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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Books Read in August

Was She A Gold-Digger Or A Woman In Love?

Did Wallis Simpson want to be Queen or was she just desperately in love with King Edward VIII? According to Charles Higham in Mrs Simpson, she 'wanted to have her cake and eat it too'.  She liked the grand life-style and the stunning presents she received as Prince Edward's mistress and she wanted to remain his mistress after he became King.

This is about the best thing about her, according to this book.  Apart from being vulgar and common, Higham writes that she was also a Fascist, promiscuous, and even a drug-runner in China!  The Duke of Windsor was also sympathetic to the Nazis and even gave secret information away.  He even suggested that England should be bombed more heavily so that the country would be more inclined to want peace!

They were apparently an extremely nasty couple if this information is correct, and Great Britain was extremely lucky that this King abdicated!

This book is full of salacious gossip and scandal but it's written in a fairly dull way.  I wouldn't recommend it unless you are very interested in this story.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

This book has been the hit of the year and it is certainly a tour-de-force.  After 'Skeeter' comes back to her small Mississipi town from college in the 1960s, she looks at her home with different eyes.  She starts wondering why the family maid, Constantine, disappeared.   She also begins noticing what a hard life the African-American servants lead and the discrimination and persecution they suffer.

Skeeter decides to tell the stories of the maids but what will this cost her? How much is she prepared to sacrifice?

Stockett captures the stifling, small-town atmosphere well and even writes in the vernacular in an authentic way. Skeeter is an engaging character and the other characters are well-rounded and believable.  It's a great book and highly recommended.

I do have to admit that it struck me as a bit contrived, but that's not a big criticism.  I also feel obliged to admit that one of my favourite books is Gone With The Wind.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

How To Find Cheap Textbooks

Do you need affordable textbooks? Many college students have trouble finding cheap textbooks.  Textbooks are often printed in limited editions which makes them extremely expensive. Don't despair! There is a way to solve this.

You can use this excellent comparison site to find affordable textbooks.  Here you can search 20 different partners for a book.  You can search for books easily by searching by college, university, title, or keywords.  You can also search for multiple college books at once.  There is even a free iPhone app that you can use to search for books!

This site also has other interesting features, such as a featured book and some of the New York Times Bestsellers.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Books Read in July

Marrying Anita by Anita Jain

Anita Jain is a clever, Indian-American journalist who is over thirty and wants to get married.

She becomes tired of the dating scene in New York.  Most of the men she dates tell her at the start that 'they're not looking for anything serious'.  She writes that if they say that at the beginning, they think that they can easily date women for a while and then leave them.  Honesty, she writes, is about their only good quality.

Jain thinks that the Indian attitude to marriage is better.  Indians don't see anything wrong with wanting to get married and they don't place as much value on  independence and freedom.  She decides to live in India and try her chances there.  The men who she dates in India seemed to me to be just as bad or worse, unfortunately.

Jain annoyed me a bit by drinking too much and taking drugs.  There seemed to be even more of this in India than America, surprisingly.  She also struck me as rather silly in other ways at times.  However, her comparisons of Western and Indian attitudes and her descriptions of life in Delhi are well-written and atmospheric.