I was looking for books to start an ESL book club for some of my students, and I was recommended this book by a coworker who was much older than me an...moreI was looking for books to start an ESL book club for some of my students, and I was recommended this book by a coworker who was much older than me and extremely critical and jaded about almost everything in life. A mild comment of "I really enjoyed it," is huge hype coming from that particular coworker.
After reading this book, I can definitely see why my coworker enjoyed this book. The overall plot was told in the first person by a teenager during the 50's or 60's in America who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and hangs out with the wrong type of people. Throughout the story, there are quite a few characters who are introduced and fleshed out extremely well. While there are many trials and tribulations for the main character, the majority of the story is focused on the characters and how they develop.
While the writing is not that complicated (other than a few old timey words and phrases), the overall themes are much deeper. This young adult book isn't just about the main character overcome adversity or discovering themselves, it's about why do certain people behave they way they do.(less)
Bill Bryson reviews life in America in the 1950's and 60's through the eyes of a child growing up in Des Moines, Iowa. While there is quite a bit of i...moreBill Bryson reviews life in America in the 1950's and 60's through the eyes of a child growing up in Des Moines, Iowa. While there is quite a bit of information from research in this book, a lot of stories presented are anecdotal yet humorous accounts from the author's life. Many of Bryson's experiences are told through the lens of a child and greatly differ from reality. It's best just to take these stories with a grain of salt and enjoy the differences between how adults and children perceive the same thing.
I read this book quite a few years ago, and despite this I still found myself laughing out loud all throughout the book. I learned the hard way that this isn't a good book to pass the time while proctoring an essay test. You will spend much of your energy trying to stifle your laughter in order not to disturb the students.
Overall, I wouldn't use this book as a source in an essay. It's just a fun book to sit down and read to learn about life in America during an older time.(less)
This was quite a good book and did definitely introduce me to a part of history that I had known virtually nothing about. The book focuses mainly on t...moreThis was quite a good book and did definitely introduce me to a part of history that I had known virtually nothing about. The book focuses mainly on the negative aspect of King Leopold II especially in regard to his actions in the Congo.
The book was mostly written in chronological order with a few tangents here and there. These tangents were nice side paths of extra information to the main topic and either got their own chapter or were put for the most part within a chapter. While the book wasn't perfectly organized, it was still easy to follow.
Overall, Adam Hochschild does a pretty good job at writing this book using the information that he has found from his research. There are a few times when the author starts to speculate about certain people or events, but when he does, he does a good job of clearly stating he is speculating and uses plenty of resources to support his speculation.
I'm glad that I read this book and was able to learn more about this part of world history that I never knew about.(less)
Stargirl is an interesting book about the conflicts between extreme individuality and social groups in a high school setting. Jerry Spinelli does a go...moreStargirl is an interesting book about the conflicts between extreme individuality and social groups in a high school setting. Jerry Spinelli does a good job writing that a book that is approachable but still has some deeper themes-which aren't buried too deep-that will make people think.
Most of the book focuses on two main characters which may be easier for younger readers or those who don't speak English as their first language. There are quite a few other characters that interact with and affect the two main characters, but they aren't overwhelming.
I choose this book because it was a middle school reading list. I needed to find books that my Korean high school students could read. Since certain sensitive topics aren't allowed in the classroom here in Korea, there are a lot of books that I read in high school that wouldn't fly here. Luckily, Stargirl really doesn't have anything that might be questionable for a Korean high school student.(less)
Like all the other Malcolm Gladwell books that I've read, I was able to get through this book quite quickly. This book discusses lots of deeper and mo...moreLike all the other Malcolm Gladwell books that I've read, I was able to get through this book quite quickly. This book discusses lots of deeper and more complex thoughts despite the fact that Gladwell's writing style is more simplistic and easy to read.
I don't take anything that Gladwell says in his book as solid fact. Instead, he is taking the research and studies of others and combining them together to form a common theme. From there he shares his musings and interpretations of the material with his audience. I am sure, like anybody, there are bias in his writing, but I do stop and think about what he has to say. While my life might not be completely revolutionized, I find myself mentally referring back to his book when I come across different situations that he has discussed.(less)
I was fascinated by South American history when I picked up Conquistador by Buddy Levy. Kim MacQuarrie continues the fascinating yet brutal story of t...moreI was fascinated by South American history when I picked up Conquistador by Buddy Levy. Kim MacQuarrie continues the fascinating yet brutal story of the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire in this book. I don't know too much about this book and I was able to understand what was happening without too much difficulty. The hardest part is the plethora of Spanish and Inca names.
