This book wasn't what I was expecting at all. I admit I'd only read the Wall Street Journal thing, and the backlash. I wasn't expecting it to be nearlThis book wasn't what I was expecting at all. I admit I'd only read the Wall Street Journal thing, and the backlash. I wasn't expecting it to be nearly so funny. How did so many people miss that she was joking through most of it? And I think that there were some valid points about the two primary parenting models discussed in the book (both, obviously, stereotypes).
The one thing that she never mentions, though, is that her in-laws' hippy-dippy "Western" parenting style produced a child (her husband) who is obviously even more driven and talented at everything he does than her parents' "Chinese" style, which produced a very intelligent, competent, successful child who doesn't seem to have ever been particularly happy in any of her professional choices.
Okay, gotta go make my 6 year old practice piano for 2 hours. She's never going to play Carnegie Hall at this rate. ...more
I admit to being pretty ignorant about WWI and its causes, and this book was a quick and easy introduction to the causes and the states of mind of theI admit to being pretty ignorant about WWI and its causes, and this book was a quick and easy introduction to the causes and the states of mind of the various European leaders who were setting the course for war. The last chapter changes tone and becomes increasingly critical of these states of mind (and you can hardly blame the author, for just thinking about the devastation of the first World War, and the sheer number of lives lost, is profoundly upsetting), but prior to that it's all very even-handed, with nobody looking all that great.
I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone who would like a pretty simple introduction to the world in 1913. ...more
A really nice character-driven novel about three sisters who all return home for a summer ostensibly to help their parents through their mother's cancA really nice character-driven novel about three sisters who all return home for a summer ostensibly to help their parents through their mother's cancer treatments. I thought that the characters were realistic, the issues real, and the ending was satisfying. The only totally unrealistic part was everyone telling the older sister that she should skip the tenure-track position at the prestigious school because there will always be similar such openings in the future. Ha. Otherwise, I really enjoyed it....more
It was well written, and I think that the author had the voice of a wise-beyond-her-years 18 year old down.
There were two major issues, which were preIt was well written, and I think that the author had the voice of a wise-beyond-her-years 18 year old down.
There were two major issues, which were pretty major. First of all, Gemma and the Mr. Rochester character had no chemistry and their "love" came very suddenly and out of nowhere. It was like the 4-5 chapters needed to develop a deep relationship were just ripped out... it's been a long time since I've read Jane Eyre but I remember that being handled pretty slowly and carefully in the book: the early awkwardness, the growing regard, Jane resolutely participating in secrets that she's aware she doesn't know about... until they realize that they are in love. The second issue is that Mr. Sinclair's secret just isn't bad. At all. Half if it is just "meh, it's a war, people do desperate things, and it seems like a pretty fair trade anyway since there was a substantial amount of money involved" and the other seems like a downright kindness, not something bad. I had to re-read the "big reveal" a few times to make sure I understood it, and it was only reading other reviews of the book online that I realized lots of people had the same issue.
I was debating whether to give the book 3 stars or 4, and I went with 4 because I did find it well written, and a compelling read. It was fun to think ahead and wonder how the author was going to reimagine each next adventure of Jane's....more
Haunting and excellent. A lot of reviewers have complained that the ending just fizzled out... IMO that was the most true to life part of the book. ThHaunting and excellent. A lot of reviewers have complained that the ending just fizzled out... IMO that was the most true to life part of the book. The world changes, people adapt, others suffer, and that's life....more
Very interesting and well researched, but the writing style kind of annoyed me... the author uses "ironically" every few pages, about things that areVery interesting and well researched, but the writing style kind of annoyed me... the author uses "ironically" every few pages, about things that are not actually ironic. But still a very interesting book about someone that I knew next to nothing about....more
The title was rather misleading: this was not a history of the Boston Athenaeum. It was 6 independent essays about various cultural issues that facedThe title was rather misleading: this was not a history of the Boston Athenaeum. It was 6 independent essays about various cultural issues that faced the Athenaeum in the 19th century. I could definitely see it being assigned in a history course about upper class culture in the 19th century, but it really didn't provide any context or any information about the actual history of the Athenaeum.
I also thought it was a little odd how Wolff is really critical about the Athenaeum not taking an official anti-Slavery stance in the 1930s. She doesn't provide any sort of proof that it was, or is, the norm for cultural institutions to take on political causes. Are we equally upset that the Museum of Fine Arts didn't take an official stance on gay marriage in the late 90s? That chapter was particularly weak, particularly since the entire premise (that Lydia Marie Child's privileges were revoked because of her abolitionist writings) was totally undone by a single aside that library records showed she took out her last book several years after the controversy being talked about.
It was, overall, a fine book, with some interesting points. It just wasn't a history of the Athenaeum, as advertised... it was more an upper level history, for someone who's already taken the survey course and knows the general details....more
A charming book about the solar system, exactly what an astronomer does, and the ugliness of academia. Brown writes in a simple, conversational tone tA charming book about the solar system, exactly what an astronomer does, and the ugliness of academia. Brown writes in a simple, conversational tone that never loses its cheer, even when he's discussing not totally pleasant things. Have you ever met someone who you expect to be very formal, and then they turn out to be extremely energetic and exciting and talk nonstop in a very simple way... and at first you wonder if they're patronizing you, but then you realize that really they just think that their subject is the most wonderful thing in the world, and it's all totally simple and obvious to them and they're just treating it as such? And then suddenly something that you thought was complicated and arcane seems really simple and obvious too? Reading this book was like meeting that guy. His love for his job was positively infectious.
I well remember that period where there was another planet... no wait maybe 2 more? Or three? And then suddenly no, and somehow Pluto disappeared too. I was in my early 20s, very busy, only vaguely paying attention. I'm very glad I finally caught up with the real story.
One comment... he talks a lot about his personal life, including how fascinating his daughter is as a baby. This is the kind of stuff that all parents feel about their baby, and non-parents try to be polite about. If you've experienced the simple joy and wonder, and lack of sleep, and obsession with eating and sleeping patterns, then you might get a kick out of how someone who is obviously exceptionally data-minded deals. If you haven't, and don't really care about it, these scenes might drag a bit....more
I didn't think this one was as good as his one on climate change in history (the only other book of his I've read). It concentrated almost entirely onI didn't think this one was as good as his one on climate change in history (the only other book of his I've read). It concentrated almost entirely on hunting, which is understandable since that's pretty much the evidence left behind, but got a little boring. And there were made up scenes which were so conjectured I didn't think that they added much, and just served as filler to make the book long.
Most annoyingly, he ascribes rather modern traditions and gender roles without any sort of discussion as to why he assumes the men did all the hunting/the women did all the cooking and sewing. That division of labor may very well have existed, and there's plenty of anthropological evidence about how women traditionally do roles that allow them to be closer to home, but there's no discussion about any of this. But he just seemed to take it for granted, with no discussion at all. Similarly he made a few references to marriage and to nuclear family living arrangements that I don't see how there's any way to really know about... he just kind of seems to assume things with no discussion about that assumption... and then another 20 pages about hunting....more