This Circle is not a work of literature, but more a work of ideas. Mae is thrilled to be hired by an organization named The Circle. The reader soon reThis Circle is not a work of literature, but more a work of ideas. Mae is thrilled to be hired by an organization named The Circle. The reader soon realizes that The Circle is a high tech company like Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Like many of the high tech companies in Silicon Valley, the company has its own campus where employees can find anything they need from food to entertainment to exercise, etc. Why this book is not a literary work is because the characters are not well developed and the plot development is quite obvious. This book is more of a morality (correct word?) tale describing a world where there is no privacy and everything must be shared. Mae is reprimanded when she doesn't take pictures and share with all her colleagues the time she went kayaking on her own. She is also asked why she went outside of the campus to find a kayak when everything is available there and there were people at The circle who would have liked to kayak with her. I found many of the things Mae was expected to be doing quite eerie, e.g. "liking things" reminds me of Facebook; being asked to rate service is something I seem to be asked to do for every service or things I buy; etc. Since I'm a senior, I have not adjusted to using social media and texting the way those younger than me have. But, I still feel like I'm losing privacy every time I go use the internet. Chrome seems to know what I have been shopping for and what other sites I have visited. After reading The Circle, I realized more than ever how much of my privacy I have sacrificed to use the internet.
Some people have said that they feel that this topic didn't work as a novel when everything that was said in the novel could have been said in an essay. I agree the same information could be presented in an essay, but I don't think it would have had the same impact. I think by seeing what happens to Mae and how she easily falls into line with the rules of The Circle, the reader can see how easily one can be seduced into losing s/her privacy without thinking about it. I don't think an essay would have had that impact. I have become much more aware of my loss of privacy as I use the internet now that I have read The Circle. I've even had one evaluation returned to me, because I was critical in my rating.
The character Kaylan bothered me because although the reader eventually finds out who he is, I didn't think he was an effective character and his role in the plot only becomes clear near the end. Mae's on line name was Mae Day which suggests a cry for help but this didn't fit with the plot. I only gave The Circle three stars, because I think of Good Reads as a site where one evaluates the quality of literature. I don't think The Circle ranks high as a piece of literature, but I do feel there is value in reading it. ...more
All The Light We Cannot See is a beautifully written novel about a painful time. Doerr's use of language is beautiful. I frequently stopped to rereadAll The Light We Cannot See is a beautifully written novel about a painful time. Doerr's use of language is beautiful. I frequently stopped to reread a sentence or two. The Los Angeles Time says Doerr is writer "whose sentences never fail to thrill." The novel follows the lives of two different people, a young blind girl Named Marie-Laure who lives with her father in Paris, and a young orphan named Werner who lives in a orphanage in Germany. The chapters of the book alternate between the story of Marie-Laure and Werner until their lives converge for a short time when the allies are attacking the beaches at Saint-Malo.
Werner as a child had been very interested in radios and how they worked. Because of his talent and ability he wins a place in the Academy for Hitler Youth. From there he used his mathematical ability and engineering skills to track and find radio transmissions of the resistance where is finally sent to Saint-Malo.
Marie-Laure's father was the locksmith for the Museum of Natural History in Paris. Marie-Laure spent her days in the Museum learning about the various displays and reading her Braille books. When the Germans were descending on Paris, Marie-Laure's father was asked to leave Paris carrying what could be a famous, extremely valuable diamond or one of the three fakes made to keep the precious treasure from the Nazis. They arrive in Saint-Malo to stay with Marie-Laure's great uncle.
I rarely give five stars to a book but this book is one of those special books that moves the reader through use of language and the story. Doerr took ten years writing this book.
I avoided reading Annabel after it was on Canada Reads, because I thought a story about a hermaphrodite child would be just too painful to read. HowevI avoided reading Annabel after it was on Canada Reads, because I thought a story about a hermaphrodite child would be just too painful to read. However, when it became a book club book, I read it. As I expected there were many painful parts in the book, parents pain, Wayne/Annabel's pain, etc. It's painful to watch the parents try to make the best decision about their child's sex. Painful to watch each parent to try to cope with their child's situation and find themselves growing apart. Painful to watch Wayne/Annabel try to be someone s/he can't be. The author is able to convey the pain of this novel through her beautiful writing and handling of the subject. I found the father, Treadway, a particularly sympathetic person who was trying to do his best for his son(daughter) in their home of Labrador but really wanted whatever was best for Wayne/Annabel. One of the most touching moments in the book was when Treadway took Wayne/Annabel to see the fork lifts doing a routine like the synchronized swimming, Wayne/Annabel liked so much. The ending was believable and not trite. I'm glad I read Annabel and look forward to reading other books by Kathleen Winter....more
The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a complex, short, beautifully written novel. The entire novel takes place in a restaurant in Lahore, Pakistan where ChThe Reluctant Fundamentalist is a complex, short, beautifully written novel. The entire novel takes place in a restaurant in Lahore, Pakistan where Changez encounters an American and suggests they have tea together. Changez takes this opportunity to tell the story of his life in America and return to Pakistan to this stranger. Changez had been an outstanding student at Princeton, one of five graduates hired by a prestigious company that valued companies, fallen in love with a wealthy, beautiful woman, become disillusioned with capitalism, and returned to Pakistan.
