This book was so painful to read. It really took away any pride I had in being human. The idea that a human being is capable of treating another human...moreThis book was so painful to read. It really took away any pride I had in being human. The idea that a human being is capable of treating another human being in some of the ways expressed in Douglass's narrative is simply astonishing. I sorely wish that this book portrayed ONLY history. But unfortunately, prejudice still exists in our world. Perhaps if everyone read this we'd be better off. (less)
I was completely hooked for the first 2/3rds of the book. For some reason, though, once I hit the chapter about Egyptian hieroglyphics and the followi...moreI was completely hooked for the first 2/3rds of the book. For some reason, though, once I hit the chapter about Egyptian hieroglyphics and the following chapters about the present day science of cryptography, the book lost steam for me. Not Singh's fault, just a matter of personal preference. The early history of cryptography up until the World War 2 era and the story of the Enigma was all very fascinating. The story of the Beale cipher was awesome. Learning about the importance of the Allies cracking the Enigma was very illuminating. I had no previous awareness of the crucial importance of that feat. And the story of Ian Fleming's involvement around this time was awesome (he created James Bond)! I definitely recommend it.(less)
The same as the first time I read this book, I picked it up during the day and put it down, exhausted and drained, the same night. McCarthy's bleak, d...moreThe same as the first time I read this book, I picked it up during the day and put it down, exhausted and drained, the same night. McCarthy's bleak, dreary prose is beautiful and depressing, forcing the reader on an emotional roller coaster that rarely makes it uphill - when it does, it plummets rapidly back into the gaunt suspense that makes this novel as powerful as it is.
"What's the bravest thing you ever did? He spat into the road a bloody phlegm. Getting up this morning, he said. Really? No. Don't listen to me. Come on, let's go."
The hopelessness in the novel was sometimes hard to get through, and it is what makes this an exhausting read. You can't help but choke on the words you're reading during some explicit scenes of desolation, but the conclusion of this book really ices the cake (if you'll allow me to use a metaphor totally mismatched from the dreary tale). By the end, my heart rate was increased and my eyes welled to the brim. The Road remains one of my top five novels.(less)
Wow... just wow. Not only is the premise behind this story amazing (the idea of the new world gods battling the old world gods - which isn't necessari...moreWow... just wow. Not only is the premise behind this story amazing (the idea of the new world gods battling the old world gods - which isn't necessarily what this story is about) but the story telling is amazing, too. I want to read any and all books by Gaiman after reading this one. Some people have complained about the characters being a bit one dimensional, leaving the reader unable to sympathize or empathize with them, and while this may be the case with some (or most) characters, I actually found myself quite invested in Shadow's and Wednesday's characters. Others I could, indeed, not care less about. Gaiman leaves no ends untied as the last 100 pages of the novel do a wonderful job wrapping the story up, providing a closure that leaves the reader satisfied and, quite frankly in my case, overjoyed to have read such an awesome freakin' story. Towards the end, there was a new twist or revelation by the turn of a page. I didn't want to put the book down for the entire duration of the novel, but by the end I simply couldn't. There was no way I could not read the final parts straight through.
Also a few good chuckles throughout. The most memorable laugh for me was when Shadow tells a raven to say "Nevermore" and the raven replies with "fuck off." As insubstantial as that part is to entire novel, it was probably one of my favorite parts. Hilarious!
I think what I loved most about this was simply the commentary he was providing. Perhaps fearful that his message would be missed, he provided this nice interlude right at the beginning of a chapter to remind us, ultimately, what it is we are reading:
"None of this can actually be happening. If it makes you more comfortable, you could simply think of it as metaphor. Religions are, by definition, metaphors, after all: God is a dream, a hope, a woman, an ironist, a father, a city, a house of many rooms, a watchmaker who left his prize chronometer in the desert, someone who loves you--even, perhaps, against all evidence, a celestial being whose only interest is to make sure your football team, army, business, or marriage thrives, prospers, and triumphs over all opposition.
