The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time tells the story of Christopher, a 15 year old high-functioning autistic boy. One night as he is outThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time tells the story of Christopher, a 15 year old high-functioning autistic boy. One night as he is out wandering the neighborhood he finds the body of his neighbors dog, who has been killed in a fairly horrid fashion. Christopher, a fan of Sherlock Holmes books, sets out to solve the mystery of who killed the dog.
In talking about this book it seems important to talk separately about the book as a story, and as a book whose main character is autistic. I liked this book a lot more than I expected to. I had the sense that this was one of those books everyone had talked about. My past experience with this category, which I shall refer to as Oprah's books, has often been that they are over obvious, and lack anything other than characters in turmoil. However, I found Haddon's writing to be refreshingly simple and lacking in pretension. The story was fleshed out, believable, and gripping. While I recognize that some people might find the fact that Haddon interspersed math problems and diagrams with the text annoying, I really enjoyed these as a reflection as to how Christopher thought. I know I have never read another book whose main character is autistic. This choice results in a very different voice than any book I've read before. Early on in the book I was already identifying strongly with Christopher, and the fact that I was picturing events through the eyes of an autistic teenager is a credit to Haddon.
I read on the jacket that Haddon had worked with autistic children earlier in his life. He obviously knows a fair amount about autism. Christopher is in fact a compilation of many "classic" autistic behaviors, although he would be very high functioning. By having the story told from Christopher's perspective Haddon was able to show many of the positive qualities of people with autism and auitism spectrum disorders. Christopher is very intelligent and highly motivated by intellectual games and pursuits. While he has trouble making connections between disparate facts, he loves the act of solving math problems, or of increasing his knowledge of facts. I found I really enjoyed following his analytical style of thinking, and even enjoyed puzzling out some of the math problems for myself. On the other hand Christopher is quite a stereotype. Christopher's behavior is less complex than that of a real person with autism. Haddon also seemed to de-emphasize the difficulties of autism by saying things like during a "black day" Christopher sat in the corner for several hours and groaned, and that made him feel better. Autism is a condition that seems to be becoming more and more prevalent, but most people don't know what it entails. Rainman continues to be most people's vision of autism. By reading this book, a lot of people have gained a greater understanding of autism, and that's good. However, if this is all they learn about autism, then they will have a fairly shallow, simplistic view of it.
I thought the book was enjoyable, thought provoking, and well written. I couldn't give it 5 stars as one of my favorite books of all time, but it was an easy 4 stars. Great book....more
In The Code Book Singh simultaneously teaches the reader about some of the history of cryptography as well as the methods of creating and breaking typIn The Code Book Singh simultaneously teaches the reader about some of the history of cryptography as well as the methods of creating and breaking types of codes used throughout history. I read this book because it looked interesting, but also because I was looking for some fun ways to challenge some of my most able 4th grade math students. As a result I tried creating and breaking many of the codes in the book (some were admittedly too complicated)and found that with some support they would be great to use with the kids. I have to admit that I also had a lot of fun with them.
This is the second book of Singh's that I've read. As with the other book, Fermat's Enigma, I thoroughly enjoyed Singh's ability to take complex mathematical topics and explain them in an interesting and easy to understand manner. I also admit to a sense of regret when reading his books as I think about how many people hated their math instruction in school, and how different it would be if there were more Simon Singh's in the world. In any case, I heartily recommend this book to anyone who enjoys puzzles, or anyone who is looking for some fun ways to investigate difficult but doable project with a wide age range of kids....more
I can easily imagine the many ways in which someone could put down this book. Words like sentimental, overly sweet, etc. would be tossed around, and tI can easily imagine the many ways in which someone could put down this book. Words like sentimental, overly sweet, etc. would be tossed around, and they would have merit. But I don't really care. Ultimately For the Love of the Game, a very short novel about an ace pitcher's last game, is about a perfect moment, the kind of moment where the universe gets together to make everything right. We can relate to this because most of us have been lucky enough to have a few perfect moments in our lives. For me it made me think of the cross country race where I knew had achieved everything my body could give, perfect sunrises in beautiful places, the morning of my wedding when the perfect weather felt like a benediction, the first time I saw each of my children, and other Hallmark moments. It's easy to chuckle at, but I will never get tired of experiencing these moments, and if I get to do it vicariously through a book, then that's fine with me....more
I don't know what drew me to this book or how I ended up reading it. I think I just really enjoy books about people finding out how to be honest withI don't know what drew me to this book or how I ended up reading it. I think I just really enjoy books about people finding out how to be honest with them selves and others, and this looked like a book that fit that bill.
