I gave this book about 100 pages or 31% before I decided to shelve it for good. It had a lot of potential but it suffered from an aimless plot and anI gave this book about 100 pages or 31% before I decided to shelve it for good. It had a lot of potential but it suffered from an aimless plot and an info-dump of introducing a slew of characters all at once. I already struggle with keeping characters straight so I could tell this just wasn't a book for me....more
I can't. Even if I had found it funny at the beginning the constant "humor" wore out its welcome very fast. There were way too many characters that weI can't. Even if I had found it funny at the beginning the constant "humor" wore out its welcome very fast. There were way too many characters that were introduced very quickly and I couldn't keep them all straight. There were 4 story lines going at once so each one inched along. What is the conflict supposed to be in this book? I made it to page 161.3 and I'm still waiting for the conflict to show up. Is it that we don't want the world to end and coop is trying to stop it? Because the only character I liked was the angel that wants to destroy everything.... So... I hope he wins? And if I'm supposed to root for coop saving the world IT HASNT EVEN BEEN SET UP YET. He just barely got recruited by the good guys and I'm halfway through....more
The Nightingale opens with this amazing first line:
“If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: In love we find out who we wantThe Nightingale opens with this amazing first line:
“If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.” - pg 1
This story is about what it’s like to be a woman during war. The author says on her website that “In war, women’s stories are all too often forgotten or overlooked.” I had never thought about how true that really was until I read this book. Vianne and Isabelle are two sisters that we follow through World War II. One stays home and takes care of her kids and one helps in the war effort. Their story showed me that this statement is not true:
“And it’s a fact that women are useless in war. Your job is to wait for our return.” - pg 26
What a beautiful reminder not overlook women and their strength. Even as a woman, I'm guilty of doing that sometimes.
Since this is an historical-fiction story, I felt like there should have been an afterword talking about what was historical and what wasn’t. But don’t worry I’ve googled it all for you :) The Nightingale is inspired by a real person, Andree de Jongh. Don’t go read her biography before reading this book unless you want to be spoiled. Andree de Jongh and her corresponding character in the book were themselves inspired by a real nurse named Edith Cavell who served during World War I. You should read about her too :)
I love pictures and the author has some beautiful pictures of places that inspired the locations in her book.
I’m a geek for any reference to art or culture, so when I saw a reference to “drab-eyed, dark-clothed people who looked like they belonged in an Edvard Munch painting.” (pg 239) I had to look it up. He’s most famous for doing The Scream.
You’ll love the writing in this book. It’s beautiful. I highlighted so many good quotes that I can’t share them all. This might be my favorite one:
“Lately, though, I find myself thinking about the war and my past, about the people I lost. Lost. it makes it sound as if I misplaced my loved ones;” - pg 1
The Nightingale deserves all the hype and awards it's gotten. You should read it....more
I got to the end of this book and felt like I was missing something. Perhaps it was the plot. It went like this: two girls are friends/enemies, they gI got to the end of this book and felt like I was missing something. Perhaps it was the plot. It went like this: two girls are friends/enemies, they get their periods and grow up, one gets married and he turns out to be a jerk. And this plot starts out in the most bizarre way. These two girls start walking up these stairs which reminds her of another story and that story reminds her of a different story until you have this Inception-like mess of stories within stories. They don't reach the top of the stairs until 10 chapters later and by this point I'm not even sure what's going on anymore. Is this real or not real? Can someone get Leonardo DiCaprio to spin a top for me and tell me when we get back to reality??
Since the plot is a mess, that leaves me to believe that this is a character driven story. There's nothing wrong with character driven stories. That being said, I didn't like any of these characters. Actually it was more that I didn't care about any of them because I didn't feel like I could really understand or relate to any of them.
Mostly I was just bored reading this. It felt like an old man was rambling on all these stories from the past that were pointless and didn't have much connection to each other besides being in the past. The rambling feeling might have come from the fact that there was not much dialogue. Here's an example of the narration style:
"That morning of the duel between Enzo and Lila is important, in our long story. (kindle location 543 or 13%)"
YES THIS STORY IS VERY LONG HOW HAVE I ONLY READ 13%
My last note in the margin of the book says this after the final sentence: I don't get it....more
Sam was the biggest reason I didn't love the Incarnate series. Since this novella is from his point of view, I read it hoping it would change my mindSam was the biggest reason I didn't love the Incarnate series. Since this novella is from his point of view, I read it hoping it would change my mind about him. Sometimes knowing someone's past helps you understand them, right? I guess. He almost seemed so different in Phoenix Overture that I couldn't reconcile the Sam in this book withe the Sam in the Incarnate series.
