Already more than a 100 pages in - this is one of those books that grabs you right away. I'll be reviewing it for the Historical Novel Society Review....moreAlready more than a 100 pages in - this is one of those books that grabs you right away. I'll be reviewing it for the Historical Novel Society Review. (less)
I've been going back and forth between three stars and four for this very funny book - three stars for me, because while I liked Don't I didn't really...moreI've been going back and forth between three stars and four for this very funny book - three stars for me, because while I liked Don't I didn't really like it, which is the criterion for four stars. However, that's me, a woman who NEVER watches basketball and am beyond Titus's demographic as well.
I gave it four stars because I realized just how many people I'd recommend it to - I can't figure out which of several basketball-loving family and friends to pass it along to. It's hilarious, a great behind-the-curtains look at sports; and a welcome relief from the zeitgeist of over-the-top admiration, respect, and pay for entertainers -- and their tedious books on why they deserved to reach the top.
Titus writes that although he does have a competitive side, basically he "just want[ed] to be good enough to make it consistently fun."
What comes through is a smart, smart-ass guy who must have been the catch of his high school (he was the quarterback of the football team and the best basketball player on the school team). His dad was a coach, and he was also in club basketball in middle school, a 6 foot 2 kid playing on the best AAU team ever assembled. He was the only white boy on that team, and gets into race issues just a bit, again with humor, and he also talks about coming to grips with the fact that he wasn't going to play pro basketball.
Now think of the time in your life when you realized that what you had always wanted to be was an impossibility. Maybe it was when you figured out that you'd almost certainly never get to be the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire because it sadly doesn't exist anymore. Or maybe it was when you decided that being a doctor involved way too much school for your liking and/or you weren't smart enough. Or, more likely, you realized that you couldn't be a carnie because you didn't smell like a combination of meth and stale cotton candy, you didn't have a balding mullet, and you weren't missing over half of your teeth...
After my sophomore year at Ohio State, I had my realization. No matter how much I had wanted to be a Big Ten basketball star, it was never going to happen. Some would say this made me a failure, but that's an incorrect assessment because before my career was over and my window of opportunity closed, I changed my goal so I wouldn't technically fail. (It's a very popular strategy among us underachievers.) Out was my dream of being a star college basketball player and in its place was my new dream of simply making the most of the cards I was dealt and having as much fun as I possibly could for my last two years of college...
This is definitely not the book to offer up to an idealistic sixth grader who has his or her whole life ahead of them. It's rather a book for the rest of us, who have a lot of our life behind us, and are never going to be star basketball players, ballerinas, or even president. Titus shows how to get over it. Funny, funny stuff unless you're too liable to cringe at adolescent grossness.
This was a firstreads win for me -- and also either for Danny, Kira, Josh or Jack, one of whom will get it soon.(less)
A review of this adaptation of The Prince should begin with a caveat. You can take a semester-worth of reading Machiavelli's The Prince in college. Th...moreA review of this adaptation of The Prince should begin with a caveat. You can take a semester-worth of reading Machiavelli's The Prince in college. Thinking you've read and grasped Machiavelli via a 62-page comic is pretty unrealistic. What's more, Machiavelli's understanding of power is something that I suspect either comes naturally to people or not... and if not, they'll have a difficult time retaining power. (As Machiavelli points out. Do I know that because I just read this SmarterComic? Hmmm.)
SmarterComics takes Machiavelli's aphorisms and wove them throughout the story of a young computer genius and her older friend who supported her college education. He goes to jail without implicating her -- and it was a computer hacking that she was actually guilty of. She starts up a do-good business, goes public, and when he is released from jail he joins the outfit... along with the the new ways he's learned in prison. Prison values dovetail pretty closely with Machiavelli's observations.
We think of Machiavelli as an immoral or amoral philosopher, unconcerned with God or goodness. I'm no expert (didn't take the whole semester -- just read him in a survey class), but recall that in fact he actually had a lot of ambivalence about power, and included that in his pages. That comes through in this adaptation.
Both this book and The Book of Five Rings left me intrigued and edified. Intrigued enough to think that I'd like to take another look at the original The Prince (and that's surely one of the goals of these comics); edified because the SmarterComics version does deliver Machiavelli's point -- that arriving at power and keeping it is (for those who want to play) a game with skill sets to be learned.
The SmarterComics books have references and a quiz at the end, plus an invitation to visit their website for answers to the quiz and more information. The graphics for The Prince are stylish and sharp. This series is a great idea and well executed.
