I never commented on this, because I read it awhile ago, but it is one of my favorite books. The writing is fantastic, and it's easy to see why it's o...moreI never commented on this, because I read it awhile ago, but it is one of my favorite books. The writing is fantastic, and it's easy to see why it's one of the great classics. I love the background given, the depth of the story, and just how much more alive it made the musical for me (yeah, there's a comparison...though they're different beasts).
My only suggestion to other readers, don't cheat yourself out of great literature by reading an abridged version. The real deal is one of the best books ever written, Hugo is just amazing!(less)
I was all over the place on this book, first intrigued, then bored, then tired of it, then intrigued again, and finally sufficiently satisfied. All in...moreI was all over the place on this book, first intrigued, then bored, then tired of it, then intrigued again, and finally sufficiently satisfied. All in all, it was a good book. I really enjoy Stegner's writing style, very straight-forward, but really able to paint a picture in my mind.
I didn't like how slow it was in parts, or how much he jumped around the characters' life stories. And perhaps I'm too much like Charity (in the book), but the melancholy tone of much of the book was too much for me. I wanted someone to find the silver lining, to realize that we could change, and that we can get more out of life...if we just learn to give and forgive.
Don't get me wrong, Sally was the rock in this book, and Larry her realist that she instilled life and light into. I did enjoy the book...and would recommend it to others. It's not #1 on my list, but worth the read, and the experience.(less)
I enjoyed learning more about the first true geological map, and the life of the man behind it. Though there does seem to be a lot of fluff added to m...moreI enjoyed learning more about the first true geological map, and the life of the man behind it. Though there does seem to be a lot of fluff added to make the story more compelling. Rather than stick straight to the facts, the author adds in general commentary of the times, trying to paint a picture of what it might have been like for William Smith. At times this is helpful for understanding. But at other times it's just there to add story to a somewhat unremarkable time of his life (or a time for which there are too few facts to report anything).
All in all William Smith did achieve great things, and was truly unrecognized and trodden under foot of many because of his social standing. He should be remembered for those great things, especially despite his social standing at the time. But this book forced a lot of history upon his story that may or may not be true for him, and in the end I felt like I wanted to have read a summarized version.(less)
Though this is truly a business book, it contains material valuable to anyone, in any walk of life. I'll get my two gripes out on the table right away...moreThough this is truly a business book, it contains material valuable to anyone, in any walk of life. I'll get my two gripes out on the table right away, because other than these I loved this book.
First, it was a bit chaotic overall, making it hard to get my head around what specific concept the author was trying to convey or link between stories in each section.
And second, the whole premise of the book is that these are small companies that have had the chance to make it big, but have chosen not to. That's a very small percentage of the business population, so the book is making a point about business in general from a niche.
Okay, on to the good...there is so much. The author did quite a bit of homework on these companies, and it shows in the data collected, but more so in the stories he tells. The strength of this book are the true stories of each of these companies, and how these stories helped them to become the great companies they are.
The stories alone cannot give a roadmap for successful business, nor are they intended to. But pulled together in this book, they help to give a feel for some qualities in businesses that have proven successful, at least on the small scale.
And the idea that a business is sometimes built to do more than make money is counter to capitalism (generally). But the author makes a strong case for the benefits of doing things that might cost more (in the short and long term), but are just the right thing to do.
I also really liked the symbiotic relationship that many of the small giants had with their communities. These are some of the things that make running a business so rewarding. But also the things that can make our interactions with our neighbors, coworkers, and friends so rewarding as well. It really does provide a good starting point for looking inward at what you want out of life, and what you're giving up to get (or not get) those things.(less)
A good fun read. The characters were fun, the humor was quaint and quick, and the story was short enough to not feel like it dragged on.
But I don't li...moreA good fun read. The characters were fun, the humor was quaint and quick, and the story was short enough to not feel like it dragged on.
But I don't like to give out stars willy-nilly, and so there were a few things holding me back from 4 stars...namely (semi-spoilers):
- There were astoundingly many parallels to LoTR: a small unassuming hero, a gruff dwarf, a clumsy sidekick, an unconscionable gollum-like creature, a band of seeming fools who manage to accomplish an insurmountable task, a special sword, a protected land that is impossible to find unless it wants to be found, horrible flying creatures that do their evil master's bidding...the list goes on and on. This really annoyed me throughout, as I felt the book was a copycat in many senses. - The plot was quite simple, making the dialogue really all you could look forward to...and beyond the humor, it too was pretty simple. - Taran's change from simple-minded Assistant pig-keeper to emboldened fearless hero was a bit contrived, and forced in my opinion.
