Unlike some of my friends, I did not read this book as a child. I read this book in order to discover what sort of book had inspired the animated movi...moreUnlike some of my friends, I did not read this book as a child. I read this book in order to discover what sort of book had inspired the animated movie, Howl's Moving Castle. Fortunately, I'm not the sort of person who demands a verbatim translation between their books and movies; if so, I would have been disappointed. The book and the movie share almost as many differences as similarities.
I really enjoyed my first exposure to Hemmingway when I read his short story, Hills Like White Elephants. Reading this book has actually lessened my e...moreI really enjoyed my first exposure to Hemmingway when I read his short story, Hills Like White Elephants. Reading this book has actually lessened my enthusiasm for his writing, despite the fact that there are a few moving short stories in this collection.
Most of the stories are tragic or sad; however some of them I find myself having trouble relating to, because much of the suffering seems to be caused by a general phobia or mistrust of women. I hear that this is typical of Hemmingway -- that most of his characters seem to have trouble interacting with women, and that they also have trouble expressing themselves, much like one of the central characters in this collection of stories.
I get the feeling like I would probably have gotten more out of these short stories if I were a boy who was looking for stories about bonding with other men or bonding with my father.
Combined with the sparse narrative style and, later in the collection, a strong trend for stories of ex-patriots, I felt more estranged from this collection of stories than I felt connected. There were a few stories that I did feel touched by, but, for me, the collection was only worth reading for academic interest.(less)
This supplementary book of annotation and background info is indispensable if you are giving Ulysses a go. Keep in mind that the annotations themselve...moreThis supplementary book of annotation and background info is indispensable if you are giving Ulysses a go. Keep in mind that the annotations themselves are somewhat intimidating -- averaging a page of notes per page of Joyce's writing. Including the background and plan for each section (for example, Joyce has a character from the Odyssey, a set of colors, an organ, a theme, a time of day, etc. for each of his sections, and this is included before each section of notes), this book is actually larger than Ulysses itself. However, it enriches the text tenfold and is well worth investing in. (less)
I had been avoiding this book for several reasons. The first of these was perhaps the weighty reputation this book has for being shocking and controve...moreI had been avoiding this book for several reasons. The first of these was perhaps the weighty reputation this book has for being shocking and controversial. I was slightly afraid that the book wouldn't be as monumental as it had been built up as. The second was my initial exposure to the Kubrik film based on this book. Even the most blase 14 year old will have a strongly negative reaction to the film; the exact response it was intended to elicit, I'm sure. Finally, this book seemed to be a poltergeist that haunted my English teachers --- every time it was mentioned, those same teachers would take on a mask of otherworldly horror and admiration. They would then praise and condemn, in equal parts, its author for his demoniacally confounding use of slang. Several of my friends had even admitted to being unable to read the book. All in all, it wasn't a strongly alluring portrait of a book. It more closely resembled the challenge of a craggy cliff, with signs saying, "Do not climb -- 20,000 dead this year."
I was deeply surprised when I began reading this (during a brief jaunt as a member of the Panic! At The Disco reading club) and found it to be easily digestible and more thought-provoking than shocking. I think that in part this is due to my being a context-based vocabulary learner. I used to loathe putting down a book just to drag out a dictionary, and oddly enough this habit helped me here. However the majority of the thanks I can lay at the author's feet. This book was well paced and well written. It avoided lagging, like so many other literary classics. The central character was surprisingly easy to relate to, despite his inhumanity towards others. And this, paired with an insightful and meaningful plot, drove home the message of the book painfully well. And the final chapter, which was omitted in initial publications of this book, cinched the story shut in a way that the Kubrick film missed entirely.
Not only did I enjoy reading this book, ripping through it in only three nights, but I enjoyed sitting and thinking about it afterwards. I enjoyed discussing it. It stirred my brain in the same way that Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep did. It hit its mark where other speculative fiction books aim wide or fall short.
