I read Moby-Dick; or, The Whale as a high school junior, and it was kind of a slog. Philbrick's bite-sized chapters examining different aspects of thiI read Moby-Dick; or, The Whale as a high school junior, and it was kind of a slog. Philbrick's bite-sized chapters examining different aspects of this classic made me want to give it another go. In fact, he's so convincing, that at one point while listening I decided that I should not only a) reread Moby-Dick, but also b) create a blog about rereading Moby-Dick, reading and then writing about a chapter every day. "It'll be such a great project!" I thought to myself. "It'll only take an hour or so a day, right?"
I re-thought this notion once Philbrick stopped reading his book to me. I do not have an hour (or so!) to spare every day for the next 5 months. But good job, Philbrick....more
A solid Poirot mystery, with a good plot. This is one I wish I could read again for the first time - the ending truly surprised me the first time arouA solid Poirot mystery, with a good plot. This is one I wish I could read again for the first time - the ending truly surprised me the first time around....more
I don't think I've ever rated a book one star before, but this was really awful.
Don't be fooled by Dame Agatha's signature scrawled across the cover.I don't think I've ever rated a book one star before, but this was really awful.
Don't be fooled by Dame Agatha's signature scrawled across the cover. This is not a Christie mystery. Rather, her estate, for some baffling-to-me reason, allowed Sophie Hannah to publish what amounts to a Hercule Poirot fanfic. Our beloved Belgian detective is like a bad caricature of himself, yet does actions so deeply unlike Christie's Poirot that I found myself exclaiming, "What?!" aloud again and again.
And yet, out of perverseness, I did listen to the entire thing on audiobook, hoping that at least the mystery itself would turn out amusing. It was not. The explanation behind the murders was convoluted in the extreme, involving extremely odd motivations on everyone's part. It made very little sense. The prose also badly needed an editor. Hannah seemed to believe that her audience was a bit slow on the update, as every character repeats him or herself at great length whenever making even a minor point.
A final word: if you must read this book, avoid the audiobook. The voice actor's foreign accents are ludicrous, almost offensive parodies, and the sound is not well-balanced - the volume of the reading varies far too much. I had to keep adjusting the knobs on my stereo so I could hear quiet parts, only to have my eardrums blasted when Poirot shouted something absurd in French....more
A fascinating book of nature photography. Ingo Arnt photographed bird nests, beaver lodges, termite mounds, corals and other non-human architecture. SA fascinating book of nature photography. Ingo Arnt photographed bird nests, beaver lodges, termite mounds, corals and other non-human architecture. Some photographs showcase creations on stark black backgrounds (a single caddisfly casing, a delicate hummingbird nest) while others show them in situ (bowerbird bowers with neatly-sorted colorful treasures, fields scattered with termite mounds like standing stones). You cannot leaf through this book without marveling at nature.
I used this book with kindergartners as we studied animal homes. Though Jürgen Tautz's text provides insightful background information, the photography stands on its own so well that the book is just as enjoyable to the pre-literate....more
Cloud Atlas is an intricate unwrapping experience of nested stories. Others have very accurately compared it to a set of matryoskas, those Russian wooCloud Atlas is an intricate unwrapping experience of nested stories. Others have very accurately compared it to a set of matryoskas, those Russian wooden dolls that nest one inside the next. The book consists of six narratives taking place in different time periods, starting with the oldest. Each story breaks off abruptly in the middle, and the next begins. After the sixth story (which is uninterrupted), the stories pick up again in reverse order. Though the stories are very different in tone, they are connected thematically and by occasional plot details.
I watched the film version of Cloud Atlas when it was in the theaters, and the book has been loosely on my to-read list ever since. In the film, the six stories are all interwoven throughout, jumping between all the plotlines. I think that this was the right decision for a movie (Peter Jackson made a similar decision with The Two Towers), but I loved the experience of the book's structure. As each new story began, I felt I was diving deeper into something, and the building tension was delicious. The only down side is that, as a result, I felt the climax of the book occurred as the sixth story wrapped up - just a bit past the halfway point of the entire book. After that, it was a series of wrapping-ups or winding-downs. I became aware of more thematic connections through this second half of the book, but plot-wise it was less powerful. I also found several of the endings a little underwhelming. This hasn't kept me from giving the book as a whole five stars, because to me the point of the book was not in the endings of the stories, but the connections - but it was a weaker aspect.
