For the most part, I wasn't particularly impressed. I would finish one of his short essays, and go "Huh. Okay. So?" I needed to know more about the auFor the most part, I wasn't particularly impressed. I would finish one of his short essays, and go "Huh. Okay. So?" I needed to know more about the author in order to understand why he chose THIS story to tell me. I was left to make sense of it on my own, but my own experience is so disparate from his that I couldn't place the lesson I was supposed to learn (assuming there was one - maybe the point was that there wasn't?). So that was disappointing. Once he told some stories about himself in context, it got better.
I left satisfied after reading the last line: "I'm thirty-two years old." So am I. And I'm about to start an internship in an emergency room (which is why I read it in the first place)....more
This is one of those books where when someone asks you, "what is it about?" you realize there's no easy way to summarize it. Books not driven by plotThis is one of those books where when someone asks you, "what is it about?" you realize there's no easy way to summarize it. Books not driven by plot are often like this. It is an exploration of feelings and thoughts; a slow, contemplative discovery of the self. When one's entire being has been focused on survival, one can't stop and ask, "what does it mean?". Yslea may be poor in material wealth, but she discovers she is rich and powerful in her ability to think for herself.
I did some gymnastics in my brain around the fact that the author appears white and has privilege. My friends will know that this is a question with which I wrestle often when reading about characters who are markedly different from their authors. Can we authentically share another person's voice if it is so far from our own experience, without appropriating or distorting it? Yslea felt honest and real. I would love to hear the author speak and ask him about this.
I was going to lament how my return to grad school forced me to take a month to finish this slim volume, but honestly it is richer for being read slowly. Contemplation begets contemplation....more
Meh? It wasn't earth-shattering, but it wasn't bad. A lot of anti-communist sentiment without any explanation of the historical context. So either youMeh? It wasn't earth-shattering, but it wasn't bad. A lot of anti-communist sentiment without any explanation of the historical context. So either you already know what's going on in the USSR in the '60's or you get this one-sided view of Communism. Now, I'm not defending Communism, nor am I suggesting novels should offer a balanced view. I'm just saying the impact is greater if you give a bit more history, especially since this is for teen readers who may never have even heard of Czechoslovakia, let alone understand the politics of that era and geographical area. ...more
One of the things people cite as reasons for listening to NPR are that they can then use what they heard to make small talk or spark conversations. ItOne of the things people cite as reasons for listening to NPR are that they can then use what they heard to make small talk or spark conversations. It's a stereotype about people like me, and it's true. This book is pretty much the same thing. I found myself multiple times saying, "Did you know that...?" and "I just read..."
I didn't read all the pieces (it was due back at the library), but I read most of them, and the ones I read I enjoyed, for the most part. Some of them drifted into more jargon than I could take (Face Blindness) and others strayed into unrelated subject matter (the one about the giant wasps / meaning of life) which could be good or bad (in the example I gave, it was good). I especially liked and felt like I learned from the piece about fermentation. I'd already watched the Frontline documentary on the art of dying, but still loved reading that piece too.
If you read science writing on a regular basis you might find that you've read these all before, but if you don't, it's a great survey of different ideas without having to read a whole book about each....more
Sweet book about a daughter who reunites with her father and learns about his life. Short book but tightly written - everything has a purpose. I likeSweet book about a daughter who reunites with her father and learns about his life. Short book but tightly written - everything has a purpose. I like that. ...more
Sandell's writing was engaging, and the integration of the pictures worked well to support the story. It seemed like a crazy expose - could this guy rSandell's writing was engaging, and the integration of the pictures worked well to support the story. It seemed like a crazy expose - could this guy really get away with all this? I didn't feel personally connected to the story, but it was entertaining....more
This isn't a book I thought I'd feel too much about. It came highly recommended by my favorite librarian (props to Sonja), and though we didn't read iThis isn't a book I thought I'd feel too much about. It came highly recommended by my favorite librarian (props to Sonja), and though we didn't read it out loud as planned, I did dig into it over several days. It's meaty. There's a lot going on. At first I was a tiny bit annoyed by the way the narrator points things out you may have missed, but it was true, I might have missed them, and they were important. And though by the end I had guessed a few plot twists, it was never badly predictable. I was heartened by how Doug seemingly brought out the best in the whole town without intending to do so, and without being all Pollyanna about it. Good job to Schmidt for that one. The extent to which his dad was an a**hole was somehow horrifying without being shocking - it was as though Doug wanted to protect him by not saying too much... or more like protect himself. Which seemed totally realistic for an abusive family situation. Anyway, I enjoyed it, despite my misgivings, which always makes me want to give it more stars than if I had high expectations that weren't met. :-)...more
When I first started reading this, I thought, "oh, it's a new author, how sweet, she's trying, maybe her next one will be less simplistic and formulaiWhen I first started reading this, I thought, "oh, it's a new author, how sweet, she's trying, maybe her next one will be less simplistic and formulaic." And then I got to the end and saw that the author was actually the star writer behind a major motion picture. Which makes sense, because this would make a really good made-for-tv movie.
