What was it like to be German during the Fuhrer’s reign? Not a member of the elite, but one of the powerless? How many times have people outside Germa...moreWhat was it like to be German during the Fuhrer’s reign? Not a member of the elite, but one of the powerless? How many times have people outside Germany pondered whether or not they would have gone along with the crowd, whether they would have drunk the Kool-Aid? The Book Thief explores that idea in unexpected and deep ways.
This is a gorgeously written book. The prose sometimes stopped me cold just long enough to savor it before moving forward. Not so often that it got in the way of the story, just often enough to make this book of difficult subject matter lush and beautiful.
Death’s point of view is fascinating. It gives just enough distance and subjective thought to keep the story from getting too intense. Yes, I love intense emotion in books, and this had its moments. But the use of Death as a character was a profound and appropriate choice, for he brought vision and distance in moments when it was needed. Again, five stars.(less)
Finally, in desperation, I shout back at those annoyi...more"I love the feel and weight and smell of books."
"Save trees. Read ebooks."
Finally, in desperation, I shout back at those annoying voices in my head, Can't we all just get along?!?
And we can, because as you will discover once you own an ereader, too-- it's not a battle between ways of reading, it's not an either/or, but a brand new "AND" way to read books. A way to read books that allows you to adjust the font to the most comfortable size, that makes an entire library lightweight and easy to take with you, a way of reading where nobody knows whether you're reading classic or erotica, literature or genre, nobody can judge you by the cover of your book, just for starters.
Which brings me back to the disassembling and new creation of personal library. Paperbacks and hardcovers have gone to Half-Price Books and charities by the boxful. I still have 6 or 8 bookshelves, mind you. And some boxes of books. But as many as I still have, I did have three or four times as many. Today I brought out a box of "keepers" and realized out of 30 or 40, only 4 were true keepers, and those only until I can replace them with something more worth keeping.
One of those books is a battered, five-times read paperback, My Name Is Asher Lev. And in my ongoing effort to build a personal library that truly represents what I love and/or find fascinating (or need for research purposes) rather than every book I've ever purchased in my life, I am going to upgrade this paperback to a hardcover, once I find one.
I hadn't added it to my goodreads library until today. This is what I said about it:
This book grabbed me by the throat with the first sentence, the first two paragraphs:
[caption id="attachment_3678" align="alignleft" width="215" caption="Painting by Chaim Potok"][/caption]
"My name is Asher Lev, the Asher Lev, about whom you have read in newspapers and magazines, about whom you talk so much at your dinner affairs and cocktail parties, the notorious and legendary Lev of the Brooklyn Crucifixion.
I am an observant Jew. Yes, of course Jews do not paint crucifixions. As a matter of fact, observant Jews do not paint at all--in theway that I am painting. So strong words are being written and spoken about me, myths are being generated: I am a traitor, an aspostate, a self-hater, an inflicter of shame upon my family, my friends, my people; also, I am a mocker of ideas sacred to Christians, a blasphemous manipulator of modes and forms revered by Gentiles for two thousand years."
As a writer who comes from a deeply religious family, I identified with the issues in Asher Lev's life, though his struggles were more profound than mine. How many times did I find myself approaching an idea, a scene, an action, even a word, with the voice in my mind, "What is he going to say about this?" or "Wait until she reads this part!" and the 9-year-old girl cringed and the adult writer wrote it anyway. So yes, I identified so totally with the struggles, even as I was fascinated by the world and issues that were alien to me.
I was introduced to Chaim Potok by The Chosen, another favorite. But My Name is Asher Lev touched me in a deeper way.
I read this right after it won the Prize and was blown away. I do love Chabon's work. Recently I decided to start collecting hardcover editions of the...moreI read this right after it won the Prize and was blown away. I do love Chabon's work. Recently I decided to start collecting hardcover editions of the Pulitzer Prize winners that I love bunches. I already had several, but this one just arrived today. Now, to figure out where to put them (and gather them all together). See? Buying a Kindle did not stop me from buying real books.(less)
I loved this book. Having grown up with the movie musical South Pacific as one of my favorites, I was thrilled to finally read the source material. Wr...moreI loved this book. Having grown up with the movie musical South Pacific as one of my favorites, I was thrilled to finally read the source material. Written before Michener decided to start every novel at the moment of creation, and before he started loading his books with all sorts of historical minutia as well as story.(less)
**spoiler alert** This is an audiobook. I had around ten to choose from on audible and went with this reader, Amanda Root, because she has a young voi...more**spoiler alert** This is an audiobook. I had around ten to choose from on audible and went with this reader, Amanda Root, because she has a young voice and Jane Eyre is a young character. Only a few minutes in, I'm approving of my choice.
I either read Jane Eyre in high school, or pretended to read it. I only recall not liking it. So, I'm giving it another shot. Let's see how this works out!
I can see why I didn't find it as romantic as some of my friends in high school. I was shallow, what can I say? I didn't see anything wonderful about Mr Rochester, and I certainly didn't see anything wonderful about her going to take care of him after his injuries. I have only the vaguest memories of it which may be because I was ill during that year and missed a lot of school. So I may have simply skived off on this one. OTOH, I don't retain much when I don't like something so it's possible I read every word and forgot it as soon as the essay was written/test was taken. What I do recall specifically is the book being discussed in class.
Okay, so this time around? Great book. I understand it now, and how compelling a love story it is. Jane is so strong, and stands up for what she believes in. Rochester is just a cross, crotchety marvel, and I love their dialogue and their relationship.
When I was drawing to the close, she was approaching his home where he'd hidden away, I couldn't see how there could be so much left. It seemed like this had to be the end, and what was going to happen to draw it out so much longer? (The problem with being a writer, I suppose, looking at pace and wondering if it would drag and get tedious before the final amen, so to speak, and I say that w/o intending to reflect upon the religious nature of the final amen, so to speak, ahem.)
But it was perfect. To see that he was still the same Rochester, still the same cross, crotchety marvel, and that she was still the strong Jane that knew exactly how to handle him--and to see the chemistry between them--was necessary, and part of what makes this book so grand.
All I knew was that this was the rock-and-roll-American-Culture-post-Baby-Boomer book that won the National Book Critics Circle Award, and that intrig...moreAll I knew was that this was the rock-and-roll-American-Culture-post-Baby-Boomer book that won the National Book Critics Circle Award, and that intrigued me, but not enough to actually make a priority or reading it.
I love gimmicks when they work. This collection of tangentially related short stories has a gimmick that works brilliantly--but don't go looking for it, because it won't work or even make sense out of context. It also made it difficult to read on my Kindle, but if it hadn't be so easily available on my Kindle, I wouldn't have gone out of my way to read it, so there ya go.
Finally, when trying to decide how many stars to give it I decided on four because--I recognize why it won the award and I have no quibbles about that at all. But in the final analysis I won't be buying this book in hardcover just to "possess" it, so from my personal pov, it's a really good book and I'm glad I read it, but it's not one I cherish.
One more thought--it's hard for me to imagine this working as an audiobook because each short story is about a different character with very distinctive styles and voices. And I do think it would read best as a real book because of the one chapter I mentioned. I could read it on the Kindle but I'm thinking a lot of people might not be able to. Maybe people with other ereaders would have different reactions.