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Blair Reads Books! #1- Don't Know Much About Geography and Please Subscribe

For about a month now I've been telling y'all that I'm starting a weekly book series (and documentary watching party) to talk about non-fashion things...while looking fashionable, of course.  Well, life is what happens when you're busy making other plans because a month after I intended to, here is my first segment!  I picked easy and benign topics, like geography and YouTube for the introductory post.  As you will see below, I underline if a book or documentary is polarizing or potentially offensive to some world views, so if you feel a topic would make your blood boil, I encourage you to skip that read and come back the following Monday for a more frothier outfit post.  I read only non-fiction and am immensely curious about the world at large, and with those traits I understand I can't please everyone.  But let's all stay friends and remember what we love about each other and pass on what we don't!  Starting off, I'd be more than shocked if this particular post challenged anyone's world view though!!

Book: Don't Know Much About Geography by Kenneth C Davis

Why anyone would like this book:  Kenneth C Davis is an amazing and colorful writer who has a sheer talent for demystifying and simplifying heavy or intimidating issues.  

How polarizing is this book?  Not polarizing at all!  The only thing that I can vaguely think to warn you about is because it's a history book, there is some glossing over of some of the historic prejudices and fears of neighboring tribes and countries from hundreds and thousands of years ago.  I know some people are very into their nationalities, but I can't fathom anyone would be offended on behalf of their countrymen from the 1400s...right??

I have a map dress to match!!!

Summary and points of interest:  

Over the past few years I've become more interested in geography.  Call me an "ugly American" if you must (and you may), but to say I was lacking a grasp on it was an understatement.  A few years back I discovered the quiz site Sporcle, and while there are plenty of Friends trivia quizzes to go around, they also have tons of nerdier and academic quizzes too.  I did terribly the first few times I tried to take the quiz where you have to name every country  (I hadn't even heard of half of the countries I missed) but can now name 180 on a bad day and all of them on a razor sharp memory day.  I have even come less than 20 away from naming them in alphabetical order (::nerd alert::).  The thing is though, as much as I can name the countries of the world and know what continents they are on, I still have a limited historical context.  Remembering that Kenneth C Davis had a "Don't Know Much Book..." on geography became of interest to me, which was a far cry from a few years back and passing up reading it because geography seemed "boring."  Oh, how the might have fallen!  Ha.

I forgot what a great writer Kenneth C Davis is and it was a joy remembering why I have cited him as one of my favorite writers in the past.  I initially read "Don't Know Much About US History" around 7 years ago when I realized I was probably forgetting everything from high school and wanted to brush up on the facts.  I have since read "Don't Know Much About the Bible" and as a religious studies background was impressed with how neutral he kept when explaining what the bible intended to say, historical anachronisms, and not preaching anything while also not supporting or denying a faith either.  (That's an amazing balance to conquer and is a taller order than it seems).  After reading this book, I think it's fair to say that Davis is arguably the best non-fiction writer out there.  The fact that he's researched such broad subjects and broken them down into a fun and often comedic language only helps illustrate my point.  "Don't Know Much About Geography" only cemented every nice thought I've ever had about Davis.

"Don't Know Much About Geography" covers every topic from plate tectonics, what's considered a country versus a territory, all of the continents, oceans, and seas, and the history of how some people came about.  He also tackles some theories behind evolution (okay, I guess if you don't believe in evolution that's one point you may not appreciate), why some of the explorers explored, and how much the population is increasing and what that's doing to the world as we know it.  Davis even touches on space at the end of the book, and he justifies it quite interestingly stating that as our entire world is pretty much known at this time, thanks to explorers, space is the place we're currently exploring.   Each topic is entertaining to read, and even totally droll at times!

Would I recommend this book, and if so to who?  Yes, I would and I'd probably recommend it to anyone.  Some people will know more about the world going into it, but it's nice to brush up on basics in an unpretentious way.  And if you are more clueless about geography, this is probably the most light hearted while being comprehensive read you could ask for.

Things to look out for: This book was published in the early 90s.  Geography changes A LOT over the span of just a few short years to even a year.  Because of when the book was published the Berlin wall is referenced as having somewhat "recently" come down.  He also references that country of Yugoslavia, so that made me smile a bit too.  So while this is a great book for the history of geography and how some stuff came to be...some things are absolutely outdated!