I would recommend this to anyone who likes to be challenged and who likes to ponder their own nature.(less)
I adored reading this journalistic account of Luca Turin and his research into the human ability to perceive scent. The author does an excellent job o...moreI adored reading this journalistic account of Luca Turin and his research into the human ability to perceive scent. The author does an excellent job of making some very technical details digestible for a non-scientific audience. I'm actually very happy with how well into a well-paced and captivating account of Turin.
The book was noticeably one-sided -- however, the author does go to good lengths to acknowledge and explain for this. (less)
It has been a long time since I sat down and read this book, and so I can barely remember a lot of my impressions and thoughts about it. However, it r...moreIt has been a long time since I sat down and read this book, and so I can barely remember a lot of my impressions and thoughts about it. However, it retains a place in my book case for several reasons.
The first reason why it will never leave my bookcase is because it contains a story called A Sound, Like Angels Singing. This story, written by an author who I had not heard of at the time (Leonard Rysdyk), is pure genius. It is visceral, haunting, and touching -- and outshines every story in this collection.
Other stories in here still recall a fond smile. The Moon Is Drowning While I Sleep by Charles de Lint is one of those. Certainly I can't forget Tanith Lee's chilling Snow Drop. Troll Bridge by Neil Gaiman is definitely worth a read. And I still will remember bits of The Snow Queen by Patricia A. McKillip.
But one of the other reasons why this book will never leave my bookshelf is because Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling have done such a fine job of editing it. Each of their introductions is compelling and fascinating to read. They have included concise and interesting biographies of each of the contributing authors. And they have placed the stories together in a way that truly makes this collection a vibrant family of stories.(less)
Terry Pratchett's second story following Moist Von Lipwick lives up to the original story, Going Postal. In this book, Moist is finding his life as a...moreTerry Pratchett's second story following Moist Von Lipwick lives up to the original story, Going Postal. In this book, Moist is finding his life as a postal official dull; coincidentally, there is a need for a new bank chairman that the Patrician wants to see filled. Hijinks ensue from there.
This book satirizes economic theory, the gold standard, old-money families, bankers -- all while including the usual cast of Ankhmoorparkian characters. The villians of the story, Cosmo and Pucci, were rather trite... but well worth dealing with in order to witness a rather terrifyingly-enthusiastic lapdog, a lecherous lich, an etiquette-for-ladies-obsessed golem, and an angst ridden turnip. Moist, as usual, is a fantastic main character. (The only one I prefer to read about more is Vimes, in the nightwatch books.)
I will say that I would have enjoyed reading more about Adora Belle Dearheart. There really wasn't enough of her -- but then again, I'm not sure you can get enough of an edgy nicotine-addicted woman who knows how to use her stilleto heels to get what she wants.
Great book to relax to. Lives up to the Pratchett standard of satire, touches on lots of economic theory while still be ridiculous and entertaining, and is a great way to pass part of a sixteen hour flight.(less)
This really is the most accessible of all of James Joyce's writing, and a great launching point for getting into the rest of his books. What's really...moreThis really is the most accessible of all of James Joyce's writing, and a great launching point for getting into the rest of his books. What's really great about this collection is that each of the stories can stand on its own, but as a whole they work cohesively to paint a picture of Dublin as Joyce saw it.(less)
Virgil's Aeneid. Complete with raging goddesses, the fall of Troy, harpies and sea monsters, queens committing suicide, Roman athletic games, trips to...moreVirgil's Aeneid. Complete with raging goddesses, the fall of Troy, harpies and sea monsters, queens committing suicide, Roman athletic games, trips to the underworld, and a full-blown epic war.
This particular translation is masterfully done, and the introduction is pretty thorough. As for the classic itself, I can't say I'm thrilled with it. It's pretty rife with old Roman propaganda, and the never ending need for Aeneas to found Rome. Despite the very complex treatment of certain characters (such as Dido and Camilla), and some very interesting scenes and story-lines, I found myself getting wearied by Aeneas' robotic mission to settle Italy with Trojan exiles and to marry a native princess.