I'll end by saying that the audiobook version I listened to was excellent. Every story was narrated by a different reader, all six of which were expressive and fit their section very well....more
A fun read! In this book, a mix of memoir and science, Mike Brown tells the story of humans and Pluto, from ancient discoveries of planets to the receA fun read! In this book, a mix of memoir and science, Mike Brown tells the story of humans and Pluto, from ancient discoveries of planets to the recent hubbub about Pluto getting "demoted." Brown, a Caltech astronomer, discovered a multitude of trans-Neptunian objects in the early 2000s, most notably Quaoar, Sedna, Haumea and Eris. These discoveries spurred debate over the definition of the word "planet," with the IAU eventually voting in a definition that left Pluto as a dwarf planet.
Brown's writing style is approachable and informative - like a nerd who knows how to talk to people at dinner parties. It gets technical enough to delight the science geek in me, but could be just as easily understood by someone without any special science background. Additionally, Brown is funny as well as interesting. I found myself often laughing, then following my husband around the house to read long passages out loud to him while he was brushing his teeth or making a snack....more
I have no idea how many times I've read this book, but every time it has been wonderful. It is not only the premise - children running away to stay inI have no idea how many times I've read this book, but every time it has been wonderful. It is not only the premise - children running away to stay in the Metropolitan Museum of Art - that is delightful, but the execution as well. What more can be said?
Though the book was published in 1967, it feels just as fresh as I imagine it did then. The prices betray the time, as do a few other details, but children are children just the same.
The audiobook version I listened to had an excellent narrator, but I would recommend reading this book on paper first. The illustrations, drawn by Konigsburg herself, add to the experience. I missed them, especially the one of Claudia looking as smug as the little Egyptian cat statue....more
The thing I liked most about this book was the voice of the narrator, the younger Sisters brother. The author gives him such a reflective personalityThe thing I liked most about this book was the voice of the narrator, the younger Sisters brother. The author gives him such a reflective personality and the ability to describe people and places so vividly. The story itself was gripping, funny and dark, with hints of magical realism or Old West tall tales.
I listened to this on audiobook right around the time that I took my fourth grade students to their outdoor education trip in the heart of gold rush country, which was perfect. ...more
I first read The Curious Incident... perhaps ten years ago, but picked it up again at the library when I also checked out Born on a Blue Day: Inside tI first read The Curious Incident... perhaps ten years ago, but picked it up again at the library when I also checked out Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant. (I'm reading the latter now, and they make a nice pair.) I basically devoured The Curious Incident... all in one go yesterday afternoon, evidence of how compelling a read it is.
The book is narrated from the point of view of a teenage boy in modern-day England, and this narration is the main fascination of the story. Christopher has behavioral issues somewhere along the autism spectrum* which cause him anxiety and make him unable to understand other people's emotions and motivations, though he also has savant-like mathematical abilities. This makes him an interesting variety of unreliable narrator, because the reader often understands the other characters far better than Christopher himself.
This is also a story about being an outsider, living in a world that doesn't meet your needs and where people act unpredictably. It's a glimpse into how much everyday life relies on certain skills - reading faces, comprehending metaphor - that do not come naturally to everyone, and how frightening life could often be without those skills.
I also appreciate that Haddon is sympathetic but not cloying with his characters. Christopher is likable but makes often life difficult for the people around him. The adults in his life are likewise imperfect. The characters are humans, not noble idealizations.
*Haddon stated in a 2003 interview on NPR's Fresh Air: "If he were diagnosed, he would be diagnosed as having Asperger's syndrome, which is a form of autism. I suppose you'd call it high-function autism in that he can function on, you know, a day-to-day basis, in a kind of rudimentary way. But he has a serious difficulty with life in that he really doesn't empathize with other human beings. He can't read their faces. He can't put himself in their shoes. And he can't understand anything more than the literal meaning of whatever's said to him, although I'm very careful in the book not to actually use the word 'Asperger's' or 'autism.' ... Because I don't want him to be labeled..." (quoted on Wikipedia)...more