Some more non-fiction reads
This clears out the non-fiction part of my non-blogged backlog.
Unf*ck Your Habitat, Rachel Hoffman
Our cleaner returned home for lockdown, and it soon became clear that I needed to take drastic action.
I picked up this book on DRMacIver's recommendation, and found it really valuable.
Highlights for me:
- acknowledgement that nothing is perfectly clean
- dishes and laundry are both three-phase tasks
- "twenty tens": twenty minutes focused cleaning, ten minute break rewarding itself
- lots of small batches are better than big cleans
- choose the level of cleanliness you want and adjust accordingly
I think I knew literally every thing this book had to say, but that's not the point. It's about communicating a mindset, not facts.
Against the Grain, James C. Scott
The author of Seeing Like a State wrote a book about the earliest states. Specifically, about the relationship between the structure of these states and the crops they chose to grow.
The blurb promises more than it delivers, but that's OK. It's still a good book.
- early states chose grains because they are easy to tax: they have a regular harvest, and you can see how much has grown
- most wars weren't about claiming territory, but about claiming labourers and women who could produce labourers (ugh)
- barbarians actually did better as a result of states, because they had better stuff to nick
Like James C. Scott's other books, I'm sure this would benefit from re-reading.
Capitalist Realism, Mark Fisher
Why is it easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine a world without capitalism?
That's the main question in this book, and I honestly cannot remember the answer.
The process of getting there is interesting though, citing films such as Children of Men (not the book) and Office Space (not the comic).
It's been a while since I've read this, but I recall that the prose was denser than it needed to be. Picking a page at random:
It is evident that the theme of sterility must be read metaphocially, as the displacement of another kind of anxiety.
It's not awful, but it's not direct either. Why not, "Sterility is a metaphor for a different anxiety"?
Anyway, I can neither recommend nor warn away from this book. I want to read it again, because the aesthetics of late-stage capitalism are interesting.