So, what are you reading now? (Part the second)

Lake Toxaway, NC(Zone 7a)

NON-FICTION AND POETRY: I now am dressed and the coffee's on.
The Year of the Flood, by Margaret Atwood. Revisiting the post Apocalyptic world of "Oryx and Crake."
The Antrologist by Nicholson Baker. A crafty bagatelle on poetic themes.
The Way Through Doors, by Jesse Ball. A dizzyingly circuitous inversion of the Scheherazade legend.
The Collected Poems & Unfinished Poems, by C. P. Cavafy, translated from the Greek by Daniel Mendelsohn
The Immortals by Amit Chaudhuri. Tradition and modernity in Bombay.
The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis. Small but perfectly formed fictions.
Sonata Mulattica, by Rita Dove. A verse sequence about a biracial violinist who played with Beethoven.
Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi, by Geoff Dyer. A diptych of cosmopolitan emptiness and spiritual seeking.
Every Man Dies Alone, by Hans Fallada, translated from the German by Michael Hofmann. A neglected classic about a couple's resistance to the Nazis.
Wanting, by Richard Flanagan. From Tasmania to the Arctic with Sir John Franklin.
Dark Places, by Gillian Flynn. A sinister thriller about a girls who survives her family's murder.
The Magicians, by Lev Grossman. An artfully self-reflective fantasy novel.
Tinkers, by Paul Harding. The death of a patriarch in 19th century Maine.
The Believers by Zoe Heller,. Family secrets and rivalries in the aftermath of 9/11.
Censoring an Iranian Love Story, by Shahriar Mandanipour, translated from the Farsi by Sara Khalili. Passion and repression in the Islamic Republic.
The Vagrants, by Yiyun Li, A novel of political upheaval in China.
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. Tudor Intrigue.
Upgraded to Serious, by Heather McHugh. Poems of compassion and verbal intricacy.
Her Fearful symmetry, by Audrey Niffenegger. A gothic yarn around a London cemetery
Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin. Emigration, love, and homesickness.
Love and Summer by William Trevor. Irish Provincial life in the 1950s.
Lowboy, by John Wray. A schizophrenic rides the subway.
Note:
In typing all these, I realize that I need to read more nonfiction. But thank goodness for The New Yorker with its wide variety of articles and opinions.


(Sheryl) Gainesboro, TN(Zone 6b)

Omigosh - I'm sorry, I should have realised that you would have to type all of that out & not copy and paste - thanks so much for doing all of that!!!!

(Zone 8a)

I'm particularly looking forward to reading

The Immortals by Amit Chaudhuri
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Her Fearful symmetry, by Audrey Niffenegger
Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin
Love and Summer by William Trevor
The Year of the Flood, by Margaret Atwood

I read The Vagrants earlier this year.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Those lists sound scrumptious. We don't even try to keep up with the New Yorkers, just dip in and out. How did you like the Vagrants? I am very interested in China. Went there in 1986 and am told it is a different country now. Hope to go back, but then there are so many places I haven't seen at all yet.

I just ordered a decidedly non-fiction book and can't wait to get my hands on it, but it is very different than the ones listed above. I heard it reviewed on NPR yesterday and can't wait to read it. It is.


Raising the Global Floor: Dismantling the Myth That We Cant Afford Good Working Conditions for Everyone (Stanford Politics and Policy)"
Jody Heymann
http://www.amazon.com/Raising-Global-Floor-Dismantling-Conditions/dp/0804768900/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1260918117&sr=8-1-fkmr0

Kind of geeky but right up my alley. I am retired but I still care about working conditions in the US and elsewhere.

(Sheryl) Gainesboro, TN(Zone 6b)

Heck, I'm just glad someone is convinced it's a myth!

(Zone 8a)

The Vagrants is bleak and disturbing but I didn't find it as emotionally engaging as I expected. Very well written though.
I just finished A Brief History of the Dead which I found boring. My new read Mr Toppit seems more promising.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Thanks for the tips on all those books, knip. Saves me starting them. I rarely read a book unless two or three people I know recommend it.
I finished Nine Lives. I believe it is the only book I have ever read where even the acknowledgments at the end brought tears to my eyes. A must read for those who know or care about New Orleans.
I think Three Cups of Tea is next for me -- after the book on global labor comparisons.
Pagancat, I imagine in Tennessee, it is commonly believed that treating your workers well prevents the competitiveness in the market. This book is a giant study demonstrating the opposite.

