I took interest in this book when I noticed so many glowing reviews of it. Being a story set in Nazi-occupied France heightened my curiosity about it.I took interest in this book when I noticed so many glowing reviews of it. Being a story set in Nazi-occupied France heightened my curiosity about it. When I learned that the author lives in my beloved home town of Boise, Idaho, I became even more interested. Then when it won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction just recently I knew I had to read it.
So, it was good. Maybe it was worthy of the Pulitzer Prize. But who am I to judge?
For me the story was intriguing, but it just moved at such a glacial pace that it began to bother me. The wording and prose was often beautiful, but more than a few times I got the feeling that the author was just trying a little too hard. And I felt like the persistent and constant use of the present tense throughout the entire book was more of a gimmick than an effective literary device.
It was a good book with a good story. It was interesting, and its characters were believable and well developed. The war, as it affected the main characters, was also depicted well. But it just wasn't all I had hoped it would be....more
I should make a book category named "good books for people who are a lot smarter than I am." It would contain this book and a few others that I have tI should make a book category named "good books for people who are a lot smarter than I am." It would contain this book and a few others that I have trudged through.
I respect and admire Edward O. Wilson. He is one of my all-time scientific heroes. I have read other books by him and have become educated and enlightened as a result. But this book was simply over my head. Every time an interesting subject or question was raised, the pages devolved into an extreme academic analysis that consisted of very lengthy sentences full of very unfamiliar large words. I am not even close to being scientifically illiterate, but this is one book that should be left only for those with advanced degrees in related fields....more
I really miss Carl Sagan. More than anyone else, he ignited and cultivated my enduring interest in science. This book won the Pulitzer Prize for non-fI really miss Carl Sagan. More than anyone else, he ignited and cultivated my enduring interest in science. This book won the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction back in 1977, the year I graduated from high school. I had not even heard of Carl Sagan at that time. It wasn't until his Cosmos series came out on PBS in the early 80's that he became a force in my life.
So, now, 36 years after it was published I finally read this important book which is simply Dr. Sagan's educated speculations about the evolutionary history and future of the human mind. Most of what he writes about is very interesting and revealing about human nature. Much, however, is very dated. I kind of got a kick out of his descriptions of several amazing state of the art (for 1977) computer programs -- one of them being the video game Pong!
A very thoughtful and thought-provoking book, but I wish I had read it when it had first been published....more
Wow. How do I rate this book? For reading pleasure, it probably deserves 5 stars. I don't think there was a single page out of all 1024 of them that cWow. How do I rate this book? For reading pleasure, it probably deserves 5 stars. I don't think there was a single page out of all 1024 of them that came anywhere close to being boring. I loved the descriptions of the war, the antebellum culture, the reconstruction period, and the racial and political issues of the time period. For the most part I really loved the dialog between the major characters, especially between Scarlett and Rhett. The writing was wonderful.
On the other hand, the characters were all just not very likable. Scarlett was spoiled, selfish, self-serving, and arrogant -- a borderline sociopath. Rhett seemed to mostly use his exceptional wit and insight for mocking and insulting others, especially Scarlett whom he supposedly truly adores. Melanie is so virtuous she is not believable. Her goodness mostly just seems to render her weak and fragile and naive. And Ashley was the most annoying character of all of them -- spineless and almost helpless without the great antebellum southern culture to support him. Why it took Scarlett 10 years to realize what a loser Ashley was grated on me a little.
So, I didn't like any of the major characters. Of the minor characters however, some of the former slaves, especially Mammy, were very likable, except for their excessive devotion to their former masters.
The ability of this novel to present the Civil War to its readers from the viewpoint of the southern plantation owners (whose lifestyles were most adversely affected by the war) is what is truly exceptional about this book. I found myself actually feeling and understanding the upheaval that they experienced. I know the South was in the wrong and that they had to lose and that slavery had to end, so I have always wondered why the southerners didn't realize this also and why they insisted on fighting a war that they had to have known that they would eventually lose. I feel that Gone With The Wind has done a good job of helping me understand why the southern people felt the need to fight. That, more than anything, makes this book commendable.
This book really must be classified as a romance novel, even more so than historical fiction. I have always said that I don't read romance or other "chick-lit." I made an exception for this book because it won the Pulitzer Prize and because of its historical setting. I'm glad I read it. It was very memorable and has helped to shape my perspective and understanding of historically significant events. However, I doubt that my goodreads "romance" shelf will ever contain more than this one single book.