Overall a fun read, and despite my misgivings, I did give it 3 stars. Cori and I read this together whilst the other did dishes, so it was a fun lighthearted read, and we'll definitely continue the series. Sometimes you just need something fun and lighthearted.(less)
The first 50 pages are quite remarkable...introducing an interesting framework from which to understand the causes and symptoms of poverty. I had neve...moreThe first 50 pages are quite remarkable...introducing an interesting framework from which to understand the causes and symptoms of poverty. I had never really thought about some of the ideas put forth in this framework, nor that the kinds of things mentioned could have such an impact (noise, formality of speech, etc.).
However, it should be noted that this is really more of a textbook than anything else. Actually it's more of an essay, written with MS Word '97 (as Mirjam aptly noted) and without a grammar check or any editor looking at font consistency. It looks quite rough, and feels almost thrown together.
And if you dare venture past the first 50 pages or so, you'll likely begin to lose interest or may become disappointed in the idea altogether. It turns quickly to monotony and eventually to strange concepts that really don't seem to fit.
I was surprised at how much I began to think about the framework in the context of my everyday interactions, though. It did have an impact on me, and I feel I'm better for having read it.(less)
This is a fun-to-read true story about tracking a hacker spy back in the early days of the internet. It's a must-read for any IT professional, and jus...moreThis is a fun-to-read true story about tracking a hacker spy back in the early days of the internet. It's a must-read for any IT professional, and just a fun read for anyone in general. His anecdotal life events make for nice breaks from the chase and the technical jargon. It slows down a bit in the middle, but it's quite fun, and an incredible true story.
The technical aspects are good, though I thought that some of his analogies dumb down the concepts he's trying to portray. But not enough to detract from the story, in my opinion. And maybe that's a good thing so that more people will read it and enjoy it.(less)
Orson Scott Card just makes great characters. They are smart...and always out-thinking their opposition. The book was a fun read, almost Crichton-like...moreOrson Scott Card just makes great characters. They are smart...and always out-thinking their opposition. The book was a fun read, almost Crichton-like, but in a good way.
The part I didn't like was kind of the part I liked. He brought politics into the forefront of the story, which was okay...I guess. But he was very one-sided (RIGHT), and if I read politics I want something a bit more level or agnostic. His epilogue told his reasons, which were noble in that we should beware of politics creating an "Us and Them" and thus becoming the seed for our own Civil War.
At any rate, a good read, a good moral, but a bit poor execution of the balance in elucidating the moral. (Wow, did that make any sense?)(less)
SHORT VERSION: Great book with excellent information, though most examples touched on the extreme cases rather than the norm. All in all, a great lea...moreSHORT VERSION: Great book with excellent information, though most examples touched on the extreme cases rather than the norm. All in all, a great learning experience.
LONG VERSION: This book rubbed me wrong from the beginning, but it wasn't entirely the author's fault (and I got over it eventually). I listened to it on audio book, as read by Scott Brick, my new least favorite audio book reader. His voice is haughty, overly matter-of-fact, and made me feel as though he was saying "So there! I told you so!" through most of the book. That was the first problem, which probably exacerbated what I actually didn't like about the book.
That being that the author is somewhat sensationalistic, and sometimes dramatic, leaving me to groan out loud a number of times throughout my listening. He did quite well to select the most severe cases of industrial agriculture and animal exploitation. I know from personal experience that there are a wide variety of farmers who don't employ many of the tactics he describes in this book. In fact, I find it hard pressed to believe anyone does what he "heard" had been done in the chicken farms he referred to.
But I digress (I did give it 4 stars!), despite his sensationalism and occasional soliloquys, there were a lot of good ideas and great information to be had in this book. Pollan asks the right questions, and follows up with myriad others. He presents food in a way that most people (unless they've read Wendell Berry) haven't thought about before. And though he selected the worst-case scenarios of food production in America, at least he brought some transparency to what is otherwise a black box.
And not only did he visit these places, he was with the animals, on the tractors, and working alongside the farmers. He immersed himself in each food chain to understand it better. And he studied his subject matter tremendously (though precise footnotes rather than references would have been more thorough).
