I started this book thinking it would be my new Favorite Book of All Time Ever. Rome is my favorite city on earth, I love Anthony Doerr's writing, memI started this book thinking it would be my new Favorite Book of All Time Ever. Rome is my favorite city on earth, I love Anthony Doerr's writing, memoir is my favorite genre, and thoughtful reflections on parenting young children totally do it for me. I figured this would be like Adam Gopnik's Paris to the Moon--only better.
With those sky-high expectations, I was bound to be at least a little disappointed. This book was lovely to read--very sweet, thoughtful, poetic and all that--but I had no problem putting it down after fifteen or twenty minute stints. The narrative arcs are more like speed bumps; they're so small you practically don't notice they're even present. Mostly Doerr spends the book meditating dreamily on Rome, parenthood, and other random intersections between life and location.
This book is sweet, dreamy, and easy to put down--perfect before bedtime....more
Stephanie Nielson is an amazing person, and her book is a complete inspiration.
This book made me think about the power of community and family. I havStephanie Nielson is an amazing person, and her book is a complete inspiration.
This book made me think about the power of community and family. I have often heard Utah criticized for being a "bubble," but that bubble nurtured Stephanie and gave her a life full of beauty, love, and relationships. When her world came crashing down, that bubble of a faith-filled community and family sustained her. I believe her inner resilience and beauty are attributes that developed prior to her accident; her family and community infused her with goodness, and when she faced great suffering and trial, that goodness blossomed and came to the forefront in a spiritually spectacular way.
Actually, this memoir reminded me strongly of Elizabeth Smart's memoir. She also led a sheltered childhood filled with family goodness, and when her beautiful spirit came face to face with terror and evil, she also spiritually triumphed. I think Stephanie and Elizabeth are reflections of the resiliency of the human spirit AND also evidence that loving families and communities can literally carry a soul through suffering.
This book made me shed tears and feel ultimately uplifted. I don't have any criticism at all except to wish her near death experiences had been more fleshed out. ...more
Heidi Julavits' NPR interview charmed me into reading this book. After hearing and reading about how brilliant Heidi is, I had high expectations. HerHeidi Julavits' NPR interview charmed me into reading this book. After hearing and reading about how brilliant Heidi is, I had high expectations. Her diary did not disappoint; it was both beautiful and brave. Each entry follows a similar formula of stories and tangents that Heidi ties up symmetrically by articulating an irony, absurdity, or probing thematic zinger (and occasionally an expression of wonder).
As a reader with a very different worldview than Heidi's, I also found this book to be a slight challenge to read. After thinking about how hard it was for me not to actually disdain Heidi at times, I realized that my problem was a credit to her attempt at transparency (not to mention a poor reflection on my own reflexes). She left herself open and vulnerable to criticism, and she admitted to experiences and feelings that would have shamed the average hypocrite.
In the world of social media, it seems like a lot of people try airing dirty laundry and write transparently about personal flaws in an attempt to come to terms with themselves and seek assurance that they are still lovable. I did not get the sense that Heidi had any goal in mind other than to capture of her ever changing self conception and explore the theme of selfhood over--and back through--time. ...more
In perfect honesty, almost all of the literary and musical allusions in this book were completely unfamiliar to me. Coates constantly threads poetic aIn perfect honesty, almost all of the literary and musical allusions in this book were completely unfamiliar to me. Coates constantly threads poetic allusions to African American literature and music into his writing, and so this book felt a little over my head. At times, there were so many allusions flying everywhere that I actually struggled to comprehend what he was saying. Considering the works he alludes to were so obscure that his father had to actually run a printing press out of his own basement to get these books into some sort of circulation, I suspect that my struggle to grasp the meaning of these allusions is shared by most other readers.
That said, the book is perfectly named. Even if I didn't understand everything Coates was saying, I could still sense that I was reading something beautiful and important. I also noticed that Coates' most poetic, lyrical, and allusion-filled passages all related to the horrors of growing up in Baltimore during a crack epidemic. When he relocates to another school--and later to a suburb--the memoir pivots from slam poetry and takes a turn toward straight narrative. More than anything, that stylistic shift indicates the emotional depth and traumas contained in the first half of the book.