I liked that I learned new things about Sam that I couldn't learn in the books. He didn't annoy me in this one which was nice. The world in this book was a devastated and scary place which helps you look at his choices with a little less judgement....more
Best short story ever. We get to see the background of the romantic hero Hector. Great conflict for a short story. We get to see Hector sacrifice hisBest short story ever. We get to see the background of the romantic hero Hector. Great conflict for a short story. We get to see Hector sacrifice his three prized possessions to save his kingdom even though he thinks he will lose everything doing it. At the end he's completely changed and is left with no possessions to serve as a guard except "Love for my kingdom, love for my king, and love for my queen." It makes you love Hector even more. Must read story of you liked the girl of fire and thorns series. (Ps his three items are irreplaceable and valuable though that is not obvious to everyone else. They are a quilt made by the queen, money hidden as art on a board from his brother, and a priceless book from his mother)...more
Told from a Elisa's sister's perspective. We get to see their relationship and why her sister set up an arranged marriage. Great conflict for a shortTold from a Elisa's sister's perspective. We get to see their relationship and why her sister set up an arranged marriage. Great conflict for a short story. I like Alodia (Elisa's sister). She really knows how to motivate people and lead them to the point that she almost seems manipulative. I say almost because it's clear that she does everything to protect the people in her kingdom. Adds enough background that it's worth reading....more
Maze Runner Files is the story of how the flare came to be and is told in bleeped out recording transcripts and inter-office WICKED memos. It was so cMaze Runner Files is the story of how the flare came to be and is told in bleeped out recording transcripts and inter-office WICKED memos. It was so creepy. I haven't been creeped out that much since the bridge of Khazad-dûm in Lord of the Rings (I'm talking about book not the movie.) it talks a lot about setting up the experiment and really makes you ponder ethics and science. There is also a memory in here of Thomas remembering how the flare affected his parents and it's really sad. This is a must read if you liked the maze Runner series but read it last - it's totally full of spoilers...more
Seein the Darkling's childhood made him a more sympathetic character. I was surprised that I felt bad for him! I thought it was worth reading. It flesSeein the Darkling's childhood made him a more sympathetic character. I was surprised that I felt bad for him! I thought it was worth reading. It fleshed out the idea of amplifiers and showed the greed that they can cause. Favorite quote: "Fear is a powerful ally, but feed it too often, make it too strong, and it will turn on you."...more
This was a great prequel. It's interesting on it's own and we learn more about the main character and her personality as well as more of her backgrounThis was a great prequel. It's interesting on it's own and we learn more about the main character and her personality as well as more of her background. But best of all, it directly sets up the plot for the first book in the series.
The writing is funny and sarcastic with a few minor cliche moments like the classic "letting go of the breath that she hadn't realized she was holding" (eye roll) and a few exclamation points in the prose that made it feel cheesy. It wasn't too bad, though. I didn't want to chuck it out the window or anything but I did notice it which pulled out of the story for a minute. That being said, I liked the writing for the most part mostly because of freaking hilarious quotes like this :
"He smelled of her lavender soap-her expensive lavender soap that she'd once warned him to never use again." - pg 346
HAHA! I love that it's set up to be romantic, but this is totally the reaction I would have.
I read this right after reading Throne of Glass, which is the first book in this series that this collection of novellas is a prequel to. I thought it was perfect timing. I read book 2 right after these novellas and the background that I learned in the prequels was referenced. Knowing the details of what they were talking about really filled out the story in book 2 and changed my perspective of what happened in book 1.
Magic is briefly mentioned in this book and it was so beautiful that I'm hoping magic starts showing up more in the series! It talked about singing sands which I loved.
The main character, Celaena, meets this girl Ansel who has an epic revenge quest going on the rivaled the Princess Bride.
