Why I Am Not Going to Buy a Computer by Wendell Berry – Book Review | IcthusBookCorner

I will try to create a coherent text about my opinions on this book. The keyword here is TRY.

This book by Wendell Berry, an American poet, novelist and environmental activist, is an argument for a life lived slowly. It is also a discussion on technological progress and his ideas about a more simplistic society.

The first part of this book consists of the essay with the homonymous title. The second part includes the author’s response to the letters he received from critics regarding the essay.

I was angry while reading the text and neither because I was opposed to the opinions stated in Berry’s text nor to the reactions it caused. I was angry due to how the discussion was handled by both the author and the critics. I agreed with most of the point Berry was trying to make however I did not agree with some of his proposed solutions. (Namely, the way he talked about his wife as if all women agreed with what she agreed on doing for her husband.) Here is where I believe the critics were right to call Berry out, although I am not okay with the way they did so.

If you read it in a group or a classroom setting, it will lead to plenty of interesting discussions. The book is very much a document of its time, which is fantastic to look back on, and it was a quick read and easy to get through.

However, as far as arguments go there is not much logical structure to the text, and there is a self-indulgent style which I don’t appreciate. I might have been just expecting more from this than what I got.

Overall, I think this is a good read and would recommend it for anyone looking for a fast-paced book on slow living (how ironic) and in general, sustainability-related texts. I didn’t rate this book, as I usually do, sorry for that. Hope this was useful or at least entertaining (I don’t think this was entertaining for anyone besides me though.)

Bye bye, keep on reading.


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Link to the book:

The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House by Audre Lorde – Book Review

This book is a collection of essays on the power of women by the self-described black, lesbian, mother, warrior and poet, Audre Lorde.

The collection has four essays: Poetry is Not A Luxury, Use of Erotic, The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House, and Uses of Anger. Every single one of these essays touches on different topics that concern women, and black women in specific; focussing on issues of womanhood, black identity, the LGBTQ community, and the vital roles that art and community must play in overthrowing the patriarchy.

This little book is loaded with heavy, theoretical ideas but Lorde’s writing is amazing enough to draw most of us in, and I found myself nodding along to must of it. These essays remain true to this day and her judgement and criticisms are as sharp and insightful now as they were when she first wrote them.

My favourite essay was, without doubt, the Uses of Anger. I found it to be as important as fitting with the times, while also being unapologetic and brilliant.

Her urge to unity and intersectionality is flawless due to the assurance that these do not mean conformity but accepting everyone’s individual traits.

Overall, I would highly recommend this essay collection about feminism and intersectionality to everyone, but especially if you’re looking for intersectional texts.

I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Bye, keep on reading. 

George Orwell and “Orwellian” as a Concept

Given the current surge of people calling everything they see around them “Orwellian” and doing so incorrectly, I thought I would just come here and try to explain the meaning of the word.

The term was named after the British author Geoge Orwell because of one of his most famous books, the novel “1984”. In his book, Orwell illustrates an oppressive society under a totalitarian government. The word “Orwellian” is often used solely to mean authoritarian, using the term in this way not only fails to fully convey Orwell’s message, but it also risks doing something he tried to warn against.

The government showed to us in “1984” controls its people’s actions and speech in obvious ways, such as watching and hearing their every move and word with punishment waiting for anyone who defies authority. But there are other forms of control which are not so obvious. People are overwhelmed with endless propaganda consisting of made-up facts and statistics, which come from the “ministry of truth”.

Here another term comes into place, “doublespeak”. In “1984”: the military is called the ministry of peace, labour camps are called joycamps, and political prisoners are detained and tortured in what is called “the ministry of love”. Doublespeak is when words are used not to communicate meaning but to weaken it. This has an effect Orwell calls “doublethink”, which is essentially cognitive dissonance, leaving the individual completely dependent on the State’s definition of reality.

These concepts aren’t something that can only happen in totalitarian states, but that could potentially take place in democratic societies. And this is why we can’t use “authoritarian” and “Orwellian” as synonyms.

Orwell was opposed to all forms of totalitarianism and spent most of his life fighting against anti-democratic forces. He was deeply concerned with how such ideologies propagate, giving a great amount of importance to the role of language when it comes to shaping our thoughts and opinions as individuals and as a society.

I would also really like to mention Orwell’s work is often used as being against communism and as well as fascism. Even though it is very much against fascism, as it should, we can’t call Orwell’s novel anti-communist if anything it was anti-capitalism and mostly anti-authoritarian. I say anti-capitalism because fascism is mostly a result of far-right ideologies, as seen throughout history and nowadays as well in a lot of different countries, such as the USA with Trump and Brazil with Bolsonaro, for example. Not to mention, Orwell himself was a democratic socialist which goes against the idea right-wight people have of him being against socialism.

