If someone had told me one of the most compelling and fun books I'd read this year would take place deep inside the world of gaming I would have saidIf someone had told me one of the most compelling and fun books I'd read this year would take place deep inside the world of gaming I would have said they were crazy. But sure enough. Ready Player One was awesome and fun and unique.
I partially read the physical book and partly listened to the audiobook, and I have to give a big shout-out for the audiobook, which is read by none other than geek-god Wil Wheaton. Fantastic!...more
A disturbing, illuminating book that leaves you at a loss for how the vicious corruption that (to judge by this book) infects every corner of low-clasA disturbing, illuminating book that leaves you at a loss for how the vicious corruption that (to judge by this book) infects every corner of low-class Indian life. Katherine Boo spent years with the people in the Mumbai slum Annawadi, situated in the shadow of the bustling Mumbai airport and luxury international airport hotels. The book tells the story of a few of these people and paints of picture of devastating poverty and a way of life that is tantamount to prison for the people who live in the slum.
The author doesn't use the word "I" once to insert herself into the story. And on one hand, I respect that because she has written a true story that reads like a novel (which is very disturbing at times as the reader reminds themselves that this is indeed happening to real people.)
But on the other hand, I really wanted her take on things. I wanted to hear her first-world reaction to this and how it felt to spend time observing these people while not being able to help them. Granted, it would not be the great book that it is if she had done that. But I found myself needing more context, more help analyzing the horrors that she talks about.
To this end - the Wall Street Journal notes that some of the most awful corruption depicted in the book seems to be one-sided. A nun allegedly treats children well only when reporters are around, and sells donated clothes and food instead of giving them to needy kids as the donors intended. A corrupt minor politician is a recipient of women's microloans (like Kiva, which I'm such a fan of), but takes the money and loans it to even poorer women at exorbitant interest rates. World Vision donated supplies are used by "staff members" instead of given to kids. But as the WSJ notes - there's no evidence that Boo interviewed these questionable entities, or the corrupt police who swindle families for all their disposable income. So while I believe that it happens, I'm curious how widespread it is, if charities or government are aware, and if there's any hope to stop it. Boo doesn't really address that, and while it frustrates me not to have that included, I realize she's also telling the story of the people in the slum, and those people barely scraping by don't know or care about what World Vision knows, whether the police commissioner cares about corruption, or whether the government will do anything to stop real estate scams. They just want to eat, or work, or get out.
Too call the family, neighborhood, city, federal and international economics and politics evident in this book "complex" would be a gross understatement. I can't begin to comprehend the depth of the corruption, the futility of charity and the widescale hopelessness that this book conveys. But I feel like I've learned something far richer than the world shown in the fantasy of Slumdog Millionaire. ...more
I was glad to finish this trilogy to see where it went, but this dystopian YA novel was nothing extraordinary. Takes us to a world where medical advanI was glad to finish this trilogy to see where it went, but this dystopian YA novel was nothing extraordinary. Takes us to a world where medical advances which eradicated all disease eventually mutated into a virus that kills all women at age 20 and men at age 25. Rhine is our heroine, a girl who gets forced into a plural marriage to a nice clueless young guy whose father is a sadistic, machiavellian scientist who will stop at nothing to find a cure.
I wanted to see how this turned out, but other than that I wouldn't say it was a life-changer. I was glad to read a YA novel where the romantic story took a backseat to other matters, and world the author built was intriguing enough. Better than the Matched Trilogy, but not as good as Delirium, and definitely not as good as Divergent....more
I spent most of this book frustrated at the lead female character's simplicity. In an era when women were struggling to overcome the wide-held beliefI spent most of this book frustrated at the lead female character's simplicity. In an era when women were struggling to overcome the wide-held belief (which is plainly stated by male characters) that women would be a detriment to the workforce because they are too emotional, I wanted to strangle a character who despite indicating a desire to advance in MI5, ends up promptly falling in love with both a co-worker then an asset. She lets her feelings indeed get in the way of work, and for someone who works for MI5, seems to have little interest in or respect for the goals of the operation she's working on. It's more a love story twice over than a covert operations novel with any kind of intrigue, and I found myself relatively uninterested in Serena's romances as she went on and on about the details of her days with Canning, then Haley. The most interesting part develops toward the end of the book when details emerge publicly about Haley being funded by MI5. And ultimately, the twist at the end of the novel serves to imbue the whole tale with more complexity and intrigue than the hundreds of pages that preceded it. But a twist at the end, though interesting and more or less satisfying, doesn't make the novel great as a whole....more
As someone who loves the singer-songwriters of the 70s, but who still sometimes confused Carly Simon and Carole King, this was a really illuminating bAs someone who loves the singer-songwriters of the 70s, but who still sometimes confused Carly Simon and Carole King, this was a really illuminating book about the 60s through the 80s when these three women were coming into prominence. The book seems a little like an "unauthorized biography" (the author seemed to have talked to some far-fetched "insiders") but does a good job of putting the experiences of these women, and the impact they had on the perception of women in music, into context.
