Culture Crash 18-27: What to do when you don’t really like the book you’re reading

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture.  What’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.

It’s a moment that eventually befalls all book-readers: You finally picked up a book you’ve been meaning to read and…you don’t really like it.

Do you finish reading it, or abandon it halfway?

For most of my life, I’ve believed in the former. I thought it was a cardinal sin to abandon a book before completion. Then I met my match: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. By all accounts, I should love that book. I love mysteries and detective stories. My friends and family have read it to rave reviews. And yet for years, I have stopped-and-started, trying to get through a book that just doesn’t grab my attention.

Last month, I gave it one final try. I got 200 pages into its 804 page length and decided it just wasn’t going to happen. For some reason, this renowned book that everyone says I’ll love and me just don’t click. So I set it back down, maybe forever.

For a little bit, that felt like quitting… and then I remembered all the other books I want to read. Since abandoning Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I’ve torn through Cujo and The Outsider by Stephen King and started reading Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. None of them have given me the feeling of having to eat my vegetables before dessert that I had every time I picked up The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

So my advice is this: If a book or movie or TV show is starting to feel like self-assigned homework instead of an enjoyable experience, just remember you don’t have to finish it. There are plenty of other stories on the shelves. And maybe down the line, you’ll go back to that abandoned novel and it will grab you in a way it didn’t before. Maybe there’s another attempt at Girl With The Dragon Tattoo in me. But not right now, I’m having too much fun with these other books.

I’m Evan Rook.

Coming Up On Viewpoints Show 18-27

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American Illiteracy

America is facing a literacy problem: according to surveys, fewer than 50% of American schoolchildren are highly proficient readers. We talk to several experts who suggest that we may simply be teaching the skill incorrectly.

Catholicism and the LGBT Community: One priest’s mission to ‘build a bridge’

For centuries, the Catholic Church and the LGBT community have been at odds. Now, the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest, is trying to usher in a new era and welcome LGBT individuals to the church.

Culture Crash: What to do when you don’t really like the book you’re reading

It’s a dilemma many of us face from time to time: Should you keep reading a book even if you don’t like it very much, or should you set it down?

18-26 Segment 1: American Detainment: Lessons to Learn From America’s Internment Camp Shame

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In light of the recent outrage over the ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policy and the separation of families at the southern border, some people have made a comparison to the Japanese internment camps during World War II. Richard Cahan, photo historian, former Chicago Sun-Times editor, and author of Un-American: The Incarceration of Japanese Americans During World War II, discusses the history of these camps and what we should learn from them.

Cahan’s book is a photo history of the Japanese internment camps, showing the conditions of life as a prisoner of the camps and what came before and after. The internment of Japanese Americans is often brushed over in education and history, but the pictures and stories of this shameful event are both impossible to ignore and essential to our collective healing.  Cahan emphasizes that this act was completely un-American, going against what America stands for. In this time, when it appears many Americans have a similar mindset to the Americans during the early days of World War II, Cahan says we should be especially vigilant not to repeat our past mistakes.

During World War II, 110,000 Japanese Americans were forcibly removed from their homes and settled in small, barrack-like dwellings with very basic facilities and no privacy. Eleven weeks after Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the army to decide what to do with Japanese Americans. Because the army’s first concern is security and not civil liberties, the camps were a direct result of this decision. Right before the Supreme Court ruled that the camps were illegal, FDR opened them, and the Japanese Americans had to start over and resettle.

Seeing the reality of what happened in these internment camps should strike a warning bell in people’s minds, Cahan says. He encourages us to take a good look at our past history and learn from it.

To learn more about Japanese internment camps or to purchase a copy of Cahan’s book, visit the links below.

Guest:

  • Richard Cahan, photo historian, former Chicago Sun-Times editor, and author of Un-American: The Incarceration of Japanese Americans During World War II

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18-26 Segment 2: Maximizing Your Experience Traveling Internationally

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Many dream of traveling the world, but what do you do when you actually get there?Andrew Solomon, journalist and author of Far and Away: Reporting from the Brink of Change: Seven Continents, Twenty-Five Years, shares his thoughts, as an experienced world traveler, on the mindset we should bring with us to a foreign country.

Solomon emphasizes traveling with an open mind. While you should learn as much as possible about a culture before you visit, you should also be prepared to have your assumptions challenged when you see what it’s actually like. He also encourages travelers to make connections and build relationships with the people they visit, to keep from becoming a tourist watching a show. The only way to travel, he says, is to think about reciprocity, giving something back whether in the form of a relationship, information, participation, or generosity.

