Short Story: Fever Pitch is an elegantly crafted memoir as an individual tries, and fails, to find the way that sport describes the ups and downs of l...moreShort Story: Fever Pitch is an elegantly crafted memoir as an individual tries, and fails, to find the way that sport describes the ups and downs of life.
Story: At no point in this memoir do you doubt Nick Hornby's love for Arsenal or football in general. It shines through much of the way an individual's personality or temperament does. His fanaticism makes the memoir easy to relate and understand, as the reader is able to substitute in their own teams or obsessions that grip them. As a sports fan, the memoir was almost a reflection of the thoughts I have also shared.
The best parts of the book are when Nick Hornby attempt to use football as a metaphor for his life. When invest so much time and thought into our teams and obsessions its not unusual for us to see a winning streak as a prophecy of good things to come. For Hornby, this metaphor continually broke down, leading to a particularly poignant revelation as why this is so:
Sport and life, especially the arty life, are not exactly analogous. One of the great things about sport is its cruel clarity: there is no such thing, for example, as a bad one-hundred-metre runner, or a hopeless centre-half who got lucky; in sport, you get found out.
As for the writing, the memoir takes a bit of time to get rolling. The book is roughly divided into three sections corresponding with phases of his life: childhood to teenage years, young adult to twenty-something, and maturing adult. It isn't until he reaches his post-university years where I started to feel a connection with the book; however, that could do more with my current standing in life than Hornby's writing ability.
Overall, I say anyone that can relate to the passion of sport, or any obsession, should consider picking up Fever Pitch. Further, those looking for a way to understand or relate to their fanatical partners may also find understanding and joy in the memoir.(less)
The Groom's Instruction Manual is designed with the twenty-something male in mind. The book is stocked full of cute and funny info-graphics; granted,...moreThe Groom's Instruction Manual is designed with the twenty-something male in mind. The book is stocked full of cute and funny info-graphics; granted, they're not as informative as the ones you would find in USAToday, but the do make the book a bit more fun to read and flip through. There is a music checklist that is particularly helpful to those that are bringing an iPod for reception music, but most of the rest can be found online for free.
The biggest failing of this book, however, is it's reliance on common myths about wedding planning. One of the first pieces of advice is that the bride is always right and compromise mimics the way Barack Obama gives in to Republican congressional leaders. In fact, the majority of the book is dedicated to reminding the groom that the day is all about her and he should be doing everything to reinforce that. For couples seeking a more balanced approach, this book is not for them.(less)
Suzanne Collins weaves a majestic story that touches not only into the complicated mind of a confused teenager, but the underlying currents of politic...moreSuzanne Collins weaves a majestic story that touches not only into the complicated mind of a confused teenager, but the underlying currents of political turmoil that shapes those lives. That is what struck me most about this look into a desperate, dystopian future - even though I know what is happening is abhorrent, I don't care. All I care about is Katniss and her will to survive. I forget about why the games are there and my desire to eliminate them.
That resonates true for all of us, especially adolescents. We know of the larger political/cultural/societal forces that impact our daily lives. But, until those forces directly impact our lives, we ignore them. This isn't about being self-centered, it is just about survival, as displayed by Katniss.(less)
I've had a few days to think about Mockingjay, and that time has lead me to one conclusion: this is a brilliant bloody book.
Many individuals are discr...moreI've had a few days to think about Mockingjay, and that time has lead me to one conclusion: this is a brilliant bloody book.
Many individuals are discrediting the book based on the heroines (and really, Suzanne Collins) choice of a man. This series is much deeper than that as it focuses on a group of genuinely broken people looking for some sort of sanity. Characters go from conniving and manipulative to spontaneous and selfless in the bat of an eye, much like we all act. The series paints a brilliant picture of what it means to live in a struggle and the sacrifices that must be made because of it.
The story is excellent, but a quick few complaints about the writing style. As with the other two novels in the series, Collins spends the first third winding the story up, setting the pieces in motion. These sections are incredibly inner-monologue based with little dependence on the outside world. However, it always stands in stark contrast to the final sections of the book which can seemed rushed and forced. Things begin moving so fast that you can lose track of the environment, wishing for the slower pace of the first third. However, this should not be seen as a strong sticking point, as the plot and reasoning makes up for it.(less)
On the back cover, Foer promised to present a complex analysis of the world solely using soccer as a metaphor. While he falls short of this, I walked...moreOn the back cover, Foer promised to present a complex analysis of the world solely using soccer as a metaphor. While he falls short of this, I walked away knowing more about the history/development of soccer, global political forces, and different cultures than I would have imagined. Given the topics, you would expect this to be a very heavy read. On the contrary, Foer is able to keep the subjects and metaphor alive with simplistic writing about complex tasks. Although this leaves me worried about what he's leaving out, it has convinced me to look deeper into soccer allegiances instead of treating them solely as fandom.(less)
**spoiler alert** I was initially excited to read this book. I've always enjoyed heist movies and count Oceans' 11 and The Italian Job as a couple of...more**spoiler alert** I was initially excited to read this book. I've always enjoyed heist movies and count Oceans' 11 and The Italian Job as a couple of my all time favorites. And since I knew nothing of the real-life heist, or the perpetrators, beforehand, so I came into it with a clean slate wanting a fundamental question to be answered: Why?
