:
In Wishful Drinking, Carrie Fisher tells the true and intoxicating story of her life with inimitable wit. Born to celebrity parents, she was picked to play a princess in a little movie called Star Wars when only 19 years old. “But it isn’t all sweetness and light sabres.” Alas, aside from a demanding career and her role as a single mother (not to mention the hyperspace hairdo), Carrie also spends her free time battling addiction, weathering the wild ride of manic depression and lounging around various mental institutions. It’s an incredible tale – from having Elizabeth Taylor as a stepmother, to marrying (and divorcing) Paul Simon, from having the father of her daughter leave her for a man, to ultimately waking up one morning and finding a friend dead beside her in bed.

General Observations:
~Diverse Books 2017: I’m nominating this book for the “Main character with an Invisable Disability” category. In this memoir, Carrie Fisher talks about her struggles with addiction, which is connected to her adult-diagnosis of Bi-polar. It was comforting to read about Carrie Fisher’s struggles because, in a way, they were familiar and foreign at at the same time. We need more people like Carrie Fisher in the world, more people who are willing and able to talk about their struggles with mental health because the more we talk about our struggles, the more accessible they become, and gradually our collective stories will destroy the stigma of mental health.

~Short and Sweet: The paperback and the ebook version are only 176 pages, I found myself consuming this book rather quickly, which should say something as I’ve been in a reading slump recently and have seriously struggled with motivation to read. I consider Wishful Drinking and Shockaholic to be parts 1 and 2 respectively, they’re both short books (both are 176 pages, which is about the same size as a standard manga volume), and if you liked part 1 but don’t want to continue, that’s okay. But if you want more details on some of the events and experiences that Carrie Fisher brings up in Wishful Drinking, you can continue with Shocaholic, it’s entirely up to you.

~Make ‘Em Laugh: Carrie Fisher had such an amazing sense of humor, I love and truly admire how she could take such pain and misery, and turn it into something worth laughing about.

All in all, it’s a great short read about struggling with mental health and addiction and I think the world can never have too many books like this.

Image Description: an illustrated picture of Carrie Fisher as General Organa (from The Force Awakens) standing on the deck of a space-ship with the cosmos and various planets and galactic-bodies in the background. In the corner of the picture is plain black text that reads
Image Description: an illustrated picture of Carrie Fisher as General Organa (from The Force Awakens) standing on the deck of a space-ship with the cosmos and various planets and galactic-bodies in the background. In the corner of the picture is plain black text that reads “drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra. Carrie Fisher, 1956 – 2016”.

Available for purchase at: Amazon | Book Depository | Kobo Books

Image Description: A pink and purple coloured button with the text ‘Read Diverse Books 2017’ in white text with the word ‘Diverse’ written in rainbow coloured text. there is also the white outline of a clip-art picture of a laid open book
Image Description: A pink and purple coloured button with the text ‘Read Diverse Books 2017’ in white text with the word ‘Diverse’ written in rainbow coloured text. there is also the white outline of a clip-art picture of a laid open book

Reading Like A Writer by Francine Prose

Image Description: book cover of Reading Like A Writer by Francine Prose
Title: Reading Like A Writer
Author: Francine Prose
Social Media: Facebook and Goodreads
Publisher: Union Books
Rating: 3 out of 5
Source: Supplied by Collins Booksellers – Bacchus Marsh

About The Author:
Francine Prose (born in 1947 in Brooklyn, New York) is an American novelist. She graduated from Radcliffe College in 1968, and received a Guggenheim fellowship in 1991. She has sat on the board of judges for the PEN/Newman’s Own Award, and her novel Blue Angel, a satire about sexual harassment on college campuses, was a finalist for the National Book Award. She is now teaching at Bard College.

About The Book:
In her entertaining and edifying New York Times bestseller, acclaimed author Francine Prose invites you to sit by her side and take a guided tour of the tools and the tricks of the masters to discover why their work has endured. Written with passion, humor, and wisdom, Reading Like a Writer will inspire readers to return to literature with a fresh eye and an eager heart – to take pleasure in the long and magnificent sentences of Philip Roth and the breathtaking paragraphs of Isaac Babel; she is deeply moved by the brilliant characterization in George Eliot’s Middlemarch. She looks to John Le Carré for a lesson in how to advance plot through dialogue and to Flannery O’Connor for the cunning use of the telling detail. And, most important, Prose cautions readers to slow down and pay attention to words, the raw material out of which all literature is crafted

General Observations:
~Academic: This is a great academic reference for people studying writing or doing literature studies at University, I definitely recommend it on those grounds. Unfortunately, the fact that it’s an academic resource did make for dry reading, I honestly think it’s difficult to make a subject like this interesting, so this could just be a problem with myself (especially since I’m easily distracted).

~How Long Is A Piece of String?: There are some literary ideas that translate well into short-stories or short essays, but don’t translate well into an entire novel, a short-story is easy to read and justify but a novel is a commitment of time and effort. I can’t help but feel that the author made their main point within the first few chapters and that this was better off being a long essay than an entire novel. The novel doesn’t appear to have an easily traceable thread to follow, when I read this novel, I couldn’t tell how the books interconnected together (apart from being considered University level-readings or books considered classics) into an overall theme or arch.

In conclusion, a good acedemic reference that was a little too dry and aimless for my interests, however, I would still be happy to recommend it to others interested in this field of study.

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