I read this book because I'm trying to find books I can recommend to my students to read over topics we cover in class, and this is one of the books I...moreI read this book because I'm trying to find books I can recommend to my students to read over topics we cover in class, and this is one of the books I found that relates to what I teach about. We do briefly talk about Mao's Cultural Revolution in China, and I think this book is definitely one I will recommend to my 7th graders. It is a very informative and intriguing account, and one in which I think young students can relate to. It's a bit long and I can see some of my students thinking it's too long and that parts are too boring, but overall I think it's great! Will probably even share excerpts of it with my students (at least) when we learn about China. Very insightful.(less)
How do I begin to explain what this book has made me think and feel?
What causes an entire society to rally behind one person, even if that one person...moreHow do I begin to explain what this book has made me think and feel?
What causes an entire society to rally behind one person, even if that one person is evil incarnate? What drives people to such desperation that they will turn a blind eye to the evils that surround them because they have the slightest hope that their own lives will improve? How does an entire country fall behind someone so ardently, that they find themselves unable to do anything but support the cause of the "fatherland" in times of devastation and war? And how does this society cope with the atrocities that are revealed in the aftermath of the worst scar on mankind history has ever known?
Irmgard Hunt has asked herself those questions for decades. Born in 1934 a stone's throw away from Hitler's headquarters and Eagle's Nest in Berchtesgaden, Germany, Hunt's childhood was shaped by the Third Reich and the war that came out of it. In her memoir, she discusses the history that led to her family's desperation for a better future, the rallying behind and then growing doubts of a man who promised success and dominance in a world that had been so harsh in the past, and her own struggles to understand and come to terms with what was unfolding around her.
Hunt did not write this book for others to feel pity or remorse for the German people in World War II, but rather she wrote this book so that others would know and understand her story. Her hope is that the world not forget what happened to Germany in the years leading up to and during World War II, and that those who read her story take a role in ensuring that such atrocities do not occur again. She admits that every German who survived World War II had to come to terms with what had happened, and that the majority of the German people, herself included, shared in the shame and guilt over what had happened. It is because she has come to terms with her past that she is now able to share her story with the world.
Hunt's story is not necessarily remarkable, her stories are mostly little anecdotes of a life shaped by the world around her. There are no stories of the Holocaust, of Jews, of the ins and outs of Hitler's regime. Hunt herself had only one brief encounter with Hitler. But her story is still an important one. This memoir shows us an ordinary life during extraordinary times. It gives us a view of "what life was like on the other side," the German side. And like I've said, while it is not necessarily remarkable, it still makes you stop and think.
We are all human. We all feel the same emotions, have the same joys and struggles, and we all still feel the same pain, anguish, and horror of human atrocities such as war. This memoir was an eye-opening reminder that war affects us all, no matter which side we fight for, and it is a poignant reminder to not let history repeat itself, no matter the cost.
If you love history, and love the human side to history, read this book. You won't regret it.(less)
I loved this book for the message it sends - take time to give thanks for everything in life. I also appreciate her sharing her life story so we coul...more
I loved this book for the message it sends - take time to give thanks for everything in life. I also appreciate her sharing her life story so we could understand as a reader that it isn't always easy to sit back and count your blessings when its feels like God isn't always there or listening, but it's important to do it just the same - both for yourself and your relationship with Him. What I just couldn't get used to was her writing style. It was just a little too flowery for my taste. I guess I'm just more of a tell-it-like-it-is, lay-it-all-out-there kind of person, so I don't see the point in trying to add symbolism and poetic text to a message that's so simple. Still a good read though, if you can plow through the writing to get to the good stuff!(less)
My disclaimer is that this review reflects my feelings on the book, not Katie Davis. I think she sounds like an incredibly wonderful and humble woman...moreMy disclaimer is that this review reflects my feelings on the book, not Katie Davis. I think she sounds like an incredibly wonderful and humble woman with more strength and courage than most people who are twice her age have. She is making a difference in this world that people should pay attention to and follow suit, even if you can't actually move to a place like Uganda.
And so, while I commend Katie Davis for giving up her comfortable American life to move to Uganda and take care of orphaned children, I felt this book didn't have quite the same effect on me as it did other readers.
