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Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

I John 3:18

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Friday, March 24th, 2006

🦋 Sociology

I am reading Unequal Childhoods by Annette Lareau currently, on the recommendation of Harry Brighouse. I like the slice-of-life aspect of it but the narrative style is kind of freaking me out. She switches constantly between a first-person where (as near as I can reckon) she is the narrator, and block-quoted observation notes in first-person where the narrator is the person who did the observation, who is never identified by name. I am finding this really frustrating, not to have an identity for the observer -- clearly there are several different people doing the observations but I have no way of distinguishing them, and it sounds like sometimes it it Dr. Lareau herself, but again no way to verify this. Maybe this is a standard style in sociology -- it just seems weird to me. The families being observed are named (though I don't know if they are real names or pseudonyms), so why not the observers?

posted evening of March 24th, 2006: Respond
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Thursday, March 30th, 2006

🦋 Non-fiction

I've never been much of a reader of non-fiction. Maybe part of the reason is I fear writing style like that found in Unequal Childhoods, which I finished the other day -- full of potentially useful information but written in such a way as to stymie concentration in even the most willing reader. But today I started Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel; if the first chapter is any basis for expectation, reading it will be a different story. His voice is clear, engaging, direct.

I've encountered Diamond's name a number of times over the years, mainly referred to by Crooked Timber posters, and always thought his stuff sounded interesting. I'm looking forward to this book. (And I realize on reflection that Crooked Timber has been responsible for encouraging a good deal of my non-fiction reading over the past couple of years.)

Note: Here is a Crooked Timber post with pointers to a wide-ranging controversy about GGS.

posted morning of March 30th, 2006: Respond

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