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No Impact Man

Is it safe to assume that most of us here in the RedRoom are avid readers?  I am and have been for as long as I can remember.

As a professional marketer, I thought it might be interesting to capture a snapshot of our collective reading habits by conducting an informal, statistically-flawed survey asking, What are you reading right now?  If you care to add a critique, all the better.  If this is popular, I may try to do this once a quarter or so.

As Hombre well knows, I am seriously backlogged in my reading.  Nonetheless, I was recently given five new books about the environment and sustainability, and one of them was No Impact Man:  The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process by Colin Beavan.  As it happened, I met Colin a few days ago and had an opportunity to speak with him and get the book autographed.  He was a personable man, but now that I am getting down to the business of reading the book, I'm on the fence about it.

New York City based Colin and his wife and young daughter spent a year trying to live without making an impact on the environment.  He blogged about it and, based on the popularity of his blog, was contracted to write this book.  One of the first things the Beavan family attempted to do was reduce the amount of paper they consumed and trash they produced.  No tissues, no toilet paper, no takeaway foods, no packaged products, no Starbucks.  Next came reducing their carbon footprint.  No processed or imported foods.  No machine-powered transit.  Not even the elevator to their ninth-floor apartment.  I'm only about halfway through this book, but I think next up is going to be reducing power consumption.  No lights, no TV, no refrigeration.

Here's what's bugging me a little bit about this book.  Firstly, considering the subject matter, why isn't it an e-book?  Casts doubt on the sincerity.  Secondly, for someone who as recently as 2006 wasn't the least bit socially or environmentally aware, the tone is a bit preachy and the eco credibility just isn't there for me.  Thirdly--and I'll admit, this is my own quirk--I have compunctions about celebrating the lives of people who simply chose to live as many in this world are forced to live because they lack American affluenza and any possibility for overconsumption.  So the family used handkerchiefs instead of tissues, cloth diapers instead of disposable, Asian-style potty habits instead of American.  It's kind of embarrassing to me that our sense of entitlement is so great that we would view these measures as some sort of major comedown.  I can't imagine sharing this book with some of my friends who live in the developing world.

At least No Impact Man is an easier read than my prior two picks, Pretensions to Empire by Lewis Lapham and The Enemy at Home by Dinesh D'Souza.  Yes, I am still on my jag of reading books about the Arab world, Islam, and the Middle East.

Comments
52 Comment count
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Hi Ellen

I will say it in an autistic way:
Hombre is reading a classic,"Our inner conflicts" by Karen Horney!
What does it recall you?

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Haven't read it, Hombre. 

Haven't read it, Hombre. 

What happened to your sombrero?!  :-)

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That is actually Hombre´s

That is actually Hombre´s handsome twin, El. :-D Seriously, H. that´s a great photo!

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Looks a bit like the young

Looks a bit like the young Omar Sharif in Dr. Zhivago.

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You got it, El:

You got it, El:

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Lu, you have the most

Lu, you have the most impressive photo search skills!  Hombre's and Omar's photos are dead ringers. . .right down to the lock of hair falling to the forehead. 

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You know, it was one of

You know, it was one of those things, I just googled - omar sharif Dr. Zivagho, and bam! Separated at birth, aren´t they?

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Hombre is Omar's

Hombre is Omar's doppelgänger.  Hombre is from Algeria, while Omar is from Egypt.  Could they share a relative in their family trees?

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Hi Ellen,hi Luci

This afternoon I watched two films of Omar Sharif.One in black and white while he was in his twenties.The second when Omar is a granpa.

Our companionship started with lawrence of Arabia and continues up till now with the latest film:Hussein and Peters. 

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Are we the only ones who

Are we the only ones who think you look like him?

I haven't seen photos of him lately, but Dr. Zhivago is one of my all-time favorite films, and I noticed you look like him when you posted this latest photo of yourself, Hombre.  Seriously.  His jaw is just a little squarer, otherwise you could pass as Omar in younger days. 

 

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I'm flattered!

I'm flattered!

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Hi Ellen

The holidays are over so one has to put on the coat of seriousness.

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So are you back to being

So are you back to being Abdelwahab, or are you forever Hombre to us?!  :-)

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Hi Ellen

Abdelwahab for the friends.For the readers,Hombre Forever!

