Utopian Legacies - A History of Conquest and Oppression in the Western World

Review by Alexander Chadsey
I don't often read history texts cover-to-cover, but was compelled to completely ford this one. Within the relatively short format of this book (287 pages) J.C. Mohawk lends you his lens for seeing the liminal facets of Western history that have been obscured and 'forgotten' by the dominant culture. The bulk of the text is concerned with dissecting the obsession in Western thought with the 'pursuit of the ideal,' wherein people believe that "all reasonable human beings who have access to an adequate base of information will pursue an identical concept of what is 'ideal' or 'good'" (Mohawk, p.1). Starting with tribal, then Helenistic cultures,working through the eras to the present, Mohawk points out the distinct movements that significantly altered the beliefs of civilizations on a historical scale. He categorizes these movements into two broad categories used throughout the text: utopian ideologies and revitalization movements. Much of the book is a reexamination of familiar historical events seen through these two filters, sifting out the agrandizement and preconceived notions that justified great and terrible things throughout the development of the culture we now occupy. While the biggest limitation to this book is its short length and inability to delve to deeply into any one movement, it succeeds in piqueing the reader's interest in examining these formative events (and one's own place in the dominant culture) with a much more critical eye. [P.s. if you teach an introductory history class, this would be a great text to incorporate into your curriculum :) ]

Infinite Jest

Review by Dylan Freeman
A Perfect book. Has the best ending to any book of all time.

Morning in the Burned House

Review by Natasha Donovan
Atwood is (deservedly) celebrated for her dystopian works, but reading her poetry provides an opportunity to see the astonishing ease with which she manipulates and crafts language. This collection is moving and luminous, and at times deeply sad, but Atwood's characteristic sarcasm and dark humour is still present.

Kafka on the Shore

Review by Dylan Freeman
Haruki Murakami is cool because he writes stories where crazy things happen, although the bad part about Murakami is that his stories aren't good. Like I'd prefer to just read fragments of him describing amazing and surreal events without having to also drudge through the story lines of his books. So yeah, this book is cool and times, but mostly boring, too long, and really doesn't have a finish worth reading.

Gyo

Review by Dylan Freeman
This book is so awesome and unique and you can probably read the whole 400+ pages in a day easily. Amazing comic horror, and the short stories at the end are maybe even better than the book itself.

Gravity's Rainbow

Review by Dylan Freeman
The only things you need to know before reading this is that it's really hard and probably not worth reading without the companion guide, the amount of sex in it makes it basically erotica, and it's suppose to be fun and not an ominous enemy. Just come into it open and willing it not understand parts, never stop moving, and you'll have a good time. (the ending is really really good)

The Sun Also Rises

Review by Dylan Freeman
A quick, simple and enjoyable read. This was my first Hemingway book and I feel like that was a good choice. It's a very simple book, mostly just about people talking and living in Paris in the 20s, and then leaving to Spain to try to get some excitement. Lots of people say it's about bull fighting, but I really think it's not about that in the slightest. Mostly it's about the culture and feeling of the post WW1 generation; how they lived, what they thought about things, how they talked. With that in mind that you're just reading about people being people it's a very enjoyable book.

Spain in Our Hearts; Americans in the Spanish Civil War

Review by Tuck Tucker
A great read about a tragic time. A higher proportion of American soldiers died in Spain then in any other 20th C war.

History of the Labor Movement in the United States Vol 4; The Industrial Workers of the World, 1905-1917

Review by Tuck Tucker
Among very best histories of the IWW; sympathetic leftist historian

The Four-Fold Way: Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Teacher, Healer, and Visionary

Review by Alexander Chadsey
Upon checking this out, I'd expected to have an in-depth history of the cultural significance of the medicine wheel, along with the appropriateness of modern practitioners in using these frameworks. Instead, the descriptions of the four archetypes (Teacher, warrior, visionary, healer) seemed to be somewhat limited and overly-stereotypical. The author shamelessly and repeatedly references their own 'research' in the most vague ways (e.g. "...and my research proves this!" instead of " according to 'x' results with 'y' group over period 't'"), which was apparently a limited study using sensory deprivation tanks. Overall, this feels and reads less like a valid documentation and description of a culturally revered concept, and more like a new-agey corporate-leadership pamphlet. That's unsurprising, as the author is a 'corporate consultant' by trade!

The Anatomy Coloring Book - 3rd edition

Review by Alexander Chadsey
Super detailed and accurate! I searched for a complete anatomy coloring book for about a year, and this was the best! Photo-copy yer favorite body parts for hours of chromatic fun!

Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion

Review by Kryssanne Adams
Good read, but question the author. This book has some great tips for disarming arguments and potentially intense situations. It's written by a cop (and martial arts instructor) for cops. It was originally published in the 70s, I think, and I found myself wanting to challenge the author; several times throughout, he makes questionable generalizations about several different races based on experiences he's had with individuals, and at times I think seems to use those examples to boost his credibility in some way.

Black Hole

Review by Kathleen Cross
This book is one of the scariest books I ever read. I never finished it. WARNING: BODY HORROR: like gaping holes appearing in people's backs and things.

Laika

Review by Kryssanne Adams
Reading this story, I felt like a moth flying into a light. I knew what was going to happen from a mile away, but I couldn't look away. I could see of the events in motion leading up to the finale, yet I refused to believe them. Even though this is a real event that I'm familiar with. Despite the sadness woven throughout this story, there are so many small moments of hope and joy tucked away that I found it extremely worthwhile. It's loaded with graceful presence, kindness, and compassion in the midst of horror. From the story's afterword: "Abadiz's imagination seamlessly fill[s] out the personal stories, both canine and human, that bring Laika alive as a meditation on the meaning of destiny and the fragile beauty of trust."

Getting Clear: Body Work for Women

Review by Rachel Taylor
A fun, informative, and very freeing massage and therapy book designed to help release stigmas, tensions, and open up conversation on gender and body roles. Loved it! A trip back in time to 1970s California.

Oil and Honey

Review by Peter Olmsted
Great look at activism for your average upper-middle class Joe. Love his philosophy that older and more established individuals ought to take up the responsibility of environmental activism instead of the youth and students who are still establishing themselves as adults. The story of Mckibben's activism movement is paralleled by one of a beekeeper's wisdom and work ethic in an ever changing environment. Enjoyable and quick read.

The Essential Hip Mama: Writing from the Cutting Edge of Parenting

Review by Pi
I blasted through this book in a day while half-managing my toddler after reading My Mother Wears Combat Boots. It's a collage of many women's voices from many different perspectives, some of them at opposite ends of various spectrums. Touches on gay and queer mamas, single mamas (actually, most of them are single mamas), mamas on "welfare", teen mamas, and most of all mamas who write. I haven't read a book this fast since before I was pregnant. That's saying something.

Remember, Be Here Now

Review by Peter Olmsted
It's dope.

The Making Of

Review by Kryssanne Adams
I immediately fell in love with Evens' style of drawing, and noticed that when I read this book in public, more people than usual were curious than usual to approach me and ask what I was reading. I really enjoyed seeing a bunch of strangers and weirdos come together to work on a massive art project together to learn about the importance of the creative process. Endearing characters!

The Ethical Slut

Review by Kryssanne Adams
There are some pretty good communication tools in here you can apply to all sorts of relationships, my favorite of all being the ability to pause and reschedule fights. Overall though, it wasn't what I was looking for. I found the Ethical Slut to be written for people who have been in relationships a long time and/or people who are really into pursuing multiple sexual relationships.

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