There was a lot of information in this book and the author presents in a way that is both entertaining and educational at the same time. However, there is a fine line between history book that reads like a novel versus a book that was written like a novel and MacQuarrie seems to straddle this line. Buddy Levy does a fine job using his journalism skills at writing a book that reads like a novel. He uses all of his sources well and uses powerful language to connect his information in a manner that is entertaining and draws us in. On the opposite side is Karen Abbott and her book Sin in the Second City. She seems to take lots of liberties in her writing. While entertaining, she fills in a lot of the actions, thoughts, and feelings that may or may not have happened without ever using a source within her writing. Maybe she has lots of good sources that back up her claims. However, her writing comes across as if she read the information and then she wrote a book based on how she imagined everything would have played out.
As for MacQuarrie, she does use a lot of sources in her narrative of the first contact between the Spanish and the Incas. Nevertheless, sprinkled throughout her book quite liberally are phrases like "no doubt", "without doubt", or "undoubtedly". These were key markers showing that the author was adding what she believed a certain person was thinking or feeling at the time. While she is at least highlighting in a manner that this is her perspective, there are better ways to do this.
Overall, it was a nice book. I would pick up another book of hers if it was about a subject matter that I was interested in. However, I doubt that I would go running to the bookstore to pick up her next new release.(less)
As always, Bill Watterson did an amazing job writing the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip for ten years. In this book, you can see some of Watterson’s fi...moreAs always, Bill Watterson did an amazing job writing the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip for ten years. In this book, you can see some of Watterson’s first strips that he created. While his drawing style may have matured since the beginning, he sense of humor and creativity was absolutely solid from the start.
Like any Calvin and Hobbes book, this is a strip that can be appreciated by both young readers and adults. As an adult, I am enjoying revisiting my childhood and appreciate that I can take more away from the comic strips now that I have a better understanding of the world. (less)
This book was the first time that I have read Korean literature despite living here for over six years. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve quite a lot...moreThis book was the first time that I have read Korean literature despite living here for over six years. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve quite a lot of older works or that the translator did a good job, but I was able to read these three stories quite easily. I found that writing style was similar to that of the Three Kingdoms, which is a major influence in Korea.
Before each story, there was an introduction that explained some basic concepts that Westerner readers might not be that familiar with. After reading lots of books on Korean history and customs, I had very few problems understanding what the introduction and the actual story was talking about. There were quite a few allusions to Chinese and Korean literary works and history that I don’t know much about. However, given the context, I could figure things out like Li Po was a famous Chinese poet.
The theme for all three of these stories was the portrayal of Korean women during the Kingdom of Joseon. I think modern western feminist would have a hard reading this book since each of the stories reinforce the notion that an ideal woman is one who puts her own well-being and goals behind that of supporting her husband. In addition to that, a model woman was to follow social norms and rituals to her utmost. Despite disagreeing completely with this point of view, the book does offer an excellent cultural study of Korean history and the way people thought.
Another thing that was a bit surprising was the amount of sexuality in two of the stories. Korea is quite conservative, and the topic of sex never seems to be something that is openly discussed in modern society or seen on TV. In this book, there were quite a few scenes that involved sex, though they weren’t very explicit in detail.
Overall, it was an interesting read and it helps me understand Korean society a bit better. When I mentioned what I was reading to my Korean friends, they knew these stories quite well. (less)
It was a bit sad to get to the end of this book so quickly. As I was approaching the last pages of the book, I thought that C.S. Forester was setting...moreIt was a bit sad to get to the end of this book so quickly. As I was approaching the last pages of the book, I thought that C.S. Forester was setting the story up for book number five. Instead, it turns out that he died before he completed writing this book. At the end of my copy, a brief summary based on Forester’s notes was given to describe the remainder of the story.
Even though this is only book number four in the chronological order of the Hornblower series, it was the last book written. Forester must have done a great job of planning the entire Hornblower story arch since the first four books do a nice job of building upon each other.
I found this book quite easy to read compared to other Hornblower books. I am not sure the exact reason behind this. Maybe I have become use to Forester’s style of writing and use of naval terminology. Or perhaps seeing that this is Forester’s last book, he might have matured in his writing. Either way, I look forward to finishing the series.(less)
I bought this graphic novel a long time ago and just finally got around to reading it. I am a big fan of The Wheel of Time series and thought that it...moreI bought this graphic novel a long time ago and just finally got around to reading it. I am a big fan of The Wheel of Time series and thought that it was a neat idea that they brought the story to this medium.
