Reading this because of that list that's been going around of what you should read now based on your favorite books as a child, Harriet the Spy being...moreReading this because of that list that's been going around of what you should read now based on your favorite books as a child, Harriet the Spy being mine, and this being the recommendation. We'll see...
I suppose I can see why this is recommended for grown-up Harriet the Spy fans (rich people and kids that don't get enough attention and all), but I did not love Paloma (or Renée, or any of the other characters) quite like I do Harriet. Not even close. But let's just put Harriet aside for the moment.
Part of the time I found myself really enjoying this, and I think a lot of it has to do with Barbara Rosenblat, who narrates Renée's bits--she's just fantastic and I love her! But even then, there were quite a few times when I found myself thinking (or sometimes saying out loud), "Renée! SHUT UP!" Same with Paloma. They would go on these big long rambles about philosophy or art or the beauty of the rose or whatever and I DID NOT CARE. Sorry.
And then the end... Um... Okay?
Well, in the end, I sort of liked this and sort of didn't. That's all.
It was enjoyable to listen to once, but I can't see myself even really remembering this book at all in a year or so. I'm sticking with Harriet, I think.(less)
Argh, I had written out this really long, awesome review and something happened and now it's gone! So, okay, take two, but it's not going to be as goo...moreArgh, I had written out this really long, awesome review and something happened and now it's gone! So, okay, take two, but it's not going to be as good as the first one! :(
Anyway, I guess I'm still processing this one a little, which is a rare thing with non-fiction books. I have a couple small complaints about it, I suppose, but for the most part, I found this a really fascinating story and I very much enjoyed my time reading it, even though it seems like it took me forever to finish it.
I went into this not really knowing much about Camus or Monod at all. I read Camus' The Plague and The Stranger in high school and really liked them, but at this point I remember almost nothing about them (time for rereads!), and as for Monod, I'd heard of him, knew he'd won a Nobel Prize, but that's about it. I had no idea these two lead such interesting and dangerous lives!
The first half of the book covers World War II in France, which I appreciated because I really haven't ever read anything else about that time from a French perspective. I guess I knew that France was occupied, but I didn't really know anything about the extent or the circumstances behind it, so I liked learning a bit more about the hows and the whys of it.
Though Camus and Monod don't actually meet until midway through the book, I liked seeing the parallel paths they were following before they came together. I wish that we got to see a little bit more of their friendship over the course of the story; there are a number of letters and quotes and things that show the depth of their feelings and respect for one another, but there's actually not much of a focus there.
At the same time, I really like the way Carroll has painted such a broad picture here, showing what was going on in the world, how these two men reacted to it, and how their reactions made a difference not only to certain individuals, but to the culture in general. I mostly think it worked really well.
And even though it's such a broad picture, I still found myself really attached to these men. They certainly had some quirks (four ladies at the same time? I guess we can call that a quirk...), but I found an awful lot to admire in both men and in the way they took action when they thought events warranted it. I found myself really sad about their deaths, even though Camus died fifteen years before I was born and Monod when I was like five months old.
I don't think the book is perfect, but man, I learned a lot reading it, and it totally makes me want to revisit Camus' work and read more about Monod's. Definitely well worth a read if you have an interest in World War II, philosophy, Nobel Prize winners or biology.
* Thanks so much, First Reads and Crown Publishers!(less)
So, I'm sadly a little more familiar with Michael Palin's work than I am with Ernest Hemingway's, despite my degree in English. I had my first encount...moreSo, I'm sadly a little more familiar with Michael Palin's work than I am with Ernest Hemingway's, despite my degree in English. I had my first encounter with Hemingway a mere year-and-a-half or so ago (Islands in the Stream) and have since only read The Old Man and the Sea, though I enjoyed both enough that I've been meaning to get around to reading more at some point. But anyway, I like Michael Palin's travel shows and books, and that's why I originally picked this up, and not because I'm a big Hemingway fan.
Basically what Palin did for this travel show was to spend something like ten months visiting places Hemingway lived, worked, ate, drank, hunted, was injured, etc. and kind of...partly tried to picture what those places were like when Hemingway was there and partly tried to imagine what Hemingway might think of what those places have since become. It's not exactly a biography on Hemingway, but he's very much present, obviously being the reason for the adventure in the first place. I liked Palin's process of attempting to see things through Hemingway's eyes, though he states fairly early on that he doesn't think they would have gotten along well at all if they'd actually met. I suppose I feel the same way.
I had the most difficult time with the section that takes place in Spain, mostly because it seemes that pretty much all Hemingway did there was go to bullfights, which I...don't find interesting at all. But pretty much the entire rest of the book--Chicago, Paris, the Florida Keys, Cuba, Kenya, Uganda, Montana--I loved. Palin does a fantastic job of describing these places, as well as describing how they touched Hemingway and how he touched them. I even love that at least once during this journey, Palin feels a bit claustrophobic at being so surrounded by Hemingway and has to go to a part of town that Hemingway never visited for a little peace of mind.
It made me want to see many of these places for myself, and to read more of Hemingway's work and learn more about his life (and death). Though I don't know that I could describe Hemingway as likable, I certainly feel he was interesting.
