I confess I tend to be prejudiced against books written by people who are very successful in forms of visual media. The best books are written by peop...moreI confess I tend to be prejudiced against books written by people who are very successful in forms of visual media. The best books are written by people who make their living by using the written word rather than the spoken word right?
Until almost a month ago I hadn’t realized I had the prejudice. Or at least I wouldn’t have been able to articulate it if asked. I probably would have simply said “I prefer fiction to nonfiction.” But sadly, it has been true. I have avoided books written by movie stars, politicians, music geniuses and television stars.
I, along with a surprisingly large number of people, found myself unexpectedly moved by the untimely death of Tim Russert. All I knew of Tim was what I saw on television Sunday mornings on “Meet the Press” and during the campaign coverage on MSNBC. (As a self proclaimed political news junkie, this meant I’d been seeing a great deal of him during this campaign season.) To a person it seemed, everyone who talked of Tim talked of the wonderful books he had written and spoke with great fondness of Big Russ and were so grateful Tim had written these books. How on earth did I manage to miss his books when they were originally published I wondered. The more I thought about it them more I realized I had been overlooking an entire genre simply because the authors presented their “authorship” as a second job rather than their primary calling.
This narrow-minded (though completely unintentional) thinking has caused me to miss a number of good and even great books I suspect. And as I mourn the loss of Tim, I also regret that I was not able to read his books without a touch of sorrow. As I read them now I am always mindful that his spirit left the earth far too early.
Others (more articulate and erudite than I) have penned poignant reviews of “Big Russ & Me.” I do not possess the vocabulary to adequately explain what “Big Russ & Me” means to me. In short I found it to be a moving tribute to a man who worked hard to achieve more than he dreamed possible and yet never lost touch with his roots and his family. Remarkably it was written by the man himself. A rare treat. Well worth reading. And well worth overcoming old (and pointless) prejudices towards those who achieve in a visual media. (less)
The last story ended with a thought to which I can easily relate.
"...there are times I am bewildered by each mile I have tr...moreBeautiful.
The last story ended with a thought to which I can easily relate.
"...there are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept. As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination."
My life is nothing out of the ordinary, and at the same time it amazes me when I think about it.
"Interpreter" also makes me long for more diverse expirences in my life. I want more than my vanilla milkshake and grilled chicken. I want some variety, some exoticness, something new.(less)
I had a hard time trying to figure out how to rate this book. In fact I almost didn't rate it--but that's not fair to the author or to any of the lett...moreI had a hard time trying to figure out how to rate this book. In fact I almost didn't rate it--but that's not fair to the author or to any of the letter-writers featured in it.
This was a very difficult book for me to read. For a number of reasons. 'nuff said.
Tim Russert wrote brief introductions for each section/category of letters. Here's what he wrote at the beginning of "Hands (and Feet)"
"Just as I used to focus on my father's hands Luke used to focus on mine. When he was little, at least once a year he would measure his hand against mine, palm to palm."
I read this and wondered if any of us ever measure up to our father's hands.
Regardless of if the hands are calloused and rough from factory labor, or if they are manicured and soft from a life of realitve "ease" do we ever stop comparing our hands to theirs? Do we ever measure up?(less)
You know how sometimes manufacturers will bundle two related products together to sell them? Like “buy this tube of toothpaste and get a free toothbru...moreYou know how sometimes manufacturers will bundle two related products together to sell them? Like “buy this tube of toothpaste and get a free toothbrush” with the free toothbrush literally attached to the toothpaste? Well the publishers of this book need to team up with the manufacturer of Kleenex! This book should not be sold without at least a pocket-book sized bundle of Kleenex!
Enzo is amazing. He’s more insightful than most people I know and has more wisdom than a great many human characters I’ve read about. If only he had thumbs or a shorter tongue. But alas, if that were the case we wouldn’t have this awesome book.