Movie directors have to make a lot of hard decisions when they adapt the book into a movie. The authors of this book had to do the same thing. As someone who has read all of the books, I was able to follow the story quite well. If I, however, had never heard of the Wheel of Time series before picking up this book, I think I would have a hard time trying to following the story line.
The illustrators in this book made artistic choices based on their artistic abilities and interpretation of the book. For many things in the book, I appreciate the way the artist brought the world to life. In other aspects, their choices just went totally against how I saw this world in my mind when I was reading. One key example is the White Tower. Instead of a stout, round tower that would be stereotypical of medieval Europe found in this book, I imagined a sleek, tall tower with sweeping curves that made the building look fragile.
Different artists have different styles of drawing. However, the sudden shift in style interrupted to flow of the story when I started chapter seven. Moraine looked so different in the last part of the book when a new artist took over, it took me a little while to realize that she wasn’t a new character.
I understand that there is a lot of pressure to complete a comic book on time, especially those that are done in full color. However, I felt that level of drawing in this book wasn’t as good as what I’ve seen in other graphic novels.
I have no plans to buy the rest of the books in the series. However, if I notice that one of my friends have the books on their bookshelf, I would be incline to borrow and read them. (less)
While the Running Man and Battle Royale came well before the Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins was able to do a wonderful job with the death match science...moreWhile the Running Man and Battle Royale came well before the Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins was able to do a wonderful job with the death match science fiction dystopia genre and make it accessible to young adults. Even though the concept of teenagers fighting to the death is disturbing, the language in the book describing the death scenes wasn't that grotesque.
I think great young adult books have language that is accessible to the readers and portrays deeper and more mature themes. The overall writing in the Hunger Games was quite simple and I was able to breeze through the book in very little time. However, throughout the book, there were a lot of situations that were more than skin deep. These concepts can make the book more thought provoking for a young reader. Even if they don’t pick up the ideas on the first read through, understanding the deeper meaning later on as an adult can help make this book something more than just a teenage fad.
This book is targeted to a younger audience, but it deals with themes that young adults can relate to in a much bigger picture. There is an undercurrent of “Whoa is me,” but this relates also to other people and society.
Overall, it was a nice quick read that set itself up nicely for a sequel. I am interested in reading the next book and see what happens. (less)
My likes and dislikes for book four of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series are extremely similar to those of the first three book. As per usua...moreMy likes and dislikes for book four of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series are extremely similar to those of the first three book. As per usual, Douglas Adams provides the reader with the some extremely humorous jokes that poke fun at many parts of modern society. The freedom that science fiction allows brings about some extremely obtuse and odd situations in which Adams can let his imagination and sense of humor run wild through.
Despite the humor, Adams isn't the strongest at storytelling. So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish does have a more solid story line and isn't as random as previous books. However, there are a few subplots that really help develop the story and seem to be used more for setting up jokes. While there are still a few section where Douglas Adams completely stops the story and goes on a humorous tangent, there are quite a spots where he has gotten better at adding his jokes into the flow of the story.(less)
This book is the companion to the 한국어 1 course book. The benefits of using this book is that you are able to practice the grammatical patterns to help...moreThis book is the companion to the 한국어 1 course book. The benefits of using this book is that you are able to practice the grammatical patterns to help improve your accuracy. However, there are very few activities that help student to use the language.
Most of the activities were drills where the students are prompted with a few words or a question, and they have to write down the best sentence using the grammatical pattern or vocabulary learned in the main book. Also, there were quite a few dialogue practice, where the students would have to do practice a pre-made dialogue and replace key words with a list of provided words. While this is a good start for conversation, it doesn't prepare the student that much to use Korean in real everyday situations.
In the review sections, there were some decent open reading and writing activities, along with a lot of fill in the blank questions. There were lots of listening activities in the review sections too, but this book wasn't sold with the audio CDs and it isn't really clear where you can buy the CDs or listen to the audio online.(less)
I used this book to go back and review my Korean after taking a long break. While it was nice that I was able to review and drill the grammatical patt...moreI used this book to go back and review my Korean after taking a long break. While it was nice that I was able to review and drill the grammatical patterns that were covered in this book, I believe that it would be a hard book to use to learn Korean.
