Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies about Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be

35542451

Rating: 1 Star, DNF

Short version: This book is ridiculous, bordering on the downright atrocious. I have seen so many people rave about it, I thought it was going to at least be a decent read. (Spoiler alert: It's not.) You might like it if you are self-absorbed, insufferable, and have never had an actual struggle in your entire life and are probably on the WASP-y side. Now, there is nothing wrong with being WASP-y, but there is if it is also accompanied by the spoiled, self-absorbed, and insufferable parts. I gave up maybe 40 pages in. When someone who I have never heard writes in a way that implies I should know who they are, the book is definitely not for me.

Shorter version: Girl, Check Your Privilege.

Do not read. Highly NOT recommended.

Tackling the TBR Week 7: Feb 15-Feb 21, 2019


Each week I will be keeping track of books that I have read from my TBR. I have a huge backlog of books and often end up reading new books that are not even on my list, instead of trying to whittle down the list that continues to balloon up on Goodreads. Chuckles had the idea first, and we are going to use this as a chance to encourage each other to get those books read instead of always grabbing new ones and thus never making a dent in the physical and digital stacks we already have. It will also give us a chance to take a good look at our lists and see if there are ones we are no longer interested in. We will be posting on the 7th, 14th, 21st, and the last day of the month.

Previous Week's TBR Total: 3,922

Books Added to TBR This Week: 68

Books Removed from TBR This Week: 125

Currently Reading: 11

Books Finished This Week: 8

Books DNF-ed This Week: 4

Duplicates Removed: 0

Rereads:
 2
New TBR Total: 3,838 (Goodreads says 3,849 so I am not sure where the issue is this week. OI!)

This week was absolutely ridiculous for me because I found some great books at the library, but only some were already on my TBR. And THEN once I added those to Goodreads, I got a ton more good suggestions. First world problems, right?

Don't be shocked by the 'Reread' - I am rereading the Sideways School books by Louis Sacher with Eleanor. She absolutely LOVES them.

My 'Currently Reading' number here reflects only the books I am reading myself, plus the chapter books I am reading with Eleanor, and my students. I am not counting research materials in with this total.


Is your TBR under control, or a hot mess like mine?

Happy Reading!
Sarah

Sunday, February 17, 2019

The Other Side of the Night: The Carpathia, The Californian, and the Night the Titanic Was Lost

18882752

Rating: 4 Stars

I wanted so badly to give this book five stars because I agreed with much of it, right up to nearly the end at 82% when Butler flat out calls Stanley Lord (captain of the Californian) a sociopath. He very well may have been, but we can never know for sure. All we do know is that night, as the ocean swallowed up the grandest ship ever built, two men made very different choices. One chose to rush headfirst into danger in the hopes his ship could arrive in time to save the passengers of Titanic. The other simply ignored the information from his crew and went to sleep - and in the aftermath changed his story countless times.

Okay, so yes, when you put it that way, he sounds pretty sociopathic.

Another issue with the book was Butler's obvious bias. This did not really bother me, because I pretty much hold the low opinion of Lord that he does, but I can see how this would come across to someone who is a little more in-between or holds no strong opinion either way (except how can you not have a strong opinion about this? His ship was close enough to have rescued nearly everyone!)

This text is a contrasting study of two men, Captain Arthur Rostron of the Carpathia and Captain Stanley Lord of the Californian. Both men were informed early on of Titanic's precarious situation when they received the distress signals from the two brave young men who kept sending out signals until the very last possible moments when they too, finally had to try to save themselves.

This is a fresh perspective I believe, because Titanic is not the focus. Instead, the author looks at the actions of each captain, what those actions meant, and the aftermath of their decisions that night. While you often can get sections dedicated to this very sub-topic in books focusing on Titanic directly, this provides so many more in-depth details about what went on on either of the other ships as Titanic foundered. Butler does not spend time going over the timeline of events as they occurred for Titanic, as there are already a plethora of books that do just that (including another the author has written, called Unsinkable: The Full Story of the RMS Titanic, which is fantastic. But even better would be Walter Lord's A Night to Remember, which remains the number one book about the tragic event of April, 1912). Instead, the perspectives are strictly that of the two ships, what went on during the course of the evening on the Carpathia, and likewise the Californian. And believe me, they could not have been more opposite if they tried.

