Books about culture

Dear friends,

I love teaching Intercultural Communication.  One of the principles I teach my students is that culture is all around us, and is not limited to race and ethnicity.  We all belong to multiple cultures, each with its own ideas and behaviors.  I like to show my students “popular press” books that give insights into a wide range of cultures, such as these:

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Modern Romance – A humorous look at dating in the internet age.

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Educated – a home-schooled survivalist decides to go to university.

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When Generations Collide – workplace dynamics when the age range is 20-70 and beyond.

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Reading the Romance – who reads romance novels, and why?  (You may be surprised).

Intercultural Communication isn’t some esoteric textbook topic – it’s part of our everyday lives, if we only know where to look.  If you communicate with others across religious or political differences, or if you’ve ever had to explain a “strange” hobby to someone who’s never heard of it – those are forms of intercultural communication.

“Game of Thrones” fans trying to explain the story to non-fans will know what I mean.  The GOT fandom is a strong and fascinating culture!

Keep reading, keep learning,

Winnie and the Professor

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Book Review: The Best Kind of People

Dear friends:

This book has received a lot of mixed reviews online, and I can understand why, as I have mixed feelings about it myself:

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The Best Kind of People is a family drama (a genre I usually like, which is why I picked it up).  The story surrounds the Woodburys, a wealthy family living in an elite suburb of Connecticut.  The father, George, teaches at the local private prep school, where the daughter, Sophie, is a student.  Sophie has an older brother, Andrew, who is a lawyer in New York.  The mother, Joan, is an emergency room nurse.  The ancestors of this family founded the town, so they are well-known and socially prominent.  They seem to have it all, until one night …

(While this may seem spoiler-y, it happens in the first chapter, and is what the rest of the book is about) …

The police arrive to arrest the father, George, on charges of inappropriate behavior with some of the girls at the school where he teaches (and Sophie attends).  George denies everything, and no one wants to believe he is capable of such things.  For the rest of the book, we are engaged with his wife’s struggle to make sense of the situation (all signs point to his guilt), his daughter being stigmatized at school, and his son trying to sort out the legal angles of the case.

We don’t really get George’s point of view on all this.  The other family members occasionally visit him in prison while he is awaiting trial, and he maintains his innocence, but the reader doesn’t have a deep window into George’s character.  We spend the most time with the daughter, Sadie, and her boyfriend Jimmy – who have a lot of sex and smoke a lot of pot for young teenagers.  Maybe I’m a prude, but I found those plot elements overblown and a bit tiresome.

The further I got into the book, the more of a page-turner it became, primarily because I wanted to see if George would end up being guilty or not (I’ll leave that to you to discover).  But overall, I didn’t find these family members very likeable, and thought that the wife, Joan, was rather gullible at times.

I gave it 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.  Wasn’t great, wasn’t terrible.

Happy reading, as always!

Annette

 

Book reviews – The Wedding Date, and The Proposal

Hello friends,

If you’re looking for something light and fluffy that will give you a few hours of escapism, these companion novels might do the trick:

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In The Wedding Date, we follow the story of Alexa and Drew, who meet in the elevator at a fancy hotel.  When the elevator gets stuck, they end up sitting on the floor and exchanging stories.  Seems that Drew is at this hotel because he’s going to a wedding the next night, and his date has bailed on him at the last minute.  What to do?

Yes, it’s a bit formulaic and predictable … they live in different cities and try having a long-distance relationship, insecurities and misunderstandings ensue … but it’s kind of cute if you keep in mind that it’s a light romance.

The Proposal is a companion novel (I wouldn’t call it a sequel, but there’s some character overlap).  We meet Nikole at a baseball game, where her date proposes to her on the Jumbo-Tron.  When she refuses, he leaves her standing there with a whole stadium full of people staring at her.  Carlos, who is sitting a few rows over, comes to her rescue and helps her exit the stadium.

A relationship follows, but neither is sure how to define it – are we friends with benefits?  In love?  Just prolonging a chance meeting?  Carlos’s best friend just happens to be Drew from the other book, and we meet Drew and Alexa again in this story.

These books were just ok to me.  In both relationships, each wondered what the other felt, and there was a lot of push-pull and coming together-coming apart related to rather simple misunderstandings.  The back-and-forth of it all was a bit tiring.

In both books, the relationships are cross-racial, and I was pleased that the author dealt with that by having family and friends of the couple express opinions about it.  I thought that was realistic.

In the end, I’d say they were cute stories and fun to read, but not something I’d re-read.  I believe there’s a third novel coming out soon, another companion book to these stories.

Happy reading!

Winnie and the Professor

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