I wasn't at all disappointed. While I could find faults with the book, mainly that its organization seemed somewhat random, I found it really moving. Yes, Drinking is a story about the seductiveness and emotional stunting of alcoholism, but I found it tremendously illuminating about what it means to struggle with life, whether someone turns to drink or not. I also just always find it amazing to read about people who manage to learn how to get out of their own way and make the scary positive decisions instead of the comfortable wrong ones....more
It would take a long time to give a real summary or synopsis of Pillars of the Earth, and I'm not really going to try. Basically the story follows theIt would take a long time to give a real summary or synopsis of Pillars of the Earth, and I'm not really going to try. Basically the story follows the construction of a cathedral in England during the middle ages. There isn't really a main character, but a family of stonemasons, the prior of the abbey that is constructing the cathedral, the ambitious local bishop, and the villianous local earl all figure prominently. Throughout the book there are countless triumphs, and tragedies, showing humans at their best and worst.
There's a lot that's right with this book. The story is very well laid out and gripping. You desperately want the good guys to win (oversimplicity is one of the main reasons it isn't five stars). I loved the passion for architecture that comes through the pages. I feel like I got a good education about medieval cathedrals.There are some very real, but admirable characters. I particularly like the prior abbot, who knows he shouldn't be overproud, but also knows he's special. It's an easy book to get lost in.
I had a few problems with the book, but most go away when you start with the idea that this is supposed to be a best seller, not fine literature. Yes, some of the characters, especially the villains, are stereotypes. But that didn't bother me too much. The only thing I really found objectionable was the length. Don't get me wrong, I've greatly enjoyed books this long or longer. And I enjoyed this book. But so many things that happened to the characters, that Follett is a good enough writer to make you care about, are truly horrid. I found that after a while I couldn't bear any more rapes, massacres, and general accounts of the strong preying on the weak. I just wanted to get to the happy ending, and see the worst villain killed so that he couldn't do anything bad to anyone anymore. I've decided that I still don't believe in capital punishment, but murdering, raping 12th century English earls are an exception. Readers with a stronger stomach than me might enjoy the length. All in all, Pillars of the Earth is a great story. The historical element makes it more interesting than the standard "epic." I guess the telling detail is that one night when I couldn't sleep, and I read the book for 4 or 5 hours, the time went by very quickly....more
Well, I guess it seems obvious that if you have a busy job and an almost two year old, you shouldn't embark on 1,200 pg. books. It took me a long timeWell, I guess it seems obvious that if you have a busy job and an almost two year old, you shouldn't embark on 1,200 pg. books. It took me a long time to finish this book. Luckily, it was quite good and I enjoyed it very much. The plot lines are a little convoluted to quickly summarize, but I'll try. The three main characters the book follows are Lawrence Waterhouse, a slightly out of touch with the world mathematician who is one of the allies best codebreakers in WWII. Bobby Shaftoe, a marine in WWII who is essentially a very decent human being who is great at killing, and Randy Waterhouse, Lawrence's grandonson, who is a computer wizard engaged in some dangerous high tech business deals in Southeast Asia. Start with Randy falling in love with Bobby's grandaughter, throw in an enormous hoard of Japanese war gold, and you essentially have a highly entertaining, convoluted novel. One of the things I really enjoyed about this book was the mathematical information about codebreaking. I didn't understand it all, but I enjoyed thinking about it....more