Throughout the book Butler gives his analysis of the two men, their leadership styles, and how they ran their ships. I think his insights are valuable and his arguments clear. I don't feel like he went after Captain Lord because the story needed a villain - we already have plenty of those; mainly the men who decided that fewer lifeboats (cough*Ismay*cough) were necessary because they would crowd the deck. I think his criticism is justified because Lord chose to ignore a ship in distress. Whether he was actually a sociopath and didn't care, or he truly feared ramming an iceberg himself, we can't really know. However, given documentation about his leadership tendencies recorded for posterity, I personally do not think he was afraid of anything that night. Many arguments have been made that it was not Titanic that Lord's officers and crew saw that night, but even if this is true, so what? The bottom line remains that there was a ship in distress nearby, and Lord did nothing to come to their aid. Again, I think it is difficult to declare someone a sociopath decades after their death, perhaps he really was just a coward. Or lazy. Or all of the above. Lord's actions were pretty telling. There are two logs kept by officers. One log is the official one, where final entries are made regarding the goings-on of the ship. Then there is the scrap log, where the notes and such are first jotted down, before becoming part of the official log. Captain Lord had those scrap logs destroyed before anyone could see them. Doesn't sound like the actions of a man who did nothing wrong, to me at least. The author goes into a bit of detail about these two logs, again showing why Lord's actions are so questionable:

"It is a captain's responsibility to review the contents of the scrap log daily and approve, amend, pr correct entries, after which they are entered into the ship's formal log. The scrap log is kept as a back-up, though, and rarely disposed of during a voyage...The Californian's scrap log for the night of April 14-15, 1912, had vanished, and (that) the formal log contained no references whatsoever to the ship seen by three of Lord's officers, the rockets that ship fired, or Lord's order to attempt to contact the ship by Morse lamp - glaring omissions under any circumstances" (65%).

and

"The duplicity went even further, of course, including the inexplicable disappearance of the Californian's scrap log, for example, or the impossibly innocuous entries in the formal log for the morning of April 15, 1912. Falsifying a log entry is one of the most egregious offenses which any captain can commit, yet only someone truly credulous would believe that Stanley Lord was not responsible for the alterations and omissions found in the logbook of the Californian" (82%).

Given the packed ice field that the ships found themselves in, it would have taken the Californian a bit to reach Titanic, there is no dispute there. Estimates say even if Lord had given the directives to reach Titanic, perhaps only another 400 or so would have been saved. But I am struck by that word, 'only'. Only? That's a further FOUR HUNDRED MEN, WOMEN, AND CHILDREN! That's lives saved, families relieved, what a world of difference Lord's actions would have meant to those people. This quote I think illustrates the whole situation quite tragically perfect:

Standing on an overturned lifeboat, less than fifty yards from the Titanic, Second Officer Lightoller heard a sound that would haunt him for the rest of his life: as the ship began her final plunge, he could hear people - husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, parents and children - crying out to one another, "I love you."

Quite a difference, indeed.

We see quite the opposite reaction from Captain Rostron. Immediately upon receiving the distress calls he orders the ship to change course, full steam ahead, and goes through such a thorough check list, one must wonder if he has prepared for just this situation throughout his entire career. While keeping their passengers calm, the crew of the Carpathia followed every directive, finding blankets, clothing, all manner of everyday items that someone would need if they had just lost everything in the most famous shipwreck in history and were completely and utterly in shock. So many stories have come from this night, how Carpathia passengers gave up their rooms for the survivors of Titanic, and also helped in any way they could. It is just the light needed in a story otherwise full of selfish men who thought of nothing but the bottom line. Captain Rostron took significant risks in order to arrive as soon as they did (which still took a few hours). Carpathia was pushed to her limits. Designed to travel at a maximum speed of 14 knots, she maintained an average speed of 17 knots, slipping around the icebergs that dotted her path. This could not have been an easy decision to make, to put his own ship in danger. But Rostron knew there was no other choice. Another ship was in trouble and it was his duty to provide aid in any way possible. Though Carpathia would arrive roughly four hours after Titanic sank to the bottom of the ocean floor, it was not for nothing. 700 passengers were scattered across a few miles of ocean, bobbing along in their lifeboats, waiting for a rescue they had no idea might even come. Side note about the life boats: When Carpathia arrived in New York, the crowds were puzzled when Rostron passed by the Cunard Line's berth and headed instead for the White Star Line one instead. At the dock, Carpathia's crew returned the life boats to the White Star Line, all that remained of Titanic. What a sight that must have been.

There is so much damaging information here that the author has taken from the contemporary sources. Lord was apparently a very difficult captain to work for and it seems to make sense why none of his officers or crew pushed too hard for what actions they should take when they informed him of the white rockets they saw exploding in the sky. It seems like his men were afraid of him - easy to see why when one considers the fact that it was apparently at gunpoint that they wrote affidavits of what happened that night, according to Lord's wishes.

