After slavery was abolished, journalists and aspiring journalists went around the country to interview former slaves and get their stories before it wAfter slavery was abolished, journalists and aspiring journalists went around the country to interview former slaves and get their stories before it was too late. These oral histories that they gathered created a historically important book to make sure we’d never forget about slavery.
Max Brooks’ World War Z is a just-as-serious though fictional account of the zombie war. Post-war, the narrator travels around the world to document everything that happened from the first outbreak to the post-war clean-up missions. Each chapter is broken up into first-person stories from a survivor. The narrator sometimes asks questions, but usually, people don’t need prompting for the story to just spill out of them.
Despite the fantastical nature of the book, I felt myself becoming immersed in it. If you take into consideration recent events and all of the wars that we’ve been in, a situation like this (sans zombies) of a broken world and broken nations is plausible. I like to think that Brooks meant to also criticize our various countries and human shortsightedness while telling us this fictional story.
If a zombie outbreak ever occurred it makes sense for individuals to have nervous breakdowns and become quidlings. It makes sense that America would think that our arsenal of weaponry would defeat zombies as though it was traditional combat. It was probable that our citizens would listen to the media and try to flee north. I could see all of that happening.
I admire that Brooks did not limit himself to only the United States of America. Instead, he takes us around the world, allowing cultural reactions to become apparent. In one of the vignettes, a Palestinian teenager believes the zombie outbreak to be a trick by the Israelis. That was particularly powerful for me.
This book definitely redefines what “zombie” literature can do. It can go beyond being a book for a specific group and can branch out into being a clever, good book about not just zombies but political and social commentary. I wasn’t expecting this from this book when I first picked it up and let me tell you, it was a wonderfully pleasant surprise. ...more
Eating Animals is Jonathan Safran Foer’s first foray into nonfiction. It documents the journey he undertook as a new father curious about the food he’Eating Animals is Jonathan Safran Foer’s first foray into nonfiction. It documents the journey he undertook as a new father curious about the food he’d eventually feed his son. The book addresses the food that we eat, where it comes from and the industry that has turned agriculture into “agribusiness.”
What readers must understand going into Safran Foer’s book is that it is not a case for vegetarianism or going vegan. It is his three years of research and personal discovery. But that doesn’t mean it is without opinion.
Prior to researching and writing this book, both Foer and his wife bounced back and forth between being vegetarian and eating meat. Upon researching the issue further, Safran Foer has found that the meat we eat is filled with antibiotics to keep it disease free, the chickens and turkeys cannot reproduce because of breeding abnormalities, most of the animals are in constant pain because of these abnormalities, they’re kept in very unhygienic quarters and most people cannot request an audience with these farm-factories because if you could see what they did, you’d never want eat again.
One of the most eye-opening points things he brings up are the new avian and swine flu epidemics. Scientists from Princeton (with the backing of other prestigious schools as well) have been able to trace many of these new strains of the flu to factory farms within the United States (because of the unhygienic and chemically-altered way that we raise animals in factory farms). Birds and pigs are the few animals whose viruses intermingle with ours – often to our detriment. And we continue to eat these animals.
What Safran Foer discusses is taking back the meat industry – in order to do this, we have to support family owned and operated farms. Part of this is education – talking to people about what they’re eating and opening their eyes. The second part is buying meat from family farms – support of those who are producing the kind of food that we feel is ideal. It is absurd to think that all humans will work meat out of their diet. It is not absurd to believe that we can go back to family-owned and operated farms.
I grew up a meat-eater, but my family had their own tiny little farm. My grandmother raised our chickens from birth and we used some of the eggs they laid and killed our chickens when they were nearing their end (humanely and quickly). My grandmother did this herself – in fact, I remember seeing her kill some of the chickens on our farm and I always knew that the chicken I had played with would later bring me nourishment. In that same way, we had a goat for milk and our own vegetable garden. But we lived in Bosnia – where industry had never really been able to bring down individual community farmers. I know that the goats we had and the chickens we had lived healthy and happy lives, they ate as much food as they wanted, frolicked in our yard (at every hour of the day) and were able to reproduce naturally.
I no longer eat meat but make extra efforts to only buy my produce from family farms through the local food markets. Many of the sellers have gotten to know me and I them. And my veggies don’t cost me much more than those from a store but I can say that I know who grows my food, where they grow it and what chemicals it is and is not exposed to. I believe it is worth it to pay for that knowledge because your body is your temple.
