This is exactly what it promises to be. It's a classic teenage fantasy, complete with superpowers and genetically modified pet dinosaurs, but it someh...moreThis is exactly what it promises to be. It's a classic teenage fantasy, complete with superpowers and genetically modified pet dinosaurs, but it somehow manages to work perfectly without causing the reader to wince. I love books like this - when the storyline sounds suspiciously like what one would fantasize about while on the toilet, yet for some reason there's nothing campy about the execution. I don't know how it is done, and I don't want to know, because I'm afraid that it might spoil it for me. All I know is that, from where I stand, it looks pretty much like magic.(less)
Oh man. I had grown used to these being all messy and dysrythmic, and I had accepted that as a necessary evil - after all, everything else about the T...moreOh man. I had grown used to these being all messy and dysrythmic, and I had accepted that as a necessary evil - after all, everything else about the Thursday Next series is pure gold. But the fact that The Well of Lost Plots took place entirely within the BookWorld gave it a certain tightness, a sense of place and focus that the rest of the series lacked. And now I miss that.
But, this one's still wacky and meta and geeky and awesome, so yay! There was a bit too much political satire for my taste, but that's just me. It was great political satire, and it made me snort in all sorts of inappropriate public places. Fun!(less)
This is the second book I've read this month that I wish I had written myself. Either I'm becoming more and more unoriginal, or I've turned into an ex...moreThis is the second book I've read this month that I wish I had written myself. Either I'm becoming more and more unoriginal, or I've turned into an expert at choosing books that will reassure me in what I already know I think. I'm not sure which of these possibilities is more depressing, but none of them change the fact that this is a perfect little book.
And I couldn't have written this one anyway. Mr. Jacobs is a much more dedicated reader than I will ever be. But -big but- he is in no way a professional reader. Which is why this book is a rare gem - its author takes his background as an English professor and douses it with so much common sense and enthusiasm that the result reads like... well, it reads like me.
The only problem I see about it is the title. It couldn't be more wrong for this book. It makes this sound much more romantic, traditionalist and nostalgic than it actually is.
Big points this book makes:
- Harold Bloom is a pompous twat.
- There is a difference between reading at whim and reading at Whim. The first wastes your time and results in reading trash only. The second is what happens when you know yourself, the sort of reader that you are and what books will make you happy.
- It is perfectly all right to be distrustful of Greatest Hits of Literature lists [I am SO relieved. I've always had the feeling that this obsession with lists is somehow a specifically Anglo-Saxon phenomenon that I simply don't get. Well, apparently that's exactly what it is. These stream from a "DIY American tradition" to which I don't belong. I'm not dead inside or anything, I'm just a perfectly normal, healthy European woman. Phew!]. You don't read books like you eat your Brussels sprouts.
- If you're absolutely certain you don't want to read a particular book, use Wikipedia. Lie. Everybody does it. Then go home and find something you actually want to read.
- In an age in which everything technology has to offer seems to conspire against dedicated, attentive reading, e-readers are the best thing that could have happened to fiction readers. They have accessory functions, that's true, but they're enough clicks away that they don't encourage distraction because of distraction itself. E-readers promote linearity.[YES!](less)
This book is perfect. I've been thinking I had to write this book eventually, but now I don't have to because it exists and it's...moreDIE, HOMEOPATHY, DIE!!
This book is perfect. I've been thinking I had to write this book eventually, but now I don't have to because it exists and it's exactly as I imagined it. Now all I have to do is have a child and plant a tree.
It's a fact that otherwise smart people have a tendency to believe weird stuff. It's always there, right under the surface. My own mom just came in to tell me I have to be careful tomorrow (11/11/11), because the number 11 scares her. I don't understand it, but there it is. And being afraid of the number 11 probably won't hurt her, but there are people out there who will find ways to take advantage of her fear.
This is why this book is so important. People need to know why alternative medicine doesn't work, and they need to know how we can tell that it doesn't work. And if I had to write a book for non-sciency folks to understand how we've come to that conclusion, well, this is exactly the book I would write. (Except it's already been written. I'll have to find something else to do with my time).
The book is at the same time ruthlessly scientific and ridiculously accessible. It flat out refuses to make any assumptions, choosing instead to revise from scratch all the evidence we have on alternative therapies. Except you can't do that without first explaining the method you're using, so that's what the authors do - they intertwine all the acupuncture talk with scientific method talk.That is, they start out by laying out the origins of the clinical trial, and before you know it they're explaining the concept of publication bias and the Cochrane initiative.
