I originally encountered this book as a chapter a day on BBC. I finally got a copy from Paperback Swap and read it within the day of arrival. It was a...moreI originally encountered this book as a chapter a day on BBC. I finally got a copy from Paperback Swap and read it within the day of arrival. It was a fast read, not terribly complex but sufficiently entertaining to be a pleasant read waiting for Concerts on the Square. I do tend to enjoy Brooks' work, but this didn't seem to have the depth of some of her other stories. (less)
I think, like many people, I've drifted along with the trend of adopting social media. I have a blog, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account. Obviousl...moreI think, like many people, I've drifted along with the trend of adopting social media. I have a blog, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account. Obviously, I'm sharing my reading here too. Each step didn't seem very large, but when taken together, social media has significantly changed my life. I get professional development and support through the English Companion Ning, connect with friends and family in an instant, and broadcast my thoughts to the world. Fraser does a nice job in reviewing the major events in social media's history, how these media have changed the way we do things, and makes some predictions of what it means for the future. The style of writing is approachable, though it is clear he has done his research. There were many "Ah Ha" moments for me when reading, and several times I just had to read sections aloud to anyone who would listen.(less)
As a 21st century woman, I often take it for granted that I am able to have my choice of careers and go to college. Yet, less then a hundred years ago...moreAs a 21st century woman, I often take it for granted that I am able to have my choice of careers and go to college. Yet, less then a hundred years ago this was not acceptable. Women, like Clara Driscoll, had to fight for the right to work in occupations of their choosing and then to get equal pay and recognition. The traditional Tiffany lamps, with their nature inspired motifs, were created by very talented, yet anonymous women in the early 1900s. This book gives tribute to these women. Vreeland has a deep understanding of the artist mind and techniques and can make even the clumsiest of readers visualize the passion and frustration of the artistic process. Although a little soap-opera at times, the book give a small glimpse into the social issues of the time for women of both upper and lower class - from being barred from working as a married women, the drudgery of menial work, and domestic abuse, the stories of the women outside the workshop ring true.(less)
Ever wonder what happens in your brain when you read? Is reading a natural phenomenon? Why do some people have trouble reading? These questions, and m...moreEver wonder what happens in your brain when you read? Is reading a natural phenomenon? Why do some people have trouble reading? These questions, and more, are answered in Wolf's book which travels from ancient times and how people's brains have adapted to different forms of writing to modern times and the chemical/biological activity in the brain during reading. As a researcher of dyslexia, Wolf was initially interested in finding out how the brain performs differently for those people who struggle when reading. But, to understand this, she needed to understand the typical brain reaction to reading. This is fascinating stuff, and changed the way I viewed my own reading, and how I will work with struggling readers(less)
Culturally and socially, there are some obvious differences between the Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials yet what does this many economically? I h...moreCulturally and socially, there are some obvious differences between the Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials yet what does this many economically? I have to admit that I never thought about this until I stumbled onto this book. With shear numbers, the Millennials outweigh the Boomers, who outweigh the Gen Xs. The implications are interesting - who is buying houses right now? Paying into Social Security and paying out? If you were opening a small business right now - the Millenials have greater purchasing power by both numbers and expendable cash - the Boomers are in their Golden Years - so what's the most profitable business. However, the premise that Gen Xers are almost a wasted market is a bit disappointing. (less)
I love anything by Ackerman. This one is a collection of reflective essays on the impact of dawn on the author, interwoven with cultural, historical a...moreI love anything by Ackerman. This one is a collection of reflective essays on the impact of dawn on the author, interwoven with cultural, historical and scientific insights on the how humans have viewed the sunrise.(less)
Mostly things I know to do, but don't remember to do. It was a nice reminder and was time efficient as I was listening to the audio-book in the car. I...moreMostly things I know to do, but don't remember to do. It was a nice reminder and was time efficient as I was listening to the audio-book in the car. I don't think it would radically change anyone's life, but there are a few good tips and the reader was pleasant enough to be enjoyable.(less)
Okay, maybe I'm a little biased because I'm an English teacher, I love books, grew up in a library (both the local one and my own house), and my mothe...moreOkay, maybe I'm a little biased because I'm an English teacher, I love books, grew up in a library (both the local one and my own house), and my mother is a librarian, but this is a great read! It celebrates the changing role of the librarian in a digital age and how unique each library and librarian truly is. The author states she was originally interested in the subject because she had been doing research on obituaries and the librarians had the most interesting and influential lives of all the obits she read. The author traveled the US and the internet to see how librarians continue to provide support and information for people – even in the virtual world of Second Life. It made me almost want to go back for another degree in Library Science!(less)
