Good Reading : May 2010
word of mouth general non-fiction Your Skirt’s Too Short: Sex, power, choice Emily Maguire Feminist' has become a dirty word. Many young women believe feminism is no longer relevant, that women are now liberated and sexually empowered. At the same time there is a media frenzy about the increasing sexualisation of young women, and pole-dancing classes are on the rise. More women are being waxed, bleached, tanned and operated on in the name of beauty than ever before. Like Ariel Levy before her, Emily Maguire asks the question in her new book, Your Skirt's Too Short, 'if all of this is so empowering, why the hell aren't men doing it?' Aimed at young adults, Maguire speaks frankly about female sexuality and choice. She explains why feminism is still necessary, and examines the ways our culture continues to objectify women, and encourages them to objectify themselves. Drawing on personal experiences, the media and a range of studies and statistics, Maguire dispels common beliefs that undermine young women. She criticises the 'hetrosexist' bias of our education systems, particularly the inadequacy of sex education, and offers suggestions for a better system. She reassures that it's okay to feel uncomfortable about por nography, and gives statistics about sexual abuse in the sex industry to back it up. There are many personal accounts in the book, keeping it interesting and relevant to the audience. Maguire's heated writing style is a call to action for young women. I wish this book had been around when I was 14. ★★★★ Text $24.95 Reviewed by Alexandra Irving Seeing Further: The story of science and The Royal Society Bill Bryson As you read Bill Bryson's introduction to Seeing Further: The story of science and The Royal Society and the first three essays in the book, you are lulled into a false sense of security. This isn't so hard, you think, absorbing the graceful prose and the details of information that you may never have picked up from any other source. Bryson's details about the life of the reverend Thomas Bayes, whose major theorem was published after he died and which could not be used or understood until the existence of supercomputers in the late 20th century, draw you into the idea of the genius involved. James Gleick writes of the founders of The Society and their 'invention' of science kick-starting The Age of Reason. Margaret Atwood wanders around the worlds of Jonathan Swift and their obvious and amusing digs at the more extreme habits of previous Fellows, while Margaret Wertheim takes the reader through the history of thought arriving at the point where The Society could be founded. Your resistance to scientific discourse is weakened. Mr Bryson becomes cruel. Neal Stephenson is the author of the historical trilogy The Baroque Cycle', and science iction novels. Even reading all his novels won't prepare you for mere 25 pages of dissertation on the ongoing metaphysical impact of the conflict between Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, nominally over which of them discovered calculus. The next 16 essays reflect on subjects that exercise great minds, past and present. Evolution, cosmology, physics, chemistry, the complexity or simplicity of systems, the science of climate change and biodiversity all get a go and all fascinate. This is often hard work but very rewarding. ★★★★ HarperCollins $49.99 Reviewed by Daniel O’Brien Linchpin Seth Godin The bad news: this book is a blog in print, and it is repetitive and discursive. It needed a fir mer edit. The great news: Godin's book about making yourself indispensible at work is on the money: sacrifice 'safe' and wbecome stellar. He walks us up the stairway of an outdated work paradigm: lift, hunt, grow, produce, sell, connect, create, invent. 'There are more people at the bottom of the stairs, doing hard work that's easy to learn. As you travel up the hierarchy, the work gets easier, the pay gets better and the number of people available to do the work gets smaller. Lots of people can lift. A few people can sell. Almost no one puts in the work to create or invent -- up to you.' Karl Marx and Adam Smith were in violent agreement. Management owned the machines and labour followed the rules. Only the power of the voter was different. In a 21st-century worldwide web of glass and light, with infor mation travelling democratically at the speed of photons, there are no rules, no loyalty and no serfdom. We all own the means of production, distribution and exchange. If you have a commerce-enabled website or blog, you can command the cloud. That's easy. But being innovative is not.You still need to find your linchpin within. It's not fear of failure that Seth addresses, but fear of success.You will be more successful if you can find your artistry and change your mind -- and keep the change. Are you indispensable? ★★★★ Piatkus $29.99 Reviewed by Thomas Liddle SHARE THE GIFT OF GOOD READING! Why not give a gift subscription to Good Reading to your book-loving friends and family. To subscribe call 02 8090 1051 or email email@example.com or visit www.goodreadingmagazine.com.au Fiona McIntosh on Fields of Gold Kim Miller on his new young adult novel Malla Nunn tells us about her new crime novel MOTHERS’ DAY GIFT GUIDE INSIDE Peter Carey’s Bliss from book to opera Books on Barcelona ORGANISING YOUR LIBRARY TOURING THE ALPINE BOOK TRAIL Jean-Paul Bell shares his favourite books 100th ISSUE!