Tahir's newest book sucked me in from very early on. He introduces more characters throughout the book, knitting a web that becomes more and more comp...moreTahir's newest book sucked me in from very early on. He introduces more characters throughout the book, knitting a web that becomes more and more complex with time and also bringing to light the lifestyles of so many different types of people during the time period. While several characters are only heard from very briefly, each one adds depth to the network of people being influenced both by Adam's story and by the deceptions of certain men in the committee. Even though we talk about being connected now with our social networks online, this book proves that we've always been closely connected in our actions and interactions, whether we can readily see it or not.
I greatly enjoyed it, a fairly quick read. Already made my boyfriend and my mom read it. So glad to see new work from Tahir!(less)
Oh, what a book. I can think of a few friends in particular for whom I believe this book must have been life-changing. Or life-affirming. As for mysel...moreOh, what a book. I can think of a few friends in particular for whom I believe this book must have been life-changing. Or life-affirming. As for myself, I can’t decide if I love Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums and want to reread it right now or if his idealistic, pleasant-sounding story comes off as a bunch of unrealistic fluff that doesn’t amount to much in the world I feel that we all live in (then and now). I’m fascinated by all the Buddhist talk; I love the thought of living on the edge of society in a wildly simple manner. I’m a bit on the experienced side when it comes to independent travel. Somehow, though, I found this book over-the-top, overdone, and almost a bit smug. Kerouac’s tone feels real and easy to relate to; he misleads the reader with his one-dimensional thoughts, though. When he describes his argument with his friend over whether to go to the Buddhist lecture or just to go out and get drunk, he throws is a few personal thoughts, a bit of some internal conflict within him in relation to his friend. Still, though, I feel like there must have been more to the situation – life can’t be as simple as he writes it to be. When the girl jumps to her death, Kerouac spares not a whole lot of space to her fate, its causes, and his role in the whole ordeal. He leads the reader on with his carelessness, his carefree thoughts. He glosses over death itself. He tries to make his lifestyle look easy by only writing the surface thoughts, even just the surface memories. His travel portions, in particular, fall to describe in detail some of the worst spots – standing for hours, waiting on a car to pass in the middle of the Deep South. Perhaps, in the end, Kerouac just has the optimism and the positivity that I can’t grasp no matter how hard I’ve been trying as I’ve been traveling around the world for months. He remembers just the grand, the great, the swell parts of the trip – the great people he met (not how bad they smell), the great food he cooked (not how unsure he was if it actually finished properly before sharing it with his new friend), the cool bag he got (not how heavy it was), and the ample alone time he had on the top of the mountain (now how lonely it got sometimes, not how unsure he was about whether or not he’d do the job one-hundred-percent correctly). I fail to enjoy a fiction book without a few good, strong insecurities thrown in there, especially a book about something I can relate to so easily – travel, spending time alone, and – well, really – just living life.(less)
Traveller and travel writer Paul Theroux published The Tao of Travel in as less of a traditional travel book and more of a discourse on writing about...moreTraveller and travel writer Paul Theroux published The Tao of Travel in as less of a traditional travel book and more of a discourse on writing about travel and about the concept of travel itself. I did not expect this book to be a collection of quotations on the misery, loneliness, and joys of travel – really, on the paradox that travel necessarily brings to a traveller given the variety of sights in the world and people seeing the sights. He includes insightful observations from centuries of travelers, from people of all nationalities, all ages, and all socio-economic levels – from Marco Polo to the teenage girl who sailed around the world. One chapter discusses packing lists, from a crushed gown at the bottom of a woman’s rucksack to many, many trunks of gear for a couple weeks in the middle of nowhere. I read the chapter on ordeals sitting at the beach in the south of France, soaking up sun and having beer brought to my chair by a shirtless French guy. He tells about those travelers who have had stones thrown at them by the locals. He describes awful stomach issues and other sicknesses. An interesting book, unexpectedly enjoyable, and obviously a quick read with many, many quotations to be recorded and looked to later for inspiration, comfort, or a good laugh.(less)
In a fit of ambition five months ago at the beach in Casablanca, I downloaded and started Norman Davies’ epic Europe: A History. I’m not sure I’ve eve...moreIn a fit of ambition five months ago at the beach in Casablanca, I downloaded and started Norman Davies’ epic Europe: A History. I’m not sure I’ve ever been quite so proud to click that “I’m Finished” button on my GoodReads update page. On my Kindle, the page count reads upwards of sixteen hundred pages. However, with the opening chapter an easily digestible introduction to the physical and prehistoric beginnings of the cultures that came to be called collectively European, I felt like the book would fly by as quickly as a book with chapters over a hundred pages could. I was wrong. That first chapter is structured, with headings and concise sections of information. Very early on, Davies throws in the trivia blurbs – while the Kindle couldn’t handle the formatting of these sections with much ease, I greatly enjoyed not only the liveliness that these somewhat informal additions of information added, but also the context they provided. Or, rather, the contexts in which they were provided – that is, I enjoyed seeing those bracketed titles over and over again throughout different epics of the book. (For better or for worse, the one that springs to mind first is the “Condom” one – it comes up in the middle ages, later on in the seventeenth or eighteenth century, and then again in the twentieth century.) Not all of them reappear throughout the ages, but the ones that do provide a nice line of progress (or anti-progress, as the case may be) over the centuries. Apart from that first chapter and the numerous brief interruptions that keep it ever so mildly entertaining, the whole middle section turns to mush. He rushes through plenty of the more interesting parts of the Greek and Roman empires (including the civil war) only to harp on for what feels like forever about the Holy Roman Empire. Commendably, he includes much detail about the countries of Eastern Europe. Regrettably, I missed whatever initial introduction there may have been and spent most of the middle of the book confused and bored. I struggled to find the storyline. I only followed the timeline of the Eastern Europe toward the last couple chapters, and at that point, I’m fairly sure it was just excitement about having only a handful (uh, relative term) of pages left. I did enjoy the last two chapters, though – even when he glossed over major events like the tearing down of the Berlin Wall in half a sentence. By the end, I kind of felt like I needed to reread the whole middle part (not any time soon, mind you) because I had grasped the cultures and the personalities in those chapters even with a very hazy background. Davies’ Europe: A History reviewed much of the information I’d learned years ago in AP World History back in high school in almost an equally boring fashion, but the interjectory plates added a bit more interest to a painfully unstructured book.(less)
I found the style of Chadwick’s writing in this introduction to the philosophy of Saint Augustine easy to understand. (Readability is incredibly impor...moreI found the style of Chadwick’s writing in this introduction to the philosophy of Saint Augustine easy to understand. (Readability is incredibly important to me, especially when reading an aide to a text that’s innately hard to understand.) His structure never became fully clear to me, but the chapters nevertheless avoided rambling. In tracing the classical and non-Christian influences of Augustine, Chadwick details the tenets of the movements (namely Manichaeism and Neo-Platonism, among others) and their short-term and long-term effects on Augustine. He also studies with clarity how he came to internalize and reconcile them in one succinct system of faith. Chadwick does not over-glorify Augustine; even toward the end of the book when relating Augustine’s responses to various controversies, Chadwick doesn’t emphasize that those very works of Augustine’s later years become THE principal writings that shape the formal Christian religion of medieval times. Chadwick balances detailed theology and dense philosophy with more tangible historical events; thus, the reader learns how Augustine developed his thoughts and why he wrote them with such passion.(less)