Monthly book roundup – 2019 March

Books finished in March:
(Warning: reviews are unpolished and quickly written.)

Educated: A Memoir (2018) by Tara Westover. Tara Westover (b.1986) grew up in a survivalist mormon household in Idaho. She did not go to school as a child because her father was opposed to much of the outside society, even most other mormons. The family also did not go to doctors or hospitals or used other government services, relying instead on the mother’s herbs and homeopathic medicine. Tara’s father and eldest brother have mental health issues and are increasingly abusive. At 17, Tara manages to attend university, which, with many ups and downs, she greatly benefits from and likes. Mental problems are the real problem in the family, but they are allowed to be som because of their religiosity, which insulates them and prevents them from getting help, either from professionals or even the mormon society. The book is so perfectly dramatic and well told that it is sometimes too good to be true. Highly recommended.

The Last Days of August (2019) by Jon Ronson. Sad story about the suicide of porn actress August Ames. Mental health problems in various forms. Jon Ronson always readable.

The Revolt of The Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium (2018) by Martin Gurri. A story of how increased availability and spread of information, through social media, blogs and other internet media, is changing the world, leading to a “slow-motion collision of two modes of organizing life: one hierarchical, industrial, and top-down, the other networked, egalitarian, bottom-up.” The first part of the book is good, documenting the above view by going through events such as the Arab spring, Occupy Wall Street, various European protests, in particular in Spain and Italy. Many of these are protests and revolts against the establishment (governments, old media, experts) without a clear program of their own. Indeed often seeming to protest anything. Gurri is afraid of the “nihilism” implied by this. However, shallower analysis later on, e.g. simplistically about whether the US stimulus money “worked” or not, though it is true that the economy is complex and not as predictable as many believe, and repeated, vitriolic attacks on Obama (“sectarian prophet”). Some interesting threads drawn also to Trump, Tsipras and Macron, promising to drain the swamp and being elected on discontent. Not recommended, despite strong recommendation from Noah Smith.

Et fritt liv (2018) av Simen Tveitereid. Selvbiografisk fra Simen Tveitereid om hvordan han og kone og barn flytter fra Oslo og overtar familiens småbruk på sørlandskysten. Der jobber han delvis fortsatt som skribent og delvis som småbruker og er veldig fornøyd med at han får vært mer ute i naturen og holdt på mer med praktiske prosjekter. Jeg liker påminnelser om slike muligheter og erfaringer, men for meg blir det mer interessant mot slutten av boka, når tvilen om hvorvidt valget er det riktige kommer fram, sammen med vurderingene om alt det middelmådige og ineffektive han driver med. Forfedre på gården spilte f eks gjerne på lag med teknologien. Allikevel, anbefales.

Ratings and previous books are in the library.

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