A dear friend of mine gifted this to me, which is a rarity. Apparently when you're a librarian, people are reluctant to gift you books. Anyway, she diA dear friend of mine gifted this to me, which is a rarity. Apparently when you're a librarian, people are reluctant to gift you books. Anyway, she did a great job because this is an awesome adventure story. Even without an appreciation of Moby-Dick, the book that was inspired by this story, I was able to enjoy it immensely. Philbrick does a great job of interpreting accounts of the shipwreck and telling them in a storylike manner. He is able to tell the events without sensationalizing them too much which is a feat considering how tall this tale sounds. Between my love of Simmons' The Terror and this book, I've found myself a new survival at sea niche!...more
In Slimed, Klickstein assembled a cast of old Nickelodeon personalities such as Marc Summers, Kenan Thompson, and a whole lot of people from that RounIn Slimed, Klickstein assembled a cast of old Nickelodeon personalities such as Marc Summers, Kenan Thompson, and a whole lot of people from that Roundhouse show nobody watched to reminisce and relay some crazy stories about the then-nascent television channel. Perhaps due to the nature of an oral history, the most interesting nuggets of information (to me, anyway) were sometimes glossed over or segued into something completely unrelated too soon. Unfortunately, it feels as though this book lacked the funding to assemble the people or information to get a truly comprehensive history of Nickelodeon. However, since this is the first attempt at it that I know of, I'm willing to give it a pass.
Overall, it's worth trudging through the uninteresting to hear stories about Marc Summer's OCD on Double Dare, John K.'s controversial leave from Ren and Stimpy, and my favorite nugget of the whole book: the fact that Little Pete aka Danny Tamberelli gives Kenan Thompson guitar lessons....more
The Room is unique among terrible movies. Unlike, say, Troma movies that are self-aware of their inherent campiness, The Room was supposed to be one mThe Room is unique among terrible movies. Unlike, say, Troma movies that are self-aware of their inherent campiness, The Room was supposed to be one man's dramatic masterpiece. The Disaster Artist switches between giving the reader small clues on the motives and origin of that man (Tommy Wiseau) and chronicling co-star and author Greg Sestero's acting career eventually leading up to his appearance in The Room.
Even though the book seems like a cash grab at first, Sestero was the best choice for the author of this book. A friend and acting partner of Wiseau's, Sestero can relate stories about the man in a tone that doesn't feel mocking. Surprisingly, Wiseau is sometimes shown in a sympathetic light, as clues about past heartbreak, injury, and assimilation shed some light on the man's warped view of the world as evidenced by the film and this book's anecdotes.
Reading Sestero's detailed account of the small successes and failures in his acting career is not as fascinating as the stories from the set of The Room, but they provide context and do not drag the book down. The Room is such a cultural oddity and much of it and Tommy Wiseau remain shrouded in mystery, but even the small clues and stories from inside The Room made this a worthwhile read....more
I've only recently gotten into historical nonfiction, but I think this is my favorite so far. Millard certainly had the advantage of selecting a rivetI've only recently gotten into historical nonfiction, but I think this is my favorite so far. Millard certainly had the advantage of selecting a riveting story to tell, but her additions and attention to detail (and probable omissions) made it all the better.
Other reviewers seemed to dislike the additions of descriptions of Amazonian flora and fauna and the native peoples, but I found these portions just as enjoyable as Roosevelt's journey. The scientific explanations of the survival mechanisms of the jungle inhabitants was especially appreciated. All of these added to the imaginary jungle in my head that Roosevelt was traveling through and made for a downright addictive read. ...more
Rabin was surprisingly honest in his struggles writing this book, it seemed like it was quite the victory for him to simply get it finished. He talksRabin was surprisingly honest in his struggles writing this book, it seemed like it was quite the victory for him to simply get it finished. He talks about how it was a mistake to think he could just go to a bunch of Phish and ICP shows and hope for the best, that something "worth writing about" would come to him as he did so. As a fan of his writing on the AV Club and now The Dissolve, I was on board, but this collection ultimately felt like Rabin was indeed constantly trying to find something worth writing about.
His thesis if you will is to find out why ICP fans aka Juggalos and Phish fans are unique and outsiders to most of society. He succeeds in a pretty even handed and fascinating analysis of Juggalos and their world, citing their low-income backgrounds as a reason to escape into the Dark Circus. His analysis of Phish on the other hand is much less interesting. Nearly every chapter on Phish ultimately comes down to: I went to a Phish show, I was in a good/bad mood, took some drugs, Phish played for a long time, I had a spiritual musical experience.
This is all intermixed with fairly interesting life details of what Rabin was going through during his writing of the book, but ultimately this book felt pretty padded. I'd have been happier to simply read a multi-part article on his anthropological study of ICP and Juggalos. ...more
What makes and breaks Stiff is Mary Roach. A nonfiction book can read like a textbook with the wrong tone or tour guide. Roach succeeds most of the tiWhat makes and breaks Stiff is Mary Roach. A nonfiction book can read like a textbook with the wrong tone or tour guide. Roach succeeds most of the time balancing the macabre with her wry sense of humor, but every once in a while one of her jokes hits like someone saying "that's what SHE said" in the middle of an Oscar drama. Not necessarily unfunny, just irritating when its constant. My only other complaint in what was otherwise quite an entertaining and educational book is that Roach gets off topic a little too often and some of the chapters near the end start to drag....more
After reading Devil in the White City, I decided I needed to read some more of Erik Larson. His fiction-like chapters and eye for true life fascinatinAfter reading Devil in the White City, I decided I needed to read some more of Erik Larson. His fiction-like chapters and eye for true life fascinating historical details reeled me in. This one came highly recommended and what red-blooded Caucasian male doesn't like to read about 'merica in World War II?
In the Garden of Beasts ended up being a little too repetitive and unnecessarily detailed. It just didn't read as quickly as Devil in the White City did. The latter benefited from telling the story of H. H. Holmes along with the Chicago World's Fair while this one only focused on one American family in Berlin. There is a sense of foreshadowing of what the Nazi regime would become throughout the entire book, but the tension never really releases. Many of the chapters hit the same beats: the Nazis are passing more anti-Semetic laws, the embassy disapproves of Dodd's work, Martha is dating a high ranking officer. I did enjoy the Dodds' journey through Berlin and seeing the undercurrents of Hitler's rise to power, but it made me realize that I'd be more interested in works focusing on the latter. ...more
Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City is meticulously researched. As a librarian, I quite enjoyed his notes on using primary sources and the detecErik Larson's The Devil in the White City is meticulously researched. As a librarian, I quite enjoyed his notes on using primary sources and the detective work he did himself to procure obscure information. This did have an effect on the book, however. Larson didn't have enough of an eye for edits; I spent more time than I'd have liked to reading about plants in the World's Fair.
The other aspect that kept me from fully enjoying the book is the incongruity of the two story lines. The book documents the birth of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair in addition to a serial killer who operated during the same time. Although both sections are quite interesting to read, Larson never quite ties the two together satisfactorily. It is a bit jarring to read about an extravagant party of architects planning the World's Fair to transition next to a meditation on the psychopathic tendencies of the serial killer.
Speaking of satisfaction, which I currently demand, Larson oddly never delivers on an account of the famous Chicago World's Fair. Sure, you read about the various famous products that came from the fair and read scads about its success and finances, but despite Larson's fiction-esque prose, I was never led through the White City. This is not a bad comparison for the book itself: I enjoyed it overall and found the subject matter interesting, I was just not entirely satisfied by the style in which it was delivered....more