With all that is going on in the country regarding race relations, I feel that the voice of Ta-Nehisi Coates is one worth hearing. I certainly understand the current struggle differently after having read this book.
Loved this book! Gretchen Rubin is an amazing woman. I can not believe how much she manages to read and accomplish in her daily life, and even thoughLoved this book! Gretchen Rubin is an amazing woman. I can not believe how much she manages to read and accomplish in her daily life, and even though one of her main rules is to be yourself, this book made me long to be more like her! ...more
I wish I had read this BEFORE reading "The Lovely Bones." I think I would have understood that book better if I had known the author's personal experiI wish I had read this BEFORE reading "The Lovely Bones." I think I would have understood that book better if I had known the author's personal experience of rape. Either way, though, I really didn't like either book. It seems unfair to pass judgment on how a rape victim deals with her trauma, so I will only say this: I didn't identify with the author's mindset at all, and I found it ironic that someone so seemingly reflective could be so baffled by her friend Lila's rejection of her. (Lila also experienced rape, and when the author pressured her to deal with her rape in the same way the author did, Lila moved out and found new friends. Can you blame her???)...more
This was practically a near death experience--minus the dying part. The last survivor pulled from the rubble of 9/11, Genelle emerges from her experieThis was practically a near death experience--minus the dying part. The last survivor pulled from the rubble of 9/11, Genelle emerges from her experience a changed woman. Her book reads like a love letter to God, and it was beautiful to see that good can come out of unspeakably horrific experiences. ...more
I read this book years ago, but I had forgotten how remarkable this book is. This book powerfully illustrates what it means to have a vibrant relationI read this book years ago, but I had forgotten how remarkable this book is. This book powerfully illustrates what it means to have a vibrant relationship with Christ and a life altering commitment to Christianity. ...more
Okay, I know I might get in trouble for saying this, but I sympathize with Amy Chua. I keep seeing all the flak this remarkable woman (re: former editOkay, I know I might get in trouble for saying this, but I sympathize with Amy Chua. I keep seeing all the flak this remarkable woman (re: former editor of Harvard Law Review, current law professor at Yale, mother of two musical prodigies and math whizzes, and the list continues...) is getting for being honest about her parenting methods, and it really disheartens me. Why are David Brooks and other otherwise respectable reviewers wasting time calling Chua names when the real criticism should be leveled at parents who actually neglect or abuse their children? Some people have said that Chua's parental methods count as child abuse, but if you read what Chua's children actually have to say, it's obvious they feel they've been taught how to fulfill their personal potential, and they credit their mom with teaching them that.
Also, I can't believe how people could read this book and not understand that Chua has an awesome sense of self-deprecating humor. I read the book sitting in a chair at a bookstore, and I laughed out loud so often that the people around me probably thought I was a little crazy. Chua is reflective, insightful, and SO funny (especially in the chapter when she talked about how she tried to apply her parental methods to her dog!). Granted, the NY Times article that generated so much publicity for the book spliced pieces of the book together and did not include any of the humor that pervades the actual book; it's understandable how the article could leave a bad taste in someone's mouth. (In fact, my husband was so disturbed after I read the article out loud to him that he felt upset for the rest of the evening--I can see how others who hear Chua's stories and don't have any personal experience with "Chinese parenting" might have similar reactions.)
All in all, this is a thought provoking, funny, and poignant read about one extraordinary woman's experience of cross cultural parenting in the States. Highly, highly recommend....more
I found Animal, Vegetable, Miracle to be in the vein of Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. It was a classic wake-up call to the perils of the corpoI found Animal, Vegetable, Miracle to be in the vein of Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. It was a classic wake-up call to the perils of the corporate food industry. Although I agree with most of the book's arguments, I found myself driving to McDonald's and eating some McNuggets in the interest of humility preservation. There is an unsettling undercurrent of self-righteousness that pervades the book, but Kingsolver's passion for locavorism (?) is, if slightly preachy, quite persuasive....more