If nothing else, when you sit down to your dinner tonight, before you take a single bite ask yourself if you know where your food came from. This book seeks to answer that question, at least in part.
SIDE NOTE: If you really like this book, Wendell Berry was the originator of many of the questions asked in this book, and his ideas went beyond food to the community.(less)
I'm not sure how C.S. Lewis does it, but he is a master of quite a variety of genres. This book actually read more like a short story, in part because...moreI'm not sure how C.S. Lewis does it, but he is a master of quite a variety of genres. This book actually read more like a short story, in part because it was somewhat short, and also because it was quite compelling. Truly though, this is quintessential sci-fi (if you have concerns about sci-fi, see note at bottom).
I won't add any spoilers because this book is so short and good that it's an easy and quick read for most. But Lewis does a great job of introducing characters, but tantalizing you with who they really are (even if some are simple). He also provides the science (at least as it stood at the time of the writing) as a backdrop, without forcing it to the forefront as the star player.
The real beauty of the book was two-fold. One, the reader is really made to reflect on their own belief and view of the world and the universe. And it goes beyond that to our view of others around us, especially our earth-view. Secondly, Lewis paints a beautiful picture of Malacandra. I could envision each landscape he described, and it made the entire book more real to me.
All in all a fun read, and one that evokes true science fiction.
*** NOTE: In my mind, the point of science fiction is to make you think...hard. The science is important as a supporting role, but doesn't necessarily make a movie good sci-fi. In fact, I think those sci-fi B-movies that are on late at night with very little plot give sci-fi a bad name, though they are somewhat fun to watch late at night for a good laugh. :) True sci-fi makes you wonder about your current life, and makes you wonder about things you may never have thought about. It elicits your imagination like few other genres do. And quite often it leaves you to finalize things in your own mind, not entirely wrapping things up in a package at the end. Because if it did, it would take away that gift it gives, the power of the reader to think! Just my $0.02, but the reasons why I love good sci-fi...and what real science fiction is.(less)
Asimov is a master of fiction, characters, and storytelling. I read this some time ago, and was just amazed reading it again. The story is told in par...moreAsimov is a master of fiction, characters, and storytelling. I read this some time ago, and was just amazed reading it again. The story is told in parts, with an entirely different cast of characters within each portion of the book. But the overall story is told through these various storylines, and in the end it is all part of one great tale.
The characters and ideas seem entirely new, as if no one has written things like this before (making for great Sci-Fi, as it just "makes you think!"). This is definitely one of the better books I've read in recent years.(less)
An excellent 2nd book...not as strong as the first, but they rarely are. The world and storylines are just vivid, and I found myself mimicking even th...moreAn excellent 2nd book...not as strong as the first, but they rarely are. The world and storylines are just vivid, and I found myself mimicking even the characters facial expressions, because I got so wrapped up in it.
This book was a bit slower than the first, but still quite good, and the ending made up for the slow parts. What a fantastic closing!(less)
Well, I've finally come down from my Asimov high. Books 1-4 are outstanding, highly recommended. Unfortunately I can't say the same for book 5.
In the...moreWell, I've finally come down from my Asimov high. Books 1-4 are outstanding, highly recommended. Unfortunately I can't say the same for book 5.
In the Foreword to the book, the history of the series is explained, and it's quite interesting. However, it is also mentioned that for this book, the publisher changed the rules, and required a minimum of 240,000 words (far longer than any of the previous 4 books). It shows. :( Though the story and characters are still there, this artificial limit is quite evident in the reduced quality of the literature.
Where Asimov excelled with thought-provoking plot and characters in the first 4 books, the reader gets lost in long drawn-out dialogues and unnecessary explanations. The plot is still good, and the characters are interesting, but you can tell the wording is often contrived and the story sometimes gets lost in the length.
I still love his style, and there are some interesting things he brings up to think about...but this is definitely a step backward from the first 4 books. :((less)
Okay, so I finished this a few months ago...and never got around to the review. In short, fantastic. A must read for anyone, and very enjoyable. And t...moreOkay, so I finished this a few months ago...and never got around to the review. In short, fantastic. A must read for anyone, and very enjoyable. And the best part is...it makes you think. Mmmm...just like good Sci-Fi...wait... :)(less)