**spoiler alert** I'll admit it. I read this after watching 127 Hours and reading several reviews that said minor parts of the story had been changed**spoiler alert** I'll admit it. I read this after watching 127 Hours and reading several reviews that said minor parts of the story had been changed from the original text. Minor was an understatement, but that's a discussion for another time.
Ralston narrates this book with a somewhat self-important, self-righteous air. He arguably has the right to, after all he's been through, but his narcissism just made getting through the novel a grueling task. There were times when I wanted to shout at him to stop being so dull and naive, and while I admire his courage for self-amputating and understand how one's life can flash before one's eyes in the face of death, Ralston's memoir read a little too much like a boastful speech. Even by the end of the novel, when he says that he has learnt to take fewer things for granted and has become more humbled now that he understands the true power of nature, his words remain tinged with a sense of better-than-you snobbery. The story itself is fascinating, as is his life, but I just wish he hadn't told it in such an arrogant way. ...more
I'll admit it. I'm a sucker for books that discuss the seamy underbelly of a given nation — bonus points if said nation is located in Asia. It's no seI'll admit it. I'm a sucker for books that discuss the seamy underbelly of a given nation — bonus points if said nation is located in Asia. It's no secret that Thailand is home to corrupt cops, relentless conmen and scammers — as well as a great population and some of the best tourist sights in the region. Martin discusses the former, of course, as he walks us through his tale of being conned, being jailed then being freed. No spoilers there, the story is as simple as that. After all, if he weren't freed, who would be writing the tale? Don't answer that...
Okay. Let's recap. Simple plot, easy to follow language, un-boring plotline. Average. It's the details that Martin brings to the table that give this book its fourth star: He describes the not-oft-discussed interior of what is sarcastically known as th e Bangkok Hilton and tells readers about how he managed to pass his years there. Intriguing stuff — stuff that I would rather not experience firsthand.
I won't lie though. If you are easily disgusted by descriptions of inhumane living conditions, this really isn't for you. Put it down and please, go find the nearest Lonely Planet guide. Or something....more
I expected a lot more from this book, especially after hearing all the hype about how it's a quintessential read about the dangers of improving technoI expected a lot more from this book, especially after hearing all the hype about how it's a quintessential read about the dangers of improving technology too much (or too little, depending on your perspective). That said, it wasn't a bad read — just an underwhelming one. Huxley's futuristic London is built on the concept of hypnopaedic learning — the osmosis of knowledge through sleep — wherein people are born into assigned castes and are taught to love their status in society from the day they are born. It is impossible, however, for a society like Huxley's London to exist without stripping the population of some amenities (read: things we take for granted as free-thinking human beings) such as curiosity.
The concept then becomes somewhat terrifying, as we learn that the entirety of society is manufactured in tiny bottles (who you are in society is determined by the mix of chemicals added to your embryonic solution) that are inundated with a preset knowledge base (and taught no more than that). These specimens are taught that literature, art and religion are uncivilized and thus have no place in their seamless, happy society and are somewhat lobotomized from birth — they feel no anger, no rage, no hard feelings. By presenting a society so numb of emotion that they need to have special technology made, and then revealing that it was all in the name of consumerism — games are not allowed to be approved unless they require the use of a certain number of parts — Huxley poses the question that all of us should ask ourselves: What is it that is missing from our lives that we don't know exists? ...more
**spoiler alert** Eye-opening and tragic all at the same time. As someone who is interested in the art of communism's takeover of various countries th**spoiler alert** Eye-opening and tragic all at the same time. As someone who is interested in the art of communism's takeover of various countries throughout modern history, I found this book intriguing because it recounted the memories of individuals who went from loyal followers of the North Korean regime to escape artists. Though it was difficult to finish it in one sitting, I found it very easy to pick up again after a month or so of not reading it due to the author's tendency to change subjects quickly — a good or bad thing, I'm not sure. It certainly worked to my benefit. Parts of the content were heavy, not because of gore, but because it was sometimes hard to read nearly firsthand narrations of the mass starvation that swept through the country during the 1980s. ...more
At first I wanted to give this one star because it lacked a discernible plot, but then I realised that I had fallen victim to those teachers who say tAt first I wanted to give this one star because it lacked a discernible plot, but then I realised that I had fallen victim to those teachers who say that a good book should have a clear conflict and a resolution. Chronicling the cross-country travels of two university students across America, How to Steal Sh*t is an interesting look into the minds of people who literally have nothing to lose. This isn't a book for someone who hated Kerouac's On the Road — which is alluded to once or twice — because it's a lacklustre a modern version of it, and that's all. Pick this up if you're bored out of your mind and desperately need something to read or, for some reason or another, have a desire to steal a tent and cannot come up with a master plan. Otherwise, put it back on the shelf — it's not as interesting as the title makes it out to be. ...more
I'll be frank here, the title of this book is a little bit awkward, but ended up to be completely fitting by the time I finished the novel. As someoneI'll be frank here, the title of this book is a little bit awkward, but ended up to be completely fitting by the time I finished the novel. As someone who is non-religious and barely understands (but is intrigued by) Evangelical Christians, I found this to be an interesting read and an interesting study of the phenomenon of modern religion. Roose manages to keep readers entertained through anecdotes of his faux pas and multiple slip-ups, but there were certainly times where I started yawning because he would delve into a deep discussion about what his professors talked about — maybe that just proves I'm not cut out to be religious, after all. ...more
An interesting read, albeit a short one. I'll probably have to pick up the "sequel" in the near future so I can learn more about the life Pelzer led aAn interesting read, albeit a short one. I'll probably have to pick up the "sequel" in the near future so I can learn more about the life Pelzer led as a young boy. The end of the book left me wondering whether child protective services have truly been able to increase their investigative skills though — the entire incident took place in an area near my childhood home, and I've heard nothing but bad about it. Thought-provoking, I suppose you could say. It was the first book in a long time that made me feel like crying by the end, because some of the things Pelzer's mom puts him through are just horrendous... and all because he was a bastard child? ...more
Now, my rating might be just a tad bit biased because I'm a huge Red Hot Chili Peppers fan and an addict to aural pleasure, i.e. music, but this bookNow, my rating might be just a tad bit biased because I'm a huge Red Hot Chili Peppers fan and an addict to aural pleasure, i.e. music, but this book was good. It was easy to get through — unlike some other musicians' autobiographies I've picked up and attempted to read — and it provided interesting background about the lyrics of some of RHCP's early songs, in an easily digested way. ...more