While I'm glad I read it, simply in order to be better versed, I probably wouldn't reread it. (Unlike other classics/epics, such as The Odyssey or The Tain.) I could see myself occasionally leafing through it again in order to reread sections on the furies, harpies, and sea creatures (not to mention the underworld), or on Dido or Camilla -- but really, the compelling elements of this book were all incidental to the main story. (less)
I was given this book for a holiday present by AJ several years ago. He hunted down a first edition of the Edward Gorey illustrated version, which jus...moreI was given this book for a holiday present by AJ several years ago. He hunted down a first edition of the Edward Gorey illustrated version, which just happens to have been printed the same year as I was born. Needless to say, this is one of the books of which I'm very protective.
The book itself is a very sharp deviation from what T.S. Elliot normally writes. Compared with, say, The Wasteland, this book looks as though it was written by an entirely different author. However, that does not make it less enjoyable. It is a bit silly, fun, and the sort of poetry that should be read aloud. It's probably for this reason Andrew Lloyd Webber decided these poems would make good lyrics.
The illustration by Edward Gorey are in the typical line & ink style, but are not nearly as dark or brooding as his typical art either. Sometimes when I look at this, I wonder if maybe him and Elliot had a similar condition where they would suffer from deep depression until exposure to a cat caused them to go bat-shit manic. While they aren't my favorite illustrations by Mr. Gorey, I do enjoy looking at them while I read this book.
Overall, there isn't anything deep or life changing about this book, but it is very rich, enjoyable, and fun. It definitely has a place next to some Dr. Suess, Johnny Gruelle, etc. (less)
Micro Fiction is a collection of short stories. Specifically it's a collection of stories that are 250 words or less. If at this point you're thinking...moreMicro Fiction is a collection of short stories. Specifically it's a collection of stories that are 250 words or less. If at this point you're thinking, "There couldn't possibly be any story worth reading that could fit into only 250 words," then perhaps this collection isn't for you. If at this point, you're thinking, "Only 250 words, eh? You mean I don't have to read the first, second, and tenth book in the trilogy in order to get my story fix?," then look no further. This book was specifically designed to pack the maximum amount of punch into a short reading experience. It's perfect for filling in those gaps of time where you're waiting and have nothing to do: public transit, waiting for a meeting to start, etc.
And even if you aren't impressed enough to buy the book on that recommendation alone, it's not like it's hard to sample it in the book store. Three minutes, tops, and you've already tried out one of the several wonderful stories in here. While it's difficult to even summarize a story in less words than it takes to tell it, I'll mention some favorites of mine. Hostess by Amy Hempel is a brilliant vignette that can get a laugh and a quick reread every time. 20/20 by Linda Brewer is another favorite of mine, bundling up a quirky and wonderful story with some clever insight into humans and their powers of observations. Survivors by Kim Addonizio, however, is the single story that sticks with me the most. I think of it every time I glance at the spine of this book. Anyone who can tell that powerful of a story in that few words has my undying respect.
However, the same brevity that makes this book delightful also is a negative. I am never able to lose myself in the book for hours, nor am I able to get lost in a secondary world (ala Tolkien). This book will definitely stay on my bookcase, and meets and exceeds its goals, even if it isn't quite the epic that some other longer books are.
I've just ended a friendship with someone who fits the profile for BPD, and have consequently been reading more about the disorder. This book is incre...moreI've just ended a friendship with someone who fits the profile for BPD, and have consequently been reading more about the disorder. This book is incredibly helpful -- even for friends/family of someone suffering from the disorder -- and includes several detailed chapters on causes of the disorder, the typical course of the disorder, brain chemistry of BPDs, treatments, and a chapter for friends and family.
I admit that I've only briefly glanced and read other books concerned w/ BPD (notably: Stop Walking on Eggshells, The Borderline Mother, and I Hate You, Don't Leave Me), but this book is by far the most well written, well organized, and extensive book on the subject.
I wish I could give this book a star for each aspect of it that delighted me. Unfortunately, this site caps me out at five stars, much less the 10 or...moreI wish I could give this book a star for each aspect of it that delighted me. Unfortunately, this site caps me out at five stars, much less the 10 or so stars that this book deserves.
