This book makes me laugh myself sick every time I read it. Blood Work and La Nuit of the Dead are put together so perfectly. Sedaris creates a series...moreThis book makes me laugh myself sick every time I read it. Blood Work and La Nuit of the Dead are put together so perfectly. Sedaris creates a series of misguided attempts at human connection that seem doomed to fail through selfishness or insecurity, but somehow don’t. Sedaris is so good at exposing the frailty of those emotional connections without ever doubting that they can still sustain our relationships. He makes me relate to even the most impossibly awkward and painful situations. Every time I read it I think, “That’s so ME!” And then realize that I’m not a gay man living in rural France, fearing zombies and drowning a mouse in a bucket at midnight. And yet somehow I can still not only relate to the situation, but feel the familiarity of it. The parts about his brother make me miss my brother horribly. Sedaris is so great at showing that most of our love for each other doesn’t lie in our similarities, but in the strength of our shared history and our sheer will to maintain the relationship. This can seem either damaged and pathetic or comforting and hopeful. I’m going with the latter. (less)
I've really been enjoying following the Kingsolver family as they prepare for and live through a year of eating only food that's been locally grown or...moreI've really been enjoying following the Kingsolver family as they prepare for and live through a year of eating only food that's been locally grown or processed. As usual there's a lot of humor and complete awareness of personal weakness and failure. I really appreaciate that, given they go into the project with a lot of money and resources than are available to the majority of the population. Since I'm already fairly educated about modern issues surrounding the American food supply, I found the beginning of the book a bit preachy. I just wanted her to get to the gardening and the chickens. But it's definitely valuable information for the general population, and it paints a scary picture of ACTUAL cost of the foods we eat in human and environmental terms. But what's really charming about the book is watching an intelligent, loving, and committed family undertake a difficult project together. In my dreamier moments I wish they'd adopt me so I could live in the hills of Kentucky growing my own food. But to be honest, I'm sure they would wake me at 4AM to milk some goat and I'd tell them off like the psycho misanthrope I am and shuffle off to the nearest McDonalds for a Big Mac. I gotta be me.(less)
Anytime anyone askes me why we should be concerned about GMOs, I tell them to read this book. Although its kooky story could be interpreted in many wa...moreAnytime anyone askes me why we should be concerned about GMOs, I tell them to read this book. Although its kooky story could be interpreted in many ways, I like to think Kurt was telling us to stop jerking around our food supply. And that our failure to see the obvious connections between our thoughtless and completely self-serving actions (inserting animal and bacterial genes into plants to create specific effects) and their possible unintended consequences (declining populations of polinators and pesticide tainted groundwater) will be the end of our world. Nobody else gives us such a funny, horrifying and enthusiastic send off as Vonnegut. He was a genius.(less)
Excellent! Very satisfying, and I was happy to learn the history behind certain characters' decisions. I thought Rowling brought things together nicel...moreExcellent! Very satisfying, and I was happy to learn the history behind certain characters' decisions. I thought Rowling brought things together nicely, and that Harry's act of self sacrifice was beautifully done. Having Harry's winning move be a nonviolent action was brilliant. Rowling really serves the idea that heroism isn't in the fight, it's in the love of friends and family and the willingness to put the group's needs before your own. That's such an important message right now and I applaud Rowling for making it such an important part of the story. If you're interested in the modern definition of heroism and how it needs to be reshaped for a better future, visit Martin Firrell's public art project "Hero: the Future of Gods, Icons and Heroes" at
My favorite moment in the book… when Ron is ashamed of bolting and tells Harry that Dumbledore must have given him the lighter thing because he knew that Ron would run away. And Harry reassures him that it's actually because Dumbledore knew Ron would want to come back. I gotta tell ya… I think it’s very brave to stay and fight, but it’s pretty amazing to run away and then have the courage to come back and face the battle. I just love Ron. Not as much as Snape, but close.