Religions are a place to stand and look and act, vantage points from which to view the world."
God is an idea... an idea that changes, that coexists with itself in many different forms, an idea that supplies stability perhaps. But ultimately it's all unreal and eventually we'll ask what it is exactly that we believe. Odin, for instance, is no longer widely worshipped - indeed, his essence is widely forgotten, but the idea of Odin still exists. I suppose you have to ask if one day in the future, after religion is given more time to evolve, humanity will regard Jesus as just another idea, unaware or unwilling to remember the tenets of Christianity. Gaiman points out that as the world changes so do our perspectives - hence the idea of the old (rusty old gods fighting with swords and hammers) vs the new (CIA looking men, techy geeks fighting with sniper rifles).
Or, then again, maybe the book was one big con, one big coin trick. Just read the damn book. It's worth your time.
There aren't many characters I can say I care as deeply for as I do Abner Marsh and Joshua York in this novel. Perhaps Winston in 1984 and Shadow in A...moreThere aren't many characters I can say I care as deeply for as I do Abner Marsh and Joshua York in this novel. Perhaps Winston in 1984 and Shadow in American Gods and the father and the boy in The Road can all compare. I was truly and deeply invested in the unlikely friendship between Marsh and York. Martin is proving to be one of my favorite authors (mind you, this is only the second of his books that I've read), but he's a great story teller. I considered giving this book five stars, but there are others that I've given five stars that are indeed better than this one, so four it is. Actually, if Goodreads would be so kind as to give us a system based on half-stars, Fevre Dream would have received four and a half! Anyway, give this a book a shot. It is at times entirely, far, and much too gruesome, but at other times it is heartening and triumphant and lovely. The epilogue, especially. It was short, simple, and spoke magnitudes. I've never read the Twilight books (or any other vampire novels for that matter), but if you're into vampire stories, then, as far as I'm concerned, this one is definitely worth checking out!(less)
I'm still reading this, but I'm going to write a quick preliminary review. I'm just over 200 pages into this book, and I feel like I can now appropria...moreI'm still reading this, but I'm going to write a quick preliminary review. I'm just over 200 pages into this book, and I feel like I can now appropriately offer 2 pieces of advice concerning it.
1. Read this book.
2. Do NOT read this book when you have a lot of other shit to do. This book hasn't lovingly welcomed me to read a chapter or two in my free time. No. It has beat the living hell out of my priorities with a sword called Ice, made me swear to the seven faces of god that I will continue to allot it time that my reasonable mind knows I don't have, and has demanded that it becomes the sole reason for my existence.
Okay, maybe that last one was a bit exaggerated. But really, this book is (even at only a quarter of the way through) highly engrossing. I literally had to make myself go to bed this morning when I really wanted to keep reading. My biggest fear at this point is finishing this book soon. Doing so will not refocus my concentration on the final five weeks of my college career - doing so will require that I take my direwolf for a walk to the bookstore to buy the next book in the saga and further divert my attention from truly important matters.
Although, I have a feeling this series will ultimately be worth a sacrifice of a 4.0 GPA... but that's just the senioritis talking.
Well, I didn't let this book disrupt my education any more than I let the bar disrupt it (hmmmm...). But, alas, I have finished it. Or, very nearly finished it. I'm camping for the weekend and will have this finished by this afternoon. A review will be forthcoming when I return on Sunday afternoon! I'll say this though. Between now and then, I expect at least half of you who read this to go out, buy this book, and start reading it. Because it was that good. I say half because I guess this ultimately isn't for everyone, but yeah, it's at least good enough for half of you.
So, I'll say simply this: the final chapter of this book was awesome... really, really, really awesome. I'll say no more about that. I can't wait to read on in the series. In order to prolong the enjoyment I think I'll get from this saga, I have promised myself that I will read a couple of books between each of these. Otherwise I'll have the other three finished quickly and then I'll be waiting impatiently with the rest of the fans for the release of the fifth one.
