Anecdotally written in a similar fashion to the freakonomics books, this nonfiction book about the outliers (or "special" people in our society) was oAnecdotally written in a similar fashion to the freakonomics books, this nonfiction book about the outliers (or "special" people in our society) was one of the best books I've read in a while....more
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 eIn 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 itAt 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. ...more
Yet another Christopher Paolini book that needed to be half as long.
Truthfully, I really enjoyed the story. I love the grasp of language that PaoliniYet another Christopher Paolini book that needed to be half as long.
Truthfully, I really enjoyed the story. I love the grasp of language that Paolini has, his ability to characterize his protagonists and antagonists, and his grasp of a true epic tale. What someone needs to teach him is the concept of concise plot, organized through motif and theme, and the ability to get to the point. If he had done this, I would have given the book 5 stars.
Literally, he could have told the same story, equally successfully, in 3 short books. I questioned regularly if he was getting paid by the word. I only read the 4th book because I wanted to finish the story, and was glad that I have a two-hour-a-day commute to keep me interested in this book (on CD).
There were days when I was looking so forward to what would happen, and in the two hours driving listening to the story, I would get home and realize that I still didn't know anything more than I did when I started.
There was soooo much detail that was simply unnecessary, and it detracted from the overall message of the story.
I've heard many compare his talents to some of the greats like Tolkien or Lewis, and in many ways I'd agree with their assessment. My only advice to him is to not get lazy. He'll only fit in this category if he refines his talents and gets to the point. While I applaud him for being as successful as he was in writing this story starting at age 16, Paolini really showed (in this series), why it's a good idea to get some education and continue learning and growing as a writer... no matter where you are. To me, that's what really sets him apart from the Tolkiens and Lewis' of the world... the humility and ability to look oneself in the eyes and say... I still need to learn. ...more
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 philanthroThis 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. ...more
In the wake of yet another tragic school shooting, whose death count included an entire classroom of kindergartners, I found it interesting - and a biIn 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. ...more
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 neeAnother 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. ...more
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 toIt 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. ...more
Not a bad book to listen to on a commute, but not the best either.
I found this book terribly predictable and not that exciting. While well-written inNot a bad book to listen to on a commute, but not the best either.
I found this book terribly predictable and not that exciting. While well-written in terms of literacy, it was lacking in real plot excitement. There were times in listening that I knew I was supposed to be surporised by the turn of events, but wasn't.
I hoped, in picking up this book, that I would also be educated a little in the realm of banking. It was clear that the author was trying to talk to cool technology advances in the banking industry, but nothing that was really "wow, I wonder if that's really possible or actually happening".
While I enjoyed the characters and understood the setting, there really wasn't a connection made. I blame the author for this. He really could have developed some of the story to make it appeal to readers emotions better, but he really just didn't do well with this. ...more
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 seriesI 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. ...more
I thought this book was very informative about the "revolutionary generation". It was recommended to me by my brother who is a political science profeI thought this book was very informative about the "revolutionary generation". It was recommended to me by my brother who is a political science professor. While informative, the writing was very dry and the organization was hard to follow at times. It was very "date dependant" - meaning: if you didn't keep track of the dates in your head, you got lost pretty quickly and had to concentrate to get back on track. ...more
As far as sci-fi goes, this book would be considered pretty main-stream (which is good or bad depending on where you come from). The character developAs far as sci-fi goes, this book would be considered pretty main-stream (which is good or bad depending on where you come from). The character development ties you in from the very beginning as you are introduced to the struggles that an Humanesque Alien living on earth being chased by other humanesque aliens might encounter. It is a series book, with a back-story that is very intriguing involving the death of all but a few of a world population and makes you really sympathetic to the protagonists predicament. As hard as Alien books are to get into sometimes, I didn't feel that way with this one. The setting, I think, is what made this book believable. I'd describe the book as the story of a "The Day the Earth Stood Still" type alien, told from a "Vladimir Tod" type perspective, in a "Heroes" (T.V. Show) meets "Twilight" type setting. ...more
Pretty decent book... a little slow going in terms of plot. I think what I disliked the most about this book was that in the development of her characPretty decent book... a little slow going in terms of plot. I think what I disliked the most about this book was that in the development of her characters she seemed to dwell on the characteristics that are socially and morally questionable. It seemed that the author was using the book as a medium through which she could push an alternative-to-mainstream agenda....more
An interesting read. To tell the truth, I couldn't put it down. What I really enjoyed about this futuristic fantasy is that it is actually quite belieAn interesting read. To tell the truth, I couldn't put it down. What I really enjoyed about this futuristic fantasy is that it is actually quite believable and foreseeable. You can tell the author understands the science behind what she writes, but she still writes in a very approachable, light way. She's excellent at getting you to sympathize with and feel what the protagonist is feeling. ...more
I really enjoyed this book, but I'm a sucker for futuristic-distopian literature where adolescents are the protagonist. I would compare this novel toI really enjoyed this book, but I'm a sucker for futuristic-distopian literature where adolescents are the protagonist. I would compare this novel to Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series with a Lord of the Flies twist . Although there was some over-writing and dead spots, this book was a relatively quick read for it's length. It is a non-stand-alone series book, but I can say that I did have a small sense of closure at the end of the book. ...more
I enjoyed this book. As far as series books go, I was a little disappointed in that it is not a stand-alone book. You basically have to read the wholeI enjoyed this book. As far as series books go, I was a little disappointed in that it is not a stand-alone book. You basically have to read the whole series to understand the story. There is also some embellishment of description on the part of the author - making the book a slower read and drag at certain points. I would recommend it for the sci-fi/fantasy/distopian novel fan....more