This book is a fictional take on the perils of polygamy as practiced by the historical Latter Day Saints (aka Mormons) and the current community of th...moreThis book is a fictional take on the perils of polygamy as practiced by the historical Latter Day Saints (aka Mormons) and the current community of the "Firsts." The latter group broke off from the main church when then LDS President and Prophet Woodruff issued the 1890 Manifesto renouncing the practice. Ebershoff weaves two storylines together with historically inspired "documents" regarding Brigham Young's "Nineteenth" wife, Ann Eliza Young, and the contemporary tale of a young "lost boy" who strives to solve a murder and clear his mother's name.
The stories were compelling enough to keep me engaged until the end, however a number of times I found myself annoyed with the pattern (or lack thereof) Ebershoff utilized in going back and forth between the two stories. The narrative seemed to drag a bit toward the end and then all of a sudden all the loose ends were tied without much fanfare.
I really enjoyed this pagan utopian novel written in the early 90's and set around 2050 in California. It's environmental warnings seem eerily prescie...moreI really enjoyed this pagan utopian novel written in the early 90's and set around 2050 in California. It's environmental warnings seem eerily prescient as we encounter increasing signs of a significantly shifting climate. I remained engaged throughout the entire novel, interested in the unfolding outcomes for both the main characters and the communities we come to know along the way. A heads up for southern California readers, in painting her vision of wholeness, Starhawk relies on a very dualistic framework. Consequently, the LA basin and the southern half of the state are home to all the evildoers and the Bay Area is home to the society that will save us. Since I do hold a northern California bias, this works for me. :-)
One thought I take away from the novel relates to the book's title. Spirit is the fifth sacred thing and achievable only when we are in alignment with the first four. These first four - earth, air, fire, and water - are sacred because all living things need them to survive. Consequently, no one is allowed to own or profit from them. This is a powerful teaching that I wish didn't seem quite so radical in this day and age. (less)
I really enjoyed the structure of this book. The entire novel is narrated by Changez, a smart, outgoing Pakistani man, who engages a mysterious Americ...moreI really enjoyed the structure of this book. The entire novel is narrated by Changez, a smart, outgoing Pakistani man, who engages a mysterious American in conversation over the course of a single afternoon/evening in Lahore, Pakistan.
We are privy only to one side of the conversation between the men, as Changez shares reflections on his time living in the United States - receiving a higher education, gaining employment and experiencing love and its loss. We never hear the voice of the American and get only glimpses of his personality and purpose for being in this part of the world through the perceptions of the narrator.
At first, it seemed somewhat odd to have the novel described as a "psychological thriller." However as Changez's story unfolds, the tension mounts between the characters and the approaching ending becomes increasingly fraught and uncertain.
Given its creative, conversational structure and compelling narrative, I found Hamid's book a quick, engaging read. I recommend it highly. (less)
This is the common read selection for incoming students at Mills this fall. It's a striking argument of why empowering women world-wide is an issue of...moreThis is the common read selection for incoming students at Mills this fall. It's a striking argument of why empowering women world-wide is an issue of global importance. It is not a "women's issue," but a human rights issue that has economic, educational and social implications for every nation on earth.
Kristof and WuDunn do a fine job of addressing key issues through research and first person stories. They also provide tangible suggestions that individuals and groups can take in creating effective, sustainable change.(less)
I sought out this book after listening to an interview with the author on NPR's "All Things Considered." It sounded like a compelling story. A young m...moreI sought out this book after listening to an interview with the author on NPR's "All Things Considered." It sounded like a compelling story. A young man returns from Iraq a hero, having been captured on film taking the lead in a deadly firefight. The footage airs on network television and inspires the nation, so much so that Billy Lynn and his unit are called back from the field for a PR victory tour of the States. So we spend the day with Billy and Bravo company as they are special guests at the Dallas Cowboys stadium for a Thanksgiving Day football game.
The saving element that kept me with the book was every now and then getting an illuminating glimpse of the internal world and reflections of 19 year old Billy Lynn. But mostly the prose was a chaotic, profanity-filled mess. I'm aware this was an intentional stylistic choice by the author, however it didn't work for me. I found it clunky and distracting, as opposed to effectively in creating a "mood." In this regard, I feel James Frey was much more effective in evoking a frenetic energy with his unconventional writing style in "A Million Little Pieces."(less)
It feels like a bit of a shelving error to place this book on the read bookshelf. To me "read," implies that I actually finished the book. Hence, the...moreIt feels like a bit of a shelving error to place this book on the read bookshelf. To me "read," implies that I actually finished the book. Hence, the construction of my own little "in limbo" shelf.
I picked up this book many times out of persistence and a sense of obligation (I had checked it out from the library, after all). However I never felt compelled to keep it in hand, as I didn't find a narrative thread worth following or a character I was interested to engage. I imagine the latter was true as the author seemed to be primarily engaged in offering a snarky perspective of her mother. (less)
Yes, I'm one of those forty-something women who was a HUGE fan of the "Little House on the Prairie" TV show growing up. And since I really enjoy memoi...moreYes, I'm one of those forty-something women who was a HUGE fan of the "Little House on the Prairie" TV show growing up. And since I really enjoy memoirs, I thought it would be fun to get the scoop from the actress who played Nellie Oleson.