I haven't read a great deal of fantasy, having been only recently pushed back into the genre by Gaiman's American Gods. I was under the impression that fantasy was a cheap thrill, stories about things that have no bearing on the human condition, often cheaply written because they were stories for the "lesser" readers. Furthermore, I refused for a long time to get involved with these really long books, especially long sagas that were composed of really long individual instalments. I was afraid that by the time I read 300 pages, I'd be discouraged and begin to lose interest in the universe the author created - and like so many other long, long books, they would simply be placed back on my shelf, bookmark sticking out from the pages, and collect dust for years.
Well... Martin really put my foot in my mouth and I'm sucking on my toes.
I looked forward to no part of the day more than I look forward to the part when I could sit in my reading chair and dive into the land of the Seven Kingdoms and watch this story unfold, learn the fate of my favorite characters and pray to the seven gods that my most hated characters's heads would roll after the swift slash of Ice. And then there are the players who you know you aren't supposed to like, yet you can't help but like them! I know I shouldn't like Tyrion, but I love him and I pity him and he makes me laugh. Martin's ability to construct characters is pretty damn impressive. His characters nearly touch four dimensions (whatever the hell that means - three dimensions just doesn't give these guys justice!). Perhaps the most developed here, for me, at least, was Daenerys. She went from being a small, weak girl submissive to her abusive and power-hungry brother to being a ... well, just read it!
The story - incredibly engrossing. I realize this took me nearly two months to read, but it really was a page-turner. There was never, never a dry spell in these pages. If there weren't three other books to read (eventually six others), this is one that I would not want to end. There aren't many books that leave me thirsty for more pages, but after 800 of Martin's finely written, vivid prose and delectable story, I'd beg, plead, and probably join the nights watch if it meant another 800 pages of this story.
Now excuse me while I head off to the Godswood to pray to the old gods that Martin finish this saga sometime while I still live! (less)
I can see why this trilogy is as popular as it is. As a novel for young adults, The Hunger Games is very impressive. Dystopic fiction is one of my fav...moreI can see why this trilogy is as popular as it is. As a novel for young adults, The Hunger Games is very impressive. Dystopic fiction is one of my favorite genres, but this is the first I've read that I didn't find too mature for the young adult audience. 1984 is brilliant, but if I read it when I was 15 I wouldn't have gotten it. The Hunger Games is an accessible commentary about what could happen if big brother grows to "big." That said, the book doesn't lack maturity. Katniss's internal struggles, her psychological dilemmas during the games are realistic and, at times, heartbreaking. Collins ended this novel at the right time. There was enough said to leave the book as a stand alone story, and enough unsaid that leaves a curious reader very eager for more. I'll be picking up Catching Fire very soon.
I hear there is a movie in the works. I actually enjoy seeing some of my favorite novels made into films... not always because the movies are great (they usually are not), but because they really accentuate the greatness of the book. I'm not sure how well this will work as a movie. How easy is it going to be to watch a bunch of kids killing each other brutally? Time will tell.(less)
Meh... I'll admit I didn't read all the stories... read most of the book, though. I'm a huge fan of the Coen Brothers' movies, but this collection fel...moreMeh... I'll admit I didn't read all the stories... read most of the book, though. I'm a huge fan of the Coen Brothers' movies, but this collection fell very flat for me. I chuckled sometimes, but the laughs were forgettable. I want to give his poetry a shot, but otherwise I think I'll stick with their films. (less)
Perhaps this book received five stars from me out of a certain bias. I did, after all, attend Janisse Ray's reading at SUNY Oneonta in March 2010. I w...morePerhaps this book received five stars from me out of a certain bias. I did, after all, attend Janisse Ray's reading at SUNY Oneonta in March 2010. I was entranced by a passion I had never witnessed before. Her Southern drawl, her soft voice that spoke so boldly was with me while I read through her book. I could hear every word come out of her mouth and I knew that every thing she said she meant. Maybe had I not experienced Ray's unrelenting passion, I'd afford this text one less star. I spoke with her after the reading, too. A more genuine, honest, and passionate person may very well not exist.
