In terms of Vampire books, this one is less "Twilight" or "Vlad Tod" and more "Dracula", although closer on the spectrum to the prior than you might e...moreIn terms of Vampire books, this one is less "Twilight" or "Vlad Tod" and more "Dracula", although closer on the spectrum to the prior than you might expect based on that scale.
What I enjoyed most about this fictional account was how much history was included. In the process of being entertained, I felt like I learned quite a bit about the famous romainian Vlad Cepes (or Vlad the impaler), upon whom most of the Dracula stories throughout history have been based. I also felt like I learned a lot about the Automan Empire, the Turks, and just a general geography of southeastern Europe as well.
Although the formatting of the story (i.e. multiple story lines with multiple protagonists) was a little unusual, I didn't feel confused (mainly because I was listening on tape and they had different voices for the different characters.) What I really enjoyed from Kostova, was her imagery in the story. She did a great job of helping you to feel the scenery, and painting the contrast.
At the beginning of this book, Krakauer makes a statement along the lines of "In beginning to write this book, I had a lot of critics tell me that it...moreAt the beginning of this book, Krakauer makes a statement along the lines of "In beginning to write this book, I had a lot of critics tell me that it was too close to the disaster, and I should wait for my head to clear before attempting to write this book. I've decided to act in oposition to this advice." I appreciate Krakauer's willingness to defy the critics. Because of it's lack of spin (that likely would have come had Krakauer waited to write it), this book is one of the best pieces of non-fiction I've ever read.
It's the story of the devastating 1996 assent of Everest by the Rob Hall and Scott Fisher Everest expeditions. Krakauer was sent on the expedition as a client of Rob Hall. He was writing a piece for Outdoor Magazine on "The Commercialization of Everest". He got a significantly bigger story... and subsequent experience... than I think anyone ever expected.
In this PTSD-laced, guilt-ridden memoire, Krakaur does his best to simply tell the story. While never directly accusing himself for lack of action, it's clear the piece is written in an attempt to try and deal with survivor's guilt. In the process, he's able to give a fascinating picture of just how dangerous climbing the highest summit of this world is, and what a risky undertaking it is, even for the most experienced climbers. He also successfully reinstates the mystique of Everest that he proclaims in the book "was lost among avid climber's, as commercialization overtook the mountain."
Unusual to my recommendations, I am giving this book 5 stars as it is well worth the read.
Note of Caution: this book contains a significant amount of language (most prominently "f**k"), as might be expected considering the raw nature of the climbers and the content. (less)
This book was an incredibly interesting read. Ever since I was in elementary school and I ran in a "Tarahumara Race" set up each year by my philanthro...moreThis book was an incredibly interesting read. Ever since I was in elementary school and I ran in a "Tarahumara Race" set up each year by my philanthropist principal, I've been interested in the culture of these people. When I was looking through goodreads "best non-fiction books of all times" list and saw this, it quickly piqued my interest.
McDougall has a very approachable writing style. While he touches on a lot of "scientific" things in the book and makes a lot of "arguments" you don't really realize that he's doing it. Basically, he tells a story, and it's a really good story. Its the kind of story where there is a main, underlying, biographical sketch told in memoir style, and the underlying sketch is interlaced with a bunch of interest piquing vinettes that make you want to keep reading because you're slowly seeing how he's tying everything together to paint a bigger biographical picture. In the process you learn about marathons, ultrarunners, insane people, barefoot runners, and eventually the Tarahumara.
I only had 2 main complaints about the book: 1) at times it does feel a little jumpy (but I feel like that was intended), and 2) the use of expletives and unnecessary language is a little over-the-top for me. I felt like the author could have censored a bit and it wouldn't have detracted from the story at all. (less)
In the wake of yet another tragic school shooting, whose death count included an entire classroom of kindergartners, I found it interesting - and a bi...moreIn the wake of yet another tragic school shooting, whose death count included an entire classroom of kindergartners, I found it interesting - and a bit ironic, really - that my library reservation list at the time included Dave Cullen's "Columbine". After having now read the book, and spent a few sleepless nights trying to overcome it's contents, I feel very comfortable proclaiming that this book (sadly) could easily stand as one that could easily serve to define our generation.
Absolutely, I would recommend this book as a "must-read" for anyone who even remotely thinks they can stomach it. I especially recommend it to my friends in public education - even if you don't think you can. Those of you studying gun control, politics, or psychology, I put you in the same category as the educators. It's a must read if you are to have any credibility in these areas.
That being said, there are a few things you should be aware of before picking up this book.
1) This book is incredibly graphic in it's description of the scene at Columbine High School in 1999 and some of the events that took place surrounding the real-life tragedy. You will be exposed to details such as what blood and brain matter will do after sitting exposed for long periods of time, the specific, graphic language of the tragedy's perpetrators and others involved, as well as some of the explicit graphic psychological thoughts that lead up to the event.
2) While the story is told through the lens of Mr. Cullen, a world renown expert on the events of Columbine, and he does his best to be delicate and objective in his presentation of the events, it's important to realize that because of the nature of the content he is discussing it would be almost impossible to remain completely objective and not assign blame in certain circumstances. While Cullen does his best to clear up misconceptions (and in some cases right-out lies) related to the events of the tragedy, and he does so with an explicit energy to respect and be sensitive to the emotion, character, and pain of those directly involved (including the perpetrators themselves), there are limitations to what he can do. Readers may be troubled at times with where the author 'draws the line' in certain parts of the book.
