I was initially really excited to read this book...I am a big fan of celeb magazines, blogs, etc. However, I couldn't really get into this book. It mi...moreI was initially really excited to read this book...I am a big fan of celeb magazines, blogs, etc. However, I couldn't really get into this book. It might be because a lot of the stories are about movie and television stars from before my time, or it might be because the writing doesn't draw the reader in, or it might be the lack of connections/transitions.
I did see later, that the "stories" are actually scripts from the Hollywood Stories One Minute Radio Feature and at that point, I realized why the transitions were absent.
Anyways, I have no doubt that the author is probably an excellent tour guide, and that the tour would be lots of fun, I just wouldn't recommend the book.
"...Gollum's garbled voice in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers came from the sound a cat would make by coughing up a hairball...The personality was based on the actor's observations of heroin addicts." p.96
This book fed my love of music, science, human nature - quite a feat for just one text! As I'm not a huge scientifico (yes I made that one up), I was...moreThis book fed my love of music, science, human nature - quite a feat for just one text! As I'm not a huge scientifico (yes I made that one up), I was a little concerned that I would be needing to look a lot of terms / theories up while reading this book. However, the terms were very easy to understand and the theories were well explained...a little too well explained. Levitin rehashes (on seemingly EVERY PAGE) the theory of spontaneous mutation. I'm sure the author was trying to ensure that we all understood the fact that the mutation doesn't happen as a result of the environment, but rather spontaneously occurs and then happens to be favourable to the environment. (Hey, I sound like I know what I'm talking about! Thank you "Intro to Genetics" in undergrad!) Moving along, aside from my irritation with Levitin's repetition, I really enjoyed this book. Music is inherent in us all - just look at what babies do when they hear a good beat; and this book gives us the science to back it up. *If you want to learn more before you buy the book, check out this website.
The book gives each of the six songs a chapter, my favourite of which was Joy, where Levitin explains that the natural / biochemical reaction to joy is to sing, dance, jump or shout. The author mixes scientific fact (i.e. the act of singing produces endorphins - which make us feel good ) with his, often hilarious, musical experiences (i.e. Sting and Levitin decide that probably the first "song" sung was a caveman making sounds and other cavemen joined in because it felt good). We sing for many reasons and we are many things because of song.
"Music...is not simply a distraction or a pastime, but a core element of our identity as a species, an activity that paved the way for more complex behaviors such as language, large-scale cooperative undertakings, and the passing down of important information from one generation to the next." p.3
his book was given to me during a really rough time in my young life and so I hope I can be objective and not too lovey-dovey with this text. It is a...morehis book was given to me during a really rough time in my young life and so I hope I can be objective and not too lovey-dovey with this text. It is a sweet collection of glimpses into different peoples' lives, artfully woven together through their interactions in a cooking class. Bauermeister attaches each student / character an ingredient that is fitting to their struggles in life. The most fitting, in my opinion, is the section about Isabelle, an elderly lady who is battling Alzheimer's Disease; she is paired with sage.
The text is pretty and savoury - I wanted to both see the places the author invites the reader to, and I wanted to eat (or at least smell) the food the students prepare together. I would recommend this book to foodies, as well as anyone who has fought for (or against) something in their life - I guess that would probably mean everyone! The reason I didn't give this text a higher rating was that it just isn't my genre of choice. There was little plot, a lot of details are (intentionally) left out, some details were overbearing in their presence. In short, I can appreciate this text, I can safely offer it up to many people, I enjoyed it to some extent, but whether I would seek out this author again is still up in the air.
"Sometimes, nina, our greatest gifts grow from what we are not given." p.30
Normally, I can be a bit of a snob when it comes to people raving about books (especially when these books have been made into movies). I always feel...moreNormally, I can be a bit of a snob when it comes to people raving about books (especially when these books have been made into movies). I always feel like the hype overwhelms me and I am usually let down. So true to form, I hadn't planned on reading, let alone enjoying The Soloist. A friend lent it to me without a word and it sat on my pile of books to read for about a month. When I finally made my way to it, I was pleasantly surprised!
The Soloist takes the reader on a journey, not so much through the world of classical music, but rather through the rabbit hole that is mental illness. Lopez befriends the musician, Nathaniel (who has schizophrenia) and learns a lot about mental illness, how it looks in daily life, and the grip it takes on everyone surrounding the person who is mentally ill.
The writing can be lengthy at times, I felt myself skimming sections until the plot picked up (for example, during Nathaniel's various rants) and I found Lopez to carry on too long in his moments of self-reflection.
"His first offering is a Beethoven cello sonata, and this drab concrete corner of downtown Los Angeles, with its nearby settlement of bug-bitten denizens and moving clouds of noxious vehicle exhaust, is transformed into a place of lilting repose." p.37
A.J. Jacobs, a confessed agnostic, decides to take on the Bible, and follow it as literally as possible for a year. This leads to humorous be-tasseled...moreA.J. Jacobs, a confessed agnostic, decides to take on the Bible, and follow it as literally as possible for a year. This leads to humorous be-tasseled robes, Creationist museum visit and a chicken-killing ritual.
As an agnostic myself, there were moment where I worried that the book's tone was a little evangelistic...but once I persevered, I found things I could relate to once more. Some favourite words of wisdom (from Jacobs himself, or a higher power...) include:
"I ask him if it's hard to lead a group of atheists. Like herding cats, he says. Atheists aren't, by nature, joiners...Recently atheists have made a good effort...But if organized religion is Goliath, then organized atheism still qualifies as David." (p.98)
"We can never hope to plumb the mystery of God's mind. Bad things happen to good people. Idiots and geniuses, saints and sinners - we a ll die. The best we can do is try to appreciate the great things that God has given us - food, drink, the pleasure of honest work. We should follow the commandments, but we should do so with no guarantee that they will pay off in this life." (p.114)
"In the end, people appreciate frankness more than flattery." Proverbs 28:23 (TLB)
"In a place of no humanity, strive to be human." (p.244)
This book opened my mind to the spirituality that can exist, even in the absence of formal, organized religion. I'm curious to know what those who have drank the proverbial kool-aid (no offense intended) might have to say about this book.(less)