Currently Reading: Double-Take Books

I was intrigued when I first saw Norah Vincent’s Self-Made Man because it seemed to promise a woman’s view of the world of men; you know, that baffling 50% of the population you wish could just understand us women! Then the hardcover was on sale for $5.99 and owning it and reading it was actually meant to be. ;-)

Ms. Vincent disguised herself as a man for 18 months and orchestrated her infiltration in a variety of settings that women would either be barred from or highly discouraged from joining: joining a men’s bowling league, visiting strip clubs, dating women, joining a monastery, working door-to-door sales, and infiltrating a men’s self-help group, in that order of chapters. It was a very difficult book for me to read and I ended up dragging it out over a year. You see, I was skeptical based on the first few chapters: she admits to being a more manly woman and I naively assumed that masquerading as a man would therefore be easier than if it had been my project; I wasn’t sure the project was truly productive if she was often viewed as sensitive man; and I was irritated with what seemed like she was always trying to draw on men’s sensitive side. Early into the book, I thought her conclusion would boil down to “Men are sensitive creatures, too.”

Starting with the chapter on work on a high-testosterone sales workplace, the book got better and her wrap-up chapters were satisfying even if I squirm during essays about catharsis. From the conclusion, I appreciate how contrary to what women think, men don’t have it easy because they are born into roles that are often stifling and women (especially feminists) need to extend empathy to their situation. I stand corrected that just because she is a lesbian and naturally square-jawed and not-so-girly, she’s not “part man”, gender wiring is complex and somehow involves perception as much as his actions, and how two genders cannot truly, naturally occupy the same brain. And after a year of picking up and putting down the book and being mildly embarrassed by the ugly cover, I’m glad to have the the license to move on…

… to Bob Schwartz’s I Run, Therefore I Am–Nuts!. I bought this book a few years ago and returned it after making it about one-third the way through. Yes, that’s not so nice of me but I ended up buying it again! I truly love the colourful cover and just the statement it makes to carry it around while I am still reading it.

Mr. Schwartz writes short essays about training, racing, and other runners’ peculiarities; the essays are very digestible but I marveled and groaned inwardly about the hyperbole he reaches. Case in point: I chuckle because it is true that I drool a little (and not literally) when reading the latest running magazine and browsing the gear that is showcased that the rest of the world thinks it not the least bit aesthetically pleasing; but I can’t laugh along at the far-fetched joke of saving time by taking your cereals with sports drinks or testing your Gore-Tex gear in the shower.

You could say it is kind of “research” for me to learn something about writing running humour and I need to expand my definition of humour….

I’m subscribed to receive emails from Gwyneth Paltrow’s site Goop.com and it was there that the recommendation to read Andrew Gottlieb’s Drink Play F@#k just jumped out at me. How could it not? I owned then read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love and, just to come back to square one, I want to see what the guys have to say about it in Mr. Gottlieb’s novel/memoir/parody/whatever it is!

On this day..