(Sheryl) Gainesboro, TN(Zone 6b)

Honestly, I haven't lived here long enough to get a true sense of how it all works; from what I can see, just having a steady job is the big goal - or getting your SS check or foodstamps. I live in one of the poorest counties in TN and what that poverty has done to the people here is pretty horrendous, especially the kids. There used to be jobs here, the Osh Kosh (clothing) factory was here, but it's been gone for a while.

I'm originally from the Detroit area and grew up firmly pro-union. Generally speaking, I still am, but I can also see where the unions have had a hand in the gigantic mess in Michigan. I can only guess that it's the ol' push-me-pull-me of greed, of not knowing when enough is good enough on either side.

Sorry, totally tangential, but I await your comments on the book - I wonder if it addresses any of what I have mentioned.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

The book hasn't arrived yet, and will tell you more after I read it, but I was President and one of the founders of the union where I worked Los Alamos National Laboratory. We represented technical and clerical workers from secretaries to physicists. I am a big believer in unions, but I know not all of them work for the good or all at all times. I won't get into that here.
I totally get the pain of poverty and what it can do to people. I seem to always live in states that resemble banana republics -- Louisiana and New Mexico. They never did have much business to lose. They were both always poor. But for Tennessee and Michigan to lose jobs they once had must make it doubly demoralizing to be poor. New Mexico has not been as hard hit as other states in this downturn because, sadly, it never had that much to lose.

Columbus, OH(Zone 6a)

I know what you mean Pajaritomt. I lived in Pecos, NM for 3 years. I remember one time saying at a party "What Pecos needs is a good auto plant." Most people there turned up their nose at the idea, but tourist jobs and painting coyote sculptures were not keeping the kids from leaving the state, or helping people keep their homes warm in the winter.

It always made me feel sad that the movie stars and rich folk were living in the fancy adobe houses, but the people whose families had founded Santa Fe and the Pecos Pueblo were living in mobile homes on the outskirts.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

How insightful you are ceceoh. Pecos is beautiful, but the permanent residents have little. The movie stars and people from out of state are the only ones with money. I can only guess what they would opt for if a car plant were proposed for them. But one thing or the other, they have little now.
Santa Fe is in better shape, the art market keeps it alive, as well as tourists. But few of the native inhabitants -- both native American and Hispanic can still afford to live there. But even so the living wage in Santa Fe is up to something like $10.00 per hour. The living wage bill was enacted a couple of years ago and it demanded that the minimum wage in Santa Fe was $9.50 per hour and increases were phased in by law up to $12.00 per hour but those will come in time. Some local businesses fought it like crazy but it passed the county council and is law now.
I heard about this book on NPR. It was about how it was a myth that we couldn't afford to give workers 7paid sick days per year. It studied all the top 17 economies in the world and found that only the US and South Korea failed to give a minimum of 7 paid sick days per year. Many of the economies that gave more gave substantially more -- like 30 with various supplements for birth of a child and death of a relative. And most of those economies were growing faster than ours.
One of the industries most discussed was the restaurant industry. In the US, and definitely in our local New Mexico economy, many of the jobs that still exist are in the restaurant business. Most restaurant workers have no sick leave, and, of course noh health care, but that is a different subject.
So why do we care? According to the author on the NPR interview I heard, the most common cause of diarrhea is norovirus. And 90% if the norovirus contracted in the US comes from restaurants. Norovirus is highly contageous. And restaurant workers can't afford to take a day off when they have diarrhea so they go to work sick and give it to the rest of us. So how much does that cost the economy? The problem is convincing Joe, the restaurant owner, that he should give sick leave to his workers. That would probably have to be mandated by the government. But how sad that in the US we can't do what 14 other of the top economies can do. The biggest problem is that American workers and citizens don't insist on it. We are all still on the frontier mentality that we go to work no matter what through thick or thin. But now it might be time to rethink that given what we know about bacteria and viruses.
The book arrived today and I have opened the package but haven't yet had time to read it. Don't remember yet which NPR program reviewed it in the last few days, but that is how I got so interested it. NPR did an interview with the author. I will
I plan to read it in the next few days. Will let you know when I know more. I am retired, but I still care about these issues. Don't want to get norovirus -- and other things transmitted by food!