Her objective here is not to facilitate or perpetuate a loathing of nature's enemies. Her objective is a call to bear arms (metaphorically speaking, of course) - a call to reinstate in humanity a love and respect for the natural world that nourishes us. Her voice is soothing, her words poetic. Referring to a teacher, "Her eyes were black as little universes." This book is one that makes you wake up the next morning and plan a hike through whatever wilderness you have available to you - it will make you stop on the trail and look around and actually count the different trees, maybe commit some of them to memory and learn about their history, and maybe you'll be surprised to even learn that something inanimate like a tree actually has such an intimate history. Her book is one that will force you to stop quietly on the trail and observe the passing snake, to see its beauty and not to be frightened. What makes her so much more lovely than, say, Edward Abbey is that she has hope. She believes firmly that "there is a miracle for you if you keep holding on" and she imagines one day rising from her grave to see her granddaughter's granddaughter roaming the second coming of the forests we are losing today. Abbey, while enjoyable and rather humorous, believes anyone not appreciative of nature is a deadbeat earthling. Abbey is a cynic. Ray believes that we can restore an appreciation - believes that those who underestimate the value of nature simply haven't been shown its wonders. And what she aims to do (and indeed succeeds beautifully) is to show the reader these wonders and drives the reader out of doors to experience them first hand.
Ray's book, though, is more than a eulogy to nature. It is also a memoir that tells of her life growing up in a strictly fundamentalist and dogmatic religious household. She writes this book as a series of vignettes, writing one chapter about a family member, another about a species of bird, and another about growing up in a junkyard. Her book transcends any sort of chronology. But the lack of a fluid narrative (that is, this happened then this happened then this happened) does not detract from the telling of her life story. Life, after all, is not recollected from childhood up to this morning. As you experience your day to day life simple memories are conjured or at once you have this sudden urge to remember everything you can about a family member since deceased. This is Janisse Ray's book - a telling of a story worth telling, a telling of a love worth having, and a plea to save a relationship (man and nature) worth saving.(less)
Goodreads seriously needs to consider putting in a rating system broken down into half-stars. I feel bad giving this only 3, but I don't feel satisfie...moreGoodreads seriously needs to consider putting in a rating system broken down into half-stars. I feel bad giving this only 3, but I don't feel satisfied enough to give it four. So, for the record, this gets 3 and one half stars from me!
Horace's story was fan-freaking-tastic. I was very invested in his break-down and his horror filled night. James Greene's narrative was also pretty interesting. Kenan has an uncanny ability to grotesquely and vividly describe the killings of things. In fact, some of his descriptions made me downright uncomfortable.
This novel is about a boy, Horace, trying to reconcile his strict Southern Baptist upbringing with his sexuality. Horace knows he is gay and knows that his faith doesn't award such sinful behaviour. What I can't quite grasp about the novel, and maybe it's for the novel's complicated and intricate structure, is how the story of Ruth, Zeke, and Asa fits in. I realize Kenan is, at points, calling for an appreciation of the Southern Agrarian lifestyle - arguing that this lifestyle kept the community at work and together - but I don't quite understand the connection Kenan is making between the Agrarian community and a 16 year old boy's need to find peace as a homosexual in a religious society. Maybe the connection was made blatantly obvious in the book and I simply missed it. Much of the first half left me somewhat uninterested - the second half, however, picked up considerably.
And let me say one more thing - Kenan's prose is wonderful. Though I can't say I'm a huge fan of this novel, I would be horribly negligent to not say that I thought it was beautifully written.