Since the reader never hears any voice but Changez's, one would think that this story would become tiresome and indeed some people found the technique that way. However, I found myself drawn into Changez's story. Part way into his story, I realized that Hamid was writing an allegory of the U.S., wealth, and the third world. Changez's girl friend's name was (Am) Erica and her former boy friend who died of cancer was Chris. Changez is caught in a triangle with Erica and her dead first love. This can be read as an allegory for what has been happening in America since 9-11. The ending leaves the reader to decide what really happens.
Human Croquet uses the same magical reality technique that is used much more extensively in Life after Life. Since Human Croquet was written nearly fiHuman Croquet uses the same magical reality technique that is used much more extensively in Life after Life. Since Human Croquet was written nearly fifteen years earlier than Life after Life, the reader sees how the author is already playing with this device in her writing. In both novels, the reader is shown events in the story with several possible scenarios.
Human Croquet is told by Isabel, the narrator, who describes various events in her family and her life with a variety of endings. The reader never quite knows what is true.
I gave this novel four stars because Atkinson is able to create a plot and characters that are unpredictable and engaging which drew me into this strange world of the Fairfax family.
The Luminaries takes place in New Zealand during the gold rush. The novel opens with Moody's arrival in New Zealand and taking lodging in a local hoteThe Luminaries takes place in New Zealand during the gold rush. The novel opens with Moody's arrival in New Zealand and taking lodging in a local hotel. As he went into the smoking room, he realizes that he has walked into a meeting in progress with 12 men in attendance. As he sits in the room and is asked his story, he is soon drawn into the reason why these 12 men were meeting. They were discussing two strange events which had just occurred in their town. A hermit has died in his shack and a fortune has disappeared. Also, the local prostitute obviously high on opium has been jailed even though she had been severely beaten.
The first half of the novel introduces each of the twelve men in the meeting and their role in the events being discussed. Each has a colourful life and has an important role in the community. These characters are well developed and the mystery of what happened to the hermit and the fortune and who beat up the prostitute gets more complicated as the reader learns more about each of them.
The last half of the novel moves much more quickly as the mystery is unravelled. ...more
Set in post war Vietnam, this is the story of three people whose lives were affected by the war and their post war lives. Old Man Hung had a pho restaSet in post war Vietnam, this is the story of three people whose lives were affected by the war and their post war lives. Old Man Hung had a pho restaurant in Hanoi until the communists took over the country. The dissidents writers and artists gathered in his restaurant to discuss politics and plan their various publications. When all of these dissidents were sent for re-education, Hung lost his restaurant and began selling pho from on a cart on the streets. Tu, a young tour guide, is a close friend of Pho's. Tu and his father are connected to Pho through a friendship between Tu's grandfather, a famous poet, and Hung. Maggie was raised in the U.S. after she and her mother were airlifted by the American's when the U.S. surrendered. Her father, a famous artist, had planned to follow them, but no one knows what has happened to him.
Maggie has returned to Vietnam as a art curator cataloguing a huge collection of art held by one of the hotels in Hanoi. The main purpose of her return is to search for information about her father and what happened to him. This search brings together Maggie, Tue and Old Man Hung.