My only gripe with this book is the same gripe with every HP book since the first one... Why didn't some editor step up and whip these books into shape? Every writer needs an editor, whether they think so or not. It's sad that such a wonderful story should suffer in parts because of that over site. But on the whole, the series is fantastic and I can't wait to share it with my son.(less)
An interesting and enthusiastic examination of illegal foods, drinks, and more. At it's best moments it's a food adventure, exploring forbidden luxuri...moreAn interesting and enthusiastic examination of illegal foods, drinks, and more. At it's best moments it's a food adventure, exploring forbidden luxuries around the world and how they came to be outlawed. He examines the connections between history, politics, and basic human fears and takes them apart under the premise that we don't need to be protected from our own vices. The segments on absinthe and assisted suicide are my personal favorites. He does occasionally come off as the ugly American, flaunting his rule-breaking rebel ways. And when he does finally sample many of the items, he almost always does it as an outsider with his own countrymen. He never fully immerses himself in the culture to experience the food within its larger context. I would have liked a little more courage and personal connection to the countries he visited.(less)
I think most people want to believe that their actions are important and have meaning, but only so far as this belief doesn’t make them feel guilty or...moreI think most people want to believe that their actions are important and have meaning, but only so far as this belief doesn’t make them feel guilty or require real sacrifice. But to truly see the bigger picture… to see yourself as an irreplaceable and integral part of a larger network affecting the world is terrifying because then you're personally accountable. And to act within that knowledge and for the true benefit of others requires real courage and faith.
I think Owen Meany does a wonderful job showing how real, actionable faith is a huge responsibility and not always the comfort it’s promised to be. But once you see and understand and appreciate the connections between yourself, your family and friends, and the larger world, how can you not move toward right action? Maybe the sacrifice isn’t always rewarded and the good guys don’t win and nobody notices your work, but the real payoff is knowing that you’re never alone. That those connections will always give you strength. I’m an atheist, so where Owen sees God, I see community and family. But it’s still the same message.(less)
Not my favorite King story of all time, but I do think the exploration of the very intimate vocabulary of marriage and family is remarkable. I know th...moreNot my favorite King story of all time, but I do think the exploration of the very intimate vocabulary of marriage and family is remarkable. I know the use of slang by different groups is a way to strengthen solidarity as well as maintain the exclusive power of the group. But I think King does a great job showing how that works in other types of relationships. It’s a got a big wrap-everything-up finish, but I just wasn’t blown away. He just didn't show me very much to like about Lisey's husband before portraying him as a completely self-distructive and manipulative looney. As King notes, the heart of the story is the marriage, and the marriage didn't seem that great to me. (less)
This is my favorite Stephen King book, and really one of my all-time favorites. It absolutely aches with loneliness and the burden of personal respons...moreThis is my favorite Stephen King book, and really one of my all-time favorites. It absolutely aches with loneliness and the burden of personal responsibility. It’s one of my favorite themes for books and movies… to what extent are we obligated to use our personal talents to make the world a better place? How much isolation and personal sacrifice is enough? It’s got its monster scary moments, but the real horror is in the ordinary moments of loss and doubt and grief. I mean really… how much can one guy take?(less)
This is another of my favorite books. Surprise, surprise… it’s sad. Again, how much can one guy take? This is just a gorgeous and heartbreaking examin...moreThis is another of my favorite books. Surprise, surprise… it’s sad. Again, how much can one guy take? This is just a gorgeous and heartbreaking examination of how one damaged man can evolve from being an angry, self-centered prick into a loving, supportive, and healthy human being. Society is paying a huge price for the subversion of men’s emotional health. Arrogance and aggression are prized as “manly”, while compassion and self-awareness are seen as weak. Like Victor Hugo’s _Les Miserables_, this book is journey from isolation into community, from anger to acceptance, and from self-loathing to love. It’s just beautiful. I’ve read it four times and it just keeps getting better. (less)