( o36. the handmaid's tale; margaret atwood. )
There's a funny story associated with the reading of this book. I'm part of a book club that contains a couple of generations. When selecting a book to read for September, one member mentioned that the times or topic we were discussing reminded her of some element of this book. The rest of us stared at her blankly, and she couldn't believe we'd never read it, let alone never heard of it. Solved that problem!
The Handmaid's Tale, first published in 1985, was written by Canadian author Margaret Atwood. Atwood doesn't refer to this work as science fiction. Her definition of science fictin is such that she doesn't think it classifies any of her work. Rather, she calls much of her writing to be 'speculative fiction'. The Handmaid's Tale is a feminist dystopian (I love that word) novel. The past of the book is the present for us, and in the effort to make a utopian society, those in power do the exact opposite. Most reviews of the book focus, quite rightly, on women's rights and issues in the context of a complete military and dogmatic takeover. We are led through the past and present with Offred, who is a woman like any other and becomes a handmaid (concubine). The novel, to me, was very chilling to read in bed at night. What's even more amazing is that the settings of the book were created based on real life scenarios that didn't necessarily happen all at once or just in one part of the world. If Margaret Atwood was really kept out of the US for a time, I wouldn't be surprised. Excellent book.
Genre : Literature, science fiction, speculative fiction.
Length : 311 pages.
Rating : 5/5 = Would read it over and over again.
( o37. solving tough problems; adam kahane. )
I read this book for a graduate seminar in interpersonal communication. The idea was to read a book about communication that wasn't written by a communication scholar. This book fits the bill, and I was surprised by how much I liked it.
Solving Tough Problems: An Open Way of Talking, Listening, and Creating New Realities was written by Adam Kahane, and he published it in 2004. He has a whole mess of degrees, from a BS physics to an MA in Energy and Resource Economics. And I'm sure they've helped him down the road, but one of his major accomplishments to the world is the way he's gone into situations with complex problems and watched how people work to resolve those problems themselves. No outside aid.
From the sleeve: "Our most common way of solving problems--at home, at work, in our communities, in national and international affairs--is to use our expertise and authority to apply piece-by-piece, tried-and-true 'best practices.' This works for simple, familiar, uncontentious problems. But it doesn't work for the complex, unfamiliar, conflictual problems that we all increasingly face. When we try to solve these complex problems using our common way, the problems end up either getting stuck or getting unstuck only by force. We all need to learn another, uncommon way.
Adam Kahane has worked on some of the toughest problems in the world. He started out as an expert analyst and adviser to corporations and governments, convinced of the need to calculate 'the one right answer.' Then, through an unexpected experience in South Africa during the transition away from apartheid, he got involved in facilitating a series of extraordinary, high-conflict, high-stakes problem solving efforts: in Colombia during the civil war, in Argentina during the collapse, in Guatemala after the genocide, in Israel-Palestine, Northern Ireland, Cyprus, and the Basque Country. Through these experiences, he has learned how to create environments that enable creative new ideas and solutions to emerge even in the most stuck and challenging contexts. Here Kahane tells his stories and distills from them a 'simple but not easy' approach all of us can use to solve our own toughest problems."
Genre : Communication, non-fiction, business.
Length : 132 pages.
Rating : 3/5 = Worth the read.
Currently reading : A whole mess of things, but the ones worth note are Jill Bolte Taylor's My Stroke of Insight and Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire Mysteries, starting with Dead Until Dark. Happy reading!