The book clearly demonstrates all three women's artistic successes and impacts, and their place in the feminist movement, and learning so much about them made me like all three even more. I wasn't aware how fully autobiographical their songs were - you can literally tie many songs of these three women and their contemporaries to the relationships they had with other celebrities at the time - I had no idea CSN's Our House was about Graham Nash and Joni's time together, for instance.
But their personal stories end up being a little pitiable, and I'm not sure I wanted to know quite so much about musicians I like so much. Carole King seems to so often entirely sacrifice her sense of self when she finds a man. (Having just read King's memoir, I was surprised at some of the things she left out of her version of her life story, like her first husband cheating on her with a singer, the singer having a baby, and Carole paying for the house for the singer's family to live in.)
Carly comes across as neurotic. Joni comes across as pretentious, self-absorbed, impractical and overdramatic. And James Taylor, one of my favorite artists of all time, with some of the most sensitive, evocative, lovely songs and that oboe of a voice...James Taylor (who dated Joni, married Carly and worked extensively with Carole) comes across as a TOTAL ASS. I can't really reconcile the image I have of this tender, laid back nice guy with the person portrayed in the book - the surly junkie who sacrificed relationships and being present for most of his kids' childhoods in favor of shooting up.
Overall - very enlightening. It's a long book, and some parts are much more interesting than others, but I feel a much deeper sense of understanding when I hear any of these women's songs now....more
I read this as a contextual follow-up to a book our book club read called Sold, a fictional YA novella about a young girl from Nepal sold into sex slaI read this as a contextual follow-up to a book our book club read called Sold, a fictional YA novella about a young girl from Nepal sold into sex slavery in India. I wanted more information on why and how this could happen, and what was being done to stop it.
This book is an academic's multi-year journey to understand the current workings of human trafficking, examining how the sickening business thrives in particular areas of the world. He discusses the root causes of how girls get enslaved, and follows the money trail, and rather naively goes under cover to get inside brothels and interview women everywhere from India to Central Europe.
This academic book is not really a wholly scientific study, nor quite a satisfying piece of investigative journalism, though the author aims for it to be a bit of both. The book reads like a big sprawling report on this heartbreakingly massive worldwide black market, which thrives in countries where women are so culturally degraded that their disappearance or being sold for sex seems not to be much cause for concern among families, towns or governments.
In the end, the author can't provide much in the way of hope or actionable ways to curb trafficking. He ultimately suggests laws are the only weapon, but acknowledges that the real problem lies in cultures that place no value on women as citizens with rights, and poverty so debilitating that selling a child is a family's only option for survival.
i finished the book thinking both the author and I remain saddened and befuddled on how such practices might ever end, and I felt no closer to finding ways I might be able to help, or how to identify effective agencies worth supporting....more
3.5 stars. I really like Samuelsson's global view of food and his enthusiasm for combining cultures. I was especially excited to read this after havin3.5 stars. I really like Samuelsson's global view of food and his enthusiasm for combining cultures. I was especially excited to read this after having eaten at Red Rooster this past May. I'm very glad to have learned more about his story, but the writing was imperfect at best, the narrative a bit jumpy, and sometimes he waxed on about elements that lost my interest. But in general, it's a book about food and culture and travel and identity and how all these things can create a unique worldview, mixed with a tale of how one shot of luck paired with two shots of hard work can take someone to the top of their game. He seems like a guy dedicated to making a difference in his industry and his community, and although at the end I remained somehow off-put by his personality, i admire his sincerity. Very glad I read it, and am eager to go to the Rooster again next trip to NY....more
Some good tips and bits of inspiration, and a fun relaxed tone, but overall fairly one-note...we see photos of the same rooms in Spencer's and Kathy GSome good tips and bits of inspiration, and a fun relaxed tone, but overall fairly one-note...we see photos of the same rooms in Spencer's and Kathy Griffin's houses multiple times when other houses and styles might have provided more insight and variety. But as an avid yard saler, I appreciated the tips on how to discern high quality furniture amidst the clutter....more