This book is founded on a great device: the mnemonic. It presents catchy ways for learning (and remembering) Spanish words. An example from the book:This book is founded on a great device: the mnemonic. It presents catchy ways for learning (and remembering) Spanish words. An example from the book: the Spanish word for cow is "vaca". Remember this by vividly imagining a cow VACUUMING in a field.
I would rate it higher, but the vocabulary included is quite basic, and at this point I'm personally looking for something more advanced. Also, the grammar presented in this book is *very* simplified... sometimes over-simplified. For people (like me) who want to learn things correctly from the start, this could be vexing.
To get the most out of this book, readers can apply the principle of association to any new set of Spanish (or other) words they want to learn: consider the new word and come up with a vivid mental image that links it with its English translation, possibly through its Spanish phonetic form.
If you want to do more of this, check out memrise.com, which uses "mems" to teach you Spanish words (or many other things). Same idea, fun interactive site (and mobile app)....more
This was a favorite of mine, in English, as a child. It was a real treat to encounter it as an adult in Spanish. (The original, bien sûr, is in FrenchThis was a favorite of mine, in English, as a child. It was a real treat to encounter it as an adult in Spanish. (The original, bien sûr, is in French.)
Not only is the story just as charming and poignant as I remember, but the writing level is just about perfect for my Spanish reading level. I had to look up 2-5 words per page, which is enough to keep you learning, but not enough to leave you frustrated. (Knowing the story already helped me a lot for puzzling out words, too!)
Highly recommended for Spanish language learners and for anyone who hasn't yet encountered this wonderful story....more
This book is fantastic! I'm working on learning Spanish, and this filled a niche I needed -- a walk through a cornucopia of verb tenses, with write-inThis book is fantastic! I'm working on learning Spanish, and this filled a niche I needed -- a walk through a cornucopia of verb tenses, with write-in exercises to practice as you go. Along the way you'll expand your verb vocabulary (and learn some nouns and adjectives, too). The book includes helpful, accessible discussions about usage (e.g., preterite vs. imperfect past tenses), not just a boring presentation of conjugation tables.
Pros: - Comprehensive coverage of verb tenses. Super useful! My speaking and reading skills improved even after only a few days' study. - Interesting, challenging practice sentences. - Spanish-English and English-Spanish dictionaries (albeit short) in the back. - Answers to exercises included.
Cons: - Some of the "correct" answers are not written with proper Spanish, especially early in the book. For example, one exercise has you translate "I believe that..." but hasn't taught you the conditional tense yet, so the answer key uses the indicative tense for the following verb. It's probably still readable Spanish, but it's very simplified and likely makes you sound like a little kid. Happily, this tends to go away as you get deeper in the book and (presumably) can employ more sophisticated grammar. However, I'd have preferred if the book simply steered clear of this sort of thing -- don't ask the student to translate something they aren't capable of yet. - That connects to a minor complaint, which is that the book clearly assumes that you'll go through it in linear order, as later sections build on the tenses and vocabulary given earlier. While this is kind of reasonable (I guess), it tripped me up because I tired of the endless section on present tense verbs and jumped ahead to learn some past tense constructions. Making these more standalone would make the book a bit more usable. There's no logical reason that you need to have learned all possible present tense verbs, and every irregular exception, before starting on the past tense....more
This is a short story that is disturbingly relevant and disturbingly prescient. Published in 1909, it anticipates so many of our modern challenges andThis is a short story that is disturbingly relevant and disturbingly prescient. Published in 1909, it anticipates so many of our modern challenges and complaints with regards to the fragmentation of attention, instantaneous communication, and loneliness in the midst of increased connectivity. It is eerie to read -- was Forster that insightful, or were these things just that obvious to anticipate?...more
This is the second half of the sprawling tale that Connie Willis had to break into two tomes. Unfortunately, a few months elapsed between when I finisThis is the second half of the sprawling tale that Connie Willis had to break into two tomes. Unfortunately, a few months elapsed between when I finished Blackout and when I started this one, and after a hundred pages or so I realized that I simply couldn't follow the story. Time travel is confusing enough, but this one is like an intricate bit of lacework.