By becoming involved in cultural events, the traveler can create bonds of friendship and learn to understand a new culture. Solomon says that the people you are visiting are just as anxious to learn about you as you are about them. Not learning about a foreign culture can also have serious consequences, as Solomon demonstrates with a story of the Vietnam War. He also challenges the assumption many Americans have that all liberated people want democracy by default. By getting outside of the familiar, people can learn about who they are and what it’s like to live in a different country. These two things, Solomon says, could likely help resolve a lot of the diplomatic problems we face today.

To purchase a copy of Solomon’s book, visit the links below.

Guest:

  • Andrew Solomon, journalist and author of Far and Away: Reporting from the Brink of Change: Seven Continents, Twenty-Five Years

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Culture Crash 18-26: Music in a streaming world

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture.  What’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.

But those apps present a problem for musicians and their labels. New music is no longer competing with other new music for our attention: it’s battling with every other song ever made. People just aren’t paying attention to upcoming and new releases like they used to. And why would they when the catalog is seemingly infinite? This phenomenon is probably what’s behind the era of surprise releasing albums. Beyonce shocked the world in December 2013 when she simultaneously announced and released her self-titled album. Since then, there have been many imitators: Drake, Frank Ocean, even David Bowie subsequently put the practice into action. Last month, Beyonce herself released another surprise album, a collaborative collection with Jay-Z.

Instead of relying on our steady interest, musicians now seek to gain our attention for one moment and shock us into hitting play. It certainly works as a promotional tool, but what happens after those first few days?

For many of us, we favorite the songs we like and forget about those we don’t. In a music app, anything that doesn’t immediately grab us gets washed away by whatever new music is released the following Friday.   Such is life in the digital music world.

I’m Evan Rook.

Coming Up On Viewpoints Show 18-26

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American Detainment: Lessons to learn from America’s internment camp shame

It’s a topic that has been in the news lately: how our government detains groups of people. We look back at history to see what really happened in World War II Japanese internment camps, and how we can avoid similar shame now and in the future.

Maximizing Your Experience Traveling Internationally

Many of us have spent years dreaming of traveling the globe… but what should we do when we book the trip and are preparing to make the dream a reality? Journalist and author Andrew Soloman gives tips on how to get the most out of your trips, from embracing new cultures to establishing better connections.

Culture Crash: Music in a streaming world

As apps like Spotify and Pandora have taken over, musicians have been forced to make their new albums into an “event.” We look at how they do that, and how streaming music impacts us as listeners.

18-25 Segment 1: Domestic Violence: How It Happens and How to Stop It

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Domestic violence statistics show that one in three females and one in four males will be the victim of physical or emotional abuse by an intimate partner over the course of their lifetime in the US. The immediate questions from these staggering statistics are why does this happen and what can be done to stop it? Dr. Shannon Karl, Associate Professor in the School of Psychology at Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, and Dr. Jay Richards, forensic psychologist on the faculty of Washington University and Seattle University and author of the novel Silhouette of Virtue, discuss the answers to these essential questions about domestic violence.

The risk factors for becoming an abuser were found to be previous exposure to violence in the home, difficulty  managing emotions like anger, substance abuse, and other environmental and social stresses. While women can also be abusive, a study that profiled abusive men found that, stereotypically, they are egocentric, super ‘macho,’ and dominant, often projecting an aggressive masculinity. These traits are, in many cases, concealed during courtship, but Richards points out several signs that can give them away. Making an entitled demand on a woman’s time or activities is one such sign that this demand will later be enforced with violence. Karl says that children are especially at risk after having witnessed violence, as that can continue the cycle of domestic abuse later on in their own lives.

Domestic violence often functions in a cycle. Richards says that after the abuse the violent partner may feel regret and low self-esteem for what they have done.The aggressor then starts a make up cycle, causing their partner to stay in the unhealthy relationship. He suggests that for those seeking to get out of this situation, they must first find a safe and secure place to get away from the abuser and then seek outside help. A counseling center may be especially helpful, because secrecy helps domestic violence to continue.

Some progress is being made in how law enforcement and government are handling domestic violence, with strict fines and many different programs for counseling. Karl suggests for those seeking help to visit the National Coalition for Domestic Violence website or call the domestic violence hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.

To get help or to learn more about domestic violence and our guests, visit the links below.

Guests:

  • Dr. Shannon Karl, Associate Professor in the School of Psychology at Nova Southeastern University at Ft. Lauderdale, FL
  • Dr. Jay Richards, forensic psychologist on the faculty of Washington University and Seattle University and author of the novel Silhouette of Virtue

Links for more information:

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