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
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
See, this is why I don't read thrillers. They are just so disturbing. Don't be fooled by it being awarded the Carnegie medal.
I'm not sure what I can sSee, this is why I don't read thrillers. They are just so disturbing. Don't be fooled by it being awarded the Carnegie medal.
I'm not sure what I can say about it without spoiling the ending. The end has a lot to do with my feelings about it. On the dust jacket, there's a quote from Booklist: "...once they put it down, they'll ponder its meanings." This has been true for me, but mostly I'm wondering what I should be pondering. It didn't seem deep, though it was fast-paced. I would have read it in one day if I'd picked it up on a weekend.
I thought for a bit that the psychopath might be a metaphor for God. I mean, Linus uses the capital 'He' and 'Him'. But that's just seriously f*ed up. So, what else? Are we supposed to ponder what we would do? How we would use the limited time we might have, trapped in our lives? How to live/die with dignity? What it says about us that we enjoy the spectacle, just like the psychopath? (Otherwise, why would we keep reading?)
The dust jacket also reads, "People are really quite simple, and they have simple needs. Food, water, light, space, privacy. Maybe a small measure of dignity. A bit of freedom. What happens when someone simply takes all that away?" Assuming the book is supposed to answer that, I think it misses the mark. Life is nasty, brutish, and short is what I learned. And psychopaths do horrible things. There was no room for hope or redemption.
I guess I must not regret reading it because I'm giving it three stars, but I can't say I'd recommend it, unless you're into this sort of thing. And if you are... maybe I don't want to give you any more ideas. *shudder*...more
I am fascinated by the idea of language as a measure of intelligence, and how a person could develop their inner self without the constant feedback thI am fascinated by the idea of language as a measure of intelligence, and how a person could develop their inner self without the constant feedback that the rest of us get through body language and other social cues. Especially interesting was the way Elkins portrays Laura as selfish (around the issue of slavery) but then changes her position once she reads "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and gets that other perspective. Elkins wrote her as such a nuanced character - easy to love (at first through pity, and then genuinely by the end) and just as easy to hate/misunderstand/get frustrated with.
I also enjoyed learning about the time period that Laura lived through, and their fascination with her and her mentor Howe and the richness of all the other characters as well. The afterword at the end tidily summed up what was researched "truth" and what was cultivated "fiction" and gave even more perspective on the story. Yup, a great read. Glad I picked it up.
PS: Book-dar strikes again! Loved the nod to Laura being a lesbian....more
I was all ready to hate this book because the person who gave it to me said he wasn't really into it. Sometimes I was like, yeah, Powers is a privilegI was all ready to hate this book because the person who gave it to me said he wasn't really into it. Sometimes I was like, yeah, Powers is a privileged jerk who doesn't know what it's like to live like the rest of us. And then I'd turn a couple pages and he'd address that. Or I'd be like, blah blah, he's going all woo-woo on me again, and then he'd say these things that echo questions I've been asking myself for years. So, this book isn't for everyone. It's also not a book you can read all at once. It's not a page-turner. But it worked for me. I read it slowly, letting it sink in, realizing the truths and letting the stuff that didn't match up, just fall away. Your mileage may vary!...more
This was an easy way to read about lots of different famous people and learn some history that I didn't know. I liked hearing about the couples' partnThis was an easy way to read about lots of different famous people and learn some history that I didn't know. I liked hearing about the couples' partnerships and how they stayed together or broke apart. Many of the people I didn't even know existed, and the more famous ones I had no idea were gay. So that was cool to learn.
The writing itself leaves somewhat to be desired - lots of direct quotes from other sources turned me off, and the formulaic structure of each chapter sometimes made it seem like he was trying too hard to fit their lives into boxes. I found a couple typos too (always a pet peeve). But it really was an original topic, and I'm thankful I took the time to read it....more