Ishmael Beah was born in 1980 in Sierra Leone, and this is his completely horrifying and quite amazing tale of survival and rehabilitation from being...moreIshmael Beah was born in 1980 in Sierra Leone, and this is his completely horrifying and quite amazing tale of survival and rehabilitation from being robbed of his childhood and being turned into a killing machine as a child soldier, in a kill or be killed world.
Many reviews mention how hard this book is to read and how sad they feel that this happens. This is understandable, as this is the most graphically violent book i have read, and moreover it is a memoir so it holds extra weight. What's missing is discussion of Beah's remarkable ability to tell such a harrowing, tragic painful story in such a clear, compelling way in which you as a reader, though horrified, connect with Ishmael the character and agree to trust him and go on this journey. Beah's writing is often beautiful and ominous. It is hard to imagine surviving what he did, and even harder to I aging writing a story as good as this one.
This story is certainly a Dantesque descent into hell, and the pain of rehabilitation and the striking compassion and humanity and self-sacrifice of those who worked to give new life to the child soldiers is one of the most emotionally wrought parts of the book. When I began this book, I expected even more of this part of the story, and wanted to know more about the path to becoming a human after such inhuman experiences, but the book ends somewhat abruptly.
One of the aspects of this book that I connected with most is Beah's love of music. Through the first half of his journey before he becomes a soldier, he carries one of his prized possessions with him: a cassette tape of Naughty by Nature. Music plays a part in his rehabilitation, too, and is the only way that a woman trying to help him can make that first connection and begin to gain his trust. Because music is so tied to how we understand time, this really drove home for me that Beah and I are pretty much the same age and all of this was going on across the globe while I was plodding through junior high and high school. In Beah's story, I was reminded of the extreme power of music to help us connect with others, to give us food for our souls, and to help us heal.(less)
I have no idea if this book is dated, but I found that it was, surprisingly, a page turner. This book is fast to read in part because of the engaging...moreI have no idea if this book is dated, but I found that it was, surprisingly, a page turner. This book is fast to read in part because of the engaging writing and content, in part because it prompts you to ask yourself questions and consider scenarios, and in part because it is written in short sections and subsections. This book focuses on continuing issues of race and privilege in the US, but it also allowed me to consider all sorts of assumptions I need to question. The biggest takeaway is that it is important to have uncomfortable conversations, even if that means someone gets upset or offended. It's better to ask questions and talk rather then pent up feelings inside. This book is very worthy of a read.(less)
Before finishing: I have a bad habit of judging books before I finish them, but this offers great tips on how to connect with and transform your audie...moreBefore finishing: I have a bad habit of judging books before I finish them, but this offers great tips on how to connect with and transform your audience through presentations that incorporate storytelling skills and strategic awareness of who is in your audience.
Pretty great! Wish I had read this before my UCLA portfolio presentation.
After finishing: Overall, inspiring, gives a lot of food for thought in terms of telling a story through a presentation. The tips could extend into other realms, such as research papers and other forms of communication.
Great for anyone interested in oral and visual rhetoric and anyone who thinks they hate powerpoint.(less)
If you love Clinton and What Not to Wear, if you love learning how to dress better, and if you want to be distracted for an hour and laugh a bit, this...moreIf you love Clinton and What Not to Wear, if you love learning how to dress better, and if you want to be distracted for an hour and laugh a bit, this book is for you. I admit, I was a bit shocked at Clinton's HBO language that I do not hear on TLC, but this was fun and will certainly make me even more judgmental about people's fashion choices than I was before.
This is the most embarrassing book cover EVER! But so far the discussions and advice are spot on and perfect for a prospective or new school librarian...moreThis is the most embarrassing book cover EVER! But so far the discussions and advice are spot on and perfect for a prospective or new school librarian.(less)
This book was on a recommended reading list in preparation for a leadership institute. I'd heard many positive reviews of Gladwell's books, so I tried...moreThis book was on a recommended reading list in preparation for a leadership institute. I'd heard many positive reviews of Gladwell's books, so I tried this one out. Either my expectations were too high or the book just didn't pay out. Much like when I read Reality Hunger by David Shields, I was at first riveted and then lost steam midway through, and by the end I was a little annoyed at the seemingly pithy takeaways. Gladwell explores word-of-mouth epidemics and how trends and ideas spread. And yet, each interesting anecdote remains just that. The hodgepodge of examples of marketing campaigns and scientific studies left me without much to grab hold on except that there are mavens, connectors and salesmen who are all important to ideas spreading (until, at one point, they tip). The engaging ideas presented in this book are hindered by the quick, easy to read and digest format. And while all of the stories are interesting and very engaging, it is hard to know what we as readers are to take away.(less)
I'm not sure what to make of Reality Hunger. The first 100 pages I was entranced and interested in the interwoven original text and quotes that could...moreI'm not sure what to make of Reality Hunger. The first 100 pages I was entranced and interested in the interwoven original text and quotes that could only be sourced through endnotes or recognition.
