Miss Abernathy’s Concise Slave Training Manual

Written by Christina Abernathy

Peel: A very concise and straightforward piece on training or being a slave.

This is a rather quick read focusing on consensual slave and master relationships. This is not a Story of O, this is more of a how to have a m/s relationship in real life. There are details on service, punishment and reward, preparation, ownership, address, contracts, and the like. She also includes a further readings list at the end, and other resources that are a shade dated now. Abernathy emphasizes how much the slave reflects on the owner, and how much work a slave still is for the dominant. Abernathy tends to switch genders around for different roles, unless the role specifies one. The writing is on the warm and witty side, and the attitude leans towards Victorian.

Nibble: “Courtly love, although it is the source of many of our modern notions of romantic love, diverges sharply from its contemporary counterpart in that love is explicitly defined in terms of the lover’s service to his lady.”

I would recommend this as a practical book to anyone interested in m/s relationships.

My Rating: 7 out of 10 red apple scenes

I borrowed a paper copy from the CSPH library.

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Why Is Sex Fun?

Written by Jared Diamond

Peel: A book looking into how human sex differs so much from other animals, and how it may have evolved to get there.

Diamond looks at many oddities of human nature when trying to answer his grand question- why is sex fun? Some things he examines are: lack of lactation in males, menopause, concealed ovulation, and how humans tend to have sex in private. Diamond’s writing style is rather witty and easy to read. This book only contains theoretical answers to the questions it poses, which makes it far more interesting to ponder.

As a note Diamond is just examining heterosexual sex. Also, interestingly Diamond does not touch on any sensual or emotional aspects of why sex might be fun. This is a smaller book, so he doesn’t go deep into any supporting information.

Nibble: “Men have no reliable means of detecting when their partners can be fertilized, nor did women in traditional societies.”

I would recommend this as a quick and fun popular science book.

My Rating: 9 out of 10 hidden green apples

I borrowed a paper copy from the CSPH library.

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The Complete Persepolis

Written & Illustrated by Marjane Satrapi

Peel: This is an autobiographical graphic novel based on a girl growing up during the Islamic Revolution, and later going to high school in Vienna.

The first half of the book was much stronger than the second. The first half is examining the revolution through a child’s eyes, and the second is centered on her. The childlike drawings I found compelling in the first half, especially given the heavy subject matter. My expectations were rather high for this book because of all the hype, and I’m rather surprised now that it’s mentioned with Maus.

I expected to hear a little more about Tehran and less about her, especially as she aged, but the opposite occurred. The first half was a child trying to understand her country and contradictions, whereas the second half was her trying to find her identity. I found a brief wikipedia scan on Iran during the 70s to 90s helpful for context. It was interesting to think about how being related to the former rulers of Iran and being in a child in an upper-class liberal family may have shaped her reaction to the Islamic Revolution.

I had mixed feelings about the protagonist. In the beginning of the book, while she’s a child, she’s rather likable, intelligent, and outspoken. As she aged though I couldn’t help but wish she stood up for herself in a less disrespectful manner, but on the other hand the blatant honesty without giving a rosy hue to her past was very powerful. She does a rather awful self-absorbed thing towards the end of the book, and only seems to feel bad as her grandmother was disappointed in her. As much as I loved Satrapi’s honesty, it was rather hard for me to empathize with her after that.

Nibble: “At the age of six I was already sure I was the last prophet.”

I would highly recommend the first half of this as an interesting view of culture, violence, and revolution through a child’s eyes.

My Rating: 6 out of 10 black and white apples

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The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do and How to Change It

By Charles Duhigg

This book is about how to recognize habits, change bad habits, and establish good ones. The title sums up the book nicely, though it doesn’t give the book enough credit for how interesting it is. The book is packed full of stories about individuals and groups changing certain habits and the effects they produce, from how a football team operates to how some doctors operate. The book is more of a survey of how other people changed their habits rather than how you should change yours; it certainly is not a conventional self-help book. I found this greatly contributed positively to the book’s feel which was neither too preachy nor too repetitive. The message itself was repetitive, but the delivery of it, from various situations, remained fresh. The book included a very interesting view of addiction, and for that alone the book is worth a read. This book also changed the way I view certain coincidences, and how they may be linked. For example, I noticed that when I tend to work out consistently, my procrastination also diminishes. Theoretically one could take the habit cycle from this book, and then apply it to where they want to see success. As a warning the theory is simple, but the actual application of it, in changing long term habits, may be difficult- but certainly possible.

I would recommend this book to anyone curious about how deeply habits affect us as individuals, in groups, and as a part of society.

Nibble: “He tried calculating the exact amount of beer he needed to drink in order to work up the confidence to talk to women at parties, but not so many that he would make a fool of himself. (That particular study never seemed to come out right.)”

My Rating: 8 out of 10 similar apples

I received a free advanced paper copy of this book from the First Reads program via Goodreads. On the front cover, it claims the book will be on sale 3.6.12.

8 Bits of Wisdom

By Andy Schindler

This is a self-help book that operates through old video games designed for the western heterosexual male working an office job. There are slightly amusing bits, mostly in which games the author picks to compare to certain life lessons. I actually found the most amusing part to be the foreword and afterword, which are based directly off the author’s life. I also found descriptions about the games were far more interesting than the tongue-in-cheek life lessons.

There are quite a few generalizations throughout the text which I found grating. Schindler tends to divide people into ready made categories, which is probably more of a result of it being a self-help book. There was also a rather odd piece of advise for raising children- that of using bribery to make them behave. To have someone so blatantly inclined towards only doing what directly and short term-wise helps them, doesn’t sound like the foundation of someone I’d want to be remotely friendly with. As a warning there is coarse language in this book, and it came off as natural but unnecessary.

I would recommend this book to a male who’s not offended easily, is looking for some guidance and enjoyed video games as a kid.

Nibble: “You can change your team makeup as you please, and it is important to remember that you and your friends might be shifting into different categories throughout your lives.”

My Rating: 4 out of 10 nostalgic red apples

I received a free electronic copy of this book from the author via LibraryThing.