Abdelwahab 

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Not that I think anyone ever

Not that I think anyone ever looks at it, but I keep my "What I'm Reading" section here at Red Room up to date. So looking over there, I find: (1) "The Savage Detectives" (Given all I'd been reading about Bolanos I am semi-disappointed, but I figure it's a question of my preferences in fiction, not the quality of the work); (2) "Theories of Everything" a career-spanning collections of cartoons by Roz Chast, my favorite New Yorker cartoonist; (3) "Retribution" by Max Hastings. I've been on a WW II kick and prefer Rick Atkinson's prose, but Max is more analytical; "Offshore" by Penelope Fitzgerald, a slim novel, which came recommended in a collection of Joan Acocella's pieces that i just finished; "Game, Set and match, a collection of Herbert Warren Wind's pieces on tennis from the 1970s and 1980s; and, finally, "The Black Wife," a novel published in English in Germany by Alan Goldfein, a friend, who was unable to find an American publisher who'd take a chance on it.

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I'm impressed, Bob.  Not

I'm impressed, Bob.  Not only do you keep your RR blog up to date, you seem to read a lot of books simultaneously.  Once in a while, I have two or three going at a time, but seldom more than that. 

Was Game, Set and Match a hand-me-down from your wife, who loves tennis?

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I´m reading Pierre Lévy´s

I´m reading Pierre Lévy´s Cyberculture , for work - I´m going to interpret for him next week at his conference in Passo Fundo.
And I´m reading Azincourt, by Bernard Cornwell, for fun. And I hope to meet him one day to say how much I love his adventure/historical novels! :-D

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It is a small world, Lu.  I

It is a small world, Lu.  I think it is totally in the realm of the possible that you will one day meet some of the authors you love and admire.

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two at a time

Ell,I am reading two at a time, depends upon my mood. One is 'Contempt'by Alberto Moravia, laterally filmed by 'Godard'.It is gifted to me by my niece, who has came from London on short visit.I was searching this book for last ten years.

 

Second one is 'Cosmos' by Carl Sagan, a brief history of universe.

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With your science

With your science background, I think you will enjoy Cosmos, Dr. Jitu.  I read it quite some time ago, before Sagan's death.

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Ellen- Reading several

Ellen- Reading several books at once may not be the best way to do things, but it adds a (is it?) post-modern flip to things when I forget which characters belong where. And as to the Wind, not exactly. I had thought highly of his writings on tennis (and golf, if Chris Rodell drops by) so I decided to buy the collection FOR my wife but then I started reading it before she did, so it's on my side of the bed for now.

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I suspect your method of

I suspect your method of reading isn't so uncommon among the avid reader segment of the population.  If I'm reading just before bed, I want something light and easy and not terribly engaging.  Often, like Lu, I have work-related reading. . .books I otherwise wouldn't read.  And that is how I sometimes get several books going.  One for each situation.  It's like that old Almond Joy candy bar commercial. . .sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't.

 

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I am forever picking up The

I am forever picking up The New Yorker to read articles and the poetry and if not I obsessively check out the weather page on the back of the Irish Times (always wrong by the way) and if I dare I will also read the obits, apart from the light reading I love real reading and I am about to start into Indignation by Philip Roth (I loved his Everyman novel). I have a book of Slyvia Plath poems always at hand too. m

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Plath and Roth. . .somehow

Plath and Roth. . .somehow these seem like good fits for your tastes and the shorter Irish days.  I picture you tucked away on a cushy sofa, legs curled underneath you, hot cup of tea on the adjacent coffee table, Lenny at your feet, Missy on your lap, something delicious simmering on the stove, immersed in your reading until the boys come home from school and take you out of that world and into the moment.

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Ellen, my god! were you that

Ellen, my god! were you that fly on the wall this afternoon? Dinner tonight looks dangerously good, wish you were here to join us in the candlelight. Mares

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I wish I were there, too,

I wish I were there, too, Mares.  It would be a treat on so many levels.

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Ellen, I’m completely

Ellen,

I’m completely random and erratic avid reader. I’m reading a short story collection by Kafka. I bought this book in 1970 when I couldn’t read it yet. It is a hard cover and the mark says $2.50! Well, I don’t know if I can say I can read it now because it’s still hard to comprehend. I have to read and reread and again and again.

The book in my bag is “The Battle of Sekigahara” by Shiba Ryotaro. It’s the third of three volume Japanese historical book. I must have read the first two before because they have my markings and comments. I don’t remember much, but I hope to finish the third volume.