This message was edited Dec 18, 2009 11:27 PM

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

So much of the jobs crisis is driven by health care costs, though. That's a major reason why we can't compete with other countries in manufacturing. If businesses weren't saddled with insurance costs workers could be paid more and products and services could be more competitively priced. As it is we're being strangled. I was so impressed with France's health care system; why can't we do that?

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

New Yorker had a very interesting article that gave background on how Britain's system came about--because with WW II so many people moved out to the country from cities, and health care had to follow them, so an infrastructure of clinic like social health care was there. America's job based system started as a way for employers to compete for workers, connected with unionizing period (if I'm not mistaken) I think there was a third country but can't remember. also have no idea which issue, but it was enlightening how these things evolved.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

You are absolutely correct that health care is strangling not only businesses, but also people. Our health care system is totally inefficient and I am hoping this new legislation will help with that. The French health care system is one of the best. It would be wonderful if we could eventually adopt something similar.
That said the book is about how requiring that all employees be given at least 7 days of sick leave does not damage the economy. It is the report on a massive study done by Harvard and McGill university. It covers sick leave and parental leave and bereavement leave in the 17 top economies of the world.




(Sheryl) Gainesboro, TN(Zone 6b)

As far as I can tell, the health insurance companies are the only ones not being strangled, and that is mind blowing to me.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

I know; they're making huge profits and denying people coverage that they're entitled to. That's why it's such a mess.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Let us hope this country can stand up to these corporate crooks and free itself up to be competitive on the international markets again.

(Sheryl) Gainesboro, TN(Zone 6b)

Here, here.

Lake Toxaway, NC(Zone 7a)

speaking of industry and corporate crooks, I am snowed in so I am reading my husband's Dilbert books.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Ah, yes. Good ole' Dilbert has helped us all keep our sanity as wage slaves in corporate America. The funniest part of Dilbert that I know is that almost everyone thought that Dilbert was written about their own organization by someone within -- they didn't realize that it was a national comic strip. I know that was true in my work place. At first I was hoping that management wouldn't find this guy and fire him.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Kind of like The Office now--the characters can be so identified with real people you know to some extent!!! sadly!!
I was truly ROFL with Dilbert writing in his book about how girls don't really want to DATE an engineer but do want to marry them...ahem I can relate to that.

(Sheryl) Gainesboro, TN(Zone 6b)

That's too funny - I can relate!!!

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Same applies to physicists! ( In my case.)

(Sheryl) Gainesboro, TN(Zone 6b)

I bet, lol!

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

To what are you ladies relating, pray tell? I think I'm missing something here. Psychologists get a bum rap too, though, by the way. And really we don't read minds, nor are we always analyzing casual acquaintances. Too much like work!

(Sheryl) Gainesboro, TN(Zone 6b)

Um, have you ever dated an engineer-type?

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

No, but if you wouldn't want to date one, why would you want to marry one?

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I think they make very good hubbys--practical, analytical, problem solving, dependable. Traits which are not too 'sexy'. and you have to get past the conversational skills of the engineer-- tending toward the analytical LOL I once had the best cartoon about it...

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Well said, sallyg. Engineers and scientists tend to require a second or third look. They are rarely glamorous. But they grow on you. And they do make good spouses if you get one who can actually communicate.
Psychologists, no doubt they do get a bum rap. But I suspect marrying a psychologist is way different from marrying and engineer or scientist.
We were talking about the stereotypes in Dilbert and how right-on they are for corporate America and for engineers ( and scientists in general). There probably are a few Dilberts on psychologists, but that wasn't the main thrust of Dilbert. Now Human Relations types -- he had a lot to say about them. Are you an HR type?

(Sheryl) Gainesboro, TN(Zone 6b)

To be fair, I got the best of all worlds - an incredibly intelligent man who is well invested in emotion as well..... although there's times when I feel like I should whip out a notebook and take notes when he gets off on one of his pet subjects. It's okay - his eyes glaze over when I start on plants, so it is fair. And I do learn some interesting things.