Again - 3.5 stars. Maybe if I ever reread it I'll give it the four I'm hesitant to give it now.(less)
What we have in Of Human Bondage is one of the greatest and all-encompassing stories to ever come from human kind. Written in the early 1900s, Maugham...moreWhat we have in Of Human Bondage is one of the greatest and all-encompassing stories to ever come from human kind. Written in the early 1900s, Maugham's novel is not only incredibly relevant in today's society but should also be required reading in our schools. I, for one, had never heard of this book until I was well into college (and even then it was not by professors but by the internet). The novel is essentially a bildungsroman tale (coming-of-age tale - allow me to also recommend Nervous Conditions of the same genre) that follows the life of Philip Carey, a club-footed boy orphaned at the age of 9. He goes to live with his aunt and uncle, neither of whom are parents, and from here the novel surges through Philip's life until he is about thirty. Surges may be a poor word choice. This book is, after all, rather long, but not a word could have been spared by editors. I savoured every last one of them until the end.
Considering the novel deals with quite literally the ENTIRETY of Philip's experience as a person in society, it would be a daunting task indeed to review every aspect of this story. So I won't attempt it. Alas, I have other books to read! But I will address a few specific aspects of the novel which had me reeling in delight (and sometimes reeling in annoyed frustration!).
As the title implies, the story has everything to do with the enslavement of the human spirit by various societal institutions and physical and psychological tendencies. The story also has everything to do with the human liberation from such bondage. Philip's tale is our case study here - he is who we will follow and examine as we consider human bondage in a world largely operated by humans!
I was able to identify with Philip on many levels. One such level was that of religious fervour and then the dismissal of that fervent belief. Philip was raised religiously, even professed the beauty of his faith. Soon, he realized the absurdity of religion. He noticed that so many religions sought after the one valid and universal truth, that they all claimed eventually to have found that truth, and that theirs was the legitimate faith and all others illegitimate. Philip saw the problem in this. He realized that this bred a prejudice world, one that would enslave Philip to the Anglican life. This was his first liberation. He shed his faith, realizing that if God would punish him for honestly not believing then there was nothing he could do about it (also touching briefly on Pascal's Wager here). The world was his to explore, and in his exploration he wished to seek a new meaning for his life.
I'm not going to go crazy summarising the rest of the novel and I will let you read it on your own to discover his new views of life as they mature. I'll simply say his journey is quite wonderful and the meaning he finds is a meaning I happen to share. His arrival at this meaning is beautiful and poignant and it is in the last 100 pages of the book that I truly came to care deeply about Philip. Before then, I found him quite insufferable yet I was deeply invested in his life. His relationships with other people and his ludicrous behavior towards some of them left me nearly shouting at the pages, begging the other characters to club Philip over his head with his own club foot. Harsh and insulting, perhaps, but Philip should have been served what he dished.
I say that reluctantly, actually, because there was that one ill-mannered slut, Mildred, who did not deserve one one-hundreth of what Philip offered her. While I hated Mildred passionately, I was so disgusted by Philip's continual love for her that I came to no longer care what pain he suffered on her behalf. I was in Philip's corner the whole time (except for when he acted like a stalking creep), I just gave up on him. His final two experiences with Mildred left me fuming!
I was only slightly disappointed by the end of the novel. Considering the book was nearly 700 pages, it's sort of strange to say that I thought it ended too abruptly, but none-the-less, I think it did. That said, the ending did do a brilliant job highlighting the overlaying message of the story, the inanity and absurdity of life, and Philip's intense transformation.
Oh, and for what it's worth, I thought Philip was gay. I expected him at any minute to shed his heterosexuality (admit it, Phil, it was all a deception!) just like he shed his fear of God! But alas, he never did. I also swore that Sally was a lesbian, but I was apparently wrong there, too.
