This was a rewarding read. It took me almost a year to finish it because I read it mostly on airplanes. Nevertheless, I found it fascinating and keptThis was a rewarding read. It took me almost a year to finish it because I read it mostly on airplanes. Nevertheless, I found it fascinating and kept coming back for more. It's that type of book - you can finish a chapter, put it down for a while, and begin again without missing a beat. One of the few mediocre grades I got in high school was a C in World History; if history had been taught the way this book was written, then I would have been a lot more interested!...more
This was a quick and easy read that got me energized about business ideas again. There wasn't anything Earth-shattering in it for me, but it was stillThis was a quick and easy read that got me energized about business ideas again. There wasn't anything Earth-shattering in it for me, but it was still worthwhile. It points out where common sense and conventional wisdom diverge, and it reminds you in a no-so-subtle way that common sense is king....more
This was a surprisingly enjoyable book. I hadn't so much as read the back cover, so I didn't know what to expect. I just knew that I wanted to know moThis was a surprisingly enjoyable book. I hadn't so much as read the back cover, so I didn't know what to expect. I just knew that I wanted to know more about the topic. I suppose that I had been anticipating a somewhat dry and jargon-filled overview of the financial collapse. In actuality, the book is anything but dry.
Lewis tells the story of the subprime mortgage collapse largely from the viewpoints of the few people who saw it coming. There is jargon, to be sure, but Lewis does an admirable job of translating it. The book is an interesting, and sometimes funny, narrative of these prescient individuals and their involvement in betting against the impending collapse. Most interesting to me was that they all, at some point, wondered if they were crazy. Sticking to your guns when the entire world is telling you that you're wrong cannot be easy, and yes these people had the courage (or perhaps the hubris) to go against the grain. ...more
This is an outstanding book. It won the Pulitzer right after I bought it, which led to a funny moment of confusion when a friend asked what I was readThis is an outstanding book. It won the Pulitzer right after I bought it, which led to a funny moment of confusion when a friend asked what I was reading ("I think that book won the Pulitzer." "No,I'm sure I would have read that in the reviews before I bought it"). After reading the book, I'm not at all surprised that it won. It is a detailed and gripping narrative of the history of cancer and cancer medicine. Mukherjee does an admirable job of tying together the relationship between humanity and cancer over thousands of years with the whirlwind of advances and pitfalls of the last century.
What truly surprised me, though, was not the content but rather the quality of the prose. All of the medical terminology is thoroughly explained and accessible to the layman. The standard English, though, is erudite without being stuffy. I like to think that I have a large vocabulary, but this book sent me to the dictionary several times for English words I either didn't know or didn't know well. Read it.
Update: Life handed me a profound personal epilogue to this book. When I began reading it, no one in my circle had cancer (that I knew of, anyway). Within days of finishing it, my girlfriend's father succumbed to liver cancer. Having read the book did not actually make things easier, of course; no amount of knowledge could do that. Nevertheless, I felt at least slightly better equipped to handle the situation after getting to know cancer more intimately through this biography. ...more
This was a fun read. I'm not sure this would appeal to people who are ambivalent about dogs, but those people probably aren't reading this review (orThis was a fun read. I'm not sure this would appeal to people who are ambivalent about dogs, but those people probably aren't reading this review (or the book, for that matter). The book is essentially a survey of various experiments and studies of dog behavior and physiology. It is interspersed with anecdotes from Horowitz's life with her dog Pumpernickel ("Pump").
The scientific overview was excellent; I especially enjoyed the parts about "theory of mind" and the detailed analysis of the queues dogs use in play-fighting. However, given that it is not purely a scientific book, I found myself wanting to hear more about Pump! ...more
I thoroughly enjoyed Perdido Street Station. It was my first Miéville book, although I'm sure it won't be my last. I would have given it 4.5 stars, buI thoroughly enjoyed Perdido Street Station. It was my first Miéville book, although I'm sure it won't be my last. I would have given it 4.5 stars, but it deserves to be rounded up.
Lately I've been reading mostly non-fiction and standard fiction; diving back into sf/fantasy was a nice change of pace. Escaping to New Crobuzon every night before bed was fun, and that's how the first three weeks of reading went for me. I read on, enjoying the feeling of being ensconced in the grim city.
Halfway through, though, the book became a can't-put-it-down page turner. I read the first half in three weeks and the second half in three days.
Mieville does not coddle the good guys, which I appreciate. They face difficult choices and suffer losses. I get the impression that Miéville is quite interested in free will and the nature of choice. The only crime the Garuda have is "choice-theft," for which Yagharek loses his wings. That ties choice into law/crime and punishment, which a topic that receives a lot of attention in the book.
There were a couple of deus ex machina (how do you say "dancing mad god" in Latin?) escapes that I was worried would prove disappointing, but they were not freebies. Instead, the rescued characters would find themselves out of danger out of danger but maimed, or out of the fire and into the frying pan.
I've read some other reviews that focus on the length of the book or its degree of wordiness, saying that it's either a good or a bad thing. I fall into the former camp. Miéville's lush descriptions made New Crobuzon real to me, and I don't think shortening passages or eliminating adjectives would make the book any better. He definitely has some words he likes a lot, but that didn't bother me. I'm never going to forget what "cloying" or "vertiginous" means (and I already liked the word "vertigo" a lot). The only thing I think could be cut out without hurting the book is the handlingers, and not much of the work is devoted to them anyway.
There is an element of chaos theory here too, and I find that appealing. If Yagharek had not committed his crime, had not hired Isaac, then the runt moth never would have been separated from its siblings and couldn't have set them free. A butterfly flapped it's wings in the Cymek desert and set free a bevy of Slake-Moths in New Crobuzon. As I write this, I am thinking of Chaos theory and butterflies and the weather, and remembering that New Crobuzon contains a great broken machine that once had the power to control the weather.
I feel like I am still digesting this book and may continue to do so for a while, thinking about choices and consequences. Overall, the book left a good taste in my mouth. I wasn't thinking philosophically while I was reading it. I was enjoying the ride. Whatever else it may be, it is a delightfully entertaining monster hunt. ...more
I'm glad I read it. It was clear and well thought-out, but there is nothing earth-shattering here. A lot of it was common sense, but as an engaged groI'm glad I read it. It was clear and well thought-out, but there is nothing earth-shattering here. A lot of it was common sense, but as an engaged groom, it was handy to have everything reviewed. I think it could easily have been half as long with some good editing. ...more