Of course, I've loved David Sedaris and his humor for years. This collection of his essays starts off a little slow but then becomes laugh-out-loud fuOf course, I've loved David Sedaris and his humor for years. This collection of his essays starts off a little slow but then becomes laugh-out-loud funny. I was reading it on a plane trip back from Albuquerque recently--always a fun place to laugh as one is reading! The last essay, describing Sedaris' attempt to quit smoking while living in Tokyo is more funny for his account of taking a class to learn Japanese. Needless to say, it doesn't go well at all. The thing I like about Sedaris' writings is way I can see myself in him in so many instances--or not in him, in his family and various folks he runs into in the course of his life and travels. If you've liked other David Sedaris books, I can assure you you'll enjoy this one as well....more
This book is a perfect example of why I love Amazon. I was doing a search for books about travel in general and came across several which fit the billThis book is a perfect example of why I love Amazon. I was doing a search for books about travel in general and came across several which fit the bill. This book got very high praise, however, so I wen ahead and ordered it. Vagabonding is s great read even if you never plan to be a wanderer yourself. The author talks about the philosophy of going on the road, not with a specific purpose or time constraints in mind, but with an open mind and heart to see and experience the world as it comes at you. A couple things which stood out for me were the quotes from literary authors such as Thoreau and Whitman, Annie Dillard and John Steinbeck, about being on the road or taking the road as it comes and the quotes from travelers of various backgrounds who have in some sense become vagabonders themselves (Vagabonding Voices). It's a short read (only 205 pages) but packs a lot of punch. To make the book even more useful there's a website (vagabonding.net) which keeps the various references as up-to-date as possible....more
This is one of the best and most thought-provoking I've read in a long time. The author is an East Indian American whose parents were from Mumbai, IndThis is one of the best and most thought-provoking I've read in a long time. The author is an East Indian American whose parents were from Mumbai, India. He's a Muslim and as a boy and young man didn't give too much thought to his religion. His parents were devout, but both having professional careers, religion became less important in their lives, especially his father's, and thus in his life as well.
Patel grew up near Chicago and talks about Bill Ayers and other names we've recently been reintroduced to. He talks about learning leadership from his involvement with the YMCA and how certain friends and relative though it was unseemly for a young Muslim to be involved in a putatively Christian organization. His take was that they didn't learn about religion but rather learned how to be leaders. I suppose the Boy Scouts could have given him the same kind of experience.
He attended the University of Illinois where the emphasis is equally on athletics as on academics which caused him to be taken a bit aback when he later attended Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship.
One of the main themes of the book is to point out how fundamentalist and extremist groups, whether based on religion, race or whatever faction, have been better at engaging young people than mainstream religious and service organizations. He tells of the example of a couple young men involved in the plot to blow up buses/subways in London and a young Jewish man who got involved with the Jewish extremist Meir Kahane. How did these otherwise ordinary, unexceptional young people come under the influence of extremist leaders? No religion is free of extremist factions and every religion can breed such young fanatics but the extremists seem to pay more attention to the needs and passions of the young as compared to "moderate" groups.
As a result of his thinking about his own religious heritage, discovering a long tradition of service in his family both in the U.S. and India, Patel founded, with the backing of such luminaries as the Dalai Lama, an organization called the Interfaith Youth Core (originally spelled Corps). The purpose of IFYC is to promote religious pluralism especially among young people by bringing them together to serve others.
The book is relatively short, compellingly written and worth picking up if you are looking for inspiration in these rather bleak times....more
I love Paul Theroux and this, one his first is the one which set me off. I wanted to re-read it before reading his new book about taking the same tripI love Paul Theroux and this, one his first is the one which set me off. I wanted to re-read it before reading his new book about taking the same trip across Europe and Asia some thirty years later. In the early 70s which he writes about in this book there were no railways in Afghanistan and I'm pretty sure railways aren't a priority to this day but I'm looking forward to seeing how he crosses the country in the middle of the first decade of the 2000s. Theroux is an author one either loves or hates. My attraction to him is based on a similarity in our ages and his skills of perception of those he meets on his travels and his endearing (and enduring) crankiness.
Fortunately, although I've read several of his books, I still have several left to savor....more
I'm developing a course for high school 11th and 12th graders and needing a "manual" with exercises I took a chance on this book from ALA Editions. I tI'm developing a course for high school 11th and 12th graders and needing a "manual" with exercises I took a chance on this book from ALA Editions. I turned out to be a great book for ideas and exercises, an interesting looking semester-long project and all based on Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. It's already help me immensely just with the course design which I was a bit bogged down on because there's so much the students could learn and there are no good models out there for teaching college-level library research skills to high school students....more
I picked up this book because I had actually visited one of the Java Man sites, Sangiran in Indonesia. I was interested in finding out more about thisI picked up this book because I had actually visited one of the Java Man sites, Sangiran in Indonesia. I was interested in finding out more about this famous hominid fossil and its discovery. The book indeed discusses the discovery of Java Man and the author's part in re-discovering the site where the remains were first found--making it some what of a mystery book. It also discusses the fierce rivalries in the field of human evolution and the way that new technologies are helping clear up some of the long-standing questions about human evolution....more
I'm fascinated by the history of languages since it gives a way of considering how all of humankind is related--or not.
My favorite quote so far comesI'm fascinated by the history of languages since it gives a way of considering how all of humankind is related--or not.