This is a manifesto. How can a manifesto be such without being somewhat irritating? By the 2nd half of the book, I began to tire of what felt like Shields Quotations rather than Pascal's Pensees. Shields basically says, "What moron would be captivated by mere storytelling?"
Frankly, the whole "novel is dead" is about as interesting as dead books or paperless offices: a nice thought experiment, but with little evidence from the masses to support it.
Shields critiques Girl Talk's mashup gimmick because it gets old quickly. And yet he falls prey to the same gimmick. But worse, he does it in a high-browed, elitist way.
Appeals: discussion of the blurred line between fiction and non-fiction, many delicious quotes.(less)
Great, engaging, thought-provoking essays and remembrances of James Baldwin. I wish I had read Native Son and Uncle Tom's Cabin before this to have co...moreGreat, engaging, thought-provoking essays and remembrances of James Baldwin. I wish I had read Native Son and Uncle Tom's Cabin before this to have context. And I wish I had read more of James Baldwin's work. I found his explorations of being black in America vs. being black in Paris vs. being black in a small mountain town in Switzerland poignant. This is really and exploration of alienation and displacement in so many ways.(less)
You might read this book to get the foodie inside view of Ruth Reichl's rise to a food writer for the LA times, knowing that she would then go on to b...moreYou might read this book to get the foodie inside view of Ruth Reichl's rise to a food writer for the LA times, knowing that she would then go on to be the food editor for the NY Times and then Gourmet (R.I.P.). But this book was a fantastic whirlwind for another reason: after meeting Ruth in Tender at the Bone and then jumping forward to her riotous life of disguises in order to eat in NYC incognito in Garlic and Sapphires, Comfort Me With Apples astounded me for the soap-opera-like plot of Ruth's life. From a seemingly comfortable marriage, we see Ruth have wild, scandalous affairs with other men, endure the tragedy of the death of a family member, and we witness a most painful international custody battle for a child. Oh my! I almost forgot this was a food book and felt like I was reading the foodie version of People magazine. Heartbreak, scandal, bad behavior, and of course celebrity cameos: Alice Waters, Wolfgang Puck, MFK Fisher, and Ruth Reichl herself.
This is the most fun I've had in a long time.(less)
Genesis is one of the more exciting books of the Bible. This Crumb illustrated version of the text should be doubly exciting, and it sometimes is. But...moreGenesis is one of the more exciting books of the Bible. This Crumb illustrated version of the text should be doubly exciting, and it sometimes is. But it is also a reminder of how BORING parts of the Bible really are and how disjointed it is. The stories we know are the good ones, the rest should really be edited out; although, the visual depiction of all the begots was surprisingly interesting.
Crumb made the decision to stick to the text, which highlights the disjointedness of the [supposedly:] greatest story ever told. This decision left me itching for visual segues and for cropping the boring parts of the tale.
Every time I read stories from the Bible, I find it alternately exciting and mindnumbingly boring, with too much of the latter. Oddly, this is also how I felt slogging through the Twilight series. Go figure.(less)
Made to Stick is about why we all know the story of the guy who wakes up in a bathtub full of ice and discovers that his kidney was stolen. We know th...moreMade to Stick is about why we all know the story of the guy who wakes up in a bathtub full of ice and discovers that his kidney was stolen. We know this story and may or may not know if it's real. That part doesn't matter. It sticks.
This is a nice reminder of how to communicate effectively. What did I take away? Stories and concrete ideas stick more than abstractions. Don't bury the lede. Use analogy and comparison to give your audience something to latch on to, especially with statistics.
Finally, most importantly, keep your curse of knowledge in check.
Recommended for the following people: educators, writers, managers, and anyone planning on giving a presentation.
Appeals: easy to follow, easy to imagine application, examples from many different kinds of industries, cool cover that looks and feels like it has a piece of duct tape on it.(less)