And for anyone who thinks "old" books are harder to read, think again! This book is incredibly readable. Maugham takes pride in his succinctness, and reasonably so. Wonderful, simple, and beautiful prose that begs to be read. (less)
There are a few things this books does to you. First, it makes you want to read everything you can get your hands on simply because you have the freed...moreThere are a few things this books does to you. First, it makes you want to read everything you can get your hands on simply because you have the freedom to read. It simultaneously makes you feel guilty if you don't read as often as you can simply because there were and still are people who do not have the freedom nor the means to read. Wright's narrative also makes you ashamed to be a member of a race that can inflict such horrible pain and suffering and mental anguish on other members of your race. If you happen to be a racist yourself, then reading this should be a good Thwack! on the head and promptly drive you to be very against racism. The book was sometimes a bit hard to read, but not because Richard Wright is just a dumb negro who can't write like smart white people. It was hard to read because any civilized human being should have a hard time fathoming that less than one hundred years ago America was how it was. In fact, it was especially difficult for me to read because I had a hard time fathoming that to a certain extent, America is still as it was.
Halfway through the book, a memory surfaced. About five years ago I was in South-Central Georgia visiting my dad. He lived in a nice enough place, but one night we happened to drive through a smaller town area. We stopped at a gas station and I went inside to get a soda. I was waiting in line to pay (there were about five or six people ahead of me and a group of bikers behind me), and a black man came in to pay for his gas. Instead of waiting in the long line (perhaps he was genuinely in a hurry), the black man walked to the counter and set his money on the counter to pay for his gas and he did so rather nicely. One of the older men behind me (one of the biker dudes) said directly to me, "did that nigger just cut you in line? I'll kill a nigger if he cuts a white man in line." I was utterly shocked. I suppose I wasn't so naive to believe that racism was a thing of the past, but I had never before witnessed it first hand in such a vulgar and direct manner. I looked at the man, a bit dumbfounded, and told him it was okay. That's about all I said. Here is what I wish I said: "Go outside, wrap your little girly bike chains around your fist a few times (to make sure you don't lose your grip) and lynch yourself repeatedly. You are a disgrace to humanity." No, instead I muttered my okay and watched the black man hurry back to his car and drive off. I felt guilty and I wondered how the black man must feel. I vowed then that I would not remain silent if I was ever confronted with such an experience again. Perhaps I'll carry a copy of Wright's autobiography and perhaps a copy of Douglass's narrative (which Wright's book had quite a bit in common with) so that I can hand out copies and say "read this and feel ashamed."
I challenge everyone to read this book and to not, consequentially, change their eating habits. For real. This is not to say that I challenge you to r...moreI challenge everyone to read this book and to not, consequentially, change their eating habits. For real. This is not to say that I challenge you to read this book and then not be a vegetarian - I challenge you to read this book and to then not feel ashamed to pay money to the factory farms that run the meat industry in this country. For years, I entertained the idea of being a vegetarian because I knew the "gist" of the state of the food industry. But I always said "later..." Later came about three months ago when I watched Food Inc. I decided to try vegetarianism (in fact, a number of my friends did, too - we made a certain competition out of it... who could last the longest?) For the first month, I wouldn't call myself a vegetarian. I'd only say that I was trying it out for a short while. Well, it's been three months, and now I do call myself a vegetarian. But NOT until I read this book did I vow to myself that this lifestyle change would be permanent. Very permanent. Before this book, I admitted still that it was possible I would one day eat meat again, though I'd likely steer clear of factory farmed meat. As I got into Foer's book, I decided I could never eat an animal again.
As I'd talk to my stepfather about certain points Foer makes, he would argue that I believe too much of what I read. Years ago I read The God Delusion and decided after a great deal of thought and reflection that god probably didn't exist. But ya know what, my stepfather no longer believes either. The arguments eventually made sense to him. Well, the same way that Dawkins convinced me that god was a fairytale, Foer has convinced me that the issues he writes about are very real and demand our attention. He never comes out and says that an omnivore lifestyle is immoral and that we should all be vegetarian. Indeed, he argues that the selective-omnivore lifestyle can actually be sort of okay and that the family farmers who care about their animals AS animals and not as dollars are reasonable and good people. But his journalistic account of the meat industry in America (the world, too) demands that we not remain (read: choose to remain) ignorant about how the majority of our food makes its way to our plates. This book is never preachy, though it remains always compassionate, honest, and sometimes funny. You could argue that Foer makes his opinions rather clear through the facts he presents, but you cannot argue that Foer presents anything but the cold, hard, bloody facts.