Celaena meets a wise master (he goes by the name "Mute Master") and gets some off the wall training with him that was something like Kung Fu Panda. My favorite quote from this wise master:
"The Mute Master had told her that people deal with their pain in different ways-that some chose to drown it, some chose to love it, and some chose to let it turn into rage." - pg 236
So much fun. Can't wait to continue this series. ...more
I was inspired by the main characterEd's very normal life. Maybe normal is too nice a word. His life is more mediocre. He doesn't have any ambitions oI was inspired by the main character Ed's very normal life. Maybe normal is too nice a word. His life is more mediocre. He doesn't have any ambitions or achievements or direction really. The story is about him receiving anonymous cards in the mail that challenge him to help people. He changes their lives in small and big ways just by being observant. It made me want to observe and serve others more. If an ordinary guy can help in small ways, then so can I.
After reading I Am The Messenger, I got that chance.
I saw a guy shopping for baby formula at the grocery store. He would look at a can of baby formula for a minute and put it back. Then he'd look at another can. Then he'd put it back. I found this strange and fascinating. Most people quickly dump 8 cans of the exact same formula in their shopping cart and hurry off. I have never seen someone compare types of baby formula so carefully.
This guy was taking his time for some reason. I continued to watch him (he didn't notice because he was now scrutinizing a fifth can of formula) and tried to figure out what situtation would make someone shop for formula like that. He must never have bought it before. Maybe he has a wife at home with a screaming newborn baby and was instructed to "get formula" only to find the grocery store has 473829 kinds. And now he doesn't know what kind to get. So I went up to him and helped explain the difference between the 439280 kinds of formula and gave him a coupon. He seemed grateful. I imagined him going home to his wife victorious because he'd gotten the right formula AND used a coupon.
It's not life changing or anything. That being said, Ed didn't feel like he was doing anything life changing either.
It’s not a big thing, but I guess it’s true— big things are often just small things that are noticed.
-Markus Zusak, I Am the Messenger (p. 221).
But it reminded me that kindness, true kindness, comes from listening and observing others to see what they really need. Small acts of kindness are big in their own way.
The reason this story works is because it's crude, crass, biting, sarcastic, and full of swearing. Let me explain. The writing hides the preachiness of the story so well that I really enjoyed reading it and it wasn't until the end that I realized I learned something. I'm not saying something has to be crude for you to learn something. But hiding a story about serving others in a crude story might accidentally teach someone something when all they had really intended was to pick up an entertaining book. Making it a little crude can also make the story relatable so you close the book feeling like the character did things that you are more than capable of doing, too.
There were some parts of the writing that I found so beautiful. Here's one of my favorite quotes. I just love how Markus Zusak takes a cliche saying and switches the words around to paint a lovely picture:
Quietly, Marv cries.
His hands appear to be dripping on the wheel. The tears grip his face. They hold on and slide reluctantly for his throat.
-Markus Zusak, I Am the Messenger (p. 316).
I like that the tears grip his face instead of his hands gripping the wheel. But I can still imagine the image of tears gripping his face like he's trying so hard not to cry but he can't help it. I find it so beautiful for some reason.
The twist at the end did confuse me. [spoiler]Who is the messenger? My book club helped me figure it out. The character is the message about serving others and the author is the messenger because he made up the story. Right??[/spoiler]
Ed's friend has a crappy car and he keeps calling it a Falcon. I've never heard of that kind of car so I couldn't get this image out of my head:
The Millenium Falcon IS crappy so I just imagined that....more
Aspen Everlasting is a funparanormal romance. This is the perfect fit for young teens as well as adults who want a clean romance that is entertaining
Aspen Everlasting is a fun paranormal romance. This is the perfect fit for young teens as well as adults who want a clean romance that is entertaining to read.
I'm not always a fan of romances because they feel cheesy sometimes, but there was plenty of humor and teasing that kept the cheesiness at bay. This quote is from the beginning where the main character, Aspen, and the childhood friend she is developing a crush on named Nate almost drown. He comes over and hugs her like friends do and he's obviously concerned for her. They're embracing and ... it doesn't go quite the way she imagined.
Was this the moment I had waited for? Nate was going to kiss me. I could tell by his eyes that his gratitude for my survival would bring his lips to mine. My heartbeat sped up with . . .