Having read this book, I’m making an extra effort to hunt down places that offer meat from family owned farmers because my parents are still meat-eaters. Neither one of them will ever become a vegetarian, which is their own personal choice, but they both want to stay healthy and to do this, the quality of their meat needs to improve.
Safran Foer states that if you are not actively working against factory farms and animal cruelty in “agribusiness” – then you are passively allowing this industry to flourish. Can you argue against that claim?...more
As any true white person knows, our book came out just a few weeks ago. Stuff White People Like by Christian Lander is one of the funniest things I’veAs any true white person knows, our book came out just a few weeks ago. Stuff White People Like by Christian Lander is one of the funniest things I’ve read all year. If you aren’t up on how to be the whitest you can be, this will definitely tell you everything from which authors to read (stick to Sedaris) and which newspapers you should make sure to always have on your coffee table while other white people visit your Ikea infested abode(The New Yorker and the New York Times, respectively).
It takes about small but important things such as the scarf phenomenon and is very correct in terms of its weather regulating abilities. I could relate to this. In fact, my white ass is sittin’ at work right now, with a scarf on listening to the Velvet Underground and Nico, a must have for true whities.
Whether you are or aren’t one of them white folks, this book will make you giggle and you’ll get through it in a jiffy. Stuff White People Like is a book you can read through more than once and it highlights the good things (there’s good things?) about white culture. I definitely need to re-read it and take some of those tips to heart, I’m less than 50%. I was ashamed.
I hear white people really like Che Guevara, maybe I’ll read a book about him next. Pick up some white-cred....more
i have a hard time rating this book as a whole. some of the stories made me cry. others made me want to skip to the next one. some i had already encoui have a hard time rating this book as a whole. some of the stories made me cry. others made me want to skip to the next one. some i had already encountered in another life.
i couldn't stop reading this book. i couldn't stop re-reading the stories. reading them aloud to my boyfriend. watching the look on his face to see if they resonated as strongly with him. it was beautiful. and it was heart-breaking. and it hurt. i felt so dreadful after reading some of them, like it was me this was happening to. these stories held my attention in some odd way.
i will never forget some of them. the hitchhiking game. spring in fialta. spring in fialta fixes everything.
i read this book when i was in the sixth grade or so. because i had read the rest of the library. i remember being so amazed by it. it was genius. andi read this book when i was in the sixth grade or so. because i had read the rest of the library. i remember being so amazed by it. it was genius. and the concept behind it thrilled me. i had never known that a book could be so good until i read huxley....more
i had a bit of a hard time making it past the first twenty or so pages because i wasn't sure where the book was taking me.
the story itself is wonderfi had a bit of a hard time making it past the first twenty or so pages because i wasn't sure where the book was taking me.
the story itself is wonderful and who doesn't want to believe that there is a world above and world below? i love how well thought-out it was and how well described it was. i could really picture it in my head.
and the "hero" was some poor chap who wasn't even sure he could do any of it - like poor dorothy from the wizard of oz, he just wanted to go home. i liked that he wasn't this perfect character that you could love. it made him more appealing to me. ...more
The Housekeeper and the Professor is a simple story with substantial meaning. We are introduced to three main characters – a former mathematics geniusThe Housekeeper and the Professor is a simple story with substantial meaning. We are introduced to three main characters – a former mathematics genius with a memory problem, his single-mother housekeeper and her baseball-infatuated son, Root (named for the uncanny resemblance between his head and a square root symbol).
Ogawa’s characters are memorable. The housekeeper is a polite and caring woman with an open heart. As the book progressed, she becomes more of a caretaker than a housekeeper and the role is fitting. Her simple and traditional nature made her such a good friend to the professor; she understood his limits and tried hard to make sure he didn’t notice them himself. The professor knows he has memory problems. He keeps notes pinned to his suit that remind him of his shortcomings – the most important being “My memory is only 80 minutes long.” He shows his anxiety and passes the time by talking and asking about math. When he becomes really comfortable with an individual, he teaches them how to look at math in the same way that he does, explaining to them the rarity of perfect numbers, simplyfing equations, etc. As for Root, he’s just as considerate as his mother and really comes to the professor as a friend, in the end, even treating him like family.
The story itself is about the relationships that develop between the three main characters. Though the characters have no names, their stories are compelling without them. In fact, it makes it easier to generalize this story of love and friendship when the characters have no name. Even when some of them don’t have their memory.