The biggest part that bothered me was how I felt like I was being preached to throughout the entire book. The religious language was a bit overbearing at times. While I understand her faith is central to her life, there is a fine line between explaining your beliefs and forcing them onto others. There were moments in the book that I had to stop and think, "wow, so because I didn't give up everything and move to a third world country to take care of children I'm a selfish person who doesn't know God's will for my life?" I feel that God's will is different for every person's life. For Katie Davis, His will was for her to live in Uganda; for me, to teach, and then who knows what, I'm still kind of going with that one. But I shouldn't be made to feel unworthy or inadequate because I choose a different lifestyle. I don't think that is Katie's intentions in her writing, but that's how it comes across at times.
There were also times that I felt like Katie was desperately trying to find ways to tie God into her story that she made stuff up. Like a part where she was talking about how Celine Dion songs made her miss her boyfriend, and the next thing you know she's lecturing about how that must be how God feels because the church is straying....wait, what? I thought we were talking about your boyfriend...it was just unnecessary. And there were many moments like that throughout the book.
And so while I think what Katie Davis is doing is noble and wonderful, and it sounds like her organization is on the right track, I felt like her book was just subpar. It needed a little more story, a little less religion, in my personal opinion.(less)
I had wanted to read this book for quite some time. I'd seen it at Barnes & Noble on those "Buy 1, Get 2 Half Off" tables for over a year, but I a...moreI had wanted to read this book for quite some time. I'd seen it at Barnes & Noble on those "Buy 1, Get 2 Half Off" tables for over a year, but I always stopped myself from buying it. I have a bit of a problem with buying books faster than I can read them, but I added it to my "to-read" list, and vowed to buy it someday.
Well, turns out I didn't have to. One of my 7th graders used an excerpt from the book in her A-Z Journal for Y (Yemen), and when I mentioned my desire to read it, she lent me her copy of the book! She said it was so good and such a quick read (and if it's a quick read for a 13-year-old, surely I can finish it quickly too, right?) that she wanted me to borrow her copy to read it for myself. Motivated by the fact that I needed to get it back to her within 9 school days (because that's all that is left until school is out for summer), I began reading it immediately. And just like she said, it is in fact a quick read. But a good one at that.
Nujood's story is sadly not a unique one in a country like Yemen. Born into poverty in a small village where they kept no records of such trivial things like birth, there is no birth certificate or record of Nujood. But she is alive, and there is no doubt she is just a child. A common practice in Yemen, despite the legal marriage age, Nujood was married off at the age of 8 or 9 to a man 3 times her age. Beaten, raped, and abused from the beginning, Nujood lived a life of fear. But unlike the many other girls that are forced into this situation so young, Nujood refused to surrender, refused to succumb to a life of abuse and heartache, and so she fled to the courthouse in the capital of Sana'a, told her story, was granted a divorce, and became an international celebrity, all within one month.
The book itself is a good, quick read. Although some of the language is clearly not Nujood's voice, but that of the author who helped tell her story, the story itself is still a strong one. As an American, I cannot fathom being married off to a 30-year-old man at the age of 8. I can't imagine living in a place where I was forced out of an education before I could fluently read and write, and forced to become a wife before I've even reached puberty. And while there is no way to justify something like that, the reality is that it is not new. This is not something that just began happening. It's been happening for thousands of years. My heart breaks for every girl who has ever been stripped of her childhood and forced into a life she did not choose for herself. But my heart also breaks for the societies in which such atrocities occur. This is an issue that can be fixed, and is being fixed. Yemen has already tried to pass several new laws to further prevent the marriages of such young girls to older men. Some to no avail, but the change has been put in motion. We are already seeing a ripple of change beginning to take place in the Arab world in regards to human rights and women's rights, and this only adds fuel to that ever-growing fire. My hope is that with the growing awareness of stories like Nujood's, these societies will continue to see the changes that need to be made within their countries, and that they will do all in their power to prevent such things from occurring. And I hope they can make such changes while still preserving their heritage and culture.
Very enlightening and interesting read. Definitely one that can further lots of debates, and one that I would very much like to share with my students if I can work it in to my curriculum. Fascinating story.(less)
This book was flat-out hilarious. I have been reading books during my lunch break at school lately, and the other teachers have started looking at me...moreThis book was flat-out hilarious. I have been reading books during my lunch break at school lately, and the other teachers have started looking at me funny because I will just start laughing at really inappropriate moments in their seemingly important conversations. It's made for an interesting week, that's for sure.
