This book hit really close to home for me, and though I don't think it was necessarily perfect, it had an impact on me. I felt a range of emotions whiThis book hit really close to home for me, and though I don't think it was necessarily perfect, it had an impact on me. I felt a range of emotions while I was reading it—I literally laughed out loud and teared up within the first 60 pages—and I unexpectedly found myself confronted with a lot of my own baggage that I've carried with me over the past few years. I'm going to come back and leave a more in-depth review once I've processed everything a little more with it....more
Though the middle section of poems was a bit difficult for me to get through, I think the overall effect of this collection is powerful. The last sectThough the middle section of poems was a bit difficult for me to get through, I think the overall effect of this collection is powerful. The last section was by far my favorite. Wiman has a way of, out of nowhere, just giving you this feeling like you've been punched in the gut, minus the actual pain of the hit—simply the pain of catching your breath afterward.
I tend to enjoy more prose-like poetry because it's a lot easier for me to connect with and grasp meaning in. I think there are plenty of poems that fall within this style in the book, though there are also plenty of abstract pieces (particularly in the second section). These I found harder to get through, and after making it to the end, I'm wondering if that might be the purpose. This section is when he's in the throes of war. It's a window into his thoughts during this extremely dark time when he's battling cancer. Rather than risk using cliches or traveling a well-beaten literary path, he chose to go the route of evoking the slight sense of madness that comes with fighting for your life while leaving behind the routine you've worked so hard to build and had defined your life by up until that point.
I'm not religious, and I don't think you have to be to enjoy this book, but I really appreciated the spiritual nature of many of the poems. Wiman seems primarily focused on the Christian god, but I think you can take a lot of the poems out of that context and put them in various other theological ideologies as well as just in a bigger picture of searching for meaning and purpose in life.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this collection, though I think it is deceivingly small as it takes a few re-reads of several of the poems to really feel the total umph....more
This is the second book I've read by Erik Larson, but his style is distinct and memorable. Whereas it was a bit of a rougher start with Isaac's Storm,This is the second book I've read by Erik Larson, but his style is distinct and memorable. Whereas it was a bit of a rougher start with Isaac's Storm, I knew what I was getting into with this one, and I was prepared to put in the work because I knew the payoff would be worth it.
As I predicted, it has a slow build that works to develop the setting and the characters. Larson is a master at recreating the past, and he does so with such a wonderful attention to detail that clearly is a product of his background in journalism. You can tell that he picks the stories he writes because of his fascination with them, and he feels a duty to tell them in a way that will convey their wonder to the reader.
I hadn't heard of the World's Columbian Fair in Chicago before this book, though I definitely am familiar with many of the now famous names tied to the event. I love the way Larson introduces these people as well—nonchalantly and with no indication of their fame. He's not writing a history book, but rather telling a story of history, where each person who comes in to play is a living being, not just a famous historical figure with an impersonal epithet that reduces their existence to their greatest achievement.
This approach allows the reader to experience the remarkability all over again of discovering that a person was able to do something so incredulous, such as create a gigantic iron wheel that spins thousands of feet in the air, like George Ferris did.
Or pull off such a massive architectural feat as organizing and orchestrating the construction of the most massive event space the world has ever seen, in fewer than three measly years, as Burnham did. As someone who has very limited knowledge of modern construction techniques, let alone the ones used more than a hundred years ago before we had the kind of machines and technology we do now, this left me in awe. The fact that these men not only dared to dream of building something so grand in such a small time frame, but that they put in the labor to pull it off was truly amazing. Of course, this feat didn't come without cost, but the story would not be quite as triumphant without strife.
In contrast to this construction of the World's Fair, the story of Holmes is morbidly intriguing. I couldn't believe that a man could pull of so much crime without ever being retaliated against or apprehended. The way Larson slowly introduces his true evil is also a nice touch, and again a nod at his journalistic background—refrain as much as possible from passing judgment on the subject. He relies on the facts to convey what a monster Holmes is, and he allows the reader to be struck by these and to come to their own conclusions.