My brother gave me this book last year, and I enjoyed reading it then. However, I just listened to an audio version read by the author, which made me...moreMy brother gave me this book last year, and I enjoyed reading it then. However, I just listened to an audio version read by the author, which made me slow down and savor the story. What would happen when someone who reads only as a professional, becomes a reader for pleasure? How can books change the way we see others and live our lives? In this fictional account, Queen Elizabeth discovers a mobile library truck behind Buckingham Palace. As she enters a readerly life, it changes the way she views her own life and the duty of a queen. Reading changes people's lives - as the queen says, “You don’t put your life into your books. You find it there.”(less)
I tend not to read many mysteries, but this one caught my eye when it was mentioned in my local newspaper. The main character, a lawyer by trade, hang...moreI tend not to read many mysteries, but this one caught my eye when it was mentioned in my local newspaper. The main character, a lawyer by trade, hangs up the corporate grind to open a small herbal shop in a small college town. However, her keen analytical mind gets her involved in investigating a local death, deemed a suicide. Like many other series, characters are introduced quickly and a little stereotypically to be able to get to the murder. However, there are interesting tidbits about herbal lore, legend and reality scattered throughout the narrative. This was a nice beach read or before bed, which was exactly what I needed.(less)
As an English teacher, I have a dirty secret, I don't LOVE Jane Eyre like I think I'm suppose to. I wasn't required to read it as a high school studen...moreAs an English teacher, I have a dirty secret, I don't LOVE Jane Eyre like I think I'm suppose to. I wasn't required to read it as a high school student or even as a college student. I taught English at the middle and high school level for almost 10 years before I finally picked it up. At first, I listened to it from Florida's Lit2Go site, which is a pretty decent unabridged reading of the book. Then I began teaching AP English and decided that I better read the book myself. I liked it, but didn't love it. I felt bad for Jane, who through no fault of her own was born into a society and situation that limited who she could be and what could do. I didn't get the deep passion between Jane and Mr. Rochester that everyone else seems to analyze and brood about. However, I do appreciate the influence the book has had on literature, feminist thought, and cultural memes. Plus, there are some really fun sentences! But, my feelings for Jane Eyre changed when I stumbled on the author Sharon Shinn and her sci-fi/fantasy retelling of the story. The story and sentence structure/style is recognizable as Jane Eyre, but it is set in a time and place that includes Victorian clothing styles and morays and interstellar travel and cloning.
Jenna Starborn, the title and main character of the story, is a laboratory gestated child for a wealthy and powerful but childless women, who regrets her gen-tank half-citizen as soon as she had a biological child of her own. For years, Jenna is systematically neglected and mistreated, which results in a visit to the hospital. With clear indications of abuse, Jenna is taken away from her "aunt" and sent to an engineering school/orphanage. There she learns the maths and sciences and excels enough to become an instructor. However, her wanderlust gets the best of her and she applies for a generator technician at a remote outpost and is quickly accepted.
Thorrastone Park is a compound servicing the mining company of Mr. Ravenbeck. In a very hostile environment, it depends on the generators not only for power, but for the force-field that provides a comfortable atmosphere. Shinn does a great job here providing a thoroughly familiar Gothic setting in a science-fiction setting. The story continues to follow the themes of Jane Eyre - societal expectations, the push-pull of attraction between Jenna and Mr. Ravenbeck, and the mysterious incidents that indicate all is not what it seems at Thorrastone Park. Jenna befriends Mr. Ravenbeck's ward, Ameletta, and her governess, Miss Ayerson, and begins to integrate herself into the daily life of the compound. Once they give into their attraction, Jenna and Mr. Ravenbeck attempt to be married, only to find that Mr. Ravenbeck is already a married man. He had been duped into marrying a cyborg, and a damaged one at that. But, money and power were tied to the marriage, and Mr. Ravenbeck felt a sense of duty to protect and care for his malfunctioning barely human wife, and so he moved to one of the remotest parts of the universe and hired tech-savvy nurses to care for his wife. But, then he fell in love with Jenna. Not being free to marry her, and unable to live with him daily, Jenna leaves the compound and assumes a new identity and new life on Appalachia. There she meets new friends and becomes part of a community, for the first time in her life, she feels as if she belongs somewhere. However, her feelings for Mr. Ravenbeck do not diminish. When her aunt dies, Jenna becomes a wealthy woman who can do anything with her life and money. But, on hearing Mr. Ravenbeck's anguished cries in her meditations, she returns to Thorrastone Park. However, all has not gone well. The cyborg wife went crazy and destroyed the force-field and buildings, blinded Mr. Ravenbeck, and killed herself. The ending, like Jane Eyre, is peppy and uplifting - they marry, bring Ameletta back into their lives, have their own children, and Mr. Ravenbeck heals.