“You look terrible,” he said.
Okay. Moment gone.
-Kindle Locations 160-162
Ha ha! Makes me laugh every time I read it.
I've known the author, Kathryn, for a couple of years now. She was a book blogger before she became an author and that's how I met her. Among book bloggers the line, "The breath I DIDN'T know I was holding" is a well known cliche that they love to point out because how can you not know something like that? So when I read the following line in Aspen Everlasting, I could see her experience as a book blogger shining through.
The breath I was holding released through my mouth.
-Kindle location 11
Thank you for not using cliches!
My curiosity was peaked as the hidden paranormal world started to unfold. It reminded me of the King Arthur type of fairies that hide in the woods and capture men. They live forever, are dangerous, and can't always be trusted. I loved the way Kathryn made the fairy world her own by having good fairies that had given up the immortality as well as the more traditional evil fairies.
One of the most unique things about Aspen Everlasting is the relationship Aspen has with her siblings. Her siblings - Ash and Willow - are an important part in the story line and they are good friends. It was nice to read about functional family relationships. There's some tension with the parents that was realistic. I liked how much the parents were involved in the story. It was nice to see that even though they loved each other and got along, they still had to work through things with each other.
I felt disconnected from Illusionariumthe whole time I was reading it because the action starts so quickly that I didn't have a chance to get to knowI felt disconnected from Illusionarium the whole time I was reading it because the action starts so quickly that I didn't have a chance to get to know the characters and care about them. The story starts right off with a deadly disease. It actually didn't add that much conflict because I hardly knew the characters so I didn't care yet that they were all dying. I did think it was interesting that the disease only killed women. Still, for a disease destined to kill all women within the week I should have cared more.
One delightful thing about the writing that I really enjoyed were the footnotes. I like the idea of having footnotes in a fictional novel. It was funny since it fit the main character's personality who was a scientist. Most of the footnotes were poking fun at himself. I kind of felt like they were the 1800's version of hashtags.
The setting is a strange, steampunk world in a parallel universe of London that is similar to ours but not exactly the same. The names are familiar but slightly changed. The Tower of London is still there but England is called Arthurise. I enjoyed the steampunk feel which was a fun mix of fantasy and science. An illusion is like a drug hallucination that an Illusionist can control for other people. The best people at creating fantasical illusions were the smartest scientists. I thought that was creative. The main character jokes that certain things in math, like the square root of -1, is not applicable in real life, but he uses it in an illusion which I found funny. It was one of those moments where you are convinced that something you learn will never be of use and then you have to eat your words when it turns out it is useful....more
Laura Hillenbrand knows how to write a non-fiction memoir that is just as compelling as the best fiction out there. Skip the Short and Sweet Version
Laura Hillenbrand knows how to write a non-fiction memoir that is just as compelling as the best fiction out there. Skip the movie and read Unbroken. This amazing memoir is about the Pacific front of World War II against Japan that most people don't know very much about.
Apparently I have this idea in my head that memoirs are written about perfect people who were born with more strength than the rest of us losers. Maybe that’s true of other memoirs, but it wasn’t true of Unbroken. This memoir doesn't idolize him.
Unbroken was upfront and honest about Louie’s faults, especially about him being a troublemaker as a child. His older brother Pete saw potential in him. Instead of seeing a troublemaker, Pete saw a competitive boy who wanted attention. It was a reminder to me to look for the good in my kids. This morning my oldest son was bossing around his younger brother. Instead of reminding him (again) that he's not in charge of his brother, I saw a young boy who wanted more responsibility. Sometimes all it takes is seeing your weaknesses as strengths. When Louie starts to see that the “bad” qualities he had as a child could help him survive, I was touched.
From earliest childhood, Louie had regarded every limitation placed on him as a challenge to his wits, his resourcefulness, and his determination to rebel. The result had been a mutinous youth. As maddening as his exploits had been for his parents and his town, Louie’s success in carrying them off had given him the conviction that he could think his way around any boundary. Now, as he was cast into extremity, despair and death became the focus of his defiance. The same attributes that had made him the boy terror of Torrance were keeping him alive in the greatest struggle of his life.
-Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption (p. 148).