Theodore Roosevelt's impressive rise to national prominence. An amazing story -- actually a whole series of amazing stories. This is the first of 3 boTheodore Roosevelt's impressive rise to national prominence. An amazing story -- actually a whole series of amazing stories. This is the first of 3 books by Edmund Morris on the life of T.R. and won the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 1980. It covers T.R.'s life from his birth to the instant that he became president (upon the death of President William McKinley). What an amazing life he led! What an amazing man he was! Yet, what amazed me most about this story is the incredible series of coincidences and luck that catapulted young T.R. to the vice-presidency at the young age of 42. Of course, none of this luck or coincidence would have amounted to anything if T.R. was not the man that he was.
I loved this book. Nearly every page was absorbing. I absolutely plan on reading the other two books in the series (Theodore Rex and Colonel Roosevelt, covering his life as president and his post-presidency life respectively)....more
I guess I need a category (or shelf) for books like this one which cause me to realize how dumb I am compared to really smart people -- like the authoI guess I need a category (or shelf) for books like this one which cause me to realize how dumb I am compared to really smart people -- like the author of this book and the legions of people who supposedly have read it and who understand it and appreciate it.
I didn't actually finish it because most of it was just too far over my head. The parts I did understand were quite interesting and thought-provoking, but I have real difficulty in comprehending what usefulness the ideas and principles have in everyday life -- in my life.
I will keep this book around, and I suspect I will attempt further study and reading of it in the future. But for the moment I am overwhelmed, and after an honorable attempt spanning 200+ pages I am giving it up....more
The price we pay to assume technology's power is alienation.
A somewhat disturbing book. It begins wit
We shape our tools, and thereafter they shape us.
The price we pay to assume technology's power is alienation.
A somewhat disturbing book. It begins with a reference to my favorite movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey where HAL the computer is systematically being disconnected by the lone survivor of HAL's malfunction, David Bowman. "Dave, stop. Stop, will you? Stop, Dave. Will you stop?". But as Dave continues, HAL says, "My mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it."
Like HAL, the author has been able to feel his mind "going." I have felt it too. I remember years ago being able to concentrate and focus on what I was reading to the point that my surroundings seemed to disappear as I became swallowed up and completely immersed in the environment and experiences described by what I was reading. Such intense concentration eludes me now. I have tended to attribute this loss to an aging brain, but after reading this book I am now not so sure.
Lots of studies and experiments have shed light on the subject of the brain's ability to modify itself according to the activities and habits of the person. Habits and tool use, such as internet usage, alter the brain in ways most of us do not understand or even recognize -- even after it has fully taken hold and it is too late to make significant adjustments (very similar to drug addiction). We as a society tend to adopt new technologies and their benefits without ever analyzing potential downsides or even questioning whether there are any. In many instances this is certainly unwise.
The last lines in the book refer back to that scene from 2001:
What makes it so poignant, and so weird, is HAL's emotional response to the disassembly of its own mind: its despair as one circuit after another goes dark, its childlike pleading with the astronaut -- "I can feel it. I can feel it. I'm afraid" -- and its final reversion to what can only be called a state of innocence. HAL's outpouring of feeling contrasts with the emotionlessness that characterizes the human figures in the film, who go about their business with an almost robotic efficiency. Their thoughts and actions feel scripted, as if they're following the steps of an algorithm. In the world of 2001, people have become so machine-like that the most human character turns out to be a machine. That's the essence of Kubrick's dark prophecy: as we come to rely on computers to mediate our understanding of the world, it is our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence.
Cancer -- probably the most dreaded word in the English language -- affects everyone. It has been afflicting humans ever since there have been humans.Cancer -- probably the most dreaded word in the English language -- affects everyone. It has been afflicting humans ever since there have been humans. Yet most of us know little about it other than the fact that it causes cells to multiply rapidly without regard for the being in which they reside. Their unrestrained growth eventually kills their host, and themselves as a consequence.
The Emperor of All Maladies won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction. I found it to be extremely readable, interesting, and educational as it told the history of cancer and cancer research up to the present time. Only a very few pages were too scientific or technical for me to completely understand. I really can't give this book enough praise. Throughout the time I was reading it I was completely amazed at how deftly the author explained complex ideas and scientific biological principles in ways that were so easily understandable. He also managed to beautifully put a human touch to the subject by describing personal experiences that had affected him during his practice and research as an oncologist. This will be a book I will never forget....more
Annie Proulx won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel The Shipping News, so I was interested in getting a taste of her writing. Of course, because of theAnnie Proulx won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel The Shipping News, so I was interested in getting a taste of her writing. Of course, because of the notoriety of the movie Brokeback Mountain, I also knew that she wrote that short story among many others. Close Range is a collection of short stories that are all set in rural Wyoming (is there any other kind of Wyoming?).