Okay, okay, the sociopath part is becoming a little more obvious, even if I still think there is danger in diagnosing someone from an earlier time period - even if that period is not too far removed from our own.

Here are a few more quotes that I found particularly interesting:

"Yet somehow, despite Stone's report, from this moment onward, Lord never appeared to consider the idea that the rockets seen by Stone and Gibson were actually a distress signal - in fact, his actions (or more correctly, his inactions) appear as if Lord deliberately refused to entertain the idea. How or why he refused to do so would never adequately be explained, by himself or anyone else, for nearly a century" (35%).

More interesting then, that this follows:
"...The preface to the Board of Trade regulations publication was clear: 'Note - if these signals are used in any other place, for any other purpose than stated, they may be signals of distress, and should be answered accordingly by passing ships...' In other words, when it doubt, take no chances - investigate" (35%). And yet Lord didn't. The flares were going up, bright and white against the sky, and he chose to do nothing.

The Californian's crew realized what was going on, and discussed it among themselves, but none had the courage to question Lord, as he comes across as kind of a tyrant who had to have things his way, with no input from his officers. Two officers, James Gibson and Herbert Stone, reported what they saw to Captain Lord, and agreed within their own private conversation that "A ship is not going to fire rockets at sea for nothing" (36%). Both came to the conclusion that something was wrong with whichever ship they had seen. Yet Butler goes on to explain their own inaction as well:

"Gibson, a mere apprentice officer, lacking the authority to take any action; Stone, possessing such authority, but personally insecure, hesitant, and vacillating despite his experience as a watch-keeping officer; and Lord, autocratic, overbearing, passionately concerned with his own self-protection, his oppressive personality a brooding presence on the bridge that effectively crushed any initiative the two junior officers might have shown" (36%).

I do want to again return to the idea that Captain Lord was a sociopath, as Butler has boldly claimed. As I said, I think it is dangerous to apply labels to those from the past, even though Lord is in the not-so-distant past. I have discussed this so many times, particularly when current historians try to diagnose Henry VIII with all kinds of afflictions, when it really is entirely possible that he was just an asshole (either way, he was). BUT, I can appreciate the way in which the author does this, for the most part. The author goes to great lengths using testimony from the hearings to let Lord's words speak for him, as they literally should. His answers given to the Board clearly show his guilt, though he would never take any responsibility or show any remorse. I have so many quotes I could use, but this review would then grow exponentially, and I think it is best to wrap up here shortly. Still, this diagnosis is important, because it potentially caused hundreds of deaths that did not have to occur, if only Lord had done what was required of him as a merchant steamer captain. He chose to do nothing, and as a result earned a place in the immortal 'Lousy Person Hall of Shame'.

Butler explains in his analysis that Lord's "sociopathic behavior revealed itself in a number of subtle but distinct ways" (82%) and goes on to list them as first and foremost, his reaction to when Stone reported seeing the rockets fired; Lord knew he was required to do all he could to investigate those rockets, yet he did...nothing. He also knew that his officers would not question him, given his supposed overbearing and oppressive leadership style. As mentioned before, Herbert Stone could have, but chose to do nothing, perhaps out of fear of his captain's reaction, and this is exactly what Lord counted on. Then, at 83%, Butler directly addresses the idea that Lord showed no remorse for the remainder of his life about the night Titanic sank. "At no time did Lord ever express the slightest remorse or regret for his inaction in the early hours of April 15th, 1912. Not one word of condolence for the families of those lost on the Titanic ever passed his lips. Never once was there recognition, however belated, that he might have - should have, could have - done things differently that night...It was not simply a case where Stanley Lord did not believe himself to be guilty of the actions of which he was accused; to him, it was simply inconceivable that he could have done anything wrong." Butler then at the end goes on to describe how he came to the conclusion that Captain Lord was in fact a sociopath. At 98% he expresses thanks to a multitude of clinical psychologists who he discussed the information with. He lists several, as well as where they practice. He states that they all came to the conclusion that sociopathy was at work within Captain Lord, and did so independent of one another.  would be curious to know how Butler went about presenting the information, and perhaps he does address this within the notes, or an appendix somewhere that I simply missed. I would hope that he presented the behaviors, words, and actions as anonymously as he could, so as to not create a bias immediately from any of the respondents.

I will finally end with this because, though Captain Rostron, his crew, and the Carpathia passengers must be given all the praise for their heroic efforts on that traumatic night in April, it can not be denied that Captain Lord's behavior and inaction were completely unacceptable.

