Thursday, October 8, 2015

Saving Capitalism - Robert B. Reich

My review of Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few by Robert Reich first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers. It is one of--if not the most--important books I've read this year. It's relevant to every American, regardless of gender, religion, political affiliation, socio-economic status or anything else. You don't need to be an expert in economics, just a person who cares about their future. I hope you'll consider it.

First line: "Do you recall a time when the income of a single schoolteacher or baker or salesman or mechanic was enough to buy a home, have two cars, and raise a family?"

"We are all stakeholders in the American economy, and most stakeholders have not done particularly well," explains Robert Reich (Supercapitalism). In Saving Capitalism, Reich argues that the notion of a choice between free market and big government is inherently flawed and masks the true issues, thereby preventing the solutions that can help the majority of stakeholders.

Reich outlines the argument that markets depend on the design, organization and enforcement of rules governing property, monopoly, contracts and bankruptcy. In other words, markets rely on government for their existence. By disguising this fact in a meaningless partisan battle, large corporations, Wall Street and the extreme wealthy hide their ever-increasing influence on market decisions.

Reich points out that what these powerful entities are doing is neither corrupt nor irrational. However, they are working to undermine the system as a whole. When a continually growing number of people have fewer resources to invest and less power to incite change, the market cannot be sustained and will ultimately fail.

Saving Capitalism also offers potential solutions for reversing the downward spiral of the American economy. These solutions involve the stakeholders overcoming political divides and uniting their voices--as well as votes--in a common economic cause.

Accessible, well documented and passionately insightful, Saving Capitalism is likely to evoke strong emotions in readers, which is certainly what Reich sets out to do since he proclaims, "The only way back toward a democracy and economy that work for the majority is for the majority to become politically active once again, establishing a new countervailing power."

Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few
 is available in hardcover from Alfred A. Knopf (9780385350570) and as an unabridged audio download, narrated by Robert Reich, from Recorded Books.

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Quote of the Week

"'Besides, even at night Memphis is going to be hotter than a billy goat's ass in a pepper patch.'"
   –Annie England Noblin in Sit! Stay! Speak!

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Gratitude Diaries - Janice Kaplan

My review of The Gratitude Diaries: How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Transformed My Life by Janice Kaplan first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers. I am posting it today with their permission. This book was so motivating. I see the world in a different light these days. I can't imagine reading this one and NOT looking at things differently. Hope you enjoy!

First line: "Given that I am working on a new project about gratitude, I should have woken up on this late March morning to sunny skies, singing birds, and friends gathered in my living room singing Kumbaya."

Feeling little excitement at a New Year's Eve party, journalist Janice Kaplan (A Job to Kill For) wondered if there was something that could bolster her level of happiness. Nothing was wrong with her life, but everything just felt merely okay. Her recent work with a national survey on gratitude taught her, "It wasn't the circumstances that mattered but how [she] responded to them. [She] could passively wait for the wonderful to occur--and still find something wrong. Or [she] could accept whatever events did come [her] way and try to appreciate them a little more."  These two realizations spark her resolution to spend the following year focusing on gratefulness. The Gratitude Diaries is the uplifting journal of her efforts as well as a plethora of fascinating research on the mental, physical and psychological benefits of gratitude.

Kaplan chooses a focus for each month in order to isolate and evaluate how re-framing her perspective toward that specific element alters her feelings. She begins with her husband and their marriage then works her way through the year with aspects of her life such as money, career, material possessions and health. Each experience Kaplan has is supplemented with insights from professionals studying gratitude or people living it in extraordinary ways.

Kaplan made a pointed effort to see the positive. By sharing her efforts, readers experiencing The Gratitude Diaries will likely find themselves noticing their own favorable outcomes more intuitively, and who couldn't stand a little more happiness in their lives?

The Gratitude Diaries: How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Transformed My Life is available in hardcover from Dutton (9780525955061) and as an unabridged audio (9781501231315), narrated by Janice Kaplan, from Penguin Audio.

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Investigation - J.M. Lee

Sorry for the sporadic posts this month. Work has been keeping me extra busy, and this review is past due for me to have it posted. My review of J.M. Lee's The Investigation first appeared as a starred review in Shelf Awareness for Readers. I am posting it here today with their permission. You're very likely to see this one on my end of the year favorites list! Hope you enjoy...

First line: "Life may not have a purpose."

A deeply touching tribute to the power of art marks Korean author J.M. Lee's first publication in the United States. The Investigation, inspired by a true story, centers on the narrator's probe into the murder of a fellow guard at Japan's Fukuoka Prison during World War II.

Sugiyama Dozen, a veteran of the Kwantung Army, patrols Ward Three with an iron fist--and a wooden club--instilling fear in the Korean prisoners housed there. He also serves as the censor. "Sugiyama considered this silent war in his office the most valuable of them all. Books and records marched forward like enemy soldiers, and within them he found the enemy that gnawed through our healthy empire like a swarm of moths."

When Sugiyama is found hanging naked with a steel stake through his heart, young guard Watanabe Yuichi is assigned the investigation as well as Sugiyama's censoring duties. Through a combination of these tasks, Watanabe uncovers a poet, a pianist, a young kite-flyer and a silent hero, each creating hope and beauty in a devastatingly hideous war.

With stunning language--enhanced by an insightful translation, painfully resonating characters and breath-catching suspense, Lee crafts a gripping, complex tale of literature's ability to transform and unite those it touches, even in the darkest of times. His story pays homage to Korean history, but his characters, their experiences and emotions are universal.

Sculpted from grotesque circumstances, The Investigation is a marvelous work of art. This is a book to savor from beginning to end.

The Investigation is available in hardcover from Pegasus Books (9781605988467).

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Quote of the Week

"And there sat in front of me: a pair of black lace panties. If I opened a pair of black lacy panties now, at my age, I would probably throw them in the bottom of my underwear drawer and only take them out when I had let my laundry pile grow so large, the air pressure would change if you climbed to the top of it. I mean, if I want to feel sexy I'll just put on a pair of Spanx, which cuts off enough circulation to my brain that I believe I am sexy."
   –Alida Nugent in You Don't Have to Like Me

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