I love finding books that are this much fun to read AND teach me something in the process. I found myself dog-earing (pardon the expression) pages and underlining passages I loved. I seldom do this with fiction. I found myself wanting to share with others the wisdom of this dog.
“…I don’t understand why people insist on pitting the concepts of evolution and creating against each other. Why can’t they see that spiritualism and science are one? That bodies evolve and sols evolve and the universe is a fluid place that marries them both in a wonderful package called a human being. What’s wrong with that idea?” I LOVE this!! And wish members of the church I belong to could see things this way. (But they’d probably want to kick me out for even mentioning it. LOL!) Why can’t we see that blending is possible between the spiritual world and science? That they can be part of each other and are not at war? I mean really……if God created everything (and I personally believe He did) then that means He created science. So science is PART of His creation and is not inherently evil! Maybe it takes a mind as simple as a dog’s to show us how simple it really should be.
After reading the first chapter of “Racing” I had to set it aside. I wasn’t sure I was “up” to reading the book. A little over year ago we suddenly lost our 14 year old beagle mix named Lexus. And I’m still grieving the loss. I didn’t know if I could handle reading about the death of an almost human dog. But in the end the thing that made me cry the most was Denny’s introduction to his young fan in Italy. Thank goodness that was right at the end of the book—I had an impressive pile of tear-stained Kleenex on the floor by the time my emotions calmed down and felt so drained that I couldn’t read another word. I felt as though the entire book was preparing me for that meeting—and I still wasn’t emotionally ready for it.
I devour books. I’m not sure if that is a confession or simply a statement of fact. I suppose I prefer to think of it...moreThis book deserves to be savored.
I devour books. I’m not sure if that is a confession or simply a statement of fact. I suppose I prefer to think of it as a statement. Most of what I read is fiction (though I’ve been slowly adding non-fiction over the past year) and I devour the stories.
I read so quickly that my husband has often accused me of skipping every other word in whatever I read. (Typically this earns him an indignant hair flip and a large “whatever!”) But it’s not true. I don’t skip words. When an author has captured my interest in a story I lose myself in the book. I’m not consciously aware of reading the words at all—the story simply happens, it unfolds in my mind. Unaware of finishing chapters or turning pages I can easily be up to 1am (well past my bedtime) without realizing it.
Characters draw me in. Plots intrigue me. Twists and turns captivate and surprise me endlessly. And I cannot wait to see how it all comes together in the end.
Like I said, I devour books.
So for me to recommend savoring a book…..well, it’s not something I say lightly. This book deserves to be savored. Take your time and really let the author’s stories and insights sink in. Enjoy it. Go slow.
Never one to take even my own advice, I finished the first third of the book in one day. Sigh. Still, I am determined to read this book at a slower pace than I normally read. So I’m forcing myself not to read book two until Monday….okay, maybe Sunday?
This book was casually mentioned to me by a fellow bookworm who compiles and publishes an annual Summer Reading List. Based on the diverse nature of books on previous years’ lists I think it’s safe to say he has pulled together an amazingly varied group of readers who contribute suggestions for each new list. When he mentioned to me that “Eat Pray Love” was being recommended to him by tons of different people I was intrigued. I hadn’t heard of the book before. Was it fiction? Was it non-fiction? Why were so many people drawn to it? Hmmmm. I was so curious I did what I seldom do before reading a book—I read reviews from other readers.
Normally I prefer not to be heavily influenced by other’s opinions of a book before I read it. If a description of the plot intrigues me, or if a friend says “Oh, if you liked X you might want to look at Y” I’ll take a leap of faith and read the book. But I don’t really care what 42 million other people thought of it. (Well, that’s not entirely accurate…..but it’s generally true.)
For whatever reason, I ended up reading dozens of reviews of this book on Amazon. Such a wide range of reactions! Some couldn’t find enough words of praise to heap upon Elizabeth Gilbert. Some found the book entirely too self –absorbed. I found the range of reviews intriguing. It drew me in even more. Perhaps I should read reviews prior to devouring books more often??