My favorite quote so far comes from a passage of Confucius: A wise man, in regard to what he does not understand, maintains an attitude of reserve. If names are not correct then statements do not accord with facts. And when statements and facts do not accord, then business cannot be properly executed. When business is not properly executed, order and harmony do not flourish. When order and harmony do not flourish, then justice becomes arbitrary. And when justice become arbitrary, people do not know how to move hand or foot. Hence, whatever a wise man states he can define, and what he so defines he can always carry into practice; for the wise man will on no account have anything remiss in his definitions."
Perfect for the Theory of Knowledge course in the International Baccalaureate program....more
I finally finished this book over the weekend. I've been reading it for years--it's that kind of book. And it was sitting on my bookshelf for quite aI finally finished this book over the weekend. I've been reading it for years--it's that kind of book. And it was sitting on my bookshelf for quite a while until I picked it up again last year. I told someone it was one of my favorite books of all time to read. I know that sounds awkward but what I mean is that I like reading Douglas Hofstadter. He's a bit of a rambler but has such an interesting mind that I don't mind being taken hither and yon by him. This book is essentially about translation and the ways that humans and computers use language. But the thing that makes the book more than just a treatise about the psychology of language is that Hofstadter's wife had died suddenly of a brain tumor just shortly before the book was published and the book as much a tribute to her as anything else. Hofstadter is fascinated by patterns as evidenced in his most famous book "Godel, Escher and Bach." The present title takes a "simple" poem by an obscure 16th century French author Clement Marot and shows how translation works (or doesn't). If you love language and have an open mind and take your time with this book it will reward you with a wonderfully pleasurable experience....more
So, I finally read this now controversial book. I thought it was a good read despite the fact that fantasy is not a regular genre for me. The story isSo, I finally read this now controversial book. I thought it was a good read despite the fact that fantasy is not a regular genre for me. The story is certainly compelling--it was a book I found hard to put down--so that says something. I was enchanted by the protagonist, Lyra, and her spunky pursuit of her friends through a whole host of very trying experiences. In the end, of course, there is no end, this being the first part of a trilogy. I haven't immediately picked up the next volume (I'm on to Tolstoy's War and Peace which I downloaded to my new Kindle) but I'm sure I will eventually. As far as the religious controversy it is true that Pullman takes on the imaginary church, called the Magisterium, in the book and doesn't pull any punches about its tyrannical intent but fear seems to be the main motivating factor for all of the major characters. Fear of the "Dust," fear of losing their daemons, fear of the Tartars, etc. It's no wonder folks are willing to do terrible things to children, filled, as they are, with terror--whether imagined or not....more
i read this some years ago. it's usually included in a collection of short stories. but this time i'm reading it on BookGlutton. i had to choose a booki read this some years ago. it's usually included in a collection of short stories. but this time i'm reading it on BookGlutton. i had to choose a book to read so i chose this one toward the beginning of the alphabet! i'll post more feedback eventually...more
This is the first Discworld novel I've read. I just grabbed it because I was going to be away for a while and wanted something light to read but I alsThis is the first Discworld novel I've read. I just grabbed it because I was going to be away for a while and wanted something light to read but I also wanted to see what the buzz was about. Terry Pratchett is a British author who has been writing these kinds of stories for many years. I don't really have any more idea about what Discworld is from reading the book than I did before I started but you don't need to know in order to enjoy the story. A satirical look at geopolitics and war, the story involves a small group of recruits who, somewhat inadvertently, save a rather sad and belligerent country from its own self-imposed destruction. I won't go into much more detail than that so as not to spoil the book. Suffice it to say it's a tragi-comical look at human nature, the part that sex roles play in society, and the whole inane structure of military culture. BTW, vampires and trolls feature prominently in the book but don't let that turn off the anti-fantasy folks out there. These are fantasy critters like you haven't seen them before....more
I like Colleen McCullough's series about Rome but resisted getting this book till t came out in paperback. Got right into it and realized that it wasI like Colleen McCullough's series about Rome but resisted getting this book till t came out in paperback. Got right into it and realized that it was very helpful to have watches the HBO series, Rome, when it was on a couple years ago.
Although titled for the famous lovers, the book is as much about the rivalry between Octavian (later Caesar Augustus) and Mark Antony, as it is the love story between MA and Cleopatra. MA was a cousin of Julius Caesar and Octavian his nephew and it enraged MA when Caesar made Octavian, a mere boy, his heir. Octavian proves to be a more than adequate adversary to MA who is much too full of himself and does not value the idea of Rome the way Octavian does....more
So far I'm loving this book. I love Rushdie in general but this is the first book of his I've read in a while and it's proving to be just as imaginatiSo far I'm loving this book. I love Rushdie in general but this is the first book of his I've read in a while and it's proving to be just as imaginative and challenging as so many of his other titles. More when I've finished....more
I have to admit that I was attracted to this book in the book store by the fact that it was an Oprah's Book Club selection. I had also heard about theI have to admit that I was attracted to this book in the book store by the fact that it was an Oprah's Book Club selection. I had also heard about the translators and read some reviews of works they had translated. I really enjoyed the book. Of course, it's considered a classic and by some accounts the best novel ever written. I'll just say that Tolstoy is a wonderful story teller, who gives us marvelous full-bodied characters. Basically the story of a doomed love affair between Anna and the dashing Count Vronsky, who defy the conventions of mid-nineteenth century Russia, it also depicts life among all the social classes of czarist Russia through the character of Levin, a man trying to do right by his family and the serfs who live on and tend his farm. In a way Anna Karenina, like Moby Dick goes way beyond the simple story of the trials and tribulations of a few people and depicts a whole world, a world which was to fall apart in the upheavals of the early 20th century....more