Readability: Completely readable.  Not a text book at all.

I read all of my books standing up and titling...duh.
Outfit details: 
Earrings + dress: ModCloth
Cardigan: Banana Republic
Brooch: Erstwilder
Shoes- Chinese Laundry
(Thanks to the Broncos being in the Super Bowl for inspiring the orange accessorizing!  And, not EVERY book post will have a matching theme like my map dress.  I got lucky this time!)

Similar books I'd recommend: Given how limited my geographic knowledge has been until more recent times, I don't have a ton of recommendations.  That said, the book Israel is Real by Rich Cohen has a fair amount of geography in it while explaining the history of Israel.  And No god but God by Reza Asian is a book of the history of Islam, but some chapters really put the geography of the Arab world into context.  One of Davis' other books, Don't Know Much About the Bible, also has some notes of the areas of the world that is the "cradle of society" and does a pretty good job of equating those places in a modern map context.  (Told you I'm a religious studies background...!)  Pretty much all books on religion, history, or wars will at least cover some geography too.  Any other Davis' books I'd recommend as well, despite that I haven't read them all, because it's never not been a treat reading his stuff!

Documentary: Please Subscribe

Is this polarizing?  That would be a hard no.  It's as frothy as it comes.

Worth noting: All documentaries I talk about will be Netflix accessible.

Summery and points of interest:  This is a documentary that was recommended to me over the past year that I finally got to watch.  The premise of this film is basically a series of interviews with famous and financially successful YouTube stars.  All of the personalities seemed endearing so it was nice to watch seemingly nice people make an impressive living for themselves in a previously unheard of and underdog way.  (I admittedly had never heard of any of them, but granted I'm not sure I could name any YouTube star as I am a sporadic video watcher and rarely subscribe to channels...though I should).

This all said, this documentary lacks....a lot.  While the personalities were insightful about their  unexpected journeys and there were some insights into how YouTube is changing the entertainment industry, the buck kind of stopped there.  The whole premise of the documentary was just a showcase of the different stars, which I didn't know going into it.  There was one (pseudo) failure story as the penultimate interview, and then after the credits of the first 8-10 people interviewed they featured a man with cerebral palsy who has a travel channel show came up as the final segment (why this happened after the first credits confuses me...I thought the film was done and almost turned it off and therefore would have missed it).  Besides the one guy stating that his luck eventually turned on him, it was all sunshine and roses.  No total horror stories, nobody currently trying to break into the market stories, and no bringing in any form of media strategists that had thoughts on the future of YouTube and entertainment as we know it, or ideas of how these current stars can stay stars.

Bottom line:  All in all, this was a very lopsided documentary that was effectively a showcase.  It was entertaining, so I'd recommend it for a day that you want to watch a lifestyle piece and rest your brain a bit, but nothing about this was all that insightful, especially if you're a fellow blogger and can wrap your head around aspects of being on the Internet daily.  No lessons were learned about how to become a star OR what the pitfalls of Internet stardom is, nor was there any media experts weighing in or talking long term effects/strategy.  It lacked a lot, but wasn't a "bad" watch either.  That said, I was brainstorming jokes in my joke journal for a side project for half the movie, so it wasn't THAT engaging either.

Would I recommend it?  Meh.

Similar recommendations:
There aren't THAT many documentaries like this, but I can think of some general Internet based documentaries (that are better):

Twinsters: WAY better than Please Subscribe, first off.  But identical twins meet via Facebook from across the world as they were put up for adoption as toddlers.  This movie showcases the Internet at it's best.

Catfish- I actually haven't seen the documentary, but I have seen the follow up TV show.  This showcases that Internet at it's worst, ha.

PBS/MSNBC/Ted Talks- All three of these channels and institutions tackle tons of subject matter surrounding the Internet, and their pieces can usually be found on Netflix or even YouTube itself.

I hope you enjoyed my first segment of this series!  If all goes well a new post will go out each Saturday.  I'm looking forward to dedicating more of my time towards reading and watching documentaries, as I needed an excuse to stop watching Gossip Girl over and over again on Netflix (not that there's anything wrong with that!).  Next week will be pseudo Valentine's themed with a neuroscience based Ted Talk speaker's book on love ("Why Him?  Why Her?") and honestly I have not chosen the documentary yet!  Have a great week and see you Monday when I post again!

