The women writer's/travelers collected in this book are refreshing, intelligent, and simply great story te...moreThis was a great book and right up my alley.
The women writer's/travelers collected in this book are refreshing, intelligent, and simply great story tellers. It's adventure, food, social elements, and life lessons, but not all the typical touchy feely stuff—more off the beaten path kind of tales about the twists and turns life takes when everything familiar around you ceases to be.
Each story/essay is by a different woman who has taken a different path to traveling or living abroad. Some have sold everything from their previous lives to start over, some are volunteering or working abroad for only a period of time, some are there by marriage or because a marriage didn't work out. Whatever the situation, they are each sharing stories about their unconventional lives and what it's like to be an independent woman, not just traveling, but trying to put down roots in new and foreign lands.
It's an enjoyable and quick read with a lot of wisdom and good story telling. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone interested in women's issues or someone seeking out what it is like to live and travel abroad on one's own.(less)
easily one of my favorite books of all time. Possibly because I feel like I am reading my own journals, and i don't mean in an emo-girly way but as in...moreeasily one of my favorite books of all time. Possibly because I feel like I am reading my own journals, and i don't mean in an emo-girly way but as in the actual events of the book..actually, it's a bit uncanny and only the chronology of the events differ.
But apart from identifying with her experiences and the fact that plath has a clear and beautifully developed style, it is a heartbreakingly lovely piece with real and frank characters. I remember reading it very quickly since it was hard to put down, I was so entwined with the story.
If you don't have experience with mental illness you may not find it as enticing a read since that of course gives it this depressive/angst-ridden ambiance. Perhaps Plath would have written more and showed us development beyond that angst had she lived. I believe her poetry, in part, does that. A lack of understanding about mental illness may also lead you to stereotype this book as some other reviewers here have done...frankly making jokes about this book making you want to stick your head in an oven is disgusting to the human spirit and you're only showing your own ignorance of what is a real disease and not an intelligent literary opionion which you would of course be welcome to. Upon close examination, i personally found it to be insightful and refreshing and think most people should still be able to relate to it on some level. Besides, it is considered a classic so you should read it any way to edgumacate yo'self!(less)
My feelings about this book are a bit muddled for several reasons: 1. I eat up memoirs and historical accounts, but the writing here is a bit contrived...moreMy feelings about this book are a bit muddled for several reasons: 1. I eat up memoirs and historical accounts, but the writing here is a bit contrived at times, thick (i.e. dull), and perhaps a bit biased. I enjoy a challenging read, but it wasn't always challenging for the right reasons. 2. I was really looking forward to reading about this fiercely independent, intelligent, and visionary woman who made her own place in the world. While all of this is true and I respect it, I deeply question her (Britain's) motives for "helping" the Iraqi people and can't exactly relate to her as I thought I would because she sometimes comes off as too rich, spoiled, or severely egotistical. 3. I loved learning more about the tribes that roamed Persia and Mesopotamia and the formation of Iraq. You can tell the author did some really great research (just as Bell did), even though much of the issues and facts are written from a flawed early 19th Century perspective. Of course, this is the world of Gertrude Bell herself..i just thought the reader would benefit from somehow incorporating a fresher contemporary perspective that is less one-sided. 4. The author does cover some of Gertrude Bell's failings/weaknesses. I understand that one might not want to spend the time writing a biography of someone unless they really looked up to them, but I felt that these failings/weaknesses could have been shown with more honesty. 5. Most of my complaints are balanced by the fact that the author really has outdone herself with her program "Seeds of Peace" that promotes understanding and growth among the youth of fueding groups in the middle east. It's some outstanding stuff and shows the author's passions and concerns for what they truely are.
All in all, I'm glad I read this. I learned a lot and would certainly recommend it to others interested in the history of the area, but would urge that the reader take it "with a bit of salt." If ever get the nerve up again, I'd consider reading some of the other biographies that exist on Bell for comparison and definitely some histories on the area from an arab perspective.