This is an excellent novel about Vietnam. I've read novels about the Vietnam Wars, but this is a novel about the new Vietnam. Gibb's inspiration for this novel came from a visit to Vietnam and her tour guide on that trip. I debated about giving the novel a four, because I found the ending a bit contrived. However, after reading Gibb's inspiration for the novel, I decided dreams can come true. ...more
This book is composed of essays Rian Malan wrote for various magazines over fifteen or more years about South Africa, his homeland. As an investigativThis book is composed of essays Rian Malan wrote for various magazines over fifteen or more years about South Africa, his homeland. As an investigative reporter he writes about a wide variety of topics from the history of the song The Lion Sleeps Tonight to AIDS in South Africa. Some of the essays I found interesting, but I tired of his cynicism as I continued to read the book. In many cases, because I didn't know the people referred to in the article, I didn't really understand the issues involved in the story. My husband read My Traitor's Heart by Malan for book club as well and found it a much more interesting and informative book about South Africa....more
Boy, Snow, Bird is a book about identity. It is also a book about passing for white, but that is not the only kind of identity that is explored in thiBoy, Snow, Bird is a book about identity. It is also a book about passing for white, but that is not the only kind of identity that is explored in this novel. It is beautifully written. I didn't give it four stars,because I found it at times. I won't go into any detail about this book, because I don't want to reveal the unexpected turns in the story. ...more
This is the story of the King James version of the Bible. There were sections that I found quite interesting, but due to my lack of knowledge of BritiThis is the story of the King James version of the Bible. There were sections that I found quite interesting, but due to my lack of knowledge of British history, I frequently did not know the people who were being discussed and their place in British history. As I read the book, I felt like I should be taking notes for a university class. I felt that this book was more suitable for a university class than for discussion at a book club. However, there were a number of book club members who found the book an interesting read. ...more
After all of the outstanding reviews of The Goldfinch and it being on the New York Times top fiction list for 2013, I was sadly disappointed in this bAfter all of the outstanding reviews of The Goldfinch and it being on the New York Times top fiction list for 2013, I was sadly disappointed in this book. Many reviews have compared this book to Dickens' novels. Theo Decker, the narrator, experiences could be compared to the various boys in Dickens' novels who find have face various difficult situations throughout their childhood. Theo's Mom is killed in a terrorist blast of an art museum; he's handed a ring and The Goldfinch painting by a dying man in the museum and told to take the ring to Hobie; he's taken in by a wealthy family and lives with them until his reprobate of a father takes him to live in the empty suburbs of Las Vegas in the post 2008 housing collapse. Tartt seems to be trying to address many of the major social issues of modern American from drug and alcohol abuse, gambling, mental illness particular bi-polar disorder, greed, bankruptcy, etc. in this novel. The section in Las Vegas endlessly described the drug use and abuse of Theo and his friend, Boris. The section did not need to nearly as long as it is. The reader understands the boys' lives long before the section ends.
The central problem for Theo throughout the story is what to do with The Goldfinch painting which is an art treasure. Throughout the novel, he is always haunted by the fact that he has this painting in his possession and doesn't know how to return it without being put in prison for art theft.
Coincidence is another literary device used by Dickens and Tartt uses it as well. Theo bumps into various people from his past which are needed to advance the plot, but it wasn't particularly believable. I also did not see any growth in the character, Theo, throughout the novel. I'm not sure why this novel has received so much acclaim. ...more
I gave Never Let Me Go three stars with reservations, because I found the first half of the book extremely slow going. Because of the first chapter anI gave Never Let Me Go three stars with reservations, because I found the first half of the book extremely slow going. Because of the first chapter and Kathy, the narrator, I knew there was something more to the story that a book about children at a special boarding school which encouraged me to continue. However, I'm not sure I would have persevered reading this book if it hadn't been for a book club. Although the first half of the book is about boarding school activities of the students, there are hints that there is something strange about this school and its students. It isn't until the second half of the novel that the reader finds out what this is.
The focus of the book is on only three characters, Kathy, the narrator; Ruth, the mean girl; and Tommy, the one who is frequently bullied, and follows them throughout their lives. Although the story is told from Kathy's point of view, somehow the reader, or at least for me, is always at a distance. I can never empathize with the characters and their situation. Many other readers have told me how sad and disturbing they found this book. I wasn't nearly as affected by the premise of the book.
My husband and I spent a great deal of time discussing what the author's intent was in writing this book. Is it about what could happen if science was allowed to go unchecked? Is it about the selfishness of some members of society? Why didn't the students rebel? Why did they as adults quietly accept their fate? ...more
John Lanchester describes Family Romance as a memoir, but I found it more of a biography of a family. Much of the information in this book was not thiJohn Lanchester describes Family Romance as a memoir, but I found it more of a biography of a family. Much of the information in this book was not things he remembered, but information that he had found through extensive research, particularly on his mother. The part of the book that was most interesting were the sections on his mother's story and how she had kept secrets from him and his father. The book begins with his mother's death and ends with what he has chosen to put on her grave stone after his research of her life. He tells the reader at the beginning of the book that he felt guilty for having his mother cremated when he read her instructions asking to be buried in a casket. He hadn't read these instructions until after the cremation. This information is foreshadowing the story of his mother and her secrets. This book seems to really be his mother's story.
The sections on his father I found far less interesting and I felt the section at the end about his own struggle with anxiety detracted from the book. He seemed to be trying to give both of his parents equal time in the book and then as their only child his own life story. I found the sections on his father confusing at times. Although John Lanchester is an excellent writer and the book is well written, I think the real story he wanted to tell was the one of his mother. I would like to ask him why he chose to write the book about his family rather than about his mother. ...more