Reading Roundup for October

While I was offline, I did a lot of reading (like always). I’ll have a few posts up like this in the coming month. Here’s a sample of what I read.

The Old Man and Me by Elaine Dundy. Chalk one up for the “Angry Young Woman.” This viciously funny and deftly crafted novel by the author of the also wonderful The Dud Avocado kept me laughing with a turn of each page. A young woman lands in London in the early 60’s with one particular older Englishman in her sights. Why is she after him? Is Honey Flood her real name? To find out, you’ll have to read the book and follow the plot’s credible twists to its ludicrously touching and funny end. Recommended for Angry Young Women.

Lightning Rods by Helen DeWitt. A very different book than The Last Samurai. This satire of corporate culture, especially the language used in sales is funny. Joe comes up with a way to better manage the tensions which sexual harassment creates in the workplace. His unique solution proves compelling and wildly successful, but not without some very funny practical obstacles.

As enjoyable and playful as this fantasy of a novel is, I couldn’t help but think that the opposite would have occurred. If you discretely offered male workers a literal piece of ass whenever they wanted it at the workplace, the intended effect would be just the opposite of what DeWitt proposes. By encouraging and promoting the objectification of women’s bodies (which already occurs enough, just look at any form of advertising anywhere) in such a stark way, that sexual harassment would actually increase.

Full disclosure: I have picked up some Gender Theory here and there while being married to my wife, who happens to be a Gender and Immigration Scholar. Recommended for Corporate Sharks.

Stretch: The Unlikely Making of a Yoga Dude by Neal Pollock. Writer and unrepentant cynic Pollack gets into yoga. Big time. He details his initial dabbling in yoga at the urging of his wife to trying different kinds of yoga in yoga studios around L.A., to going to Yoga Potlucks, to participating in a yoga conference for an article in Yoga Journal, to attending a retreat in Thailand in order to take classes from a particular guru, and ultimately teaching his own class.

All the while Pollock smokes pot. A more apt title for this book would have been “Stoned Yoga.” Pollack toked up before class in the morning, class in the evening, whenever he could get stoned. He even found a quack doctor in L.A. to prescribe him medical marijuana, thus offering himself up as the poster boy for critics of medical marijuana.

Regardless, “Stoned Yoga” presents one cynic’s journey of self-discovery through yoga. It is funny, entertaining, and rarely dull. (Did you know that Bikram yoga is copyrighted. I didn’t. I mean, really? Like someone could copyright a type of Kung Fu or Karate. ) It’s only when Pollack goes into detail behind the Sanskrit words for the yoga positions during certain scenes that his story gets boring. But then I don’t practice yoga. So maybe those parts would be interesting to people who do practice yoga. Recommended for Cynics and Yoga Practitioners.

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