Oh, and also? The photography in this book is fantastic! (less)
I had a little difficulty with this one at first--there's some adultery drama, which is something I really don't like reading about--and Jack's life o...moreI had a little difficulty with this one at first--there's some adultery drama, which is something I really don't like reading about--and Jack's life on land is such a total mess it made me cringe until he and Steven got back to sea. And then there's some Diana drama as well (as usual). I just wasn't as hooked on the first half of the book as I usually am. But maaaaaan, things got really good again after that, and in the end, I had just as much fun with Aubrey and Maturin as always, even if things in this installment are a little uneven. Moving on to book 8!(less)
This was probably closer to 3.5 stars for me, but I'm rounding up because for most of the book I was just really enjoying myself. I don't always do we...moreThis was probably closer to 3.5 stars for me, but I'm rounding up because for most of the book I was just really enjoying myself. I don't always do well with books that have multiple points of view, but I feel like Meyer actually did a really good job of it here, switching back and forth between Cinder and new main character Scarlet, with a little Kai or Queen Levana thrown in here and there as well. And I thought the way she handled the retelling of Little Red Riding Hood was pretty interesting, though, I'm sorry, Wolf just really never quite grew on me (actually, he...kind of freaks me out). My favorite new character by far was "Captain" Thorne, supposed criminal mastermind, whom Cinder falls in with during an escape from jail. He seems like he's sort of supposed to be like...I dunno, a Han Solo kind of guy? Only whenever I picture him in my head I see Steve Zahn, who is too old, I know, but it's my head, so I can picture him if I want! Anyway, he added a little comic relief, which is something I can always appreciate. The story overall is fairly predictable, but that didn't really bother me too much. I think this series is sort of like an action movie, so you kind of know where things are heading even if it's got the explosions or chase scenes in slightly different places than expected. But I'm not a huge action movie fan, so, while I'm enjoying the story and am kind of looking forward to the third book in the series, I'm just not as hooked on it as most others seem to be. Still, it's pretty fun.(less)
While there were definitely parts of this book that I had trouble with, for the most part I really, really enjoyed it, and there were so many things I...moreWhile there were definitely parts of this book that I had trouble with, for the most part I really, really enjoyed it, and there were so many things I absolutely loved about it--the aviation aspect, the fact that it's about best friends instead of romance, the way the story is told, and how that story changes and yet stays the same over the course of the book... All that just really worked for me. I can see myself reading this again at some point, perhaps several times. I'm glad I finally got around to giving it a try!(less)
I would have probably enjoyed this a lot more back in high school/early college when I went through my, "I'm going to read classics for fun!" phase. N...moreI would have probably enjoyed this a lot more back in high school/early college when I went through my, "I'm going to read classics for fun!" phase. Now though, I just can't seem to force myself through it. It's not that I dislike it, but I'm also not connecting to it at all, and if I don't care what happenes to the characters in a story, it seems pointless to keep on going with it. I'm satisfied enough with having made it halfway through, so I'm just going to go ahead and give it up for now. It's possible I might try it again one day, in the distant future, but for now I'm just going to move on.(less)
My parents brought a copy of this back from France for me. "Look! It's in French!" they told me. "Um...this is not the French I learned in school, guy...moreMy parents brought a copy of this back from France for me. "Look! It's in French!" they told me. "Um...this is not the French I learned in school, guys. What the heck is this? It's like French and Spanish and Italian all mixed together!" Turns out they'd found a copy in Provançal, a dialect of the Occitan language that is spoken in south-eastern France and is considered "severely endangered." Total accident on my parents' part (they don't speak French), but I'm so, so glad they made that mistake, because I feel super lucky to have something printed in this dialect. Plus they brought me one in regular French from Quebec the next year. Ba-cha!(less)
So much fun--humor, adventure...I really liked this! Okay, yeah, there's a lot of obnoxious colonial attitude in this, but it was originally published...moreSo much fun--humor, adventure...I really liked this! Okay, yeah, there's a lot of obnoxious colonial attitude in this, but it was originally published in 1873 after all. I can make allowances for that, as it's still a really great story.(less)
One of those books that I read really quickly, but that, in the end, I just...didn't love. It kept me interested, and I felt like the writing was good...moreOne of those books that I read really quickly, but that, in the end, I just...didn't love. It kept me interested, and I felt like the writing was good for the most part. And sometimes I liked the characters. But then sometimes I really didn't like them much at all, and just wanted them to grow the hell up. I can understand why a lot of folks loved this book, but I just never fully managed to connect with it, I guess. Certainly worth a read though...(less)
Pretty fantastic! I loved Guillaumet's descriptions of having come down in the Andes and how he kept himself walking and surviving until he reached he...morePretty fantastic! I loved Guillaumet's descriptions of having come down in the Andes and how he kept himself walking and surviving until he reached help, and, likewise, Saint-Exupéry's descriptions of having come down in the Libyan desert and how he and Prévot kept themselves walking and surviving until they reached help. And the end of the book, about what he saw and experienced during the Spanish Civil War of 1936, was also really beautifully told. I marked lots of passages with little sticky notes so I can go back and find them again. Definitely recommended for fans of adventure or survival stories, books about aviation, or musings on war.(less)
So, I guess I should say why I hated this. The dialogue is AWFUL, which I have a really hard time ignoring, there are a lot of "witty" jokes (that are...moreSo, I guess I should say why I hated this. The dialogue is AWFUL, which I have a really hard time ignoring, there are a lot of "witty" jokes (that are not witty at ALL), and I felt like the characters are unbearably stupid at times--example: a supposedly world famous cryptographer can't even figure out backwards writing?!? For like, two chapters?!? I could tell it was written backwards at first glance! I threw up my hands in disgust at that point. Boo. (less)