With all this being said, I highly recommend you pick two of his non-fiction books that will make you understand his political ideologies and why he was so anti-totalitarian regimes. These books are Politics and the English Language and Fascism and Democracy.

Anyway, I hope this was helpful and I’m sorry if my rambling went on for way too long.

Bye, keep on reading.

Why She Wrote: A Graphic History of the Lives, Inspiration, and Influence Behind the Pens of Classic Women Writers – Book Review

First of all, I want to thank Chronicle Books for the ARC.

I found the premise for Why She Wrote by Lauren Burke, Hannah K. Chapman and Kaley Bales to be super interesting, the introduction made me super excited to read the rest of the book and I thought this book was a neat take on a biography.

It’s such a unique idea, and honestly one of the most informative books I’ve ever come across. However, I found the transition from written biography to graphic novel mode was often disorienting. Within the illustrated sections, I found that the script font used was difficult to read and the font used in the rest of the book quite unattractive. The images themselves I liked, they were cute but nothing out of this world.

I found the stories of the women interesting, but the writing of the stories not so much, which is sad. More often than not, I was reading just in hopes to see if the chapter on the next writer/author was any better. 

With that being said, I think this book has a place on a shelf of a child with interest in literature and whose parents/teachers are enlighted enough to want their kid/student to read about the power of female authors. 

To sum up, I ended up liking the concept more than the actual book itself and maybe it was just not that well executed. I think the book has potential but needs significant editing and changes before being published. I think it is also very important to mention that the book is very euro-centric and I think it’s time to stop associating classics exclusively to white authors. 

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway – Book Review

If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” – Ernest Hemingway

A Moveable Feast is Ernest Hemingway’s memoir of his time spent in Paris after the war and beginning of his writing career. He was living alongside other writers such as Gertrude Stein, Joyce, Pound, Madox Ford and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

One day, I was roaming around a book shop, as one does, and came across this book. I felt this unspeakable urge to buy this book knowing nothing about it whatsoever. Once I got home and searched it on Goodreads, I saw it had more than four stars I thought to myself: “Nice to know this was not a waste of money”. It sat on my bookshelf for about a year, I picked it put this month and simply could not put it down for a second.

In this book, you read about someone becoming a writer and romanticize about it overlooking the fact that Hemingway describes going hungry somedays so that his wife and child could eat. I loved reading about the friendship between Hemingway and Fitzgerald and getting to see the perception the author had of him as both a person and a writer. It was just so heartwarming.

Every chapter in A Moveable Feast is sort of a little story from his life. You get a varied idea of what he was up to and came to realize that he had kind of a problem with gambling, most likely because he thought it was the only way he had to make money.

I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars and highly recommend it.

“I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, ‘Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.’ So finally I would write one true sentence, and go on from there.” – Ernest Hemingway

Women, Race & Class by Angela Davis – Book Review

Woman, Race & Class is a non-fiction book about the connection between racism, class prejudice and white feminism.

Having read Angela Davis before (Freedom Is a Constant Struggle) I had already been introduced to the political activist’s narrative. However, this book was a pleasant surprise. Freedom Is a Constant Struggle is a collection of interviews and speeches, so it ended up being a bit repetitive, whereas Woman, Race & Class was objective, concise and exactly what I was hoping from it.

Angela Davis breaks down how misogyny, racism, and classism have shaped our society. She pays special attention to how white-dominated middle-class social movements have repeatedly forsake solidarity with both working class and black people in behalf of political convenience, as well as displaying how the biased goals of white reformists have allowed capitalist oppression throughout history.

This book moved through the atrocities of slavery, lynching and, overall, racist discrimination, especially by the feminist movement of the 20th century. Reading it, I felt outraged and angry towards my very own privileges.

Women, Race & Class is organized in such a way that everything you read sounds like new information even though we know it’s all connected which was exactly the book’s intent. The biggest take from this book is an extremely important one: INTERSECTIONALITY MATTERS, and sometimes we forget how much.

I gave this book 5 out of 5 starts.

Me and White Supremacy Workbook by Layla F. Saad – Book Review

“I think whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as males are taught not to recognize male privilege.” – Peggy McIntosh

Me And White Supremacy Workbook by Layla F. Saad is a pioneer, anti-racism book for people holding white privilege to begin examining and dismantling their complicity in the oppressive system of white supremacy.

Far too often, I see white people blaming other white people and declaring them as the problem that causes racism, to distance themselves from the problem. I was happy to see that being addressed in the book.