The story is also about math. And I hate math. But I loved it in this story. The housekeeper doesn’t understand math but the professor is so patient with teaching it to her (and to the reader) that it starts to feel like something manageable. Since the professor’s memory loss plays such a great role in his life, math is what keeps him grounded. To him, it is almost a religion. When anything goes awry, he turns to math. To keep himself going, he does math puzzles – never interested in the prizes they yield but in the pride that comes with solving them eloquently. At one point in the story I almost hoped that math would save his memory but I had a feeling this was not that kind of novel.
This book is so comforting. It is life affirming and encourages one to look toward the happy things, to pay attention to the subtle details. And everyone should have a book they can turn to for that.
Ogawa has produced a large selection of work, but only one other work of hers has been translated into English. She’s an author to keep an eye out for....more
A librarian recommended this book to me when there were no Murakami books on the shelf. She assured me that this would fill that same gap in my heart.A librarian recommended this book to me when there were no Murakami books on the shelf. She assured me that this would fill that same gap in my heart. It sat around in my room, almost forgotten, for about a month, and when it was time to give it back or incur over-due fines, I decided to read it anyway. I began at eleven and finished at four in the morning.
Jonathan Carroll’s Ghost in Love begins as a relatively normal story about a breakup between Ben and his girlfriend, German. Then we find out that Ben is being followed by his ghost, whom he cannot see, because he was meant to die and didn’t. As you can glean from the name, the ghost is in love – with Ben’s girlfriend. And from there, it spirals into this weird place that is believable but very surreal. In that way, it is very much like Murakami.
Let me very clearly say that Carroll is an unbelievable writer. His descriptions of events are entrancing but it is the emotions that he strings together beautifully that touch my heart. In his explanation of the relationship between the main character and his girlfriend, I fell in love with the book. In his odd introduction to a strange world, which I will miss, I was mesmerized.
What I enjoy about writers like Carroll is that they take an already established concept like ghosts and change the rules. Rather than allowing the reader to bring their prior knowledge and bias about a concept like ghosts, he changes it to such an extent that you have to be open minded about it. It also gives him great leeway as the story goes on to further alter things or make them up entirely.
From The Ghost in Love’s title it sounds as though this story focuses on the relationship between Ben’s ghost and his girlfriend German. But it doesn’t. The ghost’s love for German helps to further the story along in important places, but it isn’t the backbone for it, really. When I decided to check out the book it was partly becuase I was hoping for a romantic story about an impossible love and partly because of the intriguing cover art, but it mostly doesn’t fit. A definite case of what happens when you judge a book by its cover and come away pleasantly surprised.
The ending of The Ghost in Love felt appropriate to me, leaving loose ends open and letting my imagination take the reigns. It gives Carroll a chance to explore this universe again, though I am not sure he will. Most importantly, I was left thinking about important things that I often neglect when I got to the last page – fate, free will, the importance of love and the treasured memories of my past.
I went to the library today and picked up another Jonathan Carroll book, the only one they had on the shelf, letting The Ghost in Love enter circulation again. This is a book that I think I’m going to have to own. ...more
The English Patient reads like a dream. It takes place in a dilapidated Italian villa as World War II is ending. Hana, a nurse disillusioned by the waThe English Patient reads like a dream. It takes place in a dilapidated Italian villa as World War II is ending. Hana, a nurse disillusioned by the war, is taking care of a badly burned patient that she believes to be an Englishman. She thought it unsafe to have him moved so she stayed with him. The English Patient, having forgotten his identity, flashes back to his past. He remembers a woman in his life, Katharine; his love for the desert and historical knowledge. As they only have each other to rely on, Hana finds that she is in love with him.
Caravaggio, a patient at a nearby hospital, hears of the nurse named Hana who stayed behind with a hopeless patient and remembers her from before the war. He, having suffered his own trials and tribulations during the war, comes to her Italian villa a damaged man. He is older, a talented thief, who knew Hana's parents before the war and is perhaps a little in love with her. He quickly becomes acclimated to life in the villa, finding his own entertainment, even finding the identity of the English Patient.
Hana, Caravaggio and the English Patient collectively avoid going back to the real world or letting it come back to them. As they develop their own routines, a fourth character, Kip, finds them. Kip is a sapper who takes bombs apart for the army. He quickly develops a friendship with the English patient, sharing his love for history. He even forms a close relationship with Hana.