“Say it like you eat it” So far I’ve only read the first third of this book—Italy. Some of it I loved. Some of it I disagreed with. Some of it I could have written (if I were that talented). Some of it annoyed me.
I found myself grabbing my pen and making notes in the margins and underlining passages that really spoke to me. I haven’t done that with a book in a really long time. (I think I stunned my husband—“What are you doing writing in that book?!” LOL)
As has often happened in the past year, I feel I am reading this book at just the right moment. This year I began a journey of my own. I thought it would be a journey to answer the question “What do I want to be when I grow up” but has unexpectedly (though not unwelcomed-ly) turned into a journey to learn who I am. So I found myself being able to totally relate to many of Elizabeth’s insights and experiences. When she wrote, “And the question now for me is, What are my choices to be? What do I believe that I deserve in this life? Where can I accept sacrifice, and where can I not?” I literally stopped. I re-read it several times (after underlining it and marking it with an asterisk). Yeah……I want those answers too. And (given how impatient I am) I want them NOW. Or at least I want to have a detailed road map with the 29 steps I’ll need to take to find the answers. But life doesn’t work that way. So I remind myself of something else I underlined. “Go back to bed , Liz” Or to re-word it slightly, Go back to bed Spuds. Do what you can in the moment. Practice what you need to. As time unfolds the answers and the choices will become clearer. Let it go. Breathe. Go back to bed.
I wonder what insights the next section of this book will hold? And will I be able to savor it in the way it deserves? Hmmmm…..let’s hope so. (less)
Deciding how many stars to give “The Road” was almost as challenging as reading the book itself.
“The Road” is well (if simplistically) written. The au...moreDeciding how many stars to give “The Road” was almost as challenging as reading the book itself.
“The Road” is well (if simplistically) written. The author’s ability to weave a tale of love and survival in the bleakest of circumstances is impressive.
The tale itself is bleak. The language is bleak. The settings are bleak. The dialogue is bleak. Even the physical appearance of the book is bleak—a larger font, “generous” white space on each page, little punctuation, no chapters, etc. The very feel of the book is bleak.
“The Road” is clearly a story of a journey. Most will think this really, really odd….but the story reminded me of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy at times. (Yeah…I know…..stay with me…it’s a stretch!) In LOTR while the Fellowship journeyed they struggled to find food, to find shelter, to find safety. The characters in “The Road” faced the same struggles. On rare occasions in LOTR the Fellowship found food, shelter and safety beyond their wildest expectations (think Tom Bombadil before the Fellowship formed or the Elves at Lothlorien before the Fellowship broke). The same type of thing happened in “The Road”—occasionally the travelers found “riches” beyond their expectations.
I admit, it’s a stretch. But it’s what immediately came to mind while reading the book.
“The Road” is about more than simply a journey. It’s also a book about survival. What types of people survive? At what cost? Why do they survive? How do they change? How do they adapt? McCarthy raises all of these questions (at least in my mind) without always giving clear answers. The good guys and the bad guys are not easy to define, not easy to distinguish. When survival is the only goal is there much of a difference between the two? What lines are drawn that the “good” guys will never cross? Are they fixed lines or do they move?
Very thought provoking. And I have few answers.
So “The Road” is a tale of a journey—and of survival. Is that all?
It is also a love story. The love between the two travelers is beautiful and powerful. Is that love the cause of their survival or a result of their survival? In my opinion it’s both. They couldn’t survive without the love, and they love each other because they survive. (less)
What a fun concept! It's science fiction, literature, adventure, romance and time-traveling all in one. AND.....there's the classic dry British sense...moreWhat a fun concept! It's science fiction, literature, adventure, romance and time-traveling all in one. AND.....there's the classic dry British sense of humor.
What more could a gal ask for??
While I'm positive I missed some of the humor (since I live in "one of the colonies" instead of in the UK), I really enjoyed the dry humor I managed to spot throughout “The Eyre Affair.”