If like me, you were always taught that racism is bad and that people should all have the same rights and opportunities, this book still serves as an excellent tool for digging out internalized messages regarding race that you might not have been aware of.

The only negative aspect I have to point out is that the book starts with multiple separate chapters about the author when the intent of the book is not to get to know the author but to critically analyse your privilege, which to me felt slightly off.

Needless to say, I have learned a lot. The questions didn’t allow for any hesitation, and I know that, though I have a lot of work to do, I now have basic knowledge on how to continue the work.

I recommend it as a tool for anyone who is or wants to be anti-racism. (and if you don’t want to what are you doing reading this)

I gave this book 4 out of 5 starts.

Given the current social climate, instead of telling you to keep on reading, I’ll provide you with a website which has both petitions and donations for you to take part in. Remember that what is happing right now in the US is not a US problem, there is racism in every country and our responsibility is to take action.

Stay safe and resist the oppression!

Link: https://biglink.to/forBLM

She Represents: 44 Women Who Are Changing Politics . . . and the World, by Caitlin Donohue – Book Review

She represents is a non-fiction title written by Caitlin Donohue. It brings light to 44 powerhouse women around the world.

First of all, I’m glad African and South American women were mentioned, however, in my opinion, the book would have had more impact if the approach had been even more global (more Asian and European women) since it focused mainly on women in the United States. The author gives us a summary of these diverse and interesting women in less than 3 pages per person. Not to mention, I was extremely happy to see a wide range of political ideologies represented.

The background stories come to life as a result of the references to their personalities or personal anecdotes. Those make the woman in power feel more relatable. I found the artwork to be both inviting and full of life (and I believe there might be more artwork to come, given it was only an arc).

I reckon this book would be nice for those seeking to learn more about women in politics, current political circumstances.

Thank you to Caitlin Donohue, Zest Books, and Netgalley for providing me with a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Don’t forget that She Represents releases on September 1, 2020.

I give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Women & Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard – Book Review

Women & Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard is an adaptation from two speeches she made in 2014 and 2017 where she tracks what women’s relationship with power has been, from ancient myths to current online discourse.36525023._sy475_

The book starts with Beard stating “Women in the west have a lot to celebrate; let’s not forget.”, reflecting on how times have changed since her own mother was born, a time when women did not have the right to vote. At the end of the text reflects on what can be done and ventures that power needs to be redefined, not womanhood.

Beard draws connections I had never before thought about, between classical imagery and modern politics, the cultural precedents for the oppression of women in the oldest literature, managing to completely blow my mind. Though in contemporary times women have achieved much more “power” as traditionally defined, such as political power,  she notes that women’s political is rather curtailed.

Overall, I really enjoyed it, I underlined so many passages from it, and I really liked thinking more about our understanding of power as a society. I can not recommend it enough!

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Bye, keep on reading.

Cadernos de Lanzarote: Diário I de José Saramago – Book Review

Alo alo, habitantes da Internet!

Acho que é a primeira critica que aqui escrevo em português, mas como as únicas cópias que encontrei deste livro foram em português e castelhano não pensei que fosse útil para ninguém fazer isto em inglês. No entanto, tenho muito mais receio de escrever em português, talvez por ser estranhamente mais intimo, por favor não julguem. Bora nessa!

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Este primeiro volume de Cadernos de Lanzarote trata-se do diário mantido por Saramago no ano de 1993 (ou 94 ainda não percebi bem), enquanto morou na ilha em causa juntamente com Pilar. Neste diário o autor foca-se maioritariamente em episódios quotidianos, algumas reflexões filosóficas e claro na sua opinião implacável sobre inúmeros tópicos.

Sendo Saramago um dos meus escritores preferidos, era inevitável ler estes pequenos diários. Para falar verdade, não esperava adorar este livro, afinal de contas é um diário (um exercício que pode ser visto como narcísico, tendo em conta que o autor sabia que ia ser publicado). Foi uma leitura rápida que me deixou ainda mais apaixonada pela escrita deste autor maravilhoso. Saramago salta-nos das paginas dos livros e ficamos perante aquilo que parece ser uma verdadeira modéstia que seriamos capazes de esperara de um autor como ele.

A simples descrição do seu dia a dia deixa-me maravilhada e as conversas que conta ter com pessoas que fazem parte da nossa memoria e cultura coletiva criam em mim um quê de inveja e simultaneamente de respeito.

Foi uma leitura leve e divertida que me levou para dentro da mente de um dos meus escritores preferidos. Recomendo o livro a todos os que apreciam a escrita de Saramago e claro para aqueles que tencionam entender melhor a vida do artista.

Dou ao livro 4 em 5 estrelas.

Adeus e não se cansem de ler!