On the positive side, the book seemed to be based around trying to use Korean and the appropriate grammatical phrases in situations that people living in Korea might experience. For the most part, the vocabulary was all right, and there were some good sections that focused on how some prominent words and rejoinders. In addition to that, the book did a good job of trying to recycle and review previous grammatical patterns.
Despite these positive notes, a lot of the explanations were limited and I found myself referring to Korean Grammar in Use to double check the explanations of certain patterns. For the ㄴ/은/는데 pattern, the Seoul National University book only gave the explanation that it was used for showing background information. However, another use for this pattern is contrast. During the practice exercises, both the meanings of background and contrasts were practiced.
In addition to weak explanation, there weren't a lot of exercises that required students to actively use the language for communicative purposes. There were a couple of open ended questions that forced the students to be creative and show that they know what they sentence and grammar means. For creative and non rote learning, that was about the extent of it in this book. I think the material in this book is a good foundation in language development to help master the patterns, but it lacks in practical use. Maybe the teachers that use this book have communicative activities they use in the classroom.
My last beef with this book was that none of the CDs were sold with the book. Maybe there is a website that I could go to, but I don't know if that exists. Even the bookstore that I bought these books from didn't appear to sell the CDs.(less)
There are definitely some funny jokes and ideas in this book, especially relating to British Cricket being the deadliest tragedy in galactic history....moreThere are definitely some funny jokes and ideas in this book, especially relating to British Cricket being the deadliest tragedy in galactic history. I still clearly remember in high school biology class reading the list of notable battleships in the Imperial Galactic Fleet and just bursting out and disturbing the entire class when I came across the "GSS Suicidal Insanity".
Reading the book as an adult, I really enjoyed Arthur Dent's encounter with Agrajag - I won't go into detail and spoil scene. Martin Freeman did a bang up job with the voice acting for this segment of the book. I actually enjoyed his voice acting much more in this book since there were so many scenes including Zaphod Beeblebrox. He's a great character, but Freeman's voice for him just rubs me the wrong way.
As a younger reader, I really enjoyed all of the tangents that Douglas Adams went on to crack some jokes about the some of the quirks in human nature. As an older reader, these tangents just keep reinforcing my notion that Adams is a fine humorist but lacks the literary skills to write a story.
For the most part, Adams sense of humor is great, but there are a few jokes that just fell flat for me. I found the concept of "Bistromathics" just didn't do it for me. It took so much set up to explain how the absurd way humans act when socializing at restaurant was harnessed to create one of the most advanced engines for space travel.(less)
In my experience of teaching English here in Korea, I come from the teaching philosophy that is based more on the communicative approach. Grammar is i...moreIn my experience of teaching English here in Korea, I come from the teaching philosophy that is based more on the communicative approach. Grammar is important and a strong foundation can make communication much easier. However, a big issue here in Korea is that most of English education is based off of the grammar-translation method which leads to many students not being able use the English language to communicate and produce English sentences based on Korean grammar. This preamble should help frame my review of this book.
As for this book, there is a lot of information that explains simple basic grammar patterns and some aspects of pronunciation (-s, -es, -ed). Information was organized into charts that made the information easier to follow. There were quite a few “Aha!” moments as I discovered an easy way to explain certain grammar points. I have been able to apply some of the knowledge to my classroom.
However, most of the exercises in the book consisted of fill in the blank activities that focused mostly on the form. Teaching in a country where English is treated as a multiple choice test, I tend to view these types of activities as a hindrance instead of a foundation. There were some speaking activities in the book, but a lot of them seemed to be teacher centered and a verbal form of drilling.
Using this book to teach beginning adults only in English will probably be overwhelming. Young learners who already have a foundation in the English language will probably find this book helpful in reviewing English grammar through the English way of thinking.(less)
To premise my review, I am a person who is living and working in Korea and studies Korean by myself in my free time. I don't take after work classes s...moreTo premise my review, I am a person who is living and working in Korea and studies Korean by myself in my free time. I don't take after work classes since I haven't found a school near me that teaches Korean in the communicative method.
