I really liked this book. Following Burrow's screwed up childhood in Running With Scissors, he now shares the result of his professional years in NYC...moreI really liked this book. Following Burrow's screwed up childhood in Running With Scissors, he now shares the result of his professional years in NYC as an alchohalic. The style of this book is very different however and I liked it more. Maybe because these challenges weren't so bizarre.(less)
This book was OK. Story of a white boy who is sent out to the wild in the mountains and eventually adopted into a Cherokee tribe as a teenager and how...moreThis book was OK. Story of a white boy who is sent out to the wild in the mountains and eventually adopted into a Cherokee tribe as a teenager and how their culture becomes his own as he lives outside of the Indian Nation going to work in Washington on their behalf. Told by the main character as an old man looking back on his life and how things have changed, but how true love always stays in your heart. I usually love detailed writing but there was almost too much for me in this book. Sometimes it read like a screenplay providing the cinematographer with nature shot ideas. I bet it could be a pretty good movie.(less)
I had no idea how long, or how racy, this book was going to be! I usually am not very interested in period pieces but this one held my interest throug...moreI had no idea how long, or how racy, this book was going to be! I usually am not very interested in period pieces but this one held my interest throughout. The author's interpretation of the story of the sister of one of Henry VIII's unfortunate wives and the court's impact on the family.(less)
I really loved this book the farther along it got and the more details we learned about the characters. The way their paths crossed to help formulate...moreI really loved this book the farther along it got and the more details we learned about the characters. The way their paths crossed to help formulate their destinies was something that the author, Irene Nemirovsky, was working passionately towards when her life ended abruptly in Auschwitz.
As she was living through the invasion of Paris, the defeat of France and the Occupation by Nazis of the village she and her family were staying in, she was frantically writing an epic work of the times and moments she saw that she hoped would be a masterpiece on par with her literary idols such as Tolstoy.
She wrote such beautiful and lyrical prose with excellent character development and details that easily made you feel the constant contrasts of the time - pride and shame, victory and defeat, freedom and captivity, love and lust, courage and fear, greed and selflessness, wealth and poverty.
The first section, Storm In June, deals with the flight from Paris of it's citizens anticipating the approach of the Germans. It portrays how all castes of people were thrown in a muddled and frantic journey together - and the ugliness instincts of self preservation can bring out. It also introduces us to the characters who will wind their way through the rest of her grand novel.
The second section, Dolce, focuses on a particular village and surrounding farms of the Estate in a country village near the demarcation line. It deals with the relationships between the defeated French citizens and their new German rulers occupying their village and living amongst them in their homes.
Dolce is the better of the two sections because of the humanization of the characters and their emotions and left me craving for more - something that we will never completely know. Thankfully the Appendices provide a fascinating peek into the author's thoughts and writing process during the creation of the sections she was able to complete, along with the remaining three that she did not have enough time to get out.
Through these notations we see the direction she had in mind for her characters and which ones would be more prominent. We also are reminded that she was waiting for life to happen so she would know the final destination history would dictate for her characters. Sadly, her goal of contrasting individual versus collective destiny was not completed because her own fate ended too soon. The story of her manuscript's journey through her daughters is something in and of itself. In a way, perhaps her personal destiny to create the pages we have versus the collective destiny of the manuscript's survival to reach our eyes is the embodiment of her goal after all.(less)
I read a review in the paper of this book and for some reason I thought this book was going to be about Jacob and his struggle with old age - not abou...moreI read a review in the paper of this book and for some reason I thought this book was going to be about Jacob and his struggle with old age - not about his life with the circus. Well, I guess it is about his struggle with getting older and how the past can carry him through it all. But regardless it was a good story - didn't see the surprise twist at the end. Seems to have been very well researched and the details throughout made it easy to picture.(less)
Since I read this book when I was about Anne's age when she made her diary entries, and I kept a diary as well, I was totally engrossed in her story e...moreSince I read this book when I was about Anne's age when she made her diary entries, and I kept a diary as well, I was totally engrossed in her story even though her life was so beyond anything I had experienced. Such a unique perspective we are lucky to be able to peek into.(less)
I was all over the place with this book - so not real sure how to rank it. I wish Goodreads would allow for 1/2 stars because I want to give it 3 1/2....moreI was all over the place with this book - so not real sure how to rank it. I wish Goodreads would allow for 1/2 stars because I want to give it 3 1/2. Maybe 2 stars for the first half and 4 stars for the second half?