It was an easy read, not particularly compelling or illuminating, though I appreciated Arngrim's personal story. If you wouldn't be interested/amused by the connections to "Little House," it probably isn't worth your while.(less)
"People of the Book" has a bit of the detective mystery to it. You follow the lead character, Hannah, a conservator of ancient manuscripts who is exam...more"People of the Book" has a bit of the detective mystery to it. You follow the lead character, Hannah, a conservator of ancient manuscripts who is examining leads she discovered in her examination of the Sarajevo Haggadah. This unique text used by Jewish families to recount the Exodus story each Passover Seder has experienced its own unique journey as it survived over 500 years and multiple efforts to destroy it, along with its handlers (e.g., Spanish Inquisition, Holocaust, Bosnian War).
Brooks not only introduces you to Hannah, but each chapter involves a set of characters who are connected to the book and its travels. Jewish, Christian and Muslim individuals whose lives are touched by the book and tossed by the chaos in their societies. While there is an actual Sarajevo Haggadah with an intriguing composition and history, the majority of the novel emerges from Brooks' imagination.
So why did I just "like" it and not "really like it" in terms of awarding my rating of stars above. I am a stickler when it comes to vocabulary. When I find myself repeatedly reading a familiar word or turn of phrase, I get annoyed. I suppose I interpret it as laziness or lack of inspiration on the author's part. Regardless, it is an intrusion of the other (i.e., author) in the story.
However, Brooks does really offer something for everyone: interesting characters, a bit of the "whodunit?"and rich historical and cultural information - particularly in terms of religious practice and conflict. I suppose I'd suggest anyone give it a try.(less)
I do love myself some young adult fiction. While the Hunger Games is no Harry Potter series, it does have a compelling storyline and protagonist.
I wa...moreI do love myself some young adult fiction. While the Hunger Games is no Harry Potter series, it does have a compelling storyline and protagonist.
I was immediately struck by the gruesome context of the story. Twelve districts in the nation of Panem are forced each year by the ruling Capitol to select by lottery two of their children as "tributes" for the Hunger Games (Perhaps a little shout out to the classic short story "The Lottery.") This fight to the death requires only one person to emerge alive after slaughtering their fellow tributes.
On one hand I mused, "Kinda dark for a children's book." But then in the next thought I remembered the original Brother's Grimm fairy tales - stories which both warned and instructed children of terrors in the world. Hunger Games deals with themes of institutional inequality, responsibilities to friends and family, violence and ethics. For the most part the reader is left to make those deeper connections themselves though there are moments of insight in Collins' prose.
I'm pretty much going to finish this trilogy in less than a couple weeks. So I guess that means a thumbs up and recommendation from me.(less)
I enjoyed reading this book and actually appreciated the many trips it required me to take to the dictionary. The wordsmithing was totally appropriate...moreI enjoyed reading this book and actually appreciated the many trips it required me to take to the dictionary. The wordsmithing was totally appropriate for the main character - so I never felt the author was being obtuse just for the sake of being difficult. However, I would sometimes "zone out" a bit during particularly philosophical sections. I could have done without a chapter or two because of this. Overall, I found the book a thoughtful reflection on the meaning of life and how we choose to live it.
The end is very European (i.e., refusing to have a "happy" ending) which is fitting given it was translated from the French. Yet, I found the conclusion quietly satisfying. (less)
For some reason this title came to my mind this weekend, so I pulled the little red hardback off the bookshelf and began reading. It is an old book (p...moreFor some reason this title came to my mind this weekend, so I pulled the little red hardback off the bookshelf and began reading. It is an old book (published in 1965) - one I'd taken from my grandmother's house many, many years ago. I remembered being enthralled by it as a youngster and enjoyed it again as an adult.
How fun to be able to find it referenced on Wikipedia and learn that this story that tells of 12-year-old boy who escapes from a concentration camp and travels through Europe won the Best Scandinavian Children's Book award in 1963 and the America Library Association Notable Book award in 1965. It's also been published under the title "I am David" and was made into a movie in 2003. And here I thought a Google search would turn up little to nothing about a long out-of-print piece of young adult fiction.(less)
I enjoyed this book very much and stayed up much too late on a number of nights to keep reading. Very early in the book, Stockett hinted at a big secr...moreI enjoyed this book very much and stayed up much too late on a number of nights to keep reading. Very early in the book, Stockett hinted at a big secret, or some type of intrigue, that was to be revealed further on. I felt she did this skillfully, not in a heavy-handed fashion, so it was just one of many elements that peaked my interest and kept me reading. But mostly it was Stockwell's development of wonderful characters, description of ever-changing, complicated relationships and her use of humor that made me look forward to opportunities to sit and read. I am always appreciative of and impressed by a book that gets me to audibly chuckle or laugh at multiple points throughout the story. And I guess if it makes me cry as well - it's just a slam dunk. (less)
While higher education and student affairs folks have long studied and discussed the student development process, rarely have they discussed the aspec...moreWhile higher education and student affairs folks have long studied and discussed the student development process, rarely have they discussed the aspect of spiritual development. Consequently, this extensive, multi-year survey process - reaching over 100,000 students - is very important and useful for the field. I just wish the text wasn't so repetitive. You could pretty much read the first and last chapters and you are go to go - as they summarize all the findings and offer a few insights regarding their observations. Everything in between is a bit tedious given its repetitive nature. (less)
I really am all about the story... the story of people's lives. The authors Parker and Nakashima Brock use their own stories to illumination transform...moreI really am all about the story... the story of people's lives. The authors Parker and Nakashima Brock use their own stories to illumination transformations in their theology - explaining why the idea of salvation coming through the death of Jesus on the cross is abusive and harmful. The two trade chapters back and forth telling their story (I believe Parker is the far superior storyteller) and have invaluable insights to share. Highly recommended read for all!(less)