3) It's just simply a hard book to read. Think Cormac McCarthy's "the road" meets Tim Obrien's "The Things They Carried" meets Jonathan Safron Foer's "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close". Then realize that this is not historical fiction, it's non-fiction. It's just simply going to be a hard read - but it's worth it. (less)
Another great book by the writers of Freakonomics. All of the economics that a person could want, plenty of mind-opening thoughts, and very little nee...moreAnother great book by the writers of Freakonomics. All of the economics that a person could want, plenty of mind-opening thoughts, and very little need to use my brain to make sense of things while reading. I find very few who can make a generally dry topic like economics as light, approachable, and fun as the Stevens' do.
I thoroghly enjoy the Stevens' take on the world and how everything happens, and that's the reason why I picked this book up in the first place. I am very fond of the efforts that they take to approach everything in a truly objective way. However, this can be to their detriment at times. By looking at the world through a truly objective economist's eyes, they open themselves up to talking about generally morally questionable topics without being subject to the moral codes of society.
There were multiple times in reading this book that I really struggled with the moral implications of what they were talking about and frankly just felt uncomfortable. On 2 or 3 occasions I thought to myself, "gosh, you should really just fast forward this part [I listen to the cd's in the car]." In reality, I found their book as almost more of a scientific proof as to why our society has no morals than anything else. It was incredibly intriguing and disturbing at the same time. (less)
It is rare that I rate a book with 5 stars on this forum, and it is also rare that in a review I would use the word "riveting", but I feel the need to...moreIt is rare that I rate a book with 5 stars on this forum, and it is also rare that in a review I would use the word "riveting", but I feel the need to do both in evaluating this book.
Shusterman is a master-storyteller. With characterization similar to Tolkien, Motif utilization similar to Spielberg (Yes, the movie director), a Richard Wright/Tim O'Brien willingness to broach difficult topics, and Halse-Anderson approachability, he caused me to seriously consider and evaluate the ideas of Abortion, Agency, and the value of life through writing this book.
In reading this book, I had to continuously remind myself that this was fiction, and that there was no reason to feel anger or pain. I had to remember that there was nothing I could do to change the situation, not only because it wasn't real, but because even the reality that made it's conception possible is largely beyond my control. I even had to stop myself from crying over the pains and outcome of the antagonist - I knew I was supposed to hate him, but, in the end, he was no different than everyone else.
To say that I recommend this book would be an understatement. However, this book is not for the faint of heart, nor is it for people who are unable, or unwilling, to look deep into difficult subjects. If you read this book with the wrong perspective, you will miss it's meaning completely. (less)
I enjoy a good dystopian novel, and I hadn't read a good one in a while. My wife really enjoyed this one, so I decided to pick it up.
As far as series...moreI enjoy a good dystopian novel, and I hadn't read a good one in a while. My wife really enjoyed this one, so I decided to pick it up.
As far as series dystopian goes, this is pretty textbook. Having read dystopians from Scott Westerfeld (the Uglies) to Emma Clayton (Roar) and Susan Collins (Hunger Games), I had a hard time really getting into this one. It wasn't until around page 200 (400+ pages total) that I really started to see some differences in writing from other dystopians. (No fault to the author, I just think she hit a saturated market.)
In terms of story and plot, I really enjoyed this book. It's a true dystopian in that there really isn't any "sci-fi" element to the storyline, but rather just a really messed up future normal. There were some unexpected surprises, and good plot developments overall. Characters were developed adequately, but sometimes I just wished that the author would get on with the action. I didn't find myself looking introspectively at myself too much in this one (like I usually do in a dystopian).
I can see why this appealed to my wife in that it had a solid "love" or "relationship" plot line throughout. The "love-line" was not so prevelant in the story to overpower (a la Twilight), but resembled more of a Hunger Games/Uglies presence. As the protagonist was a female and things were tailored to her inner-self, this book was clearly written to more of a female audience. However, there is definitely enough action, etc. for a male audience to enjoy it.
Overall, it was a good read. I'd recommend it... especially to female readers. (less)
This book is a very good modern civil-rights-era book. It investigates the era from the perspective of one white writer and 2 black maids. In almost a...moreThis book is a very good modern civil-rights-era book. It investigates the era from the perspective of one white writer and 2 black maids. In almost a "To Kill a Mockingbird" tone, it addresses content similar to what is investigated in a Tony Morrison or Richard Wright book. I would have a hard time teaching it to public school aged children because of the content and language. However, I would highly recommend reading it in a University seminar class where it could be compared to other modern civil rights books. (less)
I'm going to start this review by saying I did not read the entire book. I read about 2 chapters and had to turn the book off (I was listening on my c...moreI'm going to start this review by saying I did not read the entire book. I read about 2 chapters and had to turn the book off (I was listening on my commute.)
Approaching the book with sincere optimism at reading a solid non-fictional psychology based book about choices, I felt I was baited and switched.
While this book proclaimed scientific non-fiction, and painted itself as objective, I simply could not get over the fact that the author was very clearly pushing a big-bang, darwin-inspired, godless agenda. I felt that there was a sense of scientific self-righteousness about the author that I would not be able to deal with throughout an entire book.
No qualms were had in denying years of traditional psychology by applealing to arguments of neuroscience (a prepubescent science even in comparision to the often rejected non-science of psychology), and in doing so all arguments were made with a "survival of the fittest makes it obvious" tone. The text was laced with biased, unproven-scientific rhetoric that I felt detracted from the arguments that could have been quite interesting if portrayed in a more approchable way.
In the end, I don't recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn neuroscience or psychology objectively... including myself. (less)