I Wear The Black Hat – Chuck Klosterman

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From Goodreads:”Chuck Klosterman has walked into the darkness. As a boy, he related to the cultural figures who represented goodness—but as an adult, he found himself unconsciously aligning with their enemies. This was not because he necessarily liked what they were doing; it was because they were doing it on purpose (and they were doing it better). They wanted to be evil. And what, exactly, was that supposed to mean? When we classify someone as a bad person, what are we really saying (and why are we so obsessed with saying it)? How does the culture of deliberate malevolence operate?

In I Wear the Black Hat, Klosterman questions the modern understanding of villainy. What was so Machiavellian about Machiavelli? Why don’t we see Bernhard Goetz the same way we see Batman? Who is more worthy of our vitriol—Bill Clinton or Don Henley? What was O. J. Simpson’s second-worst decision? And why is Klosterman still haunted by some kid he knew for one week in 1985?

Masterfully blending cultural analysis with self-interrogation and imaginative hypotheticals, I Wear the Black Hat delivers perceptive observations on the complexity of the antihero (seemingly the only kind of hero America still creates). I Wear the Black Hat is a rare example of serious criticism that’s instantly accessible and really, really funny. Klosterman continues to be the only writer doing whatever it is he’s doing.(less)”

Villains are all around us. They are fictional characters in movies and television. They are real live people harming the innocent. They are the inconsiderate jerks who cut in line at the supermarket. There is no escaping them, so why not dive in to a book that analyzes what makes these people villains? Klosterman’s new book is a compilation of short critical essay pieces on villainy and why society sees them as evil. He compares and contrasts real and fiction evils with humour and a quirky attitude. Resembling his previous works, if you loved Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs then you will enjoy this book too! Klosterman is great at capturing his audiences attention with odd topics and great writing!

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Do you plan on reading this book? What is your favourite Klosterman book?

Rating: 4/5

Little Princes – Conor Grennen

From Goodreads: “In search of adventure, twenty-nine-year-old Conor Grennan traded his day job for a year-long trip around the globe, a journey that began with a three-month stint volunteering at the Little Princes Children’s Home, an orphanage in war-torn Nepal.

Conor was initially reluctant to volunteer, unsure whether he had the proper skill, or enough passion, to get involved in a developing country in the middle of a civil war. But he was soon overcome by the herd of rambunctious, resilient children who would challenge and reward him in a way that he had never imagined. When Conor learned the unthinkable truth about their situation, he was stunned: The children were not orphans at all. Child traffickers were promising families in remote villages to protect their children from the civil war—for a huge fee—by taking them to safety. They would then abandon the children far from home, in the chaos of Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu.

For Conor, what began as a footloose adventure becomes a commitment to reunite the children he had grown to love with their families, but this would be no small task. He would risk his life on a journey through the legendary mountains of Nepal, facing the dangers of a bloody civil war and a debilitating injury. Waiting for Conor back in Kathmandu, and hopeful he would make it out before being trapped in by snow, was the woman who would eventually become his wife and share his life’s work.

Little Princes is a true story of families and children, and what one person is capable of when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds. At turns tragic, joyful, and hilarious,Little Princes is a testament to the power of faith and the ability of love to carry us beyond our wildest expectations.”

I’m not usually one to pick up Non-Fiction literature. Growing up, the only non-fiction works I was exposed to were textbooks, so I figured that that was the premises for all. But, after hearing numerous wonderful reviews on this book, I rushed out to the local bookstore and picked it up. I’m so glad I did. This book was a gem. Conor started off as a self-involved twenty-nine-year-old who decided to quit work and take a world trip. In order to impress his friends and relatives he chose to do a 3 month volunteer position at Little Princes Children’s Home in Nepal. What he didn’t realize, was that the children of this orphanage could have such a huge affect on him. Conor grew to love these kids and the orphanage, and leaving them was one of the hardest things he ever had to do. This book was beautiful in all senses; writing, story, characters. It read more like a work of fiction. It moved me. Knowing that this was a true story, it inspired me to look at people in a new light. Working in Customer Service, you start to believe that people are self-centered and only care about what’s good for them. It’s nice to know that there are truly good people in this world, making a difference! I highly recommend this book. If I had the financial stability, I’d fly out to Nepal (or anywhere for that matter) and lend a helping hand to those in need! All thanks to this book. Cheesy… I know…

Rating – 4.5/5

Eating Animals – Jonathan Safran Foer

From Goodreads: “Jonathan Safran Foer spent much of his teenage and college years oscillating between carnivore and vegetarian. As he became a husband and a father, he kept returning to two questions: Why do we eat animals? And would we eat them if we knew how they got on our dinner plates?
Brilliantly synthesizing philosophy, literature, science, and his own undercover detective work, Eating Animals explores the many fictions we use to justify our eating habits-from folklore to pop culture to family traditions and national myth-and how such tales justify a brutal ignorance. Marked by Foer’s profound moral ferocity and unvarying generosity, as well as the vibrant style and creativity that made his previous books, Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, huge bestsellers, Eating Animals is a celebration and a reckoning, a story about the stories we’ve told–and the stories we now need to tell.”

This book is not for the light hearted. It’s graphic, albeit informative, and at times can be hard to get through. Being a vegetarian I was immediately drawn to this book. Not in a morbid sort of way but a way to stay up-to-date on facts involving the meat industry. The one question I get asked all the time is “Why don’t you eat meat?” and now I can respond with “Read Eating Animals and you’ll understand why.” I’m in no way advocating vegetarianism. It’s a personal choice that no one can be forced in to. To each his own, right? Right. Eating Animals is packed with information about the meat industry and how animals are processed into the food we serve our families. It is interwoven with personal stories from Jonathan Safran Foer on growing up and choosing to be either a carnivore or a vegetarian. Some of the insight he shares is too much to handle. Even though he was trying to stay in the middle and not pick sides I find it hard to look at this objectively and still be ok with eating meat. If you’re looking to switch over to a vegetarian lifestyle then this would be a great book to kick start it. However, meat eaters be warned: you may start to look at your food differently! He has an easy to read writing style that is very down to earth and real. And for a non-fiction book it felt more like a story than a collection of facts. As much as I want to say I enjoyed this book enjoy just isn’t the right word for this kind of material. I appreciated this book. It’s nice to have this part of the food industry exposed.

Rating – 3.5/5