I just finished reading “Discrimination and Japanese.” It’s an interview type book. The female writer is a Korean Japanese, and the interviewee is Hiromu Nonaka, a former minister. The book can be better, but he is very impressive. The book was very good for me because I knew very little about his activities. He is truly impressive man. Unfortunately, he is not well known in the U.S., so I found very poor info. as below.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiromu_Nonaka

One book I finished a month ago, and I was so impressed with and cried every other page is “Shooting Stars are Alive” by Tei Fujiwara. It’s a non-fiction based on her experience in escaping back to Japan with her three small children from China after WWII. It’s an incredible story. Again, I couldn’t find much info. in English. I wish this is translated into other languages.
http://openlibrary.org/b/OL12356319M/Nagareru_hoshi_wa_ikite_iru

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Wow, Keiko. . .impressive

Wow, Keiko. . .impressive reading list.  Kafka is a challenging choice even for most native speakers, but you will get more than your $2.50's worth after reading it multiple times.  :-)

Fujiwara's book sounds like something I'd like to read.

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Read Kafka and die happy,

Read Kafka and die happy, say I.

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But I still want to know, Dale,

in a spirit of academic, maybe even scientific, enquiry, whether Kafka's genius would have been impaired by a few 'uppers' now and then?

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Dale and Rosy, you didn't

Dale and Rosy, you didn't mention what you are reading right now.  :-)

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Ellen

I'm reading 'Music Composition for Dummies' right now.

You did ask!

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Are you a musician, Rosy? 

Are you a musician, Rosy?  Voice or instrumental?

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Singer (Mezzo)

If you have time to look, details on pp 1 and 2 of Bio at

http://www.pilgrimrose.com

Not bad at sight-reading, but composition's a whole new ball game! I'm attempting a collection of fairly simple Sacred Songs.

Thanks for your interest, Ellen.

 

 

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Wow, Rosy!  I just attended

Wow, Rosy!  I just attended Verdi's "Il Trovatore" with a friend.  We couldn't imagine being able to sing like that.  Must feel wonderful.

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My reading list

Hi Ellen,

I'm reading a few books at the same time right now, mopping up those I didn't quite get to finish before leaving on my Euro Book Tour '09: "The Known World" by Edward P. Jones, which I'm enjoying more now although before I left I felt my attention dragging. The writing is beautiful and the story -- of black slaveowners in the South -- is very compelling. Also, "The Golden Notebook" by Doris Lessing, which I was loving but which wasn't the airplane reading I wanted. On the plane I read "Reading Lolita in Tehran," and really loved it. It really touched me to read about the courage of oppressed women in our own times. I just bought Jess Walter's latest book, and also an Edith Wharton. I'm waiting for "Lady Chatterley's Lover" to come in at the bookstore, my book group's October read. And then there are those history books for my next novel, which I read during the day.

What a life! My mother always predicted I'd be a life-long student, and here I am. Loving it, too.

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Thanks for chiming in,

Thanks for chiming in, Sherry!

It seems most of us here in the RR read a number of books either simultaneously or in very quick succession and across genres.  I, too, enjoyed Reading Lolita in Tehran and recently read a Wharton book called The Cruise of the Vanadis, which was given to me by a friend.

I think I've learned more from reading books than I have through my formal education.  And I had a pretty good formal education, so I am not putting that down.  But one can learn anything and go anywhere in books.

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Hi Sherry,           

Hi Sherry,

               First time  I read  "Lady Chatterley's Lover" was before ten years and then three times more in the span of last ten years. It is one, out of my ten favorite novels. I like the fascinating weaving of the story by Lawrence.

 

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Dr. Jitu, I like how, when

Dr. Jitu, I like how, when you find a book you like, you read it over and over again (e.g., the Gita) to savor every word.

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Yes Ell, I find something

Yes Ell, I find something new in every re reading, penetrating the remorse corner of authors mind, which might be missed in first reading.Reading 'Geeta' again and again has some religious aspect too.

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I think it'd be almost

I think it'd be almost impossible to get everything possible out of Gita in a single reading.  It is just too rich.  I can see why you return to that over and over again.

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Hi Ellen

Please read this and say if it has a connection with books you never get tired of reading.

How Cinema Couch Therapy Operates

Let me take you through the first few questions of Close-up, the first sequence of Cinema Couch so that you can understand how it operates at a deeper level than most therapies. We will start with question 1.

What movie or movies do you never tire of watching? We will assume that you answered Casablanca,The MatrixLord of the Rings. These films are popular choices so we will imagine that I am working with a hypothetical client and these are the films they have chosen. The next question would be: What character or characters can you relate to in each one of the films that you have mentioned? Let us assume that you answered: Rick, the character played by Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, Neo (Keanu Reeves) in The Matrix, and Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) in Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. The client would then be asked: What emotions rose to the surface when you watched each one of these films?