It was funny to listen to my stepfather and numerous other people who I discussed this book with. They all said the same thing (or variations of the same thing): "Don't tell me about what you're learning in that book. I like meat. I don't want to stop eating it." And per their requests, I seldom read them any of the cold, hard, bloody facts. But I did tell them that Foer points out that choosing "to do nothing is to do something." And they all agreed and admitted their ignorance. They all agreed and said they did not want to know because knowing would likely lead them to an action they didn't want to make. What they may not want to admit, though, is that (and this was perhaps the most powerful sentence in the book for me) "to throw your hands in the air is to wrap your fingers around a knife handle."
We all eat, many of us choose what we put on our plate, and many of us choose what our children eat - as such, this book should be required reading. Required not so that the population becomes vegetarian, but so at the very least, factory farms cease to exist. Wholly cease. Gone. Forever. We have become a species so overly concerned with commodity, that we have absolutely stopped giving a shit about things that truly matter. Our planet, for one. Our health, for another. And other species, for yet another.
I feel bad giving this 2 stars, but I don't really want to give it 3. It would get 2.5 from me if GOODREADS WOULD ACTUALLY IMPLEMENT A HALF-STAR SYSTE...moreI feel bad giving this 2 stars, but I don't really want to give it 3. It would get 2.5 from me if GOODREADS WOULD ACTUALLY IMPLEMENT A HALF-STAR SYSTEM (hint, hint, nudge, nudge)! Death and what happens after is a subject that really fascinates and intrigues me. I'm relatively confident that death marks the end of consciousness, the end of me-ness. I expect nothing after death. Like when you go to sleep at night. You fall asleep and (excluding any dreams you might remember) the next thing you know, you're waking up. There is no in-between (unless, like I said, you dream). This is what I imagine death to be... minus the whole waking up part. So maybe I didn't care for this book because I didn't need to be convinced of anything. Many of the experiments that Roach reports on I found to be quite silly. People trying to weigh souls... really? Not only did I find the experiments themselves silly but I guess I also find a need for this type of book rather inane. As far as I'm concerned, we, while living, can do nothing to prove or disprove an afterlife. There is one way to be sure. Die. Maybe if this book was more of a philosophical discussion about death and less a history of paranormal experience, I would have been more receptive of it. Ultimately, I don't think Roach and I stand on quite the same page. This, mind you, is not the reason I gave her fewer stars. I had other qualms with the book.
Namely, this book didn't strike me as being particularly science-heavy. It seemed more to me a journalistic review of many groups who claim to know about the hereafter and the subsequent "but here is what a scientist actually attributes the phenomena to... but even he admits it could be paranormal." And there was a lot of history. Which is okay. In fact, if I picked this book up intending to learn a history of paranormal research, I might have loved it.
And look, M(r)s. Roach, if you read this, I think you're a witty and funny (sometimes hilarious) person. But you're naturally funny. You don't need to inject humor into every paragraph. Death is a relatively serious topic, whether approached scientifically, philosophically, religiously, etc. Seriousness leaves room for wittiness, but I didn't pick this book up out of the humor section. Maybe I'm sounding harsh. I just found the constant punch-lines at the end of every paragraph to be predictable and sometimes not funny. I wished repeatedly that there was a drummer sitting next to me while I read, and every time I came to a punch line I could cue the drummer to play that "bada-bing" rimshot noise.
My thoughts here are fuddled up, muddy, and are probably being affected by the electricity that is running through the room. I will conclude by saying that I guess I just didn't like how Roach approached her topic. I was hoping for more about a subject that I admit there can be very little about. I will give Roach's other books a go. Especially her new one about space travel to Mars. Space travel, at least, can actually be looked examined factually by science. Maybe I expected too much of this book (especially considering the limitations I admit a book about death MUST have), or perhaps I just truly don't care for Roach as an author. Time will tell.(less)