One other thing I might note: As I was finishing this book in an airport over Christmas, I was able to discuss it with a very intelligent Iraqi woman sitting in back of me. She had heard me explaining the book to the person with me and even though I normally do not like engaging in airport conversation with strangers, I'm so glad i did because i learned a lot from her about what the war is like on the ground in Iraq and her first-hand understanding of her people and the middle east. I never imagined what it would be like to have to evacuate my own home because there was a ticking bomb in the back yard and I hope she will never have to again...whoever you are, thank you for sharing your life with me. It is a wonderful and hopeful thing to be able to meet the individual faces behind an ugly war and to be able to share a mutual understanding.(less)
another book that I wanted to love but only liked. I'd heard so many good things about it and did find a lot to like but was ultimately disappointed i...moreanother book that I wanted to love but only liked. I'd heard so many good things about it and did find a lot to like but was ultimately disappointed in some of the writing style itself. It's a wonderful story, just not always wonderfully put-together.
For the most part, the author's voice is very clear and poignant, a joy to read. The landscape, food, and daily life comes alive brilliantly. However, all too occasionally, she goes off on these tangents of train-of-thought writing into memories of her childhood. etc. that she can't seem to connect back to the rest of the book very well. These sections become aimless and disconnected from the rest of book. It's like she's trying too hard to be deep and intellectual, so instead of adding a layer of insight into her childhood/lifeview, she just taints the rest of a beautiful memoir of a beautiful place.
I don't want to be too harsh, I'm sure the sentiments are true and meaningful, but I just wish she would have left some more of it in her personal journal and stuck to what she does best (i.e. not deep diving pyschology). Just because you have the money to buy a place in Italy and have other people restore it for you, does not mean you are an intellectual god. I am at once attracted to the life of a priveledged intellectual as I am repelled by the inescapable pretensiousness of it.
What does she do great? The recipes for instance! What a great way to bring that aspect of the book full circle. I would love to see a well-designed/scrapbookish/full color version of this book with photographs of the places and food.
She really opens this personal world up to the reader and brings them into the house and gardens, a warm and welcoming place where i would like to spend so many afternoons drifting into my own dreams of owning and restoring an old house.(less)
I really wish I loved this book, but I just don't. Everyone is always telling me how great Bill Bryson is, I love the cover design, but I find the man...moreI really wish I loved this book, but I just don't. Everyone is always telling me how great Bill Bryson is, I love the cover design, but I find the man to be quite egotistical and whiney.
There are many good laughs and interesting locals throughout the book, most of which are related to his memories of travels as a younger man. In the present story though, Bryson spends his time the same way in every single city: walks, eats, gets drunk, sleeps, complains about how it isn't as good as America. I'm sure he's a great guy in person and everyone has their cranky moments while traveling, but I don't want to read a whole book about some supposedly intellectual and funny guy being cranky all over europe and ripping on the locals in every town. After traveling the whole of Europe with him, this gets pretty damn old.
If you want a good travel book, there seem to be several out there and I would definitely skip over this one in your quest.(less)
This was a somewhat difficult book for me to get through, but I'm glad I read it.
I find Marquez to be so interesting because his writing is as beauti...moreThis was a somewhat difficult book for me to get through, but I'm glad I read it.
I find Marquez to be so interesting because his writing is as beautiful as it is strange and violent. His environments and situations can become so fantastical with threads of folklore and a very real sense of magic that it is sometimes hard to conceive of even though you are so drawn into it. He really reaches in to find the dark and disturbing facets of his character's lives and relationships, all of them tangled endlessly together in this epic novel. Perhaps an acquired taste but certainly a great classic.(less)
this book seemed quite winding and distorted to me at first, but it is, so far, my favorite book by this author.
The writing is wonderfully pungent as...morethis book seemed quite winding and distorted to me at first, but it is, so far, my favorite book by this author.
The writing is wonderfully pungent as it builds the story of the desperate lovers and the fantasy like setting. The ebb and flow of their relationship (or lack thereof) weaves itself through the story and around the tragedies and triumphs of their lives, drawing the reader into the sordid tale.