That being said, the reason that I am giving this book 5 stars is the explanation of the different grammar points are extremely clear. I have found that most text books (even those from the major universities) are extremely lacking when it comes to explanations of grammatical points. This book, however, gives clear explanations in natural English (no poorly translated Konglish phrases). The people who wrote these explanations seem to have English speakers in mind. In addition to this, there are quite a few sections within the book that gives wonderful comparisons about different grammatical patterns that are very similar (such as 이/가 vs. 은/는 or 아/어서 vs. (으)니까). Even though I have studied Korean for quite a long time, there were a lot of 'Ah ha!' moments for me in this book.
I wouldn't use this book solely to learn Korean. Once you get a strong enough base in the language, I would keep this book around to supplement what you are learning in other textbooks. Any time you get to a new grammar point and the book or your teacher does a poor job explaining, this is the book for you.
The weakest aspect of this book is that the practice is mostly fill in the blank exercises. There aren't any activities to help you practice the language in real world situations. Despite this shortcoming, the clear explanations of Korean grammar is what really makes me love this book.(less)
I really want to enjoy this series, but after the second book, I think I will have a really hard time getting motivated to continue on when the next b...moreI really want to enjoy this series, but after the second book, I think I will have a really hard time getting motivated to continue on when the next book comes out.
As seen in Elantris and Mistborn, Sanderson is quite good at creating relatively short character based fantasy novels. These kinds of stories take place in one particular area and the rest of the world isn’t really that important. In a standalone book or a short trilogy, I can appreciate the writer focusing mainly on the characters and their plight.
As for an epic series that will probably hit the 10,000 page mark, I have different expectations. In something that mammoth, an important part of the story for fantasy is world building. In series like The Wheel of Time or A Song of Ice and Fire, the reader feels like that they have a firm grasp on the cultures, politics, religions, and customs of all the different parts of the world. Sanderson’s style of brevity did work well for finishing up the Wheel of Time series because the characters and situation were so well established with lots of detail in the first eleven books.
While Sanderson has established himself as a fantasy writer, I feel that his transition into epic fantasy hasn’t gone as smoothly as I would have hoped. Yes, Sanderson has thought up an extremely unique environmental situation and has an interesting magic concept. He has developed an entertaining storyline that revolves around a small handful of main characters.
The biggest downfall for me comes from the lack of details of physical world that the characters live in. In the previous book, I felt like I knew and understood the city of Kharbranth. Also, I could easily imagine myself walking on the Shattered Plains. However, beyond that, everything seems so generic. Even the camps on the Shattered Plains feel generic. I don’t feel like I truly know that life is like in those camps. As I read through, the camp, along with quite a few other places, just feel like a hastily constructed backdrop for me.
With all of the description, I could see easily see myself as a farmer in the Two Rivers in a Wheel of Time. All of the detail in a Song of Ice and Fire made me feel like I could be a noble in the court of King’s Landing discussing the politics of Westeros.
At first, the drawings and sketched that can be found throughout the first two books were a nice touch. After I saw the pictures of the Shard Plates, I started to feel like I was reading the written form of a Japanese Anime. Sure there are a lot of cool, creative, and interesting things in an anime, but many times the stories are cartoonish and simplified or watered down to fit into a TV format.
I’ve enjoyed previous works by Sandersons, but I am not sure if I will pick up the next book in the series. We’ll see how I feel in 2016.(less)
The thing that I enjoy most about reading a book by Malcolm Gladwell is that the subjects are deep while the language is approachable. There really is...moreThe thing that I enjoy most about reading a book by Malcolm Gladwell is that the subjects are deep while the language is approachable. There really isn't any overly complicated or obtuse academic jargon in this book. Most people with a decent background of education and a willingness to learn could pick up this book, understand the material, and enjoy what they are reading.
In this book, Gladwell talks about how epidemics (not just the deadly disease kind) can occur and what causes them to really take off. Most of the information in this book seems pretty anecdotal in his presentation. I don't believe that Gladwell has really "proved" anything. However, when he brings up some extremely interesting ideas that many people may not think about or realize, he give lots of explanation of why he thinks these things, and gives examples of where these ideas originate from. I'm sure that there are a lot of other studies out there talking about what can cause an epidemic can to explode with their own research and examples.
The one thing that I will really take away from this book though is the idea that we people and their personalities are not clear cut. Our personalities are based off the context of different situations. It seems too many times that we see a person only one way and not how they are in different scenarios.(less)
In the chronological continuation of the Hornblower series, we find Horatio Hornblower commanding his first ship ever, named the HMS Hotspur. Installm...moreIn the chronological continuation of the Hornblower series, we find Horatio Hornblower commanding his first ship ever, named the HMS Hotspur. Installment number three of the series has a narrative style that takes different parts the first two books. This book is told from the point of view of Hornblower and consists of a series of events that are all connected to each other in a clear overall story arc.