For the most part I enjoyed the stories -- some more so than others, Brokeback Mountain being one of the best. One of the more memorable stories, mostly because of its uniqueness, consisted of only three sentences -- two long ones and one very short one. Most of the other stories were quite intertwined in time and place and often nvolved characters that seemed to sometimes play inconsequential roles. This led me to have a little more difficulty reading than I would have liked. But overall, a fun and interesting set of short stories....more
The fascinating history of the Comanche Indians and their interactions with the white civilization that encroached upon their homeland. The brutalityThe fascinating history of the Comanche Indians and their interactions with the white civilization that encroached upon their homeland. The brutality described in this book is relentless and sometimes hard to read, especially knowing that these events (kidnapping, torture, killing, etc. even to young children) really happened.
No other tribe was so powerful, so free, so feared, or so successful for so long at keeping and maintaining their culture and their land against the white civilization that coveted it. Of course, in the end they could not prevail against the relentless onslaught of a seemingly inexhaustible population of whites.
This was a book that was interesting and well written from cover to cover. I almost didn't want it to end....more
Another really good Vietnam War book. This one consists of simple stories that the author experienced. I will never get the image out of my head of thAnother really good Vietnam War book. This one consists of simple stories that the author experienced. I will never get the image out of my head of the soldier singing "Lemon Tree". You'll have to read the book to find out what I am talking about because I am never going to repeat that story -- it is just too [I can't even think of an appropriate word to go here:]....more
When I first heard about this book I knew I wanted to read it for two reasons: 1) it is set in the western U.S. and deals extensively with the geograpWhen I first heard about this book I knew I wanted to read it for two reasons: 1) it is set in the western U.S. and deals extensively with the geography and history of that area, and 2) Wallace Stegner is an awesome writer. I had read other non-fiction works by Stegner and always loved the experience. He describes landscapes, history, culture, and human interactions with the environment better than anyone. This is the only fictional book of his that I have read, and while I enjoyed it, it also seemed just a little bit lacking in something to really draw me into it. I still don't understand what the real point of telling this story was. The main character was not particularly likable, and I never could figure out what his real issues were. But it left me thinking and wondering, and maybe that was exactly what Stegner intended the book to do....more
Nine short stories comprise this fairly short book which won the Pulitzer prize in 2000. All the stories involve native people from India, and most ofNine short stories comprise this fairly short book which won the Pulitzer prize in 2000. All the stories involve native people from India, and most of the main characters are immigrants to the United States. The stories are:
1. A Temporary Matter – A young Indian immigrant couple who have lately drifted apart spend evenings during scheduled blackouts revealing secrets to each other. The young man enjoys the sessions and feels drawn closer to his wife. However, his wife, on the last day of the blackout, reveals that she is moving out and seeking a divorce.
2. When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine – a young boy learns a lot about the world and about his home country of India during the several weeks that a fellow immigrant dined with them in the evenings during the East-West Paskitani civil war.
3. Interpreter of Maladies – A tour guide in India is smitten by the young mother of a family he is driving to various sites. Because she takes an interest in his other profession, as a translator for a local doctor, he becomes enthralled with ideas of friendship and correspondence with her. As he later learns about her less-than-exemplary ways he becomes less enchanted.
4. A Real Durwan – A very poor old woman lives at the entrance to a lower-middle class apartment complex. She brags to everyone about the luxurious life she lived prior to partition. She is slowly neglected and eventually forced to leave her simple abode.
5. Sexy – A young woman has an on-going affair with a married man from India. She enjoys the attention and novelty at first, but eventually, because of the frankness of a young boy whose father is also having an affair, she realizes that what she is doing is wrong.
6. Mrs. Sen’s – A young boy spends his time after school with an immigrant woman who is being pressured by her husband to learn how to drive.
7. This Blessed House – A young Indian immigrant couple has just moved into a fixer-upper house. The woman keeps finding Christian symbols (statues, paintings, crosses, etc.) which she insists on keeping and even displaying while her husband wants to get rid of them all – they are Hindus.
8. The Treatment of Bibi Haldar – An undesirable orphan girl in India is afflicted with some kind of epilepsy for which no doctor seems to be able to alleviate. One sage eventually declares that if she will get married she will be cured, but despite efforts to find a husband she has no takers. Her plight worsens and eventually she is found to be pregnant. She never reveals who the father is, but after the birth she seems to be cured.
9. The Third and Final Continent – In 1969, a young man immigrates to the US where he rents a room from a 103-year-old woman who is thrilled about the recent moon landing.
In order (best to worst): 3, 5, 9, 1, 8, 4, 7, 2, 6. The first three are really excellent, while the last couple are just so-so. The writing is excellent and managed to keep my attention even though nothing truly exciting was ever being described. So, I give it 5 stars for the writing and 3 stars for the stories themselves. Overall a very good book. ...more