"For the simple truth is that on the night of April 14-15, 1912, somewhere on the North Atlantic, within sight of the steamship Californian, someone was firing white rockets into the night sky, in a desperate hope that some ship - any ship - would respond in time. The crime of Stanley Lord was not that he may have ignored the Titanic's signals, but that he unquestionably ignored someone's cry for help. This is a cold, hard truth that, no matter how much the partisans of Stanley Lord might wish to deny it, they are unable to do so. Nothing can make those eight white rockets go away; nothing can make Lord's frank acknowledgement - then and subsequently - that the signals were white rockets go away; and nothing can make Lord's refusal to respond to them go away. The chilling reality is that Lord's inaction probably cost those unfortunate people, whoever they were, their lives" (81%).

Highly recommended.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

The Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library

40194344

Rating: 4 Stars

The only thing that kept me from giving this five stars is the fact that it is just so awful. Not the scholarly insights gleaned from the plethora of bullshit spewed by trumplethinskin, but the Tweets themselves. Like, this fuckwad really truly was elected to the highest office in the land. And it SUCKS. Every day it is exhausting to have to hear the same shit over and over.

The book itself is a riot though. It is obviously a lighter read than the other items I picked up at the library yesterday and in other recent visits - you know, the books talking about the actual evidence of collusion and whatnot.

But even so, at the end of the day this garbage sub-human gets to pollute the White House and the world with his bullshit. Blech.

Highly recommended - for the comedy, not the bullshit.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Stacking the Shelves #36


Stacking the Shelves is a weekly feature co-hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Reading Reality. It is a chance to showcase all the goodies you've collected throughout the week, whether they're bought on-line or in-store, an ARC or a final copy, borrowed from a friend or the library, physical or digital, etc. Never has my addiction been more obvious than when I am now keeping track of every single book I acquire.

Library Treasures
34181476 39939208 35272330
38819358
37956892 36722975 37506133 
40194344

And thanks to Adriana @ She's Got Books on Her Mind, I binged on this series all week and am almost done already (also from the library):
16072107
842806992667939266794
129243121571615415817952

What did you add to your stash this week?

Happy Reading!
Sarah

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Tackling the TBR Week 6: Feb 8-Feb 14, 2019


Each week I will be keeping track of books that I have read from my TBR. I have a huge backlog of books and often end up reading new books that are not even on my list, instead of trying to whittle down the list that continues to balloon up on Goodreads. Chuckles had the idea first, and we are going to use this as a chance to encourage each other to get those books read instead of always grabbing new ones and thus never making a dent in the physical and digital stacks we already have. It will also give us a chance to take a good look at our lists and see if there are ones we are no longer interested in. We will be posting on the 7th, 14th, 21st, and the last day of the month.

Previous Week's TBR Total: 4,012

Books Added to TBR This Week: 32

Books Removed from TBR This Week: 109

Currently Reading: 10

Books Finished This Week: 9

Books DNF-ed This Week: 0

Duplicates Removed: 0

New TBR Total: 3,922


NOTE: I came up with 3,925 with my own calculation, but Goodreads is telling me the actual number on my TBR is 3,922 so I am going with that. Not sure where these mysterious three books are or what they were.

If you look at my 'Currently Reading' on Goodreads, you will find the number much bigger, due to all the research materials I have listed there. The number here accurately reflects the books I am reading myself, as well as chapter books Eleanor and I are reading together. It also includes the chapter books I am reading with my students in guided reading groups at school.


Is your TBR under control, or a hot mess like mine?

Happy Reading!
Sarah

Friday, February 8, 2019

Stacking the Shelves #35


Stacking the Shelves is a weekly feature co-hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Reading Reality. It is a chance to showcase all the goodies you've collected throughout the week, whether they're bought on-line or in-store, an ARC or a final copy, borrowed from a friend or the library, physical or digital, etc. Never has my addiction been more obvious than when I am now keeping track of every single book I acquire.

Tax Refund Treasures! (Half Price Books)
I know, I know, but I have been soooooo good about not buying books for MONTHS. Each year I set aside a small amount of $$$ from our tax refund to get some new books for Eleanor and me. Now I know what you are thinking, seeing as how I have a huge five shelf bookcase of unread books, but hush. The M.R. James addition was a total fluke. Last year at his book signing/Templars talk, Dan Jones spoke about MR James and completely by accident I found this collection.

BONUS: Not all of the titles are new to my TBR! Six were already on there, so I only added seven new titles.

27219570 23607900  35629419
17333444 1416896 36454970 26002465 7427725 1544241 171112 22554175 20505763 2845191

Library Treasures
33116011 39706735 38587804 37977139 37931635 28633822

AND FINALLY....
38746485

What did you add to your stash this week?

Happy Reading!
Sarah