I guess I'm just used to reading things that are, I dunno, more nuanced? The characters only changed in very predictable ways, nobody really risked all that much, and everyone went away happy. Broken lives were mended. Where was the doom and gloom?!? I guess that's the point. Well, my readers know I get frustrated with sappy endings. So I guess that's 'nuff said.
Great book for the summer, plane rides, mass-market paperback readers. No judgement - everyone needs a good dessert book once in a while, even me....more
This is a good wholesome book about a big city girl born into trouble who finds acceptance and love on a small town farm. It's a comforting read, fullThis is a good wholesome book about a big city girl born into trouble who finds acceptance and love on a small town farm. It's a comforting read, full of bright colors, predictable turns of events, good morals on how to treat people, and just plain easy to read. I was drawn in and it kept my attention. If I had to tell someone about a book I wanted them to write, this would be it. And I could see the small towns she might have based it on, having lived around there for a bit. So, four stars for that piece of it.
At the same time, I wasn't convinced by Ana's dialogue. It felt fakey teen. Like, too adult, too monologue-y sometimes. All the characters, actually, though not all the time. Why was Brady even in there? And at one point the author slipped and Ana was in a truck, then "opened the van door", but still in the truck. Little stuff, but a publisher like Penguin should have caught it. Or the awkwardness of the reveal about why Cole's dad is missing. It felt like Teran was like "well dang, I have to explain this now or else I can't get to the next thing, so I'll just lay it out there." All those things resulted in my giving it three stars.
Despite all that, this would be an easy one to recommend. Maybe even to read out loud....more
A lot to chew on in this book. Both regarding ideas about the function of the media and also our assumptions about how it should work. And then towardA lot to chew on in this book. Both regarding ideas about the function of the media and also our assumptions about how it should work. And then toward the end, info about how our brains work in terms of assimilating information. I think it worked as a graphic form if only because it made me slow down in ways I wouldn't have if it was all text. But sometimes the pictures didn't add that much. I could see reading this for a class on modern media as an introduction to the topic and a portal to dive deeper. ...more
Is it possible for empathy to be narcissistic? I feel like this is a conundrum similar to the question of whether selflessness is really selfless if yIs it possible for empathy to be narcissistic? I feel like this is a conundrum similar to the question of whether selflessness is really selfless if you get joy out of it. There is so much navel-gazing, over-analyzing, and metaphor-as-an-extreme-sport going on here. Sometimes it resonated with me so much it was embarrassing. Other times it was exhausting. A friend fell asleep reading it. For a 218 page book, it should not have taken me this long to finish it.
Here's what I think I mean in my first sentence: Empathy isn't about you, it's about the other person. But in the search to find connection with the Other, Jamison instead digs so deep into herself that she loses the Other and instead sees only herself. She sees herself doing this, and yet can't find a way out.
What kept me reading was that I see myself in her writing, as hard as that is to admit. It illuminated these parts of myself that I don't want to look at because they are unattractive and also very difficult to explain without sounding crazy. Jamison struggles as well - I imagine that's why there's so much metaphor, and it still isn't clear. I keyed into the desire that we want to be special in a world where no one is special. This is highlighted in the second story, where she can't empathize with the disease, but does feel in her hypochondria, that desire for "specialness". Or in 'In Defense of Saccharine' where the tension between true emotion and an approximation of such leads in circles of being never "real" enough, to a fear of being cliche.
Luckily, all is redeemed, made clear, and in some ways dug deeper in her final essay, 'Grand Unified Theory of Female Pain'. If you like the first essay, but then get bogged down by the rest of it, go ahead and skip to here. Again, these are thoughts I've struggled with before, and I find her struggle to illuminate my own, despite not creating resolution. Perhaps there is no resolution.
I can't recommend this book, can I? It is awkward and forced and too self-aware. It is all the dark parts of me, without enough of the poetry that enables grace and growth. And yet, every so often, she has something to say that I think we should listen to. This book is not what you think it is. I just want you to know that going in. ...more
Integration was a difficult topic, and still relevant as we bump up against the lies we tell ourselves about a post-racial society. Why do we need toIntegration was a difficult topic, and still relevant as we bump up against the lies we tell ourselves about a post-racial society. Why do we need to remember? Perhaps to see reflections of how things still haven't changed. Whether or not about race - we still each hold "truths" close to us that maybe we shouldn't. Both girls offer examples of how to allow one's mind to change, even when it seems impossible. Linda shows us how (not) to be an ally, and Sarah shows us how to stay true to what you believe in. I asked myself some questions about the fact that it's written by a white woman (some of which were addressed by her afterword), but I'll let you ask your own.
A good, solid read for all ages. And not just in the month of February....more