read: 16 May 2013
Longmore was a disability activist and chronicler of the history of disability in the US. His central thesis--that the most disabling thing about having a disability is actually the social conditions surrounding disability in the US and not the actual physical/mental issues--is carried through this collection of essays. This all leads up to the final essay in which he outlines quite clearly how the disabled are legally punished for being productive members of society (via reductions to their SSI income if they make money via royalties or fellowships) and how difficult it has been to make any headway in changing these laws.
My favorite chapter in this book was about disability activism in WPA era where a group formed called The League of the Physically Handicapped and tried to get the same access to jobs programs for disabled people that able-bodied folks had. It’s a great narrative of an unknown (to me) aspect of US history that has had a lasting affect on anti-discrimination policies in the US in the time since.Longmore also discusses other topics dear to accessiblity/usability/disability activists which is the portrayal of disabled people in movies and the role of disability activists and disabled people generally in the Right to Die movement.
read: 13 May 2013
Enjoyed this despite the fact that it is a parenting book and even one that relies on some of the old tired “My wife raises five kids, six if you count me” gender tropes. Gaffigan is really funny. His delivery is great and unlike many comedians you don’t get the feeling that his humor is a thin veneer over a really serious hatred of himself and others. He and his wife have five kids all ages eight and under who they live with in a two-bedroom Manhattan apartment. He talks about this and a lot of the other amusing aspects of being a dad-of-five-kids (bonus: no one ever invites you to come visit!) as well as maintaining a tour schedule and all the other things that he does. I like it because it’s clear that he adores his wife--you don’t see a ton of nasty cracks at her expense--and all of his children who are given their own personalities and stories so it’s not one of those “I can’t tell you guys apart” situations. I laughed out loud at parts of this book and I think people who are looking for a humor-in-parenting book will really enjoy this.
read: 5 May 2013
Was sort of stoked to have never read these books before so I had them available for my first plane ride in almost a year. I’d heard a lot about them and of course they were very popular at the library. I enjoyed this book a lot, liked the plucky young girl protagonist and generally this story about a place that was sort of like here only not exactly. I watched the movie shortly afterwards and felt that while the movie told basically the same story there was too much glossing over some of the parts of the book that made it really great like Lyra explaining how she knew how to read the alethiometer and the complicated relationships between people and their daemons. Off to read the next two books.
read: 15 April 2013
Enjoyed this book about how the brain can, contrary to previously held belief, recondition itself to new circumstances including things like recovering from strokes (even at advanced ages) and various kinds of disabilities. Each chapter is a different example of different ways the brain can adapt and learn and Doidge spends a lot of time discussing what we previously thought was true about brain science and what we are now learning is true. Very chatty and readable while still giving you a lot of places to go if you want to dig in to any one subtopic.
read: 17 March 2013
Finished with the five pack of Meltzer books I got (I think I had read one of them previously). Enjoyed it enough to finish it but again wound up scratching my head as to why I never really like any of his characters, especially not the main ones. Meltzer’s plots are enjoyable and tight but they get bogged down in way too much ACTION type stuff which is not that interesting (or, to me, well-written) and his later books get super-violent. This one wasn’t super violent except a big fight thing towards the end, and I guess I prefer my thrillers more thinky and less fighty.
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