The juxtaposition of the two stories allows for an interesting depiction of the differences in how pride and ambition can manifest themselves in someone. With Holmes, his nature led him down a path of cruelty, where his success was represented by the number of victims he could claim control over. Burnham on the other hand, saw an opportunity to improve the world around him and could consider himself successful only if his work had that effect in some way. To read to the two side by side makes you think of the human psyche and what people are capable of. It makes you wonder how two entirely different drives can have a similarly catastrophic impact on the world.
There also is a rich set of contrasting details that Larson uses to pit the holiness of the White City against the hellishness of Holmes's hotel and to raise questions about the way our perspectives and our actions shape the world around us. The bright lights and sense of hope that's built into every element of the grounds of the World's Fair versus the dim, narrow hallways and melancholy rooms that make up the hotel.
Larson delivers every possible way to connect and weave these two stories together to create an experience that pulls readers into this vivid time in American history. I would absolutely recommend this book, though it's perfectly okay if it takes you a little bit of time to finish it—it's worth it)....more
I picked this book up probably for the same reason everyone else did—the title, which makes you feel an immediate need to figure out what the collectiI picked this book up probably for the same reason everyone else did—the title, which makes you feel an immediate need to figure out what the collection is about so you don't feel quite so dirty. The cover art is also really intentionally designed, and I can't pretend that I'm not intrigued when a book has a nice cover. Or maybe some picked it up because they had already read one of Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz's other collections, and in that case, I can say I now understand completely.
This collection caught me by surprise. I expected from the first few poems that it would have some humor and be fairly modern, much more prose-like. I did not expect Aptowicz to implement this humor so seamlessly and poignantly with her exploration of universal issues related to the transition into "adulthood" and morality versus necessity. I easily related to the struggles Aptowicz was facing, even though the context she was experiencing them in was completely foreign to me. That almost made it stick more.
I empathized with the questions she faced regarding her own values and morals as she performed work that, at many times, went against them. How do you reconcile the clashing of feminism and an industry that is often overtly misogynistic? How do you maintain your humanity when you work in a field that dehumanizes and objectifies people? But at the same time, how do you turn down an opportunity that will allow you to support yourself while technically doing something you love, even if it's not necessarily in the way you would have chosen?
These questions fascinate me, and I could not put down Hot Teen Slut until I finished the journey with Aptowicz. Though there are definitely some poems in here that made me uncomfortable or that I felt were downright overkill with the sexual focus, I'm unsure whether they aren't necessary to accomplish the overall effect the collection has on its readers. I think the only thing preventing me from giving this five stars is that I felt some more exploration could have been done into how Aptowicz reconciled these two conflicting aspects of her life—her identity and values and her job.
All in all, I'd recommend this collection, and I already have picked up another one by Aptowicz and am looking forward to reading it. She's got a powerful voice and an interesting take on the ways we navigate and survive in our modern world....more
This novel didn't hit me quite as hard as some of the others I've read by Picoult. I'm not sure if it's because my perspective has changed or if The PThis novel didn't hit me quite as hard as some of the others I've read by Picoult. I'm not sure if it's because my perspective has changed or if The Pact just wasn't as strong in comparison.
I loved the concept of the story—exploring what happens when you connect with someone so strongly that you can't distinguish your own desires and motivations from them. You do everything for them, even something that could make you into a person you don't individually see yourself as. I also thought there were plenty of great lines and scenes throughout the story that were thought-provoking and successful in making an impact. I loved that Picoult set out to explore the complexities of relationships and how the lines can blur easily when someone is both romantically and familialy tied to you, and she definitely raises some interesting and unconventional questions.
Picoult has this way in her writing of creating prose that simulates live-action, as though you are watching her words unfold on a screen in front of you. It's unique and allows the reader to engage more in the story and feel the heightened senses more intensely, as though they're watching a movie. But at the same time, this style can open up the door for cheesy and cliche moments, and I felt that The Pact was riddled with some of these lines and scenes that I didn't think necessarily had to be there.