Though the book is called The English Patient one could argue that he isn't the most important character in the book. Without him, Hana might have left the villa to go back to a real hospital; he is the reason all of the characters are staying in the villa. It can always be said that the characters are linked by their love for Hana. In some way, each of them is tied to her and relies on her presence.
We are introduced to each of the characters through gestures instead of explicit actions. Throughout the text, it is the little things that give away key points about each given characters. It is the small things that drive the plot. Doing this made the characters feel more real, like actual people. It made me care about each of them individually.
I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the technical aspects of bomb disposal from Kip. I did not realize that so many bombs were left after (and during) the war to be accidentally detonated by innocents. Through Kip and his mentor, Lord Suffolk, we are able to delve into the precise world of bombs and machines of war. We feel how stressful the job is, how much is relying on one person. When Kip gets to the villa, he immediately checks all of the rooms for objects embedded with bombs, paranoid that he'll lose someone else to an oversight.
Nearly the entire novel is written in present tense, occasionally even when it flashes back to events in the past. This made every event feel alive, adding to the feeling that these were not just flashbacks but that the characters were reliving these memories again.
Ondaatje also brings in a rich, historical representation of Egypt's deserts during WWII. The English patient was one of a few men who were exploring the desert, looking for a specific city cited in many texts but never yet found. Hearing about how this links to Herodotus and even religious texts was very intriguing. I've not yet had a chance to go to Egypt but it is one of the few places where I feel I will be at home.
Exploring the atrocities of war is difficult to do but Ondaatje succeeds. Each of the four characters explores a different loss or facet of war. It changes them differently but they grow together....more
i really don't care what you think about marilyn manson or his music. the book was genius. he wrote very well and was able to really give you a cleari really don't care what you think about marilyn manson or his music. the book was genius. he wrote very well and was able to really give you a clear idea of what his life was like and what it wasn't like. he included his writing and his rejection letters and it really made me feel like i knew a little bit about him.
also - the man sure knows how to end a book. the ending was absolute genius. it blew my mind. ...more
i needed a love story. i needed something to immerse myself in. i want a simple and complex story to fall in love with.
this book was gorgeous. i lovei needed a love story. i needed something to immerse myself in. i want a simple and complex story to fall in love with.
this book was gorgeous. i love the way gabriel garcia marquez writes. he has a style of his own and it's so easy to read. his books are always inviting and very easy to fall in love with. needless to say, i adored the love story, this whole idea of having a man wait for you is really nice.
(i'm also going to try watching the movie, but i highly doubt it will come anywhere close to the book, as usual)...more
the first thirty pages didn't pull me in, but everything after was brilliant. I've read other king novels and this is by far the best world he's creatthe first thirty pages didn't pull me in, but everything after was brilliant. I've read other king novels and this is by far the best world he's created.
book two will sadly have to wait until I'm in seattle....more
It seems that you either love or hate this book. Well, I liked it.
I own the Lydia Davis translation of this book and to be honest, I was waiting forIt seems that you either love or hate this book. Well, I liked it.
I own the Lydia Davis translation of this book and to be honest, I was waiting for it to come out before I attempted Madame Bovary again. I couldn't get through it the first time I tried it (pre-Davis).
Having never before read Flaubert, it felt like a real gap in my reading. In a way, I guess I've crossed it off, but I'm not done with Flaubert yet, though. I enjoyed his writing style and his focus on the little details within the book. I understood, through his descriptions, the life that Madame Bovary wanted, and the very blase life that she was stuck with.
For a "classic," the book was easy to read and I felt engaged. I knew the ending to the book before I started reading it but in a way, it's like reading Anna Karenina. You know the ending. But what matters is how she gets there. That was my only qualm with the book - the ending.
It felt so rushed, her decision to commit suicide and to poison herself. It felt like the dramatic end to her life matched her dramatic moods and her desperation, but it was still too rushed. On the other hand, discussing this book with friends, the idea was brought up that her life was nothing without her possessions.
Instead of ending the book at her suicide and death or even at her funeral, I was glad that Charles got some extra attention at the end of the book. Though he was her husband, he felt like a minor character comparatively and his devotion to his wife truly came through in the end of the book.
Also, just as a P.S. since I've been reading so many reviews of Madame Bovary... I'm finding that people are having a hard time separating their feelings for the main character from their review of the book and the quality of the writing, merit of the author, etc. There is a difference and there are many books where you can certainly hate the protagonist (and do) but the book itself is worth reading.
tl;dr Please review the book, not how much you like the damn characters because I do not care....more