I was floored by how many things Louie survives. Just one of his life events would be enough to turn into an inspiring memoir. Louie survived a plane crash, was lost at sea and almost starved to death (they had food but one guy ate it all), were attacked by sharks while repairing their rubber raft that had holes in it because they were shot at by enemy planes, was a soldier in World War II, and became a prisoner of war with concentration camp conditions in Japan.
When Louie and some of the men at the POW camp were trying to escape, the plan involved going across the sea in a small motor boat. Louie didn't see that as a problem at all compared to drifting 2000 miles in the open ocean with no food. If nothing else, it reminded me that trials can help you say “I've had worse.”
I was surprised how long the story went on after Louie came home from the POW camp. It didn't paint this happily ever after picture. It talked realistically about the physical and emotional scars that Louie and other POW prisoners had the rest of their lives. Louie was rescued physically but the story continued until he was free emotionally as well.
When Laura Hillenbrand first interviewed Louie about his story, the thing that drove her to write this book was to find out how someone could forgive such horrific abuse. Forgiveness is what Unbroken is about. And that’s why the movie sucks because it skims over the forgiveness part of the story. Oh and the fact that the climax in the movie is anti-climatic because even though Louie holds that beam over his head forever the guards beat him with a stick anyway (which does not happen in the book). LET HIM WIN OH MY GOSH. But that’s another post.
The reason Laura Hillenbrand writes such compelling non-fiction is because she knows what NOT to put into her book. I can tell that Laura’s research could easily be thousands of pages long and she has a gift for knowing what to leave out. (This is a gift I need. I feel the need to put every single thought in my book reviews.)
Laura’s selectiveness shines the most for me in her characterization. She gives you one characteristic about each character that is easy to remember and then doesn’t info dump all the other details about the character. It made it so I could say “Oh that’s the guy with the girlfriend at home.” Of course there’s more to the characters than that. As we got to know them through the book, I could attach the new things I learned to that one interesting characteristic so I could keep them all straight.
Another thing that Laura Hillenbrand is beyond talented at is giving the reader a sense of the time period. I loved how she tied all the famous events of the time together with the flight of the Zeppelin. Unbroken helped me learn history by seeing how the world and times affected one person. Laura describes her own writing process better than I could.
You can’t truly understand an individual unless you understand the world he or she inhabits, and in illustrating that individual’s world, you will, hopefully, capture history in the accessible, tactile, authentic way in which the times were actually experienced. In Unbroken as in Seabiscuit, I tried to paint portraits not just of individuals, but of their times.
-Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption (Reading Guide)
It wasn’t until reading Unbroken that I realized non-fiction can do something amazing that fiction can’t. Non-fiction can tell you details that people inside the story don’t know. This doesn’t work in fiction because we think the characters are dumb if they don’t know things that we do. But it totally worked in Unbroken because they weren’t dumb - they just couldn’t see everything like we can from this vantage point of looking at these events as the past.
I never realized how little I knew about the Pacific side of World War II until Laura Hillenbrand pointed it out in the interview at the end of the book.
I’m troubled by the fact that when World War II is taught in schools, the lessons focus almost entirely on the European war.
-Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption (Reading Guide)
Spoilers for book 1 so beware. I've hidden spoilers for this book.
Celaena is now the king's personal assassin and she pulls a Jason Bourne because sheSpoilers for book 1 so beware. I've hidden spoilers for this book.
Celaena is now the king's personal assassin and she pulls a Jason Bourne because she has a conscience. Celaena is such a great character. She's flawed but there's a lot to like about her. She collects book like I do which is to hoard every single book she can find and never get rid of it. It's so clear what Celaena wants which made her very relatable. I think it's safe to say that a lot of people want this:
"She had a flicker of memory from a time when, just for a moment, she'd been free; when the world had been wide open and she'd been about to enter it with Sam at her side. It was a freedom that she was still working for, because even though she'd tasted it only for a heartbeat, it had been the most exquisite heartbeat she'd ever experienced." - pg 81
What a beautiful reminder to never take that kind of freedom for granted.
The back story from the prequel (The Assassin's Blade) shows up in this book. Everything that's needed to tell the story in Crown of Midnight is there and it's not confusing. But the prequel filled out the details for me making it a little easier to follow what was going on.