On top of this, I initially liked the choice to juxtapose the past storyline with the present, but by the end, I felt this approach may have taken the wind out of the climactic trial scene's sails. The goal of a twist ending should be to make it a surprise yet inevitable. It wasn't a surprise, though, when it finally came down to it. Once we got to a certain point in the book, I knew exactly what had happened that night between Chris and Emily. Though I loved the way Picoult revealed this through the trial, I don't think it hit me as hard as it could have. I also wished she had explored Chris' growth a bit more as he came to realize the significant impact Emily truly had on him. We get this line after the fact about how he would kill her if she was still around, but it felt so out of place because I don't think Picoult took us far enough in exploring Chris's emotional growth to understand that side of him yet.
Overall, The Pact has everything in the formula to make for a great, standard Picoult story—a tragic situation, complex characters who you connect to and relate to but can't necessarily trust or predict, scenes and lines that really pack a punch—but something about the overall impact fell short for me. That isn't to say I didn't enjoy reading it, but I don't know if I'd pick it up again....more
It's weird for me to categorize this book as just a mystery because it feels so much darker than that. Gillian Flynn has such a way of taking you intoIt's weird for me to categorize this book as just a mystery because it feels so much darker than that. Gillian Flynn has such a way of taking you into a setting and slowly unfolding a well-built, extremely twisted world. On the back cover of my version of the book, they have a quote from Stephen King saying it's hard to believe this is her debut novel. I'd have to second that. The prose is absolutely excellent, and Flynn has done such a wonderful job of refining these characters and the plot.
One of my favorite aspects of this book was the complexity of Camille. I felt like I understood her in the sense that she was vulnerable and extremely affected by her past, particularly her strange and tumultuous relationship with Adora. But I didn't always expect or immediately understand Camille's actions, which at first bothered me because I thought it was just poor characterization, but over time I came to appreciate because it allowed her character to become very human and real. I think being fickle and unpredictable is something a lot of us can relate to. Camille has hard opinions about certain things, but she's also still hurting, which opens the door for a lot of strange situations.
Overall, this book is extremely twisted. I'm not sure I've felt this uncomfortable reading a book in a while, but I say that in a good way. Flynn absolutely kept me reading, and I loved the awful small town she portrayed and all the messed up people that lived there, each with their own issues and vices. I loved the subtlety of the ending; there was no big shock, no ultimate reveal. It unraveled slowly and evolved naturally with the progression of the story. Somehow, this resonated more with me.
I now only have Dark Places left to read, and I'm trying to hold out because I know I'll already want another by Flynn once I'm finished with it. She's a guaranteed good read....more
I picked this book up because the cover caught my eye, and I bought it a few days later because I had seen a few people talking about it. Kind of likeI picked this book up because the cover caught my eye, and I bought it a few days later because I had seen a few people talking about it. Kind of like when you buy a car and notice that everyone all of a sudden drives that same car. I'd honestly never heard of Connor Franta before, though I can't say for sure whether or not I've seen any of his videos because it's entirely possible that at some point in time, I have.
I will say that this book was surprising and inspiring. I didn't know what to expect because, like I said, I hadn't heard of Connor and I don't think I had seen a description for the book. I just picked it up and started reading it. What I like most about it is that it's designed with the creative mindset that Connor consistently talks about throughout the book. It's full of really beautiful pictures, along with some cute personal ones, and is overall really aesthetically pleasing. This aids to the inspiring feeling; you can tell he put work and thought into the book in every aspect, both its content and its physical presence.
As for the content, I think it was overall entertaining and, at times, really hit home on some good points and observations. He definitely seems like the type of person you'd want to have a conversation with, and I could immediately understand why he has gained such popularity on YouTube. His writing isn't, by any means, masterful or unbelievably poetic, but he's honest and raw in his approach to the various topics he touches on, and that is enough to pull you in and keep you interested. He is tackling subjects that are very well worn at this point, and not necessarily coming to new conclusions about them, but he's continuing the discussion on them where it needs to be continued and shedding light on them in the ways that they should be illuminated.
I'd definitely recommend this book to people. It will get you thinking about your own life and passions and force you to confront what really drives and motivates you–or, what's holding you back....more