That's how long it took me to read Station Eleven.
That's rare for me. Usually I catch 30 to 45 minutes of reading here and there. BooksOne weekend.
That's how long it took me to read Station Eleven.
That's rare for me. Usually I catch 30 to 45 minutes of reading here and there. Books can languish on my night stand for weeks.
Within ten pages this book grabbed me by the shirt collar, thrust me into a chair and said "keep reading."
Arthur Leander, an aging Hollywood star, collapses on stage during a performance of King Lear in Toronto. Within a week, 99 percent of Earth's population has collapsed in the wake of a virulent pandemic. Station Eleven criss-crosses this threshold between the pre-pandemic and post-apocalyptic with stories of Arthur and the people in his life—his friends, family and lovers.
The irony of reading this book on a Kindle never escaped me. The author deftly inserts the reader in a very plausible worst-case scenario for our civilization. We humans are arrogant and petty—taking for granted so much in our everyday lives. I found myself in a head-space of equal parts terror and gratitude.
Shakespeare. Brandenburg Concertos. Graphic Novels. This is not your typical post-apocalyptic novel. It's tense and haunting, heartbreaking and inspiring. There are layers of complexity and meaning in these tales—well worth spending a summer weekend wandering the shores of Lake Michigan with the Traveling Symphony. ...more
A very accessible book on some basic buddhist teachings on dealing with chaos and obstacles. Pema Chodron writes, and teaches, with warmth and humor.A very accessible book on some basic buddhist teachings on dealing with chaos and obstacles. Pema Chodron writes, and teaches, with warmth and humor. I highly recommend this book for anyone "dipping their toe" into buddhist thinking and meditation practice....more
Dan Harris wanted to title this book "The voice in my head is an asshole." When I heard that line I knew I was in good hands. Harris, whose celebrityDan Harris wanted to title this book "The voice in my head is an asshole." When I heard that line I knew I was in good hands. Harris, whose celebrity has escaped me since I don't watch much television, is the perfect blend of smart-ass skeptic and spiritual seeker. The great thing about this book (essentially a memoir) is that Harris is in perfect alignment with my own cynical view and utter fascination with the world of self-help and Buddhism. His writing is sometimes overly mocking in tone but overall he really opens up about some remarkably personal stuff. To sum it up...I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who wants to quiet their "monkey mind" and learn from sincere and unaffected teachers....more
That's the one element this book lacked for me. Obviously the ending is spoiled by the book's title (and the legend it retells). YouDramatic tension.
That's the one element this book lacked for me. Obviously the ending is spoiled by the book's title (and the legend it retells). You know this Joan-gal is headed for the papacy. So as a reader you settle into your easy chair with anticipation of the very difficult journey ahead. After all, it's hard enough to become Pope for the average dark age male, think about how much harder it would be to reach this achievement as a woman.
In the end, it all seemed to easy—too predetermined. I never really felt like Joan was in mortal peril. And frankly, I wasn't sure how much I cared. My biggest pet-peeve in books is the "amazing coincidence" and this book had several of these convenient moments. Shall I spoil? (if yes, continue on).
When Joan runs afoul of her ward's jealous spouse (a character straight out of Disney's evil woman casting pool) she is betrothed to a local farmer's son. Lo and behold, she is standing at the altar about to seal her fate as a milk-maid when a band of vicious Vikings crash into the church and kill everyone in the village (who are all conveniently tucked into the church). Not only that, but the Vikings kill Joan's older brother who was about to head off to a monastery. Joan scrambles out of her hiding place, cuts her hair and dons her brother's togs. Voila! Witness protection program of the Dark Ages.
Later in the story, Joan is visited at the monastery by her father, a misogynistic priest. When the father, despite poor eye-sight, discovers Joan's ruse, he immediately moves to raise the alarm. We can't have that. Two-minutes later he is dead from a massive heart attack.
I could go on. There are just too many convenient events in this story. I lose trust in an author when they put their protagonist in danger and then offer them "easy-outs." I want to feel like the protagonist has earned the next chapter of their story.
And that's where this book falls flat for me. Ascending to the papacy, at any time in history, has been an extremely difficult career-path. I'm pretty sure the resume for that job requires a lot of intrigue, politics and back-stabbing—not for Joan. She just walks into Rome, ends up a practicing physician who treats the Pope's gout. She later becomes an advisor to the next Pope and when he dies from poisoning, ends up elected, without her knowledge, as a populist alternative to the story's bad guy, Anastasius.
All too easy.
I finished the book. That says something. There is a good story here. I felt like this could have been a much longer book and I would have been okay with that. Give me a good "Pillars of the Earth"-sized yarn with lots of characters that I am emotionally invested in and twists and turns in the plot that leave me guessing about the outcome. I would dig that.
For me, Pope Joan was too lightweight and implausible....more
Solid detective fiction, but the audio performance of Reg Cathey brings this book to life. (3 stars for the book - I liked it....but 4 starts for Mr.Solid detective fiction, but the audio performance of Reg Cathey brings this book to life. (3 stars for the book - I liked it....but 4 starts for Mr. Cathey's reading.)...more