For me, I love Marquez's style of writing even though it is sometimes difficult for me to get through.(less)
one of my favorite Hemingway books and favorites all around. It's a standard so you should read it anyways, but it also provides entertaining and inte...moreone of my favorite Hemingway books and favorites all around. It's a standard so you should read it anyways, but it also provides entertaining and interesting insight into the young Hemingway and the world of expatriots and literature he was stepping into. In addition, I think it's a wonderful and personal account of Paris in the 20's.
Hemingway has gained such an uber-macho reputation in his later years, but his younger self is much more likeable. Much more open to the possibilities of what lay before him, generally happy, and not the tormented man we see later on. We see him building his reputation and character as a writer/man, and socializing with some of the best writers of the period. Odd to see him looking up to other writers and beginning with self-doubt--very human here and i think it's quite refreshing.
Interesting historical account about the man behind the Smithsonian and the world he lived in. Interesting, that is, without reading like a textbook.
B...moreInteresting historical account about the man behind the Smithsonian and the world he lived in. Interesting, that is, without reading like a textbook.
Based on the reviews on the back, I was really hoping for a more gripping tale though. I would still read it again regardless of this, but I feel that was slightly misleading as some of the writing can really get tedious and meanders as the author skims the bottom of the well for "facts" about a man we know so very little about. It is more an account of assumptions about what his life may have been like and why he chose to donate the money rather than providing any substantial new findings.
The title/cover is also misleading because the book hardly deals with John Adams at all. He makes a brief appearance at the end. While this is fine and dandy and is fine reading, I just wish it was represented accurately in the way the book is being marketed.
The author comes from a backgroud in journalism and I found her choppy sentences and bird-walking-esque reporting style of writing to be distracting at times.
I'm being pretty hard on it though because it was worth the read and I would recommend it to anyone interested in the formation of the United States, The Smithsonian Institution, James Smithson, Early American Presidents and the Congress/Senate, as well as British and American relations in those early formative years.(less)
A great writer, whether you like the terrain or not.
I have not read any of her other books, but I am a big fan of this one. It is humourous and dear,...moreA great writer, whether you like the terrain or not.
I have not read any of her other books, but I am a big fan of this one. It is humourous and dear, ripe with blasphemy and deep spirituality all at once, which is just how i like it.
Anne Lamott writes about life and christianity with very real and human eyes. She is blunt but tender in her thoughts, highly educated and yet unafraid to show sentimentality. She is a bundle of extremes that work together beautifully with all their flaws and jumbled opposites. She embraces the grey that invariably lies between the black and white of life and christianity.
I am not the type to read a lot of self-help or religious material, but this book stands apart from such a sordid lot of those types and offers great insight and great storytelling. I would highly recommend this book.(less)
I can't say enough wonderful things about Mary Beard. Her writing is spot-on and is backed-up by the perfect amount of wit, research, warmth, reason,...moreI can't say enough wonderful things about Mary Beard. Her writing is spot-on and is backed-up by the perfect amount of wit, research, warmth, reason, and intelligence.
This book is a nice read because, although it is scholarly in nature, Beard has a conversational tone that really gives her subject life. It's one of the few books I've read for research purposes that I would dare to call a "page-turner."
Another point is simply that the parthenon's history is so expansive and volatile, that it's a great success that she managed to cover every angle so thoroughly without dragging it out into a multi-volume work. She gets right to the meat of the matter and has a talent for guiding the reader through the material in a very measured way and with succint and thoughtful analysis.
When I was researching the parthenon marbles for my thesis, this is one book I felt I could really trust and come back to time and time again as part of the foundation for my own conjectures. My copy is complete with coffee stains, dog-earred pages, and writing all over the margins...it is certainly well-loved.(less)
Call me crazy, but some of my favorite books are depressing, dark, and lonely stories of adventure and survival in the face of tragedy. This is one of...moreCall me crazy, but some of my favorite books are depressing, dark, and lonely stories of adventure and survival in the face of tragedy. This is one of those books.
I think I heard this book referred to as a modern American Odyssey and I find that rings true. It's not just the wandering journey home motif of the main character, Inman. It is also the way in which the great American landscape plays a character in and of itself, the way it is seamlessly woven into every other aspect of the novel.
The writing is very descriptive and intimate. the characters are flawed but likeable. The ending is sad, but to be treasured.(less)