Friday, October 19, 2018

Cocktail Time

I was complaining to my mom about all the depressing books I've been reading lately, so she recommended I borrow some P.G. Wodehouse from my brother.  So that's how I ended up reading Cocktail Time.

Cocktail Time is about the adventures of Lord Ickenham and all the chaos he spreads around him.  It starts with him knocking Sir Raymond Bastable's top hat off with a Brazil nut.  Sir Raymond thinks it is some young hooligans who did the deed; Lord Ickenham does nothing to correct his assumptions and makes a remark that Sir Raymond should write a book about it except that he is not a writer.  Sir Raymond is never one to fail a challenge, and so he writes a fiction novel called Cocktail Time.  He publishes it under a pseudonym because he doesn't want such a book marring his political aspirations.  But the book becomes famous and Sir Raymond becomes worried that reporters will find him out.  So at Lord Ickenham's suggestion, he gets his nephew, Cosmo, to claim he wrote the book.

All should have been finished there, but Cosmo owes some money to Mr. and Mrs. Carlisle.  The Carlisles talk Cosmo into writing a letter to extort more money out of his uncle.  Lord Ickenham gets a hold of the letter just as the movie rights to the book are coming up for sale.  And this leads to a ridiculous comedy of errors helped along by Lord Ickenham.

I will admit, I had a bit of a hard time getting into the story at first.  But after the first few chapters, things get moving and Cocktail Time ends up quite the hilarious read!  I'll definitely have to keep Wodehouse in mind the next time I need a break from all the serious and rather depressing reading I seem to be doing lately.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City

I wanted to read Seven Fallen Feathers before Tanya Talaga's first Massey Lecture, which was happening in Thunder Bay.  I've heard good things about the book, that it is a must read for people living in Northern Ontario. 

Seven Fallen Feathers is the story of seven Indigenous youth who came to Thunder Bay for school and died there.  Most of them passed away in one of the rivers.  Talaga looks at what happened to each of the Seven, humanizing their stories.  She also looks at the circumstances surrounding when the youth went missing (and the lack of response and courtesy the local police department afforded the families).  

I had a hard time rating it on Goodreads because a 5 star review means "I loved it;" I think Seven Fallen Feathers is an important read, but it is depressing (and in no ways a book I would say that I loved).  So in the end I went with 4 stars on Goodreads, saying that "I really liked it" because I thought that was fair.

I think Seven Fallen Feathers is an important read, both for people living in Thunder Bay and for Canada as a whole.  There are some major problems with the way things are and all Canadians need to work towards a more fair and better future for everyone.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Don't Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change

Don't Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change by George Marshall is another book from Bustle's list of books that will inspire you to live a more sustainable life that I wanted to read.  My local library didn't have a copy, but they were able to bring it in for me through interlibrary loan, so yay!

Marshall is an expert in climate change communications.  Over the years he has seen scientists struggle to get their message out while climate change skeptics have increasingly banded together.  He also knows that many people agree that climate change is real, but do nothing to stop it.  So he decided to investigate why all of this is.  He met with psychologists, environmental activists, skeptics, people who work for the oil industry, evangelicals, and pretty much everyone else he possibly could to examine the issue.  What he found is that humans look at climate change as a simple problem, even though it is in reality a very complex problem.  Because of its complexity it can be framed in a variety of ways, such as as an environmental issue. Some people will support a particular frame while others will oppose it, and so this divides people on the issue.  He also found that the skeptics are having more success at building their narrative than people who support climate change are.  Humans are hard-wired for stories and narrative, so this means supporters are having a harder time convincing people. 

I found Don't Even Think About It fascinating (full disclosure: I have a background in psychology).  It's rather amazing how climate change happens to work against our brains in a lot of ways.  Most of the book is a bit depressing, but the end is rather hopeful: even though we are wired to ignore climate change, in some ways we're also wired to take action, as long as we can change the narrative from one of competition to one of cooperation.   

I will warn you though: Don't Even Think About It is in many ways a dense read.  I found myself only able to read about 20-40 pages in a sitting before having to take a bit of a break.  Thankfully the book is about half the size of This Changes Everything though, so I was able to get through it a bit faster.

Oh and one really nice touch that Marshall added to the book was a periodic summary of what he has examined thus far.  I don't think I've ever seen that in a book before, but it was great to kind of take a deep breath and have a chance to look at everything a little more in context within the larger narrative of the book.

All in all, I am really glad I read Don't Even Think About It; I'll have to keep an eye out for some of Marshall's other books (Carbon Detox, I'm looking at you!)