This book made me love Jane Eyre, well, technically, Jenna Starborn. I was rooting for her throughout the story and I sincerely cared about what happened to her. The interesting juxtaposition of Victorian fashion and culture with nuclear generators and space ships continued to intrigue me. I savored the language throughout the book, and for the first time in a long time, I slowed down my reading pace to dwell over the words and rhythm. I can honestly say that I haven't enjoyed a book this much in a very long time.(less)
I have avoided reading Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert for as long as possible. I do not like reading books because everyone else has, and especial...moreI have avoided reading Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert for as long as possible. I do not like reading books because everyone else has, and especially when they have been recommended by Oprah. I've had really bad luck with most of her favorite things. However, EPL came up as available for download on the public library site, so I took a chance on listening to it, rather than "reading" it. It is read and interpreted by the author, which I found quite interesting. Not everyone can do a good job reading a book aloud, even the original author of the work, but Gilbert's voice made the emotions behind the words evident in ways a hired actor couldn't, I think. However, I did begin the book with trepidation, as I have heard such great things and such horrible things about the book - that is highly inspiring and motivational for all women, and that it is incredibly whiny and who could possibly be miserable in Italy. I believe the book is supposed to be autobiographical, but after the fiasco with A Million Little Pieces by James Frey, I'm a little leery about memoirs. To sell a good story, you have to have a good story, and most good stories are a bit embellished.
The introduction irritated me, with the woman sounding wishy-washy, incoherent and whiny. I almost didn't continue listening. However, I am glad I persevered through her decision to leave her husband, her rebound affair with another man as she waddles through the diverse proceedings. During which, she has the opportunity to travel to Bali and a yoga retreat. Must me nice to have a job that sends you around the world. Yet, she is still not happy. Gilbert decides she needs to find balance in life - between pleasure, devotion and love. Or, physical, spiritual and emotional happiness. I think this is what drew so many people to the book - in our modern society, balance is tough to find. There is so much clutter in the world - materially and emotionally, that I think many people are looking for ways to slow down and find balance in their lives.
Italy is the first destination for Gilbert to help her enjoy life. After several miserable years of waffling between loving and hating her ex-husband and new lover. She settles in Rome for a few months, to enjoy the food and beauty of Italy. She indulges in pasta and pastries and meets many new friends, while attempting to meditate. Apparently, she had been seeking spiritual knowledge in New York through yoga and hooking up with a Guru for her new lover. However, having not shaken the depression of the collapse of both her marriage and affair, plus being immerse in carbohydrates, clear headedness is hard to find. But, she begins to enjoy life, gains weight and with it some health. One of the better ideas from this section is a discussion about "what's a city's word". What is the prevailing attitude or mood of a city summarized in one word? When my husband was teaching high school, he used Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens, he had the students create bumper stickers for their own personal mottoes. I think this is a pretty good exercise to clarify personal values and goals.
India is the next destination - to learn about God, or devotion to the spiritual realm. For several months she lives secluded in an ashram to meditate and yoga. Here the books gets a little weird - the chapters meanders from the historical foundations of yoga, to her mental conversations with herself, to a dialect heavy dinner time with a Texan and Irishman, to a mystical journey through the chakra in a meditation cave. I found the constant flipping between writing tones and voices to be completely distracting and found this section to be my least favorite of the book. Being a book, of course, Gilbert does eventually figure out her own personal word toward the end of her stay in India- which is Antevasin, or in-between. Which is a nice bow on the package of India - and the episode closes with a happy ending.
Finally, Gilbert returns to Bali, not necessarily looking for love, but returning to the shaman who she asked originally about having a lasting experience of God, but really wanted to ask about her boy trouble. Without an agenda or purpose, she puttered about Bali, meeting interesting people and finds a bit of redemption through helping finance and find new housing for a local woman with several children (some adopted) who had a restaurant/herbal shop and was losing her lease. At the same time, she allows herself to fall in love with a Brazilian ex-pat who totally adores and pampers her. Of course, the books ends on a happy note with the promise on both a new beginning and a continuation of the story.
I Googled Gilbert after reading and found she continued the story with Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage, which received lukewarm reviews. And, she currently owns and operates an antique shop on the East Coast with her Brazilian now-husband, and continues to travel with him around the world. I am happy she has found balance in her life and happiness, but don't plan to read the second book and really don't understand the passion many people have for this book. It is basically a rich, white woman's story of learning to live with herself, while the rest of the world perseveres through think and thin.(less)