I've recently added two pages to this blog, one that catalogues posts named after songs and another that catalogues all of the concert stories.  Click the links on to see for yourself!  Happy Friday!

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  1. First up - love the orange and blue colours together in your outfit! :)

    I prefer reading fiction to non-fiction books, but this still seems like an interesting series to blog about :)

    Away From The Blue Blog

  2. You picked the most perfect dress to go along with this first book and documentary series post! <3 I love themed outfits! I can totally relate to when you first took the geography quiz! That is so awesome that you can now name almost all the countries and in alphabetical order no less!

  3. Another beautiful print!

  4. I love your blog!
    Do you want to support each other's blog by following each other?:) Please let me know if you do so I can follow you right back x

    xoxo, Maii

  5. This book sounds easy to read and educational, love how it coordinates with your look. The dress is so sweet!


  6. Loving the map dress! ;) Please Subscribe does sound interesting but sounds like a lot more indepthness (new word?!?!) LOL was needed! It's going to be interesting to see if Youtube will just keep growing like Facebook has or quiet what will happen with it.

  7. Kudos to matching your dress to the themeof the book abd woohoo for the Bronco's! Im glad that Peyton got a super bowl win since he might be retiring. I have to admit, I'm not that great when it comes to geography. I love history though so I would probably enjoy this book. Thanks for sharing it!

  8. so cute!!
    kisses from the sandpits of dubai ❤️

  9. Great post! Love the shoes. Enjoy your week!


  10. You look amazing! I love your cardigan and shoes, they are totally awesome. Have a good day!

  11. This is such a fabulous idea for a series! You did an excellent job of zeroing in on the points that a potential reader/watcher would want to know before investing their time and energy in a book/documentary. I also loved the John Lennon stealth quote in the first paragraph!

    What you said about "Don't Know Much About the Bible" reminded me of a book on a VERY controversial topic: abortion. I read a book called "Articles of Faith" by Cynthia Gorney a couple years back, and was just blown away at how she handled the politics of abortion in Missouri in the late 1960s-1980s. It was so matter-of-fact, and I felt like she was somehow able to portray both sides in the most compelling and sympathetic light simultaneously. I actually ended up assigning it at the Catholic university I used to teach at! I highly recommend it.

    Anyway, great post!! Ladies who love fashion often love books just as much!

  12. Sounds like a good read! Also, your outfit is amazing! Love the blue and orange! So lovely!


  13. Sounds like great book, personally I have never been big fan of geography too, so I think that it could be the reason to read this book :) Btw, your dress is so pretty, Lauren :)

  14. You look beautiful as always, Lauren! I love reading and finding new books to read, thanks so much for the suggestion and I hope you have a wonderful start to your week!



  15. Love the on point map dress! I should probably brush up on my geography too. In my school district you take geography in the 7th grade and it's not really touched on again...ever. Sad but true.

    -M || Custom Artwork Giveaway

  16. I think this book will be interesting to read anyways, just to refresh the memory of what we had studied) I keep forgetting some parts of the world, just because we don't hear about them that often, but love to watch travel shows)


  17. Oh I'm excited about this series! I like to think I'm a bit of a geography buff, but there is definitely always more to learn! I'll have to check out this book. Also, I LOVE your map dress! The YouTube doc sounds interesting, but too bad it's so lopsided.


  18. Gorgeous dress, love how you paired it with the orange touches! That geography book sounds really interesting too, I need to up my knowledge in that department!

    Chow Down USA

  19. looks like a nice read!
    pretty dress as always, dear! :)

    Have a great week!
    Animated Confessions

  20. Have to check it out dear, thx for your tipp!

  21. sounds like a neat read! cute dress! you look darling!

  22. I might skip on the documentary since I have pretty much lived YouTube since 2007. :P That books sounds really interesting though! :)

    Love this outfit! And like I said before.. those sky-high heels are totally amazing! :D

    YouTube | Blog: Geekette in High Heels | Instagram

  23. Awesome! I could definitely use some brushing up on geography. And history. And the Bible...
    Great post and love how the book matched the outfit. :)


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