Did Gladwell just compare suffering through the indignities and physical abuse of racism during the civil rights movement to being dyslexic? Yep. Ther...moreDid Gladwell just compare suffering through the indignities and physical abuse of racism during the civil rights movement to being dyslexic? Yep. There are a lot of really interesting points made here (though a lot of the data seems more qualitative than quantitative), but some of the connections are tenuous at best. (less)
Contrary to what my 2-star rating indicates, there are parts of this book I genuinely liked. I generally agree with Kluwe's viewpoints and find him to...moreContrary to what my 2-star rating indicates, there are parts of this book I genuinely liked. I generally agree with Kluwe's viewpoints and find him to be an intelligent and insightful writer. I just found there to be too much filler: chapters that didn't need to be there because they were repetitive, whiny, or just completely pointless. Did we really need a chapter that was simply a stream of consciousness list of twenty or so words? How about a list of injuries (groin pull, sprained ankle, etc.) and what they feel like? A chapter complaining about cheap toilet paper? Kluwe is better than this. There's some really important material here, but it really wasn't enough to fill a book. A blog, maybe. It seems as if the publisher rushed to release the book and capitalize on Kluwe's newsworthiness before he really had enough time to write enough material worthy of his talent.(less)
Dan Brown isn't the most proficient fiction writer. Some of his dialogue (such as the last scene between Langdon and Sienna Brooks) verges on laughabl...moreDan Brown isn't the most proficient fiction writer. Some of his dialogue (such as the last scene between Langdon and Sienna Brooks) verges on laughably bad. His novels are really just conduits for the non fiction material on which he bases each novel and, as always, that's the true reason for reading his books. He dispenses the information in such a palatable way that it's easy for anyone to follow.
Unlike some of his previous works, there are no unbelievable survival stories ("Angels and Demons") or can-see-it-coming-from-a-mile-away "twists" ("The Lost Symbol"). In fact, the twist was a complete surprise. Of course, Langdon is paired with a younger, attractive female and, of course, she develops feelings for him. Such is Brown's pattern. Still, the historical information and unconventional ending make this Brown's best next to "The Da Vinci Code."(less)
Let me preface this by saying that Teju Cole is a far more impressive writer than I could ever hope to become. My problem with this book isn't with th...moreLet me preface this by saying that Teju Cole is a far more impressive writer than I could ever hope to become. My problem with this book isn't with the writing but its success as a novel in general. It seems to exist so Cole can show off his considerable talents, but its characters and the situations they encounter are wholly unbelievable and are only devices through which Cole can discuss such topics as Middle Eastern politics and North America's place in the world.
As the book opens, Julius, a psychiatric resident in a New York City hospital, wanders the streets to clear his head after spending all day inside others'. Early on, he wanders into a Tower Records that is going out of business and gives the reader a little history of classical music. Then he enters an art museum to escape the rain, and it turns out he's a minor expert on Twentieth-Century art. He walks past a church and is suddenly regaling the reader with its history in the whaling trade. His story winds all the way to the Netherlands then back to New York, where it intersects with Herman Melville's and leads to him writing Moby-Dick. Then he visits Ground Zero and talks about what lay at the famous site long before the Twin Towers went up. Julius is conveniently an expert at whatever Cole needs him to be for that specific chapter. As a Nigerian-German born in Africa who only emigrated to the United States to go to college, he certainly knows a lot about American history, culture, and art. Becoming a doctor must not have been that time-consuming.
Later, Julius travels to Brussels, where he meets up with a man at an internet cafe who conveniently speaks several languages, is well-versed on global politics, and is an autodidact (which explains how he too is adept at discussing such varying issues). This allows Cole to stretch his muscles and have his two characters engage in unconvincing but spirited debates. These often became so convoluted that he lost me a few times. I'm not a reader that needs a central plot nor typical plot structure (introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, denoument, etc.) to keep going, but what I DO require are convincing and compelling characters, and they certainly don't exist in this book. (less)