Sadly, I walked away highly disappointed. The main character, by all accounts, had it all: a beautiful wife, a great education, and a promising future as a NASA scientist. One would think it would take a lot to throw all of this away. Unfortunately, the author never even attempts to craft a convincing thesis, with reasons ranging from money, to love, to the advancement of science, to fame. This is the main reason I walk away dissatisfied because I never have a clear view of what was going on in Thad's mind.
Unfortunately, that was not the only problems I have with this book. Ben Mezrich, at this point in his career, is pretty much writing a book as a precursor to a screen play. His style of novelization makes it a better "story," but does leave questions about plausibility of it all. In the book, we're lead to believe that everyone in Thad's life is a stunningly beautiful person, including the college-aged NASA co-ops. Somehow, Thad is also the social-life of NASA, wooing other coops along with aged scientists and NASA veterans.
You would also think a novelization of true events would e the number of plot holes. Unfortunately, there are many. Why did a intelligent girl, who had barely known him a month, go along with this? Why did Thad "suddenly" decide to raid Gibson's lab instead of the moon lab? How did he and two other girls described as "tiny" manage to lift a 700-pound safe into a vehicle, out of a vehicle, into a vehicle again, and into a dumpster? What exactly could have happened to the notebooks that led to his harsh sentence (sorry, "I don't know" doesn't cut it for me knowing its coming from a convicted liar)? I'm sure these holes will be fixed or removed from the eventual movie, leading to even greater questions of plausibility.(less)
**spoiler alert** Time for confession: I have some strong nerd tendencies. That is definitely evident when following the allusions by Junot Díaz in Th...more**spoiler alert** Time for confession: I have some strong nerd tendencies. That is definitely evident when following the allusions by Junot Díaz in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Now, these allusions make sense since Oscar (the titular character) is one of the world's biggest nerds as his early '90s self was in love with all things Dungeons and Dragons, Star Wars, and Alan Moore. While I may not necessarily shared all of Oscar's passions, I at least understand many of the references without the need for in depth research. Individuals without this knowledge may not find the Oscar or Yunior portions of the book as interesting.
As I hinted to above, this book's narrative is centered around several people in Oscar's family or immediate circle. As the titular character, Oscar's chapters are undoubtedly the most interesting and rounded, painting a complex picture of a youth dealing with complex problems. The same can't be said for all of the other characters. Beli's chapter (Oscar's mother) seemed endlessly long, sometimes spending too much time on the intricacies of her relationship with the Gangster. Lola's story wasn't nearly long enough, with lots of unanswered questions and a general mystique around the character. Abelard and Yunior were focused and short chapters that was ideal for their overall contribution to the story. Fuku, the mystical but ever-present character, was a great mystery that tapped in the genre of magical realism.
Despite the flaws with other characters' stories, Junot Díaz did a great job of making me care about Oscar and his immediately family. I wanted him to succeed in the face of family, cultural, and physical adversity. And even though I knew his death was coming (thanks to the title), I didn't want it to happen. I just wanted Oscar to be happy. I contribute that to Díaz's ability as a story teller and was the justification for much of my rating.(less)
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a perfect example in absurd humor. Make no mistake, you are not reading this book for it's plot, as it makes l...moreThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a perfect example in absurd humor. Make no mistake, you are not reading this book for it's plot, as it makes little sense when thought of logically. Rather, the plot serves as the latest device for Douglas Adams to make a quick one-liner or newest piece of satire.
That said, something has been lost in the 31 years since first publishing. Many jokes are rooted in the culture of late 1970s Britain and are lost on a younger audience (like myself). The best example of which is Ford Prefect, named after an iconic British car that hasn't been sold in 50 years. Other references similarly require a quick search to fully appreciate the joke.
Water for Elephants is an enthralling look into the secretive and exciting world of a traveling circus through the depression. It is obvious that Sara...moreWater for Elephants is an enthralling look into the secretive and exciting world of a traveling circus through the depression. It is obvious that Sara Gruen spent a considerable amount of time researching the history of circuses to craft a believable and realistic portrayal of the circus. She creates a great entry in the historical fiction genre as the time and place serve as a focus of the story instead of a mere accessory.
The great work of her as a fiction writer shines through in her crafting of Rosie the elephant. Rosie is undeniably an elephant, and Gruen doesn't conceal this fact. However, that didn't stop me from forgetting that Rosie was nothing less than human due to the depth of descriptions of her emotions, mannerisms, and actions.
Water for Elephants can be a bit heavy read due to the dark circus life set in the backdrop of the Great Depression. However, the finale will leave you feeling joyful and satisfied.(less)
The criteria for books like this is simple - provide a few laugh out loud moments with plenty of other smirks or snickers. This book failed in all acc...moreThe criteria for books like this is simple - provide a few laugh out loud moments with plenty of other smirks or snickers. This book failed in all accounts. It was enjoyable, but not something I would look at again unless there were no other options. The blog the book is based off of is a perfect example of what is in the book, with nothing expanded upon.(less)
One of the more remarkable things about Life of Pi is the author took what should be a pretty exciting event - becoming shipwrecked with a tiger and m...moreOne of the more remarkable things about Life of Pi is the author took what should be a pretty exciting event - becoming shipwrecked with a tiger and made it to where I didn't care. The action was too busy building on obvious metaphors about God, spirituality, and humanity to focus on the essential ingredient - humans themselves. I didn't care about the main character, even after the first third of the book was about nothing but him. To me, Life of Pi is a disappointment considering what could have been. (less)