This is the first book I've read by Ellen DeGeneres, and it makes me want to read her other two. There's no real rhyme or reason to her book, it's basically just a hodgepodge of randomness, but if you find Ellen funny, and can picture her reading this book out loud to you, I think you'll find it funny.
There were parts that got a little tiring, with me wondering where she was going with this. Like the chapter where she makes random noises, or her mall-cop chapter that I didn't really find that entertaining, but otherwise it's a perfect light read.
If you're looking for a serious, plot-driven, well-developed book...this isn't for you. But if you're looking for a light read for a few good laughs and pure time-killing, entertainment purposes, Ellen's book is for you.(less)
I love Tina Fey. I have loved Tina Fey since her SNL days, and I will continue to love Tina Fey even after her claimed "5 minutes of fame" are over. P...moreI love Tina Fey. I have loved Tina Fey since her SNL days, and I will continue to love Tina Fey even after her claimed "5 minutes of fame" are over. Personally I don't see how that's possible, but that's the honesty you get from reading her memoir, Bossypants.
What I love about Tina Fey is she's a no-nonsense, cut-to-the-chase, straight-talker who sees the humor in every aspect of her life (hence the comedian bit). She isn't the cookie-cutter image of what we expect a successful woman in the film/tv industry to be. She's quirky, she's awkward, and she was not "hot" or "popular" growing up. I think that's why I feel I can relate to her so well. I'm skinny and awkward. I was a theatre geek in high school. I faint at the eye doctor (she admits in her book to feeling queasy when attempting to wear contacts...I feel that. I can't even bring myself to get fit for contacts, let alone wear them.) She has a life outside of her work, and yet her work is still very important to her. And she's not in it for the fame or fortune, she doesn't see herself as the beautiful, incredibly talented woman she has become. (Or maybe she does and this is all just an act in her writing, which in that case, kudos.) But I love her for it. I love her for not trying to seem perfect, that her life is just "oh so fabulous because I'm a STAR!" But she also doesn't try to play the martyr. She doesn't blame those who walked all over her in the past for her past and present woes. She accepts life for what it is and moves on. I respect that. I respect that Tina Fey is someone to look up to and to admire for her wit, intelligence, success, and humbleness. In a world where women like Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Snookie are blasted on every magazine cover and tv channel from here to Tokyo as the "role models" for my generation, I appreciate when someone like Tina Fey comes along. Someone who is beautiful and successful because of her humor and intelligence, who also happens to be gorgeous without hair extensions, fake boobs, or a nose job or botox. She's the real deal. And she's made something of herself. Who wouldn't idolize that?
Tina Fey is one of the few women in Hollywood I feel I and all the other "average women" out there can relate to and fully respect. Kudos to her, and I hope this isn't her last written work.
Oh, and her book had me laughing hysterically from beginning to finish. That's always good too.(less)
I love Anthony Bourdain. Love him. I was first introduced to him with his show on the Travel Channel, No Reservations, and didn't realize he was a che...moreI love Anthony Bourdain. Love him. I was first introduced to him with his show on the Travel Channel, No Reservations, and didn't realize he was a chef until I "wikipedia'd" him one night while watching an episode. I decided to give his first book a try, and I liked it. I didn't love it, but I liked it.
This book is for someone who is fascinated with anything dealing with food, the culinary arts, restaurants, become a chef, cooking, or just curious about the life of a chef, or like me, just curious about Anthony Bourdain. While I don't have a huge desire to be a chef or own a restaurant (especially after reading this book), I do love food, cooking, and Anthony Bourdain. His obscure, obscene humor coupled with his detailed descriptions of life in the "culinary underbelly" was just the dose of Bourdain I needed to remind me of my love for cooking and food. And his tales are definitely interesting.
While this book took me a while to get through, as do most memoirs, and while I'll admit he definitely seemed to ramble in some parts, leaving me wondering where he was going with all of this, all in all I enjoyed it. It was interesting to see things from a different perspective, and it definitely will make me think next time I go into a restaurant about what's going on behind those swinging doors.
I still love Anthony Bourdain. Probably more than I did before I read this. I just do. I love him. That's all.(less)
This review will definitely not be about the literary quality of this work, because that was not the purpose for writing this book. Pastor Todd Burpo'...moreThis review will definitely not be about the literary quality of this work, because that was not the purpose for writing this book. Pastor Todd Burpo's sole purpose for writing this story was to tell the remarkable and unbelievable story of his then-4-year-old son's near-death experience and apparent visit to heaven.
