It's hard to know how to review this book. As a story, the long rambling monologues hammering in the same points again and again were tedious to say t...moreIt's hard to know how to review this book. As a story, the long rambling monologues hammering in the same points again and again were tedious to say the least. As a philosophy... well, I have my qualms about that as well. But the marriage of the two is another thing altogether.
My first thought in re-reading this book was something that would probably be incredibly insulting to anyone who liked it. It was--"Holy shit. Ayn Rand is the Michael Moore of Libertarianism." Actually, I think that Ayn Rand, Objectivists, Libertarians and Michael Moore would all be offended by that statement. But hear me out.
The world that is painted by this work so well personifies the ideals of a certain kind of person. It is weaved to be attractive and deeply gratifying to a person who sees the world that way, while making no attempt whatever to work through the real challenges of understanding the other side. Indeed, they make no apologies for their one-sidedness. Their point is to make you understand their side, and they have no interest in mucking around with anything else.
Well, it was attractive and gratifying to me. But throughout I felt a little bit like I was gorging myself on candy--soaking up the things I wanted to hear, but knowing on some level that it was not the whole story. Still, I would be lying if I said it didn't have a pretty strong impact on how I think about the world.(less)
When I first read Treason as a teenager, I was blown away by the stories of each of the families. At that time in my reading, just one of the families...moreWhen I first read Treason as a teenager, I was blown away by the stories of each of the families. At that time in my reading, just one of the families and their pseudo-magical, pseudo-scientific powers could have represented a whole book unto itself. In Treason each family made up a small part of a larger universe knit together with a history that tied them together into a cohesive whole.
Nostalgic memories rarely hold up to the harsh light of the present, and Treason was no exception. The writing style was extremely simplistic and lacked an artistic approach, the protaganist was not terribly likable, and my jadedsophisticated seasoned mind is no longer quite so susceptible to being blown.
Even so, I still enjoyed the story. The stories of each of the families was still compelling, and the I found myself engaged throughout. Recommended, but perhaps a bit less feverishly than before.(less)
Alright, lets just get this out on the table: This is not a good book.
It's a trashy vampire romance novel, and if you're hoping for anything different...moreAlright, lets just get this out on the table: This is not a good book.
It's a trashy vampire romance novel, and if you're hoping for anything different, you'll be disappointed. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Like the show based on it, the whole theme is poking fun at the genre of trashy vampire romances, and is there anything so endearing as self-deprecating humor?(less)
I expect this book accomplished its intended purpose well--that is, to raise awareness about the existence of sociopaths, and prepare the unexpected t...moreI expect this book accomplished its intended purpose well--that is, to raise awareness about the existence of sociopaths, and prepare the unexpected to respond to them when they encounter them. But for me, who is well acquainted with the idea and looking for a more in-depth study, the book was a disappointment.
From what I can tell, the majority of the authors education on the topic of sociopaths comes from counseling the people who have been traumatized by them in some way or other. While this may serve as excellent fodder for cautionary tales, it gives a decidedly skewed perspective on the topic. She spends most of her time demonizing sociopaths and the rest of it uncritically glorifying the concept of a conscience. Which is awfully silly, since sociopaths are plenty monstrous all on their own, without the sensationalization; a conscious plenty beneficial without idolizing it.(less)
Why Gender Matters does an excellent job of presenting taboo subject mater with well laid out arguments backed by evidence. The premise of the...moreThe Good
Why Gender Matters does an excellent job of presenting taboo subject mater with well laid out arguments backed by evidence. The premise of the book is summed up well in this passage from one of the appendages: "A central argument for this book is that for the past three decades, the influence of social and cognitive factors on gender traits has been systematically overestimated while the innate factors have been neglected."
This is a difficult subject to tackle without coming across as a sexist and a bigot. But I was consistently impressed with Sax's ability to approach these topics delicately but unambiguously. His careful phrasing effectively disarmed the knee-jerk defensive reaction, and unapologetically delivered his points in the most reasonable tone.
The writing was pleasant to read, and the content thought-provoking, enlightening and challenging.
Sax mixes in a lot of his personal views on morality and proper child rearing. There are whole pages which hardly reference gender at all, which instead serve as a soapbox for Sax to rant about the need for discipline or rail against mushy liberal parenting approaches.
I have little basis on which to judge his parenting advice, being a topic I have little knowledge of or interest in. Even so, it came off as prudish and overbearing, and I think the book suffered for it.
In the chapter six, titled "Sex", a sensationalist and thoroughly debunked myth, "Rainbow Parties" is cited as evidence for the moral decline of our society and the outrageous activities that kids these days engage in. This glaring factual error lends serious doubt to the credibility of the author as an unbiased man of evidence.