The third book of the story continues with the development of the protagonist Horatio Hornblower. While he is an upstanding naval officer with many wonderful qualities (which may seem saintly at times), there is another side of him portrayed in this book to show that he is a normal man with his own shortcomings. Right off the bat we learn that he is unsure and not quite content with his marriage at the very beginning of the book.
There were lots of interesting and exciting exploits by Horatio Hornblower and his crew, and the hardships of early 19th century naval warfare is greatly explored. It's still a bit of a difficult read due to the naval terminology and old fashion style of British vernacular, but to a person like me who was absolutely fascinated with British Man-of-wars in high school, the series still has be captivated.(less)
I have continued my revisit of one of my favorite book series that I devoured when I was in high school. An older (and hopefully wiser) me can now app...moreI have continued my revisit of one of my favorite book series that I devoured when I was in high school. An older (and hopefully wiser) me can now appreciate the jokes created by the zany brain of Douglas Adams even more than before.
However, the newer me has become more critical of literature and one's overall ability to write a cohesive story, and with that, I find that the overall 'story' that Adams has told is quite lacking. I'm not sure if planned the plot to follow this path, or if he just forced the it to go in certain directions so that his jokes could fit into the story. Sometimes you arrive at a scene and there is just a giant tangent of jokes lined up about a wide array of topics that are (somewhat) connected to that point of the story.
I am really glad I am listening to the audio book version because I've noticed as an adult that I am unable to create sarcastic and humorous voices and tones in my head that I was once able to do while reading comical books. I was a bit shocked at first when they switched the reader from Stephen Fry to Martin Freeman. Freeman has a lovely and soothing voice and does a good job at some of the character voices and sound effects. However, there were a few character voices that just rubbed me the wrong way. The entire time Zaphod Beeblebrox sounded like George Costanza.
I was planning to give this book two stars, but as I got closer to the end of the book, I remember how much I enjoyed the intelligent humor of Douglas Adams. In one scene, Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect were being threaten by a man with a Kill-O-Zap Gun and given the command, "Out." The next line of the book was, "People who can supply that amount of fire power don't need to supply verbs as well."(less)
After hearing about this topic on the podcast Planet Money, I decided to pick up this book and learn more about these two people and their debate that...moreAfter hearing about this topic on the podcast Planet Money, I decided to pick up this book and learn more about these two people and their debate that I've heard mentioned quite a few times. Overall, the book gave me a good background to understand where these two men came from and how different generations interpreted their ideas.
For the first two-thirds of the book, the author quotes lots of source materials from the first half on the 19th century. Most of the text were from letters or book written by Keynes, Hayek, and their contemporaries about various economic topics. Even with my background in economics in college, this part could be quite hard to understand. Up until the death of Keynes, the book was filled with lots of academic writing and was a struggle to get through.
Once Keynes had passed away, the book started to focus on how different American and British administrations conducted their economic policies based on the economic philosophies of Keynes, Hayek, and/or (less)
I've actually met one of the authors, David A. Mason, through the Royal Asiatic Society here in Korea. During a trip to the National Museum of Korea (...moreI've actually met one of the authors, David A. Mason, through the Royal Asiatic Society here in Korea. During a trip to the National Museum of Korea (국립중앙박물관) about Buddhist Art from Korea, he was to add a lot of information to what the docent was explaining. I first learned about this book from a Facebook Feed from David A. Manson's profile. I contacted him and he sent me my copy of the book in the mail.
I've been to quite a few Buddhist temples here in Korea and wanted to learn more about what I was seeing. This book definitely provides plenty of information of what I've seen at the temples and the habits of monks, nuns, and laypeople at these temples. However, to a person like myself who has an extremely limited foundation of Buddhism, there was a lot of information related to Buddhist dogma that just washed over me.
Despite that, there was a lot of things that I did learn about Korean Buddhism. A few things that I learned were completely new to me while other things helped fill out my previous knowledge of other topics. I was really happy to learn about the Dabotap (다보탑), which is the stone pagoda that is on the 10 Won coin here in South Korea.
This book could be a bit tricky to use as a reference book since all of the entries are alphabetized by the English transcription of Korean words. Under the Revised Romanization of Korean, the writing of Korean words is not exact and there can be multiple ways of spelling one Korean word in English. This may cause difficulties when trying to find an entry in the book.