I dated a lot of people that definitely were not good marriage material, and had a lot of fun doing it. I can't claim a fantastic sense of self that kept me from committing myself to any of those dingbats (or they to me!) but I truly never thought I'd marry until I met my soon-to-be-husband at 36. Ten years later I still believe marrying him was the smartest move I made in my life.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Okay, I get it now. I think my criteria for dating and marriage were similar, though, so that's why I was puzzled. No, I'm not an HR type; both DH and I spent most of our careers working in schools, although he had some prison experience and I also worked early on with the mentally handicapped and later with a psychiatric population. I think I got the best of both worlds, too - 41 years ago! Who knew a young grad student could be so smart?

Re marriage to a psychologist, depends whether it's a rat psychologist (experimental/research, doncha know?) or a people psychologist. Rat psychologists are probably a lot like engineers, mathematicians, or physicists.

Plano, TX

i want to know more about the human resources type--i never really worked in the business world--i am a teacher--

i have no idea what human resource type is since the only one i know is toby on the office--who i just love ----i do understand that it is all generalizations and stereotypes but i am just curious

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Oh, the corporate HR type is a person who may actually be trained in psychology or counseling or business. They pose as helping the employee but, in fact, represent the company, and will use any information they glean from you against you should there be a grievance. They try to put a friendly face on things like discipline, bad evaluations, reductions in force, and firings.
Dilbert has an evil HR person in his column sometimes.
Sadly, I have watched perfectly decent people go into HR and find out to their distress that they are in charge of helping the management cover up its boo-boos.
I also worked in the public schools and did not find this type of person there. Public schools generally aren't into the kind of harassment that corporations are into -- as long as the teachers don't get into things like affairs with students, etc, which they usually don't do.
The same applies to staff counselors and psychologists who work for corporations. It is my experience that one should never take up the corporation on its offer of free counseling or psychology. Negative stuff you tell them always gets back to management if any issues come up, in my experience.

Lake Toxaway, NC(Zone 7a)

My husband went from tech maintainance postition to an engineering postition. Yes, he was nerdy in some ways, very analytical, high math skills but also loves all animals and well-behaved children. Hunting, a family tradition, lost him when he shot a deer and felt like a murderer.
He has an abiding interest in the sciences, and his interest in paleontology goes back to the 50s, before it was such a fad. He won 2nd at the NC State Science Fair. Do y'all get the picture?
But on the other hand, he is one of the funniest people I know and I enjoy our daily talks over coffee.
In industry, he lost respect for managment and even for engineers. He says they design things impossible to maintain. Prototype machinery is the worst. Some of these machines, computer driven, are as big as a large living room. One was designed so that the tech guys had to lay in pool of oily coolant to work on a machine.
Though we are not slightly communistic, I do like their concept of making management work on the floor one month a year. It gets them off their "high horse" and makes them design more practical equipment.
The last industrial job he worked was the worst place for back-stabbing, kissing-up, clueless management and reduced benefits.
He became a potter.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

I understand completely, woodspirit. My DH still works in a research lab managed by Bechtel. He simply ignores most of the backstabbing and does his job. He has now retired from the University of California and now does the exact same job for Bechtel. He is very, very lucky to be a physicist with enough experience that they don't give him a bad time -- well mostly. The backstabbing is still there.
He is quiet and prefers classical music or folk or jazz and is fascinating to talk to. But if you were to meet him at a party he wouldn't stand out. I always say that he flirts with the babies, not the women. It is true, and I like it that way, of course. But those who know him really like him. That includes me.
As I recall ratbert is the evil HR person in Dilbert.

(Sheryl) Gainesboro, TN(Zone 6b)

Aw - just wasted a half hour reading Dilbert ... and laughing ....

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Dilbert is a classic about the lives of American technology workers and, perhaps, for all workers. I once bought DH a Dilbert executive decision maker. It is a circular chart with a free spinning pointer. Round and round she goes, etc. He used to have it hanging on his office door, but he has moved offices since them. Probably didn't survive the move.
He also had a cartoon from the New Yorker of a lone violinist being surrounded by a semi-circle of conductors -- all in tails and white tie, of course.

(Sheryl) Gainesboro, TN(Zone 6b)

LOL! That's a good one.

Lake Toxaway, NC(Zone 7a)

Dogbert is their consultant. He's a bit easy on Dilbert but not enough to grow a conscience.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Discussing our conversation here with DH, I was reminded that Catbert was the evil HR person. How could I have forgotten?

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