I don't know how this reads to someone who isn't familiar with composer Dmitri Shostakovich, but as someone who is pretty intimately familiar with hisI don't know how this reads to someone who isn't familiar with composer Dmitri Shostakovich, but as someone who is pretty intimately familiar with his life, I found this an interesting short novel. While Julian Barnes completely ignores the riveting account of Shostakovich's part in the Nazi siege of Leningrad as so impressively featured in the highly recommended book: Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad, he does focus on Lady MacBeth and many other instances of where Shostakovich had conflicts with the Soviet government, most notably Stalin. As a work of fiction, this gets inside the composer's head more than a biography would, and really explores the dilemmas (both moral and physical) and emotions of being a creative artist in a state that so strictly restricts creativity. Without context, this book might not mean as much to other readers. I highly recommend reading the book I referenced earlier in this review before this one if you need a primer into the troubled life of this composer....more
Many years ago, I read just the first book of this before watching the movie version with Matt Damon. After roughly the halfway point, the movie and bMany years ago, I read just the first book of this before watching the movie version with Matt Damon. After roughly the halfway point, the movie and book diverge in different directions due to a major difference in Bourne's character. Suffice to say, I liked the change for the film much better, thought it was more compelling. It's a difference that ensures that the 2nd and 3rd books of this trilogy will only have the titles in common with their respective films and will have to be completely different plots. I decided this time to go on with the rest of the book trilogy understanding that it's completely different than the film. While I prefer the direction of the films to this point, it must be said that Ludlum deserves all the credit for creating this great character and can sure write an action sequence.
My only other gripe is probably not a spoiler, but I'll designate it as such. (view spoiler)[ Why did he have to use a real-life villain in Carlos the Jackal as the antagonist? Bourne is a bigger-than-life protagonist, and it ruins it for me to have a life-like antagonist. (hide spoiler)]
Update: March 17, 2017 I read about 15% of The Bourne Supremacy. I'm just not interested in this particular Bourne universe. I'll stick with the impressive film trilogy....more
This is a 2012 introduction to statistical thinking and forecasting as told by the author of fivethirtyeight.com . As one of many sites that seemed toThis is a 2012 introduction to statistical thinking and forecasting as told by the author of fivethirtyeight.com . As one of many sites that seemed to fail to predict the 2016 presidential election (it didn't really, when you consider that what he offered were probabilities) talks about reasons why events like elections, earthquakes and terrorism are so very hard to predict. Even if he talks about poker way past my point of personal interest, his discussion of other topics cover both sides of an argument (such as climate change) and help offer perspective. Before you make fun of your weather forecaster for another bad prediction, read this book to find out how amazing it is that they can get anything right given what they have to do....more
This gorgeous coffee table reference book is just packed with information and stunning photography on every single page. The information on types andThis gorgeous coffee table reference book is just packed with information and stunning photography on every single page. The information on types and characteristics of stars, constellations, and our own solar system is very comprehensive. The only downside for me is that I read it as a library book, and unless you are a seasoned astronomer, there is only so much you can digest from a first-time read. This is best as a reference book that stays accessible....more
3.5 stars total. The 31-page introduction was 5-star material, a hilarious overview of the state I lived in for 22 years with a joke at least every ot3.5 stars total. The 31-page introduction was 5-star material, a hilarious overview of the state I lived in for 22 years with a joke at least every other sentence. It was pure brilliance through satire. If you just read that, you have a feature article length masterwork. The specific sections that follow are more uneven with hit and miss. My biggest complaint is only as a former native: It would've been nice if he could have gotten north of Orlando. He only covers the bottom 3rd of the state and left all of the panhandle and upper peninsula untouched. When it comes to describing the Florida weird, I like Dave Barry quite a bit, but must confess that I prefer Tim Dorsey and Carl Hiaasen....more
I can hardly overstate how significant this book is! I try to read a few appropriate books most years for Black History Month, and I think this one isI can hardly overstate how significant this book is! I try to read a few appropriate books most years for Black History Month, and I think this one is the most relevant of all of them. It is brief, poignant, and a mix of historical background through situations in 2017. This is an eloquent portrait of what it means to be a black person in modern America, and the author has critical things to say to both white conservative and liberal thinkers, all in a loving tone. The audiobook narrated by the author is highly recommended....more