On a side note, I started to learn Hanja (한자), or the Chinese characters that Koreans use. I was able to get quite a bit of practice in recognizing some of the characters that I had learned when I was reading the book. Every single entry, along with other words, included the Chinese characters.(less)
While the writing style is definitely different from a modern American novel, I enjoy this series because of my fascination with naval warfare, especi...moreWhile the writing style is definitely different from a modern American novel, I enjoy this series because of my fascination with naval warfare, especially during the height of British Naval supremacy in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. For those who do not have an affinity for this particular subject, the obtuse language and archaic speech patterns could definitely be a turn off.
Lieutenant Hornblower is the second book in the chronological order of the actions of the protagonist of Horatio Hornblower. The actual publication order of the Hornblower series is quite different from the chronological order.
This book continues about two years after Mr. Midshipman Hornblower ends. While the book continues to follow the career of Horatio Hornblower in the British Navy, there were a few differences in the writing style of the two books. In Mr. Midshipman, the story is told from the perspective of Hornblower. Instead of having a continuous story arc, the book is more of a collection of short adventures that are arranged in chronological order. As for Lieutenant Hornblower, we learn about Horatio Hornblower through the eyes of Lieutenant Bush, a companion of Hornblower during their time together serving on the HMS Renown. This book is has one continuous plot of their adventures in the West Indies.
I've enjoyed the series so far and look forward to see what happens to Horatio Hornblower next.(less)
I first learned about this book when I came to Korea. I was told that it was a classic children's book and I tried to read it in Korean. After a coupl...moreI first learned about this book when I came to Korea. I was told that it was a classic children's book and I tried to read it in Korean. After a couple of chapters of barely understanding what was going on, I put it down and picked it up later and read it in English. After starting, I realized that I was nowhere close to understanding deep philosophical thoughts at my limited low-intermediate Korean level.
Taking almost a month to read this short little book (I was starting a new job) might have detracted me from fully appreciating it. Instead, I found book to be just a bunch of mini-stories strung together to make one story, with the entire premise being "look how foolish the world is when the actions of grown ups are viewed the naivety of a child."
It was an interesting concept, but maybe I just don't know how to appreciate this style of French literature.(less)
Since I am creating a reading club for the students at the Foreign Language High School here in Korea that I work at, I decided check out the Top 100...moreSince I am creating a reading club for the students at the Foreign Language High School here in Korea that I work at, I decided check out the Top 100 Middle School Must Reads List here in Goodreads. I needed to make sure that I found some books that wouldn't have any questionable material for the more conservative Korean society. While this book might be a bit too easy for most of the students, the first goal of this club is to get them reading.
The one thing that I really appreciate about this book is that the protagonist is an intelligent and clever little girl. Beyond that, there were quite a few things that made me feel that this book fails young adult readers.
The first thing is that prominent characters are extreme representation of good or bad. The bad characters all do horrible things that are completely exaggerated while the good characters are on the verge of saintliness. In addition to that, some of Matilda's "clever" plans were actually foolish and dangerous. Mixing two chemicals together into one bottle could have catastrophic effects. Furthermore, the book started off with an extraordinary character and moved into the realm of supernatural. The first part of the book, while embellished, doesn't give the sense that this is actually fantasy. Instead, about halfway through the book, impossible phenomenons start to happen practically out of nowhere.
I understand that this book is for young adults and the need to simplify is important. However, I think authors for this age group should be able to create characters that aren't black and white. In addition to that, the appropriate amount foreshadowing and world building should be established.(less)
This was the book that triggered my first reading spree during my freshman year of high school that lasted well into my junior year. Before, I didn't...moreThis was the book that triggered my first reading spree during my freshman year of high school that lasted well into my junior year. Before, I didn't read any of the books that our language arts teacher assigned in the first semester. However, when we entered the War & Peace unit that was coordinated with the history teacher, we were given five books about the Vietnam War era, and we had to choose one book to read. The old-timey picture of American soldiers posed in the midst of a jungle on the cover of this book quickly grabbed my attention. After reading Fallen Angels, I ended up reading the other four books because my interest in reading was peaked. The extra credit that our teacher gave was another factor.