This book is exhaustively researched, in a way most other books dealing with the broad subject matter of human sexuality are not. Better, it is superbly organized -- starting out with a clear idea of what topics it is going to cover, and managing to tackle that subject matter in only a scanty 124 pages (with at least another 25 pages citing sources).
But while other historical texts stop at well researched and an expertly organized discussion of their subject matter (if they even get that far), this text keeps running uphill towards academic and narrative excellence. The author intelligently conveys the social and technological history leading to the invention of the vibrator with a concise and, at times, humorous approach. It takes a bit of skill to get me emotionally engaged in a non-fiction book; and this author was skilled and then some.
And even though I found myself being emotionally drawn towards each point she made, I was very reassured by how well-supported many of her points were. Nothing but empirical evidence and the bizarre nature of human history were employed to provoke responses from the audience of this book.
I was even more impressed by the authors ability to identify questions raised by her text, and to easily assess whether they lay within the realm of her ability to answer and the scope of her book. Biological questions, moral questions, and several other realms of inquiry are noted -- but no further attempt to address them is made than noting that they exist and noting what historical evidence implies.
While I could say that I was left unsatisfied on one count, it's not a very fair complaint: I wish there was more. I wish she had tackled other technologies besides the vibrator, or had researched other societies and their treatment of female sexuality. As it is, I am very satisfied with what was written and am deeply happy to own this book. (less)
**spoiler alert** I grabbed a copy of this in order to help while away time on my trip to Shanghai and back. (Sixteen hour international flights just...more**spoiler alert** I grabbed a copy of this in order to help while away time on my trip to Shanghai and back. (Sixteen hour international flights just aren't tolerable without something engaging to read.) This is the first book I've read of Palahniuk's, and I have had numerous recommendations to read books by him.
On the whole, I can't say I loved it. I found myself really fascinated by his use of experimental narrative techniques, and how he made them very comfortable and friendly for the reader by integrating them with a conversational narrative tone. His writing was very well crafted.
However, the plot itself rang very false -- I routinely read fantasy, and have yet to see a more fantastical protagonist than the one in this story. Her family, her friends, and her love interests seemed really fabricated. More over, it seemed like the story was written by a coffee house intellectual who was wanted desperately to know that the world of beauty and fashion really was being run by people who knew that they were vapid and plastic and were just too trapped by their lives to escape it. That, interspersed with a maze of hormonal drugs, sex changes, and histrionic social antics, was pretty much the bulk of this book.
I would have loved to have tossed it aside. I would have loved to have found another book on the plane that I could read. (I was sadly out of English books at this point in my trip.) But the thing that prevented me from tossing it aside, and the thing that ultimately kept me from abadoning the book or even my hope that the plot would somehow come out of its self-indulgent sprial into really fantastical plot twists, was that Palahniuk kept throwing in these really brief scenes of incredible beauty, openness, and vulnerability.
I'm pretty certain that he meant for the reader to feel the contrast between these scenes and the sarcastic, jaded feel of the rest of the book. I'm pretty certain that the protagonist was supposed to be that much more easy to relate to as a result. But...I just wasn't there.
There was enough substance in this book to make me think and consider a lot of the themes. There was enough in the book to make me consider reading another of Palahniuk's books. But this is not a book that I will keep or cherish, nor one that I really think of as life defining or life changing. (less)
I specifically own an edition of this book that was published by The Heritage Press in 1939. This edition was illustrated by one Robert Ball; who has...moreI specifically own an edition of this book that was published by The Heritage Press in 1939. This edition was illustrated by one Robert Ball; who has a manner of illustration that is quite detailed and evocative. When I was younger, I was quite in love with romantic poets -- Tennyson and Yeats being the two I best remember -- and when I saw this edition of Idylls of the King I couldn't resist buying it. The illustrations add another element to the already masterful and vivid poems written by Tennyson.
As for the text itself, I can only say that this is a staple of Arthurian legend. Each chapter is skillfully crafted, and enjoyable to read. His retelling of the Arthurian stories are only to be outdone by Mallory and Steinbeck. (less)