So I went back to the first book and started diagramming people and their roles. And I found that I suddenly understood that book *ten times better* on a second read (really just a skim). I could see all the pieces and what she was trying to do. And I finally figured out who was where and when.
After that, I began to enjoy this book a lot more.
BUT even if you're clued in from the beginning, and you read them back to back, you do first have to wade through a torrent of fixated hand-wringing to the point where you just want to strangle the main protagonists. We GET IT that your drop doesn't work and you can't time travel back to 2060 like you expected. We UNDERSTAND that this is scary and unexpected. But we got it the first 30 times, so please for the love of God keep it to yourself! And seriously? Does it have to devolve into self-flagellation about personally losing WWII and inadvertently killing everyone you care for? The histrionics nearly did me in.
I'm glad I persisted, though. The last quarter of All Clear sheds the wailing and posturing and rises above it. Willis is very good at many things, and one of her might skills is to write a good ending. I enjoyed the last bit of this book more than any other part.
But I have to say that the rest of the book could use some severe weed-whacking. A tightened up manuscript would read beautifully and perhaps elevate this story to the league of Doomsday Book. Please, please!...more
I throughly enjoyed this course on the art of reading. It doubles well as a basic course on good writing, actually -- it doesn't instruct you on how tI throughly enjoyed this course on the art of reading. It doubles well as a basic course on good writing, actually -- it doesn't instruct you on how to write, but it highlights what works and what doesn't, from the reader's perspective, with obvious application.
The main lesson of this course is about the value of close reading. Careful consideration of what the author has done and speculating about why can teach you a lot about how good stories are built. In fact, the course might easily be titled "Writing Appreciation"; you learn to notice details you might not otherwise. This is the "how things work" of writing (and reading).
The course covers characters, dialogue, point of view, and plot, which are all elements of writing that many will be familiar with. It also strikes out into less common territory, like how authors make choices about dividing their work into chapters and even more obscure topics like meta-fiction. It has certainly inspired a lot of interesting reflection on my part on questions such as "Why *do* we read?" and it has pointed me to other interesting and valuable books like C. S. Lewis's An Experiment in Criticism....more
Interesting book (more like an extended essay) on the subject of (literary) criticism. Lewis suggests that instead of classifying books as good or badInteresting book (more like an extended essay) on the subject of (literary) criticism. Lewis suggests that instead of classifying books as good or bad, we should classify the way they are read as good or bad. After all, the same book can be read in many ways.
What is bad reading? Careless, shallow, reading for consumption or titillation or to fill idle hours.
What is good reading? Immersive, passionate, committed reading, with a mind open to the world the author aims to share.
I enjoyed the first couple of chapters and the final Epilogue best (some intervening material felt a bit repetitive or tangential, like the chapter on poetry which is rather muddled). The Epilogue brings everything together and addresses a final, even more interesting question: Why do we read at all?
His answer, that we do it to enlarge ourselves, to transcend the limitations of just one body in just one life, charmed me and resonated in me. Hear, hear!...more
This book is an absolute treat. Inventive, detailed, fascinating, immersive -- all of the best things you want in a book, plus more. Artifacts! Post cThis book is an absolute treat. Inventive, detailed, fascinating, immersive -- all of the best things you want in a book, plus more. Artifacts! Post cards! The level of realism is captivating.
This books is also a lot of work, since much of it is told out of chronological order and in multiple layers. The conceit is that you've come across an old library book, written in the 1950's, that was the basis of a graduate student's thesis. He annotated it as he was working through it. Then, one day, he accidentally left it in the library where it was discovered by an undergraduate. She returned it to him, adding a note of her own, and thus began a conversation in the margins, as she becomes engrossed in the book and the mystery of its authorship, and together they try to sort out the clues and solve it.
The characterization of these marginalia-based personalities is strikingly vivid, supplemented by the artifacts embedded in the book. The level of detail devoted to telling this story is breathtaking.
That said -- the book set up so much mystery... and then didn't deliver much! Perhaps intentionally left ambiguous? Or a demonstration of how marginal notes record only what happens when the conversationalists are NOT in the same room? I'm still puzzling it through.
This is DEFINITELY a book I'll need to re-read. I can already see that the early material will make a lot more sense having read through the whole thing once.