The book begins with the claim that this book is the only one of its kind. The very idea of innate gender differences is too taboo to be discussed by any except those promoting antiquated and inaccurate gender stereotypes. Why Gender Matters is valuable to the extent that this is true. This is a subject that desperately needs the attention of rigorous study, but instead receives only politically fueled proclamations on both sides.
If you are a creature of modern sensibilities, reading this book will most likely make you extremely uncomfortable. For some of us, that special kind of discomfort a clue that there's some truth to be found, and moreover a truth that demands seeking out with the aid of brutal self-analysis.
I hope that this does not remain the only book of its kind.(less)
First, to be clear, this book is very good. It shows off Martin's talent for artfully crafting language, character development, vibrant imagery, and m...moreFirst, to be clear, this book is very good. It shows off Martin's talent for artfully crafting language, character development, vibrant imagery, and masterful storytelling.
But it also drove me crazy, and I didn't find myself as drawn in as I was with the other books in the series--as is evidenced by the fact that it took me six months to get through it.
If I were to identify the theme of this book, it might be something like (view spoiler)["Our heroes of the Seven Kingdoms grow up and become burdened with the responsibilities of management." While this is perhaps an interesting and oft unexplored area of fantasy, I just couldn't get into it.
The ending of this book was terribly unsatisfying, all the more so for coming after the incomplete volume four. This is particularly maddening in contrast to the first three books of the series--one of the things that I most admired about those books is their strong independent story arc and thesis that ended so conclusively. Although they were part of a larger series, they each felt like complete and satisfying works that could stand alone. It is mystifying how the last two novels devolved so far into cliff-hangers and seemingly arbitrary endings.
Overall, I enjoyed most of the chapters as independent short stories. But as a part of the Song of Ice and Fire series I found it sub-par and exasperating. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Negotiation is one of those life skills, alongside of critical thinking and communication skills, that I think should be taught in grade school. Negot...moreNegotiation is one of those life skills, alongside of critical thinking and communication skills, that I think should be taught in grade school. Negotiation is such a fundamental part of daily life, and basically no one knows how to do it. The approach to negotiation presented in this book gets away from the unpleasant aspects of negotiation--the adversarial dynamic, the tit-for-tat hassle, the power games--and outlines some basic tenants for reaching mutually satisfying agreements.(less)
This may well be the most rewarding nonfiction book I've read to date. The writing style is effortless and imaginative, making it a delight to read. B...moreThis may well be the most rewarding nonfiction book I've read to date. The writing style is effortless and imaginative, making it a delight to read. But it is not just pleasant fluff--I found myself constantly astonished by the breadth and depth of the subject matter. I suppose it isn't shocking that a book on the topic of language and cognition would touch on a broad array of topics. Still, the variety of studies and disciplines that were referenced to support the thesis of the book kept it fresh and interesting from beginning to end.
My only minor complaint is that the author has a tendency to get into meta talk mode for excessive chunks of time. First he'll tell you what he's going to be talking about, then he'll explain why you really should care, and after having talked about it, he'll take a few pages to make sure you got it. Drove me crazy at first, but once I got into the flow it was easy to skim past.
Overall a great read for those of us who are endlessly fascinated by words, semantics and cognition. (less)
This book was a big disappointment. From the title and the introduction, I got the impression that this book would make a skeptical analysis of phenom...moreThis book was a big disappointment. From the title and the introduction, I got the impression that this book would make a skeptical analysis of phenomena for which the scientific evidence is inconclusive. Instead, it explored the politics, philosophies, personalities, and ideologies involved in various conflicting perspectives. Some of the topics were interesting--the chapters on birth order and heretical personality types; others were utterly tedious--I really could care less about the drama and politics in the scientific community. Most of all though, it seemed a platform for Shermer to rant about things that he disagrees with. It was quite boorish and tiresome.(less)
This was working up to be my favorite of the Chalion series, but ended up going over the line from a complex and intriguing storyline to sprawling and...moreThis was working up to be my favorite of the Chalion series, but ended up going over the line from a complex and intriguing storyline to sprawling and aimless. The breadcrumbs of hints to unravel the mystery were meted out sparingly, leaving readers (and the characters for that matter) helplessly confused for most of the story. Until, at the end, all was revealed in droning chapters of exposition, leaving no room for readers to have puzzled out anything for themselves.
Aside from the poor pacing though, The Hallowed Hunt was a great story--the mechanics of the magics of the world were well constructed and aesthetically appealing. The characters had depth and distinctive personalities. And I found the interplay between the will of the gods, fate, and free will to come together into a satisfyingly pragmatic philosophy.(less)