From “How to do Nothing” by Jenny Odell to “The Only Woman in the Room” by Marie Benedict.
This is a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. Each month a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain. The rules are:
- Link the books together in any way you like.
- Provide a link in your post to the meme at Books are My Favourite and Best.
- Share these rules in your post.
- Paste the link to your post in the comments on Kate’s post and/or the Linky Tool on that post.
- Invite your blog readers to join in and paste their links in the comments and/or the Linky Tool.
- Share you post on Twitter using the #6Degrees hash tag.
- Be nice! Visit and comment on other posts and/or retweet other #6Degrees posts.
THANKS FOR PLAYING!
This month we start with “How to do Nothing” by Jenny Odell!
This month (August 1, 2020), the chain begins with “How to do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy” by Jenny Odell. The Amazon blurb says: “In a world where addictive technology is designed to buy and sell our attention, and our value is determined by our 24/7 data productivity, it can seem impossible to escape. But in this inspiring field guide to dropping out of the attention economy, artist and critic Jenny Odell shows us how we can still win back our lives. Odell sees our attention as the most precious—and overdrawn—resource we have. And we must actively and continuously choose how we use it. We might not spend it on things that capitalism has deemed important … but once we can start paying a new kind of attention, she writes, we can undertake bolder forms of political action, reimagine humankind’s role in the environment, and arrive at more meaningful understandings of happiness and progress. Far from the simple anti-technology screed, or the back-to-nature meditation we read so often, “How to do Nothing” is an action plan for thinking outside of capitalist narratives of efficiency and techno-determinism. Provocative, timely, and utterly persuasive, this book will change how you see your place in our world.” Oh dear… This is nothing like anything I would ever read, at all.
So, when I read that blurb, lots of thoughts went through my head. Any of three books I’ve already included in previous posts might have worked well, but I prefer not to repeat myself. Then I thought about the lines “paying a new kind of attention” and “undertake bolder forms” and “reimagine humankind’s role” and it came to me. The perfect book for the first link in my chain has to be “Herland” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. This beautifully imagined novella is a story about a utopian society that developed when a group of women were essentially locked into their own world for many decades. All goes well until a group of three men find them and began to change all the things these women had built. I’d like to believe that Gilman’s imaginary female-led world could one day serve to be the basis of a future reality. My copy of this book includes a selection of Gilman’s short stories, including her famous one “The Yellow Wallpaper.”
The short story collection, combined with a made-up place that has “land” in the title, brought me to the book “Eveningland” by Michael Knight. This lovely collection of stories all take place in Mobile, Alabama. Knight instills into these stories the type of ambiance that makes you realize just how much he must love Mobile, and how close his personal relationship is with this city. This is both a city and a state that I’ve never visited, but have seen pictures of the city, and the older parts look very colorful. This book and its stories really made me want to visit this city, but I doubt I’d want to go during the summer when the humidity makes for a really sticky experience. Of course, I’d have to avoid visiting during tornado season as well, so that would mean visiting in the autumn or the winter.
The subject of insufferable and/or inclement weather was what brought me to the novel “Winter Sisters” by Robin Oliveira. Although this is technically a sequel to her book “My Name is Mary Sutter,” it certainly can be read as a stand-alone, and I had no problem reading and enjoying it without the benefit of having read the other book. The story starts out during one of the worst blizzards of the late 19th century in the northeastern parts of the US, which leads to two girls going missing. When the subsequent flooding comes after the snows begin to melt, these two girls – who had been assumed dead – suddenly reappear with a very shocking story of where they were and how they survived. Not an easy story, but Oliveira did a really good job with this one.
For this link, I think I’ll go with the word “sisters” and therefore, my next book is “Sisters One, Two, Three” by Nancy Star. This book also connects with the previous one in that one of the sisters in this story is no longer in the picture after (the main protagonist) Ginger’s 13th birthday, because of an accident that occurred that summer when they were staying in Martha’s Vineyard. Star carefully shows the tensions between Ginger and her mother, particularly where there are secrets between them. This is also paralleled in Ginger’s own relationship with her daughter Julia. I found this to be a compelling story (albeit not perfect), that despite the heavy sounding subject matter, also included a good bit of humor as well. Star was an author that was new to me when I read this, and I would like to read more of her work.
Playing again off the title of the previous book led me to “The Enchantress of Numbers” by Jennifer Chiaverini. This is a biographical, historical fiction novel based on the life of Augusta Ada King-Noel, who was also known as the Countess of Lovelace. Aside from being the only legal child of the famed poet Lord Byron, she was a talented mathematician and scientist in her own right, and she made huge contributions to those worlds during the late 19th century. There are some who say that her mathematical work together with that of the engineer Charles Babbage, led to the inventions that were the forerunners of today’s computers.
For my last link, I’m going with the invention connection, which brings me to “The Only Woman in the Room” by Marie Benedict. This is a biographical, historical fiction novel about the woman known in Hollywood as Hedy Lamarr. Born Hedwig Kiesler in Vienna, she fled Nazi controlled Austria for the US and had a successful movie career. However, her real passion was science and mathematics. When she heard about the problems the Allies were having at sea, she collaborated with the music composer George Antheil and together they developed a radio guidance system for Allied torpedoes, known as spread-spectrum technology for frequency hopping. However, the navy never applied this to their ships during the war and her recognition for this innovation came only very recently. She was ignored because she was a woman and an actress. What is amazing about her story is that this invention was a precursor for many things we take for granted today such as WiFi, Bluetooth technology, and of course, GPS!