The first half of this book was pretty slow going - I felt like I was trudging along in the remote mountains myself looking for an answer - where is the story I thought I was getting when I checked this out of the library?! But the beginning is imperative to understanding how we get to the end, which is quite a page turner after all.
We begin with Greg Mortenson (the co-author who never actually writes anything in the book but is quoted throughout and is the subject of inspiration) suriving a harrowing attempt at K2 in Pakistan. He loses his way from his porter and stumbles upon a very poor village who takes him in and helps to stabalize his health and get him back on the right path to home.
Greg was brought up exposed to other cultures by missionary parents and has an appreciation for education and those less fortunate. To show his thanks to the people of the village who cared for him, he vows to build them a school so that their children do not have to expose themselves to the elements, or even forgo learning entirely.
We spend the first half of this book learning about Greg's childhood, time in the Army, medical career and mountaineering expertise, interspersed with his depressed and exhaustive efforts back in the US to try to figure out how exactly to raise money to keep his promise of a school back in the small Pakistan village.
The only thing that kept me going during these parts was the knowledge that the rest of the pages held an incredible and inspiring story that I wanted so badly to hear. Once I got to the part where Greg meets his future wife and the founding of his organization is official, things started to pick up and I enjoyed experiencing Greg's insatiable will persevere over most any barriers - even 9/11.
Truly a remarkable story that I hope everyone can find the time to read. I learned so much and can't wait to help the cause - as we all should - for the sake of our future generations.(less)
I love Kozol because he holds a mirror up to the ugly parts of society. He doesn't beat around the bush - hammers you over the head with facts and rea...moreI love Kozol because he holds a mirror up to the ugly parts of society. He doesn't beat around the bush - hammers you over the head with facts and real examples. You get to know the subjects in his book and he also spells out what has occurred - on their own and by society - to put them at a disadvantage. You won't look at homelessness in the same way - and realize just how easily any of us could end up on the street.(less)
“To find not only that this bedlam of color was true but that the pictures were pale and inaccurate translations, was to me startling. I can’t even im...more“To find not only that this bedlam of color was true but that the pictures were pale and inaccurate translations, was to me startling. I can’t even imagine the forest colors when I am not seeing them. I wondered whether constant association could cause inattention, and asked a native New Hampshire woman about it. She said the autumn never failed to amaze her; to elate. ‘It’s a glory,’ she said, ‘and can’t be remembered, so that it always comes as a surprise.’” – Pages 789-790
Steinbeck is talking about his amazement at the splendor of New England fall foliage. How stunning it is when you watch it transpire around you. The way the sunlight makes it glow. Or how the rain darkened bark makes the colors pop. How the leaves falling softly to the ground around your feet make you feel a part of the action. Making it come alive; a gorgeous death for the regeneration of leaves. But beyond his knack for painting a picture so perfectly for your mind, what he does best in this travel memoir is to engage the folks in his path so succinctly. To know the perfect question to ask, in the most appropriate way. Do New Englanders appreciate the gift that nature graces them with every single year? Or do they overlook what is right in front of their nose? Too annoyed to notice the beauty because of the work involved in clearing up the mounds of mess? Is their focus more on the piles of dead, crunchy leaves clogging up their windshields, driveways and gutters? Or do they get blindsided by the beauty in the middle of their raking tasks by looking up on a crisp, clear day? As his subject so beautifully puts it, we notice. And we forgive the extra work, due to this breathtaking display that sneaks up on us every year and distracts us from the inevitable challenge that is winter. The view out of my own window knocks the wind out of me on a daily basis right now. And by the time I remember that fall is a harbinger for the snow plow, it is too late to do anything about it. Mother Nature is clever that way. And Steinbeck is clever in reading people, engaging them and capturing their essence.
This was the last published book by Steinbeck. In health that was sketchy and with his aging Standard Poodle, Charley, by his side, he set out to visit the America he was fond of exposing through written works of fiction. I’m sure that much of his memoir here is fictionalized as well; conversations embellished, persons perhaps placed more strategically in his travel recounts. But what I felt was that he went to explore the regions of our country and to find out what linked or differentiated the regions to or from each other. I felt that the experiences he captured held legitimacy because when he described his encounters with the places I knew myself, a connection was made. Author Bill Barich has said that in Travels With Charley, Steinbeck’s “perceptions were right on the money about the death of localism, the growing homogeneity of America, the trashing of the environment. He was prescient about all that.”