Answer: sacrificial love, passion, courage, excitement, inspiration, sadness, denial, joy, hidden power. Can you see a connection between these three films, a thread that holds them together? All the characters were courageous. There was an underlying theme of spiritual awareness, a deeper meaning, a greater purpose in life than first realized. All films were mythical, even Casablanca, because at the heart of the film's structure is the hero's journey, in this case a journey of the heart. Nobly, Rick sacrifices his love for Ilsa, for the cause of patriotism and lets her get on the plane at the end of the film with Lazlo. The shadow side was fear and denial, which ran through all the aforementioned movies. Gradually a pattern begins to emerge and a name is given to their paralysing paradigm. In the example given it might be something like sacrificially courageous and fearfully denied. The pattern would reflect the unblocked issues of their parents.

In summary, it would seem that the films offered above are disparate choices, but the thread is there and this is what attracts one to those particular films. Cinema Couch Therapy strips away the layers of our emotional blockages and allows us to be our true and powerful self, overcoming any paralyzing paradigms whether they be unrequited love, guilt, unable to forgive, always feeling inferior, abandoned, rejected, depressed, lonely, betrayed or staying in a relationship even though you know it is past its sell-by date. Cinema Couch Therapy is literally the new kid to unlock your emotional blockages." 

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Possibly, Hombre, possibly.

Possibly, Hombre, possibly.

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I always like this question :-)

I've actually set up camp between the pages of several books (a lifelong habit) but at the moment I seem to be settling more comfortably into Ilan Stavans' "Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Early Years." It's the kind of literary biography I tend to go for in a big way because the biographer attempts to trace not just the life of the individual but the genesis and development of major works--ala "100 Years of Solitude"-- while avoiding too many details that distract rather than inform, and sharing passion and insights by the truckloads.

Aberjhani
author of The American Poet Who Went Home Again
and Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance (Facts on File)

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Thanks for weighing in

Thanks for weighing in Aberjhani.

Isn't it interesting how many of us keep several books going at a time? Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Borders should be courting us! We are keeping them in business. :-)

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Another reader!

Hi Ellen,
I’m now back on Red Room, writing and catching up with friends. Your question made me think. As a kid I would hide in a closet where musty quilts were stored, turn on the bare light bulb, and read and read and read. Now I’m usually in bed with the bedside lampshade tilted to give maximum light. Like the others who replied to your question, I sometimes read several books at once. However, if I’m into a story I read like a crazy woman until I’ve finished it, sometimes all night. I’ve been known to cancel party invitations because I couldn’t stand to put down the book I was reading. Reading a really good book, a subjective matter, is often more fun than most parties, especially cocktail parties. I just finished reading T.C. Boyle’s “The WOMEN” concerning the life of egocentric genius Frank Lloyd Wright from the viewpoint of his wives. It was mesmerizing. Bo Caldwell’s “The Distant Land of my Father” set in Shanghai at the time of Mao and Pearl Harbor brought me to tears. A perennial favorite is “The Poisonwood Bible” by Barbara Kingsolver. I’ve read it three times. Each time I get something new from it. I bought her new book “The Lacuna”, but can’t seem to get into it. Opinions anyone? Recently I found “The Far Pavilions” by M.M. Kaye, about British India, in my library. It was published in 1978 and I have no idea how I came to own it. The book is one-thousand-pages of small type. A daunting read. But once I started reading it I was a goner. A poem by James Elroy Flecker on the fly page of the book intrigued me to read on, dear Pilgrims...

‘We are Pilgrims, Master: We shall go
Always a little further. It may be
Behind the last blue mountain topped with snow
Across that angry or that glimmering sea,
White on a throne, or guarded in a cave
There lives a prophet who can understand
Why men are born...’

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Thanks for weighing in, Pat,

Thanks for weighing in, Pat, and nice to know you are returning to form!  :-)

Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible. . .I read it long after it was a bestseller, thinking I could only be disappointed.  But, like you, I loved that book, and probably the reason it spoke so loudly to both of us is because of our international wanderings and our ability to relate to the main characters.  I read it before I'd ever worked in the Middle East, so the time in my life it brought me back to was my 20s, when I served in the Peace Corps in a developing country. 

 

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Hi Ellen

“When we gossip about someone, she or he will soon appear.” You proved this to be true. The other day, I mentioned your name on Julia Stein’s blog.
http://www.redroom.com/blog/julia-stein/revolutionary-road-a-feminist-film
The number of comments won’t shoot up without you.

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Hey, stop gossiping about

Hey, stop gossiping about me, Keiko!!!  :-)

Nice to reconnect. 

 

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Oh Ellen!

Oh Ellen!