Let's put it simply. Cosmos is required reading for everyone who lives on this planet. It will give you a sense of perspective that nothing else can -...moreLet's put it simply. Cosmos is required reading for everyone who lives on this planet. It will give you a sense of perspective that nothing else can -- no lofty ideology, no omniscient religion, no inspiring quotations can explain things quite as clearly as Carl Sagan's treatise on science, reality, and the nature of things in this universe. Mind-bending and dazzling, and best of all, uncluttered by confusing scientific terminology. A book worthy of all the positive superlatives I can think of bestowing on it.
We have held the peculiar notion that a person or society that is a little different from us, whoever we are, is somehow strange or bizarre, to be distrusted or loathed. Think of the negative connotations of words like alien or outlandish. And yet the monuments and cultures of each of our civilisations merely represent different ways of being human. An extraterrestrial visitor, looking at the differences among human beings and their societies, would find those differences trivial compared to the similarities. The Cosmos may be densey populated with intelligent beings. But the Darwinian lesson is clear: There will be no humans elsewhere. Only here. Only on this small planet. We are a rare as well as an endangered species. Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.
Intense, original and utterly addictive -- vintage Atwood. (I was sorry when it got over!) Everyone can identify with the emotions she so clearly and...moreIntense, original and utterly addictive -- vintage Atwood. (I was sorry when it got over!) Everyone can identify with the emotions she so clearly and courageously describes, those emotions that we all experience vividly but never find the right words for. Atwood's greatest talent has always been the finding of those words. The Blind Assassin has become one of my favourite works of fiction, and is definitely not to be missed.(less)
An incredibly moving, thought-provoking novel that has swiftly installed itself as one of my favourite works of contemporary literature...more*Spoiler Alert*
An incredibly moving, thought-provoking novel that has swiftly installed itself as one of my favourite works of contemporary literature. Ishiguro delves into the murky debate as to whether clones have souls, i.e. are they mere shadows of the original, or full-blown unique entities in their own right?
*Never Let Me Go* follows the stories of three clones, bound together by love, friendship, and a host of complicated emotions and doubts that only they share. The storyline is dark, almost morbid, and Ishiguro does count on a certain degree of sentimentality in the reader, but I could not recommend this book more. (less)
This is the first Booker-Prize-winning book that I have actually liked, and I must admit to being quite surprised. I could call this "The Catcher in t...moreThis is the first Booker-Prize-winning book that I have actually liked, and I must admit to being quite surprised. I could call this "The Catcher in the Rye of our times," but it would be unnecessary because Vernon God Little manages to hold its own in the world of contemporary literature without needing to be buffered by a comparison to other good books. It has a protagonist who's one of the funniest and most irreverent characters to appear on the literary scene in a long, long time.
Yes, it also involves a school shootout, but it isn't some sort of sociological study of what happens in the heads of teenagers who are finally provoked to kill. It's not sentimental, so don't expect it to be. No euphemisms, no painstaking and annoying efforts at political correctness, no pretensions to being anything other than what it is -- the story of a fifteen-year-old trying to figure out this deal called life and in the process, to keep from being executed for a crime he didn't commit.(less)
There is something about Pamuk's writing style that brings me back to his works everytime, even though I feel too much is lost in translation from the...moreThere is something about Pamuk's writing style that brings me back to his works everytime, even though I feel too much is lost in translation from the original Turkish. The storyline of The White Castle is not gripping, though it is certainly interesting enough to make a reader want to finish the book. There is a steady undertone of philosophy that is perhaps more significant than the mundane who-did-what-and-when of an ordinary plot.
An Italian traveller is taken captive by a Turkish fleet and brought to Istanbul where he eventually becomes slave to a Turkish intellectual who, as it turns out, looks identical to him. The ways in which the two men influence each other's lives and contribute to each other's growth over the next twenty-five years or so are slowly unravelled in the rest of the book. However, I can't help but suspect that the original turn of phrase (in Turkish) must be much finer than the English translation, though the latter can't be called bad by any standard.
Pamuk's sharp mind and ability to sift the relevant from the irrelevant are immediately evident, as in his other works. He has a gifted understanding of human nature and the rationales behind seemingly unreasonable human behaviour. For this, The White Castle, a short read of barely 145 pages, is definitely worth your time. (less)
This book is, for the most part, exceedingly horrible. One star would be more than enough for it. But Sparks earns a second for one or two paragraphs...moreThis book is, for the most part, exceedingly horrible. One star would be more than enough for it. But Sparks earns a second for one or two paragraphs at the very end of the book which redeem him to a minuscule extent, and which really are capable of making the reader feel what the author clearly expects him/her to have felt throughout this otherwise-painful work of literature.
The story is tragically trite and insipid. Boy (Noah) meets girl (Allie), they fall in love, they suffer a grievous separation for 14 years, and then find each other again. But the girl is engaged and now has to choose between her rich fiance and her long-lost love. YAWN. Plus, Sparks peppers the story with phrases like ".. questions danced in his mind like water drops in a frying pan" and Allie's intensely annoying and frequent cries of "Oh, Noah! My sweet Noah! Noaah!"
Even the sex scenes don't hold your attention.
This is the first book by Sparks I've read. It will also be the last. Clearly this book has only worked for him because of how hopelessly melodramatic it is (that appeals to some people, yes?).
That being said, at the very end, he does evoke the sense of loss and loneliness Noah feels when he watches life fading away from himself and from Allie. Can't say more or it'll be a spoiler. Frankly, this book isn't worth your time or money. And not because it's romantic -- plenty of books I've enjoyed have had a strong theme of romance and mush -- but because it's just very badly written. (less)
A 3 star rating for this book only because Marquez's writing continues to have that gentle lilt and poetic quality to it that has earned him so many a...moreA 3 star rating for this book only because Marquez's writing continues to have that gentle lilt and poetic quality to it that has earned him so many accolades. Otherwise, the book tends to disappoint. The storyline is not lacking, and the characters are interesting enough, but there is far too much detail to every scene and every emotion, to the extent that about sixty percent of the book proceeds at an incredibly slow pace. One feels that the story started out with much more potential than was actually put to use by the writer.
Also, maybe something was lost in translation, because I didn't really "feel" Florentino Ariza's love for Fermina Daza was adequately brought out. Alright, so he continued to pine for her all through those years that he was bedding random women, but it would have been lovely to have a few vintage Marquez lines describing his love for her, considering the amount of attention that was paid to other scenes and aspects of the story that weren't all that important after all.(less)