My understanding is that Steinbeck’s novels cover extremely depressing or tragic times and topics. But his language and description is so piercing that it is magnetizing, above the sadness. I have yet to read anything other than The Pearl. This edition that I read contained a collection of some of his most popular fictional works. I did not have the chance to delve into them because my reading time is limited enough with Sammy the Toddler. I had to renew this book multiple times from my library just to get through this brief gem of descriptive discovery. Travels With Charley was far from unsettling. It was quite hysterical and left me laughing and reading passages aloud all along the way to whomever was near me at the moment. Steinbeck certainly espoused on his political views of the time through his dog and his encounters nationwide. He often became melancholy with memories of a different time and world. And near the end of his journey, he delved into a very dark part of our country’s history with race. His travels were more lighthearted in the beginning and became heavy-hearted nearing the end.
I admire and appreciate the courage, time and effort involved in condensing one’s cultural, physical and emotional experience with traversing this country. Though it is obvious from reading that it took place in a very specific time, it demonstrates how similar we all still are to our ways, our regions, our dreams. And it was damn fine writing from one of this country’s giants. I loved getting to know him, his quirks, his passions and his dog. That he waited until the final chapters of his life to share this journey created a stronger impact for me. And that sense of humor didn’t hurt.
“I let Charley out, and suddenly an angry streak of gray burned across the clearing in the pines and bucketed into the house. That was George. He didn’t welcome me and he particularly didn’t welcome Charley. I never did rightly see George, but his sulking presence was everywhere. For George is an old gray cat who has accumulated a hatred of people and things so intense that even hidden upstairs he communicates his prayer that you will go away. If the bomb should fall and wipe out every living thing except Miss Brace, George would be happy. That’s the way he would design a world if it were up to him. And he could never know that Charley’s interest in him was purely courteous; if he did, he would be hurt in his misanthropy, for Charley has no interest in cats whatever, even for chasing purposes.
“We didn’t give George any trouble because for two nights we stayed in Rocinante, but I am told that when guests sleep in the house George goes into the pine woods and watches from afar, grumbling his dissatisfaction and pouring out his dislike. Miss Brace admits that for the purposes of a cat, whatever they are, George is worthless. He isn’t good company, he is not sympathetic, and he has little aesthetic value.
‘Perhaps he catches mice and rats,’ I suggested helpfully.
‘Never,’ said Miss Brace. ‘Wouldn’t think of it. And do you want to know something? George is a girl.’” – Page 799(less)
I am not usually drawn to tales of fantasy but I made an exception for this book because it sounded like an old friend. This is a coming of age story...moreI am not usually drawn to tales of fantasy but I made an exception for this book because it sounded like an old friend. This is a coming of age story about David who is struggling with the loss of his mother and the new family that his dad subsequently creates. As David tries to escape this pain and confusion, he finds himself lured to a world of fairy tales gone all wrong.
This book was such fun in the way that it incorporates oh so familiar tales and adds humorous and often sadistic twists to each of them. It is much more Brothers Grimm than Mother Goose - with asides to The Princess Bride and Monty Python along the way.
It seems strange to say that this was a sweet story, for all the gore that develops along the way in the strange world David finds himself lost in. But the delightful writing makes you smile to that inner child and the sentimental memories of the past.
The images jump off of the page and you can just see the movie adaption playing in your mind. I have read that the rights were purchased not long after publication and hopefully we will see a movie some day that captures all the villians and heroes so wonderfully portrayed amongst the basic life lessons in this book.(less)
Sweet story of friendship standing the test of time. That they happened to be baseball stars is secondary. Touches upon their youth, how their paths b...moreSweet story of friendship standing the test of time. That they happened to be baseball stars is secondary. Touches upon their youth, how their paths brought them together through baseball, and how they stayed friends through their careers, war, and retirement. (less)
This book is an awesome tale of how baseball wove its way into Goodwin's life as a child and the role it played in her relationships with her family....moreThis book is an awesome tale of how baseball wove its way into Goodwin's life as a child and the role it played in her relationships with her family. Combines my 2 favorite genres - sports and memoirs.(less)
I read this book in high school as part of a comparison paper on Civil War books. I liked that it brought you multiple sides/views of the war - North...moreI read this book in high school as part of a comparison paper on Civil War books. I liked that it brought you multiple sides/views of the war - North & South. Told about the POW camp for Yankee soldiers in the heart of the Confederacy and the brutal conditions of war. You get stories from Yankee soldiers as prisoners, their Confederate guards, and the civilians living outside the prison walls. It is VERY long - and not breezy subject matter. A lot to absorb so I will have to go back and re-read at some point.(less)