Three plot twists! 1st one - called it! (view spoiler)[Celaena is the lost queen. Totally saw that coming (hide spoiler)] 2nd plot twist - WHAAAAAT (view spoiler)[The prince has magic and it's hidden and dangerous. Oooh I love this!!! Did not see that one coming! And it's so cool. It's like a Jedi trying to use the force. (hide spoiler)] 3rd plot twist - this is so obvious - wait it's not!! (view spoiler)[The threat to Nehemia seemed so obvious to me. It must be the king. But it wasn't! Yay! Well sad actually because she died but yay that I didn't figure it out! (hide spoiler)] In short, lots of juicy secrets going on and it's so fun.
Love triangles are done a lot but I have to say I really liked this one. I thought it was well done. It didn't drag on. Feelings change, as they should, which lent it a feeling of maturity.
The political and historical elements are complicated with no easy answers which I really liked. The lack of magic is mentioned again as part of the world which I also really liked.
In the first book, Throne of Glass, a writing quirk that stood out to me was lots of exclamation marks. There's a new writing quirk in Crown of Midnight that bugged me, but the good news is that it isn't exclamation marks - it's something totally different! There were times when words were repeated three times like this: "chocolate, chocolate, chocolate (pg 89)". It showed up only a few times but I noticed it, noticed it, noticed it.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
If all Princess fairy tales had a feminist ending, it would come outThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Short and Sweet Version
If all Princess fairy tales had a feminist ending, it would come out exactly like this beautifully written short story. If you like Princess stories but don't like the "I have to get married, a guy needs to save me" theme, then you will love this fascinating fairy tale. Little Knife is about a girl who is so so pretty but no one listens to her. They really, really should have.
This is a story of Yeva, a girl that was so so pretty. And it sucked. People thought she was a demon. She couldn't go outside because it caused a scene. Instead of passively accepting her fate, Yeva asks why she has to hide. GOOD QUESTION. Why can't women be accepted as they are? Why is she expected to change her behavior which is normal (i.e. going outside) while the village doesn't feel the need to change their abnormal behavior (i.e. freaking out whenever they see her)?
No one ever asks Yeva what she wants. Her father, the Duke, is the worst. He is always thinking what he can get out of her instead. He really, really should have asked her what she wanted.
The tasks that the Duke sets up to find a husband for his Mega Hot Daughter (aka Yeva) are selfish and ridiculous and are what most of the plot is about. I liked the writing of this fairy tale. It has a charming repetitive style. Yeva logically questions the stupid things the Duke has the men do to compete for her hand and he ignores her. Idiot.
If this had been a regular fairy tale, the underdog Semyon would have won her hand. He's poor. No one likes him that much. He has magic. But through the story we see how he is no better than the Duke because he blames the river for all his problems. The freakin' river who is literally just sitting there minding it's own business. For a poor person, he seems awfully rude and entitled. Luckily, the river obeys Semyon's magic and helps him with the stupid tasks. He rewards the river, which he nick-named Little Knife, by being ungrateful and demanding.
"Now slice through the ground and fetch me the coin, Little Knife, or what good are you to me?"
- Leigh Bardugo, Little Knife (Location 181)
The ending rocks. The river kicks butt, turns into a powerful magical being, and is the first person to ask Yeva what she wants. Turns out, Yeva wants freedom. The river and Yeva leave the town, destroying it on their way out. Yeva lives by the sea and does normal things. Then she gets old and ugly but she doesn't bloody care because she's a free person. That's the best ending to a fairy tale ever.
I read this book on a recommendation from a friend. When I first sawThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Short and Sweet Version
I read this book on a recommendation from a friend. When I first saw it, it seemed like it was mocking religion. The cover kind of says "See how ridiculous religion is? LOL." While there is humor, it's more self-deprecating instead of mocking. That being said, the humor wasn't that hilarious. It was more like amusing. I was entertained by his writing and I surprisingly learned a few things. It was a fast, entertaining read but the humor didn't quite blow me away.
Jessica Thinks Too Much Version
I thought The Year of Living Biblically would be more about living primitively. I kind of expected him to make bricks out of straw or something. The author, A. J., was more focused on trying religion out in a bizarre way. I was surprised that he actually got quite a bit out of his experiment. He grew spiritually. At the end, he's not ready to join Judaism or anything but I really felt that he was changed and would think about morals a lot differently after this. His motivation behind this experiment was his son and how to teach him morals.