A fellow bookworm suggested I might enjoy this book after I submitted “Jane Eyre” for his summer reading list. Spot on recommendation! I don’t think he realized quite how many favorite areas this book would hit for me. For light reading I love sci-fi, mystery, humor, a little light romance, lots of unusual characters and unexpected twists. And this book delivered all of that!
Granted, it didn’t inspire me to make notes in the book, mark passages that really made me think “deep thoughts” or exclaim “wow…wow…wow….I’d never thought of that before” but it was a terrific summer read. And I read it only a few weeks after finishing “The Time Traveler’s Wife” – which had left me yearning for more. So it was really fun to be welcomed back into a world where time travel is an accepted reality.
The only downside to “The Eyre Affair?” Sigh. Double sigh. Now I want to visit Thornfield Hall and meet Mr. Rochester and Jane in person! I find myself longing to jump through the pages of my books to actually live in their reality. Sigh. How sad to live in a world where that possibility is only alive in a world of fiction. To live in a world where my reality is limited to the here and now.
Or is it?
Hmmmmmm…..maybe this light summer read is causing deep thoughts after all. (less)
**spoiler alert** I'm still not sure how I feel about the book. For some reason I'm not satisfied with the ending. I mean, I didn't expect Oscar to wa...more**spoiler alert** I'm still not sure how I feel about the book. For some reason I'm not satisfied with the ending. I mean, I didn't expect Oscar to walk off into the sunset with the love of his life. But at the same time I'm having a hard time understanding why he went back to a certain death.
He knew he'd be killed. He's smart. And it didn't seem like a suicidal decision made while he was in the middle of a depression. So why go back? Why not start new somewhere?
I guess that aspect of his character is pretty foreign to me--I can't relate to it. There's always hope for something new and wonderful if Ii'm willing to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
But Oscar didn't seem to have that hope. So maybe that's why his decisions confuse me.
Or maybe (to misquote the movie Steel Magnolias) he'd rather have 15 minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of ordinary? (less)
Typically I try to record how a book leaves me feeling, any lessons I may have learned from it or even my overall mood when I’m finished. This may tur...moreTypically I try to record how a book leaves me feeling, any lessons I may have learned from it or even my overall mood when I’m finished. This may turn out to be my shortest commentary to date.
Yup. I feel so lost. Confused. Puzzled. ?????
When I read books I want the story and characters to unfold and reveal themselves to me as the author intended. To that end I try not to read any reviews or commentaries about a book right before I start it. When I’m finished reading it I try to put my thoughts on paper before I read any other reviews or commentaries—so I won’t be overly influenced or intimidated by what others say.
This book had me so confused I’ve read dozens of reviews and comments from other readers and still cannot articulate my own thoughts. I just don’t know what to think.
Dark. Macabre. Coming of age story. Irish Huck Finn. Touching. Beautiful. Frightening. Twisted. Tragedy.
Those are just some of the words others have used to describe “The Butcher Boy.” They all seem to fit. But none of them seem to capture the entirety of the book. In fact, even the combination of all of those words cannot explain the heart of this book.
I wish I had read this as part of a lit course. Or with a reading group. (What a barrel of laughs that would be!) I wish I had not read it alone. I cannot quite wrap my brain around it. I am intrigued by Francie. I am furious at Francie. I am appalled by his actions. I understand his actions. I am mystified by his actions. I want to hug him. I want to flee from him. I want his character to rattle around in my brain as I try to come to terms with him. I want him out of my head NOW! I feel an almost overwhelming need to have a conversation with someone else who has read the book—just to try and sort out my thoughts.
Maybe I cannot understand Francie (and how the story impacts me) because Francie does not really understand himself. He just is. And maybe my reaction to the book just is. Maybe it does not need to be articulated. Perhaps it should simply remain the confused jumble of thoughts it is. Much like Francie. (less)