The year-end critique (non-fiction edition)!

I’ve been delving into non-fiction and documentaries as 2016 draws to a close—completely surprising myself. And I’ve stumbled across quite a few pleasurable finds. I want to list what I’ve read and seen just in case the works strike the fancy of anyone else. I’m not one for critiques and am often frustrated by those who confuse what is enjoyable to them in particular for some universal indication of “goodness.”  However, samples can be downloaded at Google Play or Amazon. See for yourself! After all, you’re the best critic around when the topic is what you like.

Lonely: A Memoir by Emily White. Whew! Detailed, illuminating, and most unbearably heartbreaking. I don’t know if I would have been able to make it through this work had I not known in advance that White’s streak of involuntary solitude had been happily broken by the time she had completed her study on loneliness. Her findings—particularly the studies on how loneliness is physically harmful—were unnerving to read. Yet as a single freelancer the information was vital for me to receive. I plan to adjust my work habits at the start of 2017 in order to avoid a similar fate.

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo. As someone who was completely transformed by The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I was surprised to find that I did not connect at all with this work. The book is primarily an in-depth examination of work already covered—something I honestly did not need. While I believe that Kondo’s large-scale approach to organizing is universally applicable, when she deals with minutiae she loses me as a reader. I don’t believe it is necessary or helpful for everyone to fold their clothes in the manner that Kondo dictates. Organization on a smaller scale really depends upon the individual and his or her particular needs.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Fan-tas-tic! What an incredible work! I initially picked the book up to learn how to cultivate better work habits and avoid relapses in regards to junk food and social media. What I did not expect to find was a detailed exposé on modern marketing and large-scale industrial productivity. I wish every editor and sales rep who worked for a publishing firm could read the chapter on Target and targeted marketing.

Minimalism: A Documentary about the Important Things. It’s on Netflix right now, so feel free to add it to your queue. I enjoyed the documentary fully and I’m a huge proponent of the new minimalism crusade, but I think the work absolutely highlights and reinforces the critiques so many have about the concept. It is very easily to be a minimalist when you are rich, white, and straight. Because people who are rich, white, and straight have a much easier time depending upon the kindness of strangers (or their bank cards) to provide what they currently lack. Minimalism relies on faith in an unseen and untapped communal abundance that many quite honestly do not have access to due to their circumstances. And I wish “minimalism gurus” would address that. That said, any middle-class or wealthy adult who was once a child of a chaotic working-class environment would absolutely embrace this documentary or the concept of minimalism itself. The physical sparseness is undeniably soothing—as soothing as a massive demonstration of excess would be to one who endured a life of barren poverty and physical restriction.

Sugar Coated. By the end of this documentary I was furious—and felt wholly impotent. The sugar industry is most certainly on par with the tobacco industry in regards to duplicitous behavior—and yet unlike the tobacco industry, it seems to have suffered absolutely no consequences for said actions. I have been affected far too personally by the scourge of cancer and diabetes. To think that the pain and suffering of those I love was preventable and only occurred due to the avarice of handful of empty suits purporting to “do no harm” is devastating. That I am powerless to do anything about it? Even more so.