Even today, this book quickly pulls me into lives of African-American soldiers sent to Vietnam in the late 1960's. The language, though a bit colloquial, is simple enough for a young adult or casual reader to understand. A military buff can understand the military language quite easily, but Myers also does a good job of adding quick explanations of the terminology that fits quite seamlessly into the narrative for those not accustom to martial matters.
I would love to use this the Korean high school that I work at for a book club. However, it does have quite a few references to sexuality, drug use, and lots descriptions of bodily harm during combat. Nothing in this book is white washed. Unfortunately, the sexuality and drug use would not be allowed in the high school, even though these two aspects are not explicit. While controversial, I think this book can be a pivotal book for any young adult to think about the horrors of war and the suffering that people across the world in areas of unrest experience.(less)
The entire imaging of what our world would look like in an extreme post-apocalyptic environment was expertly written. Leaving the c...moreDark. Grim. Boring.
The entire imaging of what our world would look like in an extreme post-apocalyptic environment was expertly written. Leaving the cause of this world that is virtually nothing but ash was a great choice that keeps the reader contemplating. Though the book is focused entirely on two characters, a father and son, it is interesting to see what impact of the unknown disaster had on society.
While the setting was interesting, the story was an absolute bore to me. It was one long almost ramble (there are no chapters in this book) about the things the father and son see or find on their journey of survival, along with a few stream of consciousness memories from previous times before and after the event that cause the destruction of human society and the environment.
The characters already seem to be at rock bottom when the story starts, and they just seem to float along at this point for entire length of the book with a few too many convenient deus ex machina thrown in.(less)
To be honest, I was fascinating by 18th century European navies when I was a high school student. I found the idea of man-of-wars and frigates hitting...moreTo be honest, I was fascinating by 18th century European navies when I was a high school student. I found the idea of man-of-wars and frigates hitting each other with cannon fire at close range while marines storm the deck of the opposing ship absolutely thrilling. My father, upon learning of my peculiar interest, bought this book for me to read. I read the it, appreciated it, but found myself having a difficult time getting the through all of the archaic, obsolete and specific naval terminology, along with a writing style that akin the Victorian style.
Now 15 some odd years later, I found this series in the eBook format, so I decided to give them another try. This time around I am older, a bit wiser, and have much more reading experience under my belt. I was able to enjoy the stories and even remember some of the scenes from the first time I read the book as a teenager. The language and writing style didn't hinder me as much as before, but it still wasn't smooth sailing (sorry for the nautical pun in this review). This isn't a book that an average modern American reader can just sit back and enjoy on a lazy afternoon. Instead, one must dedicate a fair amount of brain processing power to navigate (sorry!) the text written in the early 19th century British style in a world that revolved around naval battles. One drowsy evening after a long day at work, the large amount of words to describe naval vessels became confusing and I lost track which English boat the Spanish galley sunk. The next morning after a refreshing night's sleep, I was able to quickly sort out which boat was which and finished the story fully understanding what had happened in the naval engagement.
I really did enjoy reading all of the different adventures of Mr. Hornblower. Even though each story was in chronological order, it didn't follow a uniformed pattern. Chapters could be separated by a couple of months or a plethora. Even within one of the stories, over two years passed from beginning to ending. One story in particular aroused a juvenile excitement in me while I read about the military discipline and martial exploits of British regulars in the skirmishes against French soldiers. In addition to this, it was nice to read about a protagonist that was a cut above everybody else but still made mistakes. This wasn't a story about a uebermensch that does everything perfectly.(less)
After reading Looking for Alaska, I enjoyed John Green's style of writing and decided to put The Fault in Our Stars into my reading list. Another reas...moreAfter reading Looking for Alaska, I enjoyed John Green's style of writing and decided to put The Fault in Our Stars into my reading list. Another reason that I chose this book was the fact that my advance students that I teach English to chose this book for their intensive reading project.
My new system of using a random number generator to select my next book to read brought up The Fault in Our Stars much quicker than I anticipating since I just finished reading Looking for Alaska in December. I was pleasantly surprised by this occurrence and was glad to dive back into his work.
John Green still continues his habit of writing books for college bound high school students. However, this time characters of his book are teenagers who have suffered or are suffering from cancer. Instead of being a typical coming of age story, the protagonist must deal with her own mortality at a young age and how it affects the people around her.
I enjoy the fact that John Green is able to write about ideas that are quite deep, yet at the same time are approachable and not wrapped in any excessively nebulous prose.
I look forward to reading more of his literary works and watching his new Crash Course series about literature.(less)