Informative reference book designed for the bathroom reader. The survival skills come from a variety of reputable sources. Of course, any reader shoulInformative reference book designed for the bathroom reader. The survival skills come from a variety of reputable sources. Of course, any reader should realize that the vast majority of this material is probably useless as merely read knowledge without the reinforcement of physical practice. I am not starting a fire in the woods if I found myself lost tomorrow. ...more
Adding to The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom, this is yet another outstanding book from moral psychologist Jonathan HaidAdding to The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom, this is yet another outstanding book from moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt. This book is for everyone, because he speaks to liberals and conservatives, to the grand narratives of each - to the motivations and circumstances that lead one to choose a narrative. He speaks to what leads to sports fanaticism and the pros/cons of corporate religion. His conclusions on how we just can't overestimate the influence of a hive perfectly jive with Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, one of the best books I read last year. If your response to the opposite side is to post a meme that says "You must be some special kind of stupid", then you haven't looked at paradigms and tried to understand what has caused such division. There are plenty of topics besides politics, but I especially think this is essential reading for anyone who desires to have a constructive political discussion with someone who disagrees with you....more
I never made up my mind about Bernie before he lost the democratic primary in 2016, and consequently never really learned more about him afterward. ThI never made up my mind about Bernie before he lost the democratic primary in 2016, and consequently never really learned more about him afterward. This book is simultaneously a memoir of his political beginnings and his campaign for President, a manifesto of his policies, and a postscript to life after defeat. I don't like talking specific politics, but it's impossible to review such a book without mentioning them. Overall, I have to say that I'm impressed. His observations are so spot-on, and his intentions are admirable. Where I have differed from him are in some of his domestic economic policies. The number one lesson in any economics, as a book was written about it, is that a good policy cannot just project the immediate results, but has to think about many groups and long-term effects. Much to my surprise, Bernie does address this concern and points to short-term data within limited experimentation of a $15 minimum wage. While I admire and agree with his concern that everyone is entitled to a minimum wage, I'm not convinced that doing so wouldn't have economic consequences that affect everyone especially those who most need the help. There are some other economic policies that seem short-sighted. However, I could be wrong, and his experiments would likely be far better to try than the one we're about to try instead. Bernie is compassionate and well-informed on the crises of our days. One that he neglects is a corrupt unfettered commercial real estate industry that preys on minimum wage workers and imprisons them with apartment rent rates that are often way higher than the average. But he is a man of ideas. As he so eloquently points out, the mainstream media never even asked him about policies. They don't cite that as "newsworthy" and would rather focus on stupid things a candidate said, name calling, fund raising, and poll results. And I give a loud hallelujah to his ideas on the need for campaign reform.
As an audiobook that is co-narrated by the author and Mark Ruffalo, I was completely surprised. It was more enjoyable when Bernie was narrating. I like Mark Ruffalo in movies, and his reading (most of the second half of the book) was pleasant enough, but it got very annoying after a while his habit of laughing with the "can you believe they said that?!" tone while reading. There was an extended stretch where you could count on it once per minute at least. I would think a trained actor would be more self-aware of overdoing such a thing. Nevertheless, in spite of that quirk, I found it to be essential political reading that everyone should at least be familiar with from the author's own words and not from just the media....more
Short but powerful set of essays where the famous but good title essay isn't even one of the stronger entries. For straight men like me, this is essenShort but powerful set of essays where the famous but good title essay isn't even one of the stronger entries. For straight men like me, this is essential reading into what it's like being a woman who doesn't want to fit past conventions in a way that no Huffington Post article has quite done before. ...more