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reviewed The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien (The Lord of the Rings (2))

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Two Towers (Paperback, 1982, Houghton Mifflin) 4 stars

The Two Towers. Book Two in J.R.R. Tolkien's acclaimed trilogy, a masterpiece of high fantasy. …

Better than I remembered

5 stars

Content warning Spoiler

Ashley Shew: Against Technoableism (2023, Norton & Company, Incorporated, W. W.) 4 stars

Useful and important book for the right audience

4 stars

Shew shows how technoableism, the goal of using technology to "fix" disabled people is intertwined with the flawed Medical Model of disability and with eugenics. She deftly interweaves her own personal experience with the overall cause of disability justice.

Her chapters on amputees and autistic folks are especially detailed and enlightening.

Although I was already familiar with the Medical and Social Models of disability, I think this book could serve as a good intro to these ideas, for a reader who doesn't mind wading through a bit of jargon and heady discussion. I wouldn't recommend the book to my right-wing friends due to the author's left-wing orientation being on full display. But for a reader already in political agreement with the author, this book could be a good way to argue for the rights of disabled people, and for caution when dealing with those who frame groups of people as …

Matt Alt: Pure Invention (2020, Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale) 4 stars

The untold story of how Japan became a cultural superpower through the fantastic inventions that …

Fun book

4 stars

Matt Alt's book is part love letter to Japan, part argument that Japan has had an outsized influence on the world's pop culture. Easy, fun, light reading, aside from the serious political turn in the last chapter.

Steve Silberman: NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity (2015) 4 stars

Humans treating humans badly

4 stars

This book feels like it is 80-90% about horrible ways that autistic people have suffered throughout history--including getting killed in ancient times and Nazi Germany, or getting institutionalized in the United States for being "feeble-minded," which really meant not conforming to the behavior that polite society expected. Near the end of the book, there start to be some positive stories, and some autistic people start to get a voice.

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Fellowship of the Ring : being the first part of The Lord of the Rings (Paperback, 2011, Harper Collins) 5 stars

This edition is based on the reset edition first published 2002 which is a revised …

Enjoyable revisit

5 stars

This is my first return to the Lord of the Rings in over 20 years. These characters are so iconic, and it's a pleasure to spend time with them again.

What stands out to me this time is: the best part of the book is the beginning in the Shire. The hobbits are more fun and colorful than the elves and heroes we meet later. When I was a kid, I just wanted to get past the boring Shire stuff to the exciting parts. As an adult I appreciate the glimpses at human nature through the hobbits of Tolkien who aren't on epic quests.

Jhumpa Lahiri: The Namesake (2004) 4 stars

The Namesake (2003) is the debut novel by American author Jhumpa Lahiri. It was originally …

Review of "The Namesake"

4 stars

I enjoyed reading about this Bengali couple adjusting to life in late-20th century suburban United States. The details about day-to-day life and their family interactions are great. Less entertaining are their son’s Gogol’s misadventures among Gilmore Girls-ish northeastern Ivy Leaguers. But the book is very well written and has a perspective worth discovering.

Gregory A. Boyd: Inspired Imperfection (2020, 1517 Media) 4 stars

Review of Inspired Imperfection

4 stars

There's a chapter where Boyd lays out his disagreements with the theologian Karl Barth. This chapter is hard to understand and gets into confusing philosophical terms. It sticks out like a sore thumb in this book that is otherwise clear and written for a lay audience.

I enjoyed his personal story of wrestling with scripture, and his central idea of comparing the Bible to Jesus's crucifixtion.

finished reading We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

Yevgeny Zamyatin: We (1993) 4 stars

We (Russian: Мы, romanized: My) is a dystopian novel by Russian writer Yevgeny Zamyatin, written …

Not as preachy as 1984, a tighter and more exciting story than Brave New World. I appreciated the vagueness of the dystopia, with the narrator only providing as much background as necessary. Also I enjoyed how the narrator often left his sentences trailing. Besides being distinctive and interesting, I think it actually helped things move along. Kudos to the author for inventing the Borg, predicting ChatGPT, and dreaming up a beautifully flaky protagonist.

Richard Rohr: The Universal Christ (Hardcover, 2019, Convergent Books) 4 stars

Neither made me angry nor thrilled

3 stars

I'm glad Rohr wrote this book, and I hope it means a lot to some readers. It just didn't do a lot for me.

There were some opinions I already agreed with, such as his opposition to modern idolatry, individualism, escape theology, and determinism.

But I like when a book convinces me of (or at least makes me consider) something new. I didn't get that with this book. I suppose the closest was his intriguing argument that the walking on water miracle was misplaced, and actually took place after Jesus's resurrection rather than before. Interesting idea but not particularly important.

Maybe it's my lack of understanding, but Rohr seems to take words—such as Christ, universe, incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection—and have them mean something else, not metaphorically but literally. I guess that's part of the mysticism of the book, but it didn't feel satisfying to me.

Also sometimes the book seemed to …

Leonard Herman: Phoenix IV (Hardcover, 2017, Rolenta Press) 4 stars

Hardware and sales figures

4 stars

This book is great as long as you know what you're getting into.

Some video games histories, like Console Wars and The Ultimate History of Video Games, are about individuals and story. Phoenix IV is not. The author loves sales figures and hardware. The former gets a little boring, although I'm happy he's cataloging it for posterity.

The hardware, however, is great. The author aims to describe as many video game consoles, controllers, and peripherals as possible, with photos. If you've ever walked into a used video game store and marvelled at a strange old piece of tech, then prepare for that to happen every couple of pages in this book!

I'm most fascinated by the number of times console manufactures tried to slap a keyboard peripheral onto their machine and call it a personal computer. It happened for decades.

Thanks to the author for all his years monitoring video …