This book was a happy win from the Firstreads giveaway.(less)
This is as good as it gets for an entertaining introduction to a classic text that you know you wouldn't read otherwise.
The Book of Five Rings was a...moreThis is as good as it gets for an entertaining introduction to a classic text that you know you wouldn't read otherwise.
The Book of Five Rings was a fad/underground classic for businessmen in the 1990s or maybe the early Bush years. To make its lessons work for business, you need to imagine your competitors as your enemies, and your first goal, upon picking up your long sword, is to cut them. A worldview that may or not benefit the world, eh? Other titles from SmarterComics are The Prince, by Machiavelli; The Art of War, by Sun Tzu (I think he's the "shock and awe" guy); and Fortune Favors the Bold, by Franco Arda (SmarterComics' publisher - it's yet to be seen if his name goes into history amid the infamous ranks of Musashi, Machiavelli, and Sun Tzu).
I don't know about you, but I'm seeing a trend here, regarding these messages. Do you think they'll also do Khalil Gibran? How about A Book of Courtesy: the Art of Living with Yourself and Others, by Sister Mary Mercedes? Me either. My brother saw this book and declared that the idea to make a comic from it was "pure genius... with maybe a bit of evil thrown in...."
In any case, the cartoons are well done, crisp and vivid. I'm not sure how the long sword vs. the short sword relates to business (or farming or carpentry), but I'll bet it does, and I intend to get the Cliff Notes at some point, and figure that out.
One especially well done aspects of the book was how Musashi's words were illustrated by drawings of samurai warriors, and then those same few words were illustrated with modern business situations. Not all of them made sense to me, but enough of them did that I have faith that the rest do as well. It's actually a comic book to go back and meditate upon - to take a section, take your questions about it to Wikipedia, and then think about how and if you might apply them (judiciously) to your own life. One of my favorites was the allegory of how you sometimes need to set sail, even though your friends are staying back in a safe harbor. Then comes some advice on what to do should you hit stormy seas, as is likely. In other words, take some risks!
It's not a book for children. Really. Besides being bloody, with warrior's throats being cut, guts impaled upon long swords, and arms getting cut off, it's is not a narrative, but rather a book of philosophy.
I was pleased to see that I'd won this book through a Firstreads giveaway. I received it almost immediately - making me think that the people behind SmarterComics are not only talented but also good business people. Obviously taking the lessons in The Book of Five Rings to heart!(less)
A couple things to begin with - first, the mystical, life-giving, life-taking qualities of water; second, the tragic consequences of a child's death,...moreA couple things to begin with - first, the mystical, life-giving, life-taking qualities of water; second, the tragic consequences of a child's death, multiplied when it happens when another child is watching the child who dies.
Anne Berry has taken these two forces and written a marvelous story of four people who share an intimacy with water. She's a poet, of course - you can tell from the metaphors and descriptions and insight, especially her ability to show how we all keep our child selves inside us.
But she's not so much a poet that her love of language gets in the way of her story. This is not a tough, literary read - although it is literature. And although it's about trauma and loss, searing loss, it's also about redemption.
Recommended for anyone with the patience to give its slightly slow start time to get in gear, and anyone who is looking for a thoughtful, beautiful read, not the next best-selling thriller.
Thanks to firstreads for the opportunity to read this book.(less)
Bryan Mealer leads with his heart with this book, which is also a carefully told piece of journalism that combines history, sociology, education, and,...moreBryan Mealer leads with his heart with this book, which is also a carefully told piece of journalism that combines history, sociology, education, and, of course, sports. Muck City is about Belle Glade, Florida, where the high school team has sent more than two dozen players to the NFL since 1985.
I'm not a sports fan, but I love stories that show me how people can overcome the odds against them, and especially stories that show how good people help others. I also want to understand how it happens that in a world where nobody wants there to be poverty and hardship, that's the default - even in the United States. This book offers insights about how connected we all are, and how it takes a helping hand, a mentor, even for the most talented person to find success. Jessie Hester, an NFL star who came home to coach the team, is the devoted coach who returned home to give back to his hometown. Mealer also tells the story of Mario Rowley, the school's current quarterback, who doubts himself but wants to win the championship for his deceased parents. Those two stories alone (plus all the history) would have made a great book, but there's more.
I loved that Mealer also tells the story of Jonteria Williams, a hard-working student who, like most of the school, is not on the football team. She wants to go to college and then medical school, and in a place like Belle Glade her chances are not good.
Thanks to Firstreads for the chance to read this great piece of reporting. Mealer found a great subject and then did the hard work to bring it to life for readers. (less)