I don’t want him to swim in this muddy soup of moral relativism. I don’t trust it. I have such a worldview, and though I have yet to commit a major felony, it seems dangerous. Especially nowadays.
- A. J. Jacobs, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible (p. 39).
Seeing him adapt ancient commandments to a modern world was fun. My favorite interpretation was for the commandment of gleaning which he described like this:
The idea of gleanings is one of my favorites in the Bible. It goes like this: When you harvest your field, don’t reap the entire field. Leave the corners unharvested so that the leftovers— the gleanings— can be gathered by the poor. It’s a beautiful and compassionate rule. Plus, the commandment rewards people for doing a half-assed job, which I think is a nice notion.
- A. J. Jacobs, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible (p. 166).
If only we could be rewarded for doing everything half-assed. A. J. decided to leave money at the ATM to follow this commandment. He was concerned that the person getting the money was most likely rich and not poor, but it was the best idea he had since he didn't actually farm.
I learned a lot about the Jewish faith from reading this. A. J. actually explored a lot of religions during this experiment which I wasn't expecting. He had a lot of questions about how to interpret and live certain commandments so he interviewed leaders from a variety of religions. I was familiar with Jewish kosher laws, but I had no idea where the tradition of them came from. It's such a neat story.
But the rabbis have a far more elaborate interpretation: Exodus 23: 19 actually means to separate milk and meat. Which is where you get the kosher rules banning cheeseburgers. Along with the myriad rules about how long you must wait between a meat course and a dairy course (from one hour to six hours, depending on local tradition) and whether you should separate dairy utensils and meat utensils in a dishwasher (yes). Strict Orthodox Jews believe that God gave these amplifications— the “oral laws” —to Moses on the mountaintop. That’s why he was up there for forty days . Moses passed on the oral laws to the Israelites, who told them to their sons, and so on until they were eventually written down.
- A. J. Jacobs, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible (p. 69).
A. J.'s self-deprecating humor was great. It wasn't in there a ton, but when it was it made me smile.
I’m no handyman. Put it this way: When I watch Bob the Builder with Jasper, I always learn something new (oh, so that’s what a strut is).
- A. J. Jacobs, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible (p. 78).
I also thought this quote was hilarious. We all have an eccentric aunt Marti, right?
My aunt Marti , the vegan and animal rights activist, found out about my honey eating and sent me a rebuking email. The subject header was “The bitter truth about honey.” She listed all the ways the commercial honey industry mistreats bees. I won’t reprint it here, but her description of artificial bee insemination was disturbingly graphic. She signed the note, “Your eccentric aunt Marti.”
- A. J. Jacobs, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible (p. 173).
I'm a religious person. I've read the Bible. So I was pleasantly surprised at some of the insights he found in the Bible that I had never thought about. A. J. was struggling with infertility. He talked about how the stories of infertility stood out to him and gave him comfort.
There is an upside to the Bible’s infertility motif: The harder it was for a woman to get pregnant, the greater was the resulting child. Joseph. Isaac. Samuel.
- A. J. Jacobs, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible (pp. 19-20).
I liked his insight on how religion was a surprising paradox. Having to make less choices because of all the commandments he was living was actually freeing to him and not confining like he thought it would be. He didn't gossip and so negative thoughts just stopped occurring to him in the first place. Religion was also surprisingly grounding to him. It made him look at life realistically and honestly.
This book inspired me to be more grateful in my life. I loved these two quotes about gratitude. They are so true.
The prayers are helpful. They remind me that the food didn’t spontaneously generate in my fridge. They make me feel more connected, more grateful, more grounded, more aware of my place in this complicated hummus cycle.
- A. J. Jacobs, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible (pp. 95-96).
I’ve never before been so aware of the thousands of little good things, the thousands of things that go right every day.
- A. J. Jacobs, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible (p. 269).
So maybe it wasn't a mind blowing, hilarious, laugh-until-my-sides-ache book. But I'm still glad I read it. It's a nice reminder of the importance of religion and gratitude in my life and I enjoyed seeing someone going through the process of learning that, too....more