Colton Burpo was just shy of 4 years old when, on a family vacation to Colorado, suffered a ruptured appendix and had to undergo an emergency appendectomy. After spending a few days in the hospital, and what would be one of the hardest weeks in the lives of Todd and Sonja Burpo, Colton recovered, and is now a healthy, active, 11-year-old boy. But the story does not end there. After being out of the hospital for a few months, Colton begins describing things that happened and visions he saw that there is no other way to explain him knowing them without having experienced some sort of near-death or outer-body experience. He was able to recount exactly what is father and mother were doing at the precise moment he was in surgery. He claimed he visited heaven, where he met Jesus, who had "the most beautiful eyes ever," played with his older sister - a baby his mother had miscarried before having Colton - and spending time with "Pop," his great-grandfather, who passed away 30 years before Colton was even a blip on the radar screen.
All of these plus more are recounted by Todd Burpo in his book, Heaven is for Real, in great detail and with the added touch of a pastor from a small Nebraska town with a population of just under 2000.
I want to believe this story. I want to believe it so much I got teary-eyed in some parts. And some parts of this story I can believe. Colton's near-death experience, seeing people who have passed on, meeting Jesus. But...then there's parts that I still can't quite accept.
As a fellow Christian, I fully respect Colton's visions of heaven, and the Burpo family's faith. I have faith too. My faith is very well grounded in the experience I had when I was Colton's age. It wasn't near-death, but I had a conversation with a man I call "Papa Dick" - my grandfather, who passed away years before I was born. I can't explain it, I just know it happened, and that because of that experience, I know he is in heaven watching over me with the rest of my family that has gone on before me and with God and Jesus. So why is it so hard for me to buy into Colton's story? Because I'm human, and thus it is in my design to doubt things that are unfamiliar to me and that no one else can back up.
My main skepticism is the pure fact that I am biased toward my own beliefs of what I think heaven is like, and my unshaken belief that all religions have a connection, and that God and heaven is not selective toward any one religion. Not saying Jesus isn't there, or that if you don't believe in Jesus no worries you're going to heaven. Just in the fact that...well, I can't say for certain that you have to believe one specific thing or you're never getting into heaven. It's not my place to judge, and I can tell Todd Burpo and his family probably believe differently than me. So call me an awful person, but that is the honest truth about where my skepticism comes from. I was also troubled by the part about Pop, Todd's grandfather. Todd's mother always worried if Pop was in heaven because, although spiritual, Pop was very private about his spiritual life and didn't attend church that often. But a few weeks before he passed, he went to a revival service and apparently accepted Jesus into his heart. This troubles me because from the moment Pop is mentioned, I made an immediate connection to my Papa Dick. My Papa Dick was the same way - very spiritual, but very private, didn't really attend church. But I have no doubt in my mind he is with God and the angels watching over me. And I just felt that this book is kind of assuming that the only reason Pop was in heaven was because of that revival service. My Papa Dick never attended a revival service. I don't know why, but assumptions like that just trouble me. But that's just me being nit-picky and trying to find things to back up my skepticism.
I'm starting to rant here, but the bottom line is this - I can buy some of Colton's story. Do I buy all of it? Not so sure. Do I necessarily agree with Todd Burpo's theology on Christianity? Not really. But do I believe in heaven? Of course. Was Colton there? Only God knows for sure. Does this book do an excellent job of opening up discussion about religion and heaven and hell and what happens to us when we die? Absolutely. And that's why I give it 3 stars.
As much as I respect Reagan, Peggy Noonan frustrated me throughout this whole book simply because she depicted Reagan as some sort of god. It got real...moreAs much as I respect Reagan, Peggy Noonan frustrated me throughout this whole book simply because she depicted Reagan as some sort of god. It got really annoying. However, an interesting look into the Reagan administration and what went on behind the scenes.(less)
This book was amazing. Every person in America should read it if they really want to gain just a glimpse of understanding into the world of the Middle...moreThis book was amazing. Every person in America should read it if they really want to gain just a glimpse of understanding into the world of the Middle East. The book itself isn't necessarily a literary classic, but the story of Greg Mortenson and the things he has done in Pakistan and Afghanistan are truly inspirational.
Beautiful story of making a difference through one simple idea - education. Brilliant.(less)