The result is a rigorous, honest and well-researched book, and the fact that it's a little lightweight is probably its greatest strength. (less)
I was so scared that this would turn out to be a foodie hipster's rant on what food should be like, instead of what it actually is. I'm relieved to ad...moreI was so scared that this would turn out to be a foodie hipster's rant on what food should be like, instead of what it actually is. I'm relieved to admit that I was mistaken - in fact, it's one of the most thought-provoking books I've read this year. It's helped me to fully flesh out some apprehensions I had which I'd never actually put into words, such as 'Is organic really about chemical paranoia?' 'What's the environmental impact of mindlessly shipping food all over the continent?' 'How in the world does that even make sense economically?' Okay, that last one I had actually wondered about, more than once. I used to have a long commute.
The Omnivore's Dilemma is also less location specific than Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, which was a plus for me. I love reading about American lifestyles and behaviors (it's the whole deep-down-i-know-we're-next thing), but most of the industrial talk doesn't really apply to me. Pollan did a great job of giving a panoramic view of all the different approaches to eating in the first world, that's true. But mostly, it was his naturalist's view of things that made his discourse universal and relatable for me.
Also, I've realized I have some very strong and mostly unfair prejudices against hunters. A book that manages to make me change my mind on a particular subject* is a book that deserves 5 stars. Shame on me.
What else? Oh, apparently now I find ecology fascinating, which poses a new TBR list control challenge. F****ck.
*while quoting a lot of Ortega y Gasset, I might add. Ortega FTW!! I went through an Ortega phase when I was like 17, so anyone who quotes Ortega to prove a point instantly gets bonus points with me.(less)
I'm having a really hard time finding the words for this review.
I think I should start by saying I don't do "inspiring" books, or sports movies of any...moreI'm having a really hard time finding the words for this review.
I think I should start by saying I don't do "inspiring" books, or sports movies of any kind. I think it's because of the same reason I never give pep talks to patients. I find it sounds corny and fake, and it reeks of self-importance. Which is probably the reason I connected with this book on such a deep level.
After injuring himself repeatedly while running, Christopher McDougall did some research and heard about the Tarahumara, a lost tribe in the Mexican Barrancas del Cobre, who happen to be the world's greatest athletes - they run up to 200 miles in the blistering heat, in handmade sandals, just for fun. He decided to track them down, and eventually was able to contact Caballo Blanco, a mysterious American who has lived among the Tarahumara for years. This ends up leading to a 50-mile race along the Copper Canyons, populated by a band of distance runners so wacky and diverse it seems too good to be true.
Now, this is how the book has been marketed, and that's what happens in it, mostly. But the whole "gonzo reporter finds lost tribe of superrunners and learns their secrets" scenario leaves out the fact that ultrarunning is, actually, a legitimate sport. Well, it's not exactly popular or respected, but it's definitely a thing, even beyond Tarahumara borders. This means that, almost from the beginning, McDougall sets out on a series of apparent detours. The Tarahumara storyline is abandoned for a good part of the book, and instead what ensues is a multilayered, panoramic view on everything surrounding running - the stories of the people who would go on to participate in the Copper Canyon Ultramarathon are intertwined with chapters on vegan diet, evil shoe companies and evolutionary biology.
But the most important thing about it (or, at least, what really makes this book different and real) is that it all happens on the outskirts of the official sports scene. These supermen are the underdogs. There's a feeling of purity and amateurishness to it all, like these people have no expectations put on them, no sponsors, no inherited knowledge to accept or question. They've invented a sport from scratch, and only now are they realizing they're in fact rediscovering a long lost art.
What I mean is, Born to Run reads more like a runner's personal journey of discovery than it does like, say, a special issue of Runner's World. It isn't a testosterone packed instructional book, but a heartfelt ode to endurance and zen running - that beautiful feeling of recovering the awareness of your own body and the boundaries of your own skin.
It's epic joy. EPIC JOY. Can joy even be epic? Anyway, it's pure joy, and it's epic, so it's epic joy.
I have never been so inspired by a book in my whole life. I've rarely been more exhilarated, either. It may actually have changed my life, though it's too soon to tell. For now, this morning I ran barefoot for the first time (4 km, no pain, absolutely LOVED it) and I'm already training for the marathon next April. Half-marathon really, potentially marathon. We'll see.(less)