Pretty entertaining read, slow in a few spots, but overall worth reading. Wensley speaks about his whole career, and highlights some really interestin...morePretty entertaining read, slow in a few spots, but overall worth reading. Wensley speaks about his whole career, and highlights some really interesting cases. (less)
The author spends a year at his cabin in Maine, and a lot of his time is spent observing animals, plants, and the natural world around him. He doesn't...moreThe author spends a year at his cabin in Maine, and a lot of his time is spent observing animals, plants, and the natural world around him. He doesn't completely cut himself off from civilization- he often has breakfast at the local diner, and makes occasional trips to town and back to his home in Burlington, VT. He enjoys visitors to the cabin. But most of his year is spent alone, upkeeping his cabin, chopping wood, sitting in trees watching birds, running along trails, painting bugs and trees. The book made me look at my daily walks differently. I find myself interested in the trees, plants, and creatures in my city neighborhood. The area I live in is city/suburban in nature, but there's plenty of bird and plant life to notice, even here. I've started to figure out the types of Maple trees in my neighborhood, and now know the sound of a robin when I hear it. The author has a way of making these things exciting, and igniting a passion in knowing one's environment. Probably why he's a teacher. I'd like to read his book on ravens now- in the book, he talks about his "raven study", which he is working on during this year.
One of the best parts of the book is that it reminds me that you don't have to travel far away to experience the wonders of our world. It's all around, if you just focus in on it and notice.(less)
I know Maurice personally, as he was my brother's poetry teacher and mentor for many years, and is now a family friend, who used to come for Thanksgiv...moreI know Maurice personally, as he was my brother's poetry teacher and mentor for many years, and is now a family friend, who used to come for Thanksgiving dinner and such. Weirdly, I haven't read many of his books, and I'm happy to be making up for lost time.
This is wonderful. Having grown up in the Adirondacks, somewhat south of his "north", I can smell and sense the atmosphere he paints here with his words. The smell of snow and ceder, the sound of plows, and the sight of pickups and warm, cozy kitchens.
Maurice is half Irish, half Mohawk, and in many of these poems, you can feel the longing he has for identity, feeling not fully Indian, but too Indian to avoid prejudice. Some of the poems deal with this, some with purely sensory data, like smells and sounds and sights. He's able to call up his past with these senses, even while eating Mexican strawberries in Brooklyn.(less)
Nabokov turns the novel on its head by cloaking a novel in the form of annotated poem. This is part poetry, part mystery/adventure, part scholarly sat...moreNabokov turns the novel on its head by cloaking a novel in the form of annotated poem. This is part poetry, part mystery/adventure, part scholarly satire. Good stuff. (less)
This is a fantastic collection of writings from 2006. Edited by Dave Eggers, and introduced by Matt Groening, it brings together a quirky bunch of ess...moreThis is a fantastic collection of writings from 2006. Edited by Dave Eggers, and introduced by Matt Groening, it brings together a quirky bunch of essays, short stories, graphic stories, constitutions, lists, and magazine pieces into a cohesive whole.
Reading it now, in 2013, it startles me with its tone. Remember when Bush was president? Remember when we were enmeshed in a never-ending war in Iraq, and it seemed as if our government had taken the reins only to drive us all into through gates of hell? Some of the stories bring these memories back. Not that it was that long ago, but really, it's so easy to forget how crazy 2006 really was. Not all of the stories have to do with Iraq, but there are a few wonderful pieces on it, including the Iraqi Constitution, which is a beautiful, idealistic dream of a lawful, peaceful society.
Other pieces are non-war related, like Julia Sweeney's piece on losing God, or Vonnegut's essay on writing a good story. I really enjoyed the GQ story on Dubai. Interesting to contrast it with Dubai today, where the bubble has somewhat popped. And of course, there's a fabulous list of Hobo names by John Hodgman. No collection would be complete without that!(less)
This is the final book of the series, and I have to say I loved the whole thing. I thought at the start that it would be great for my 8 year old nephe...moreThis is the final book of the series, and I have to say I loved the whole thing. I thought at the start that it would be great for my 8 year old nephew, but after reading the rest, I'd say it's geared for more like 10-12 and up. A little too dark in places, but then again, it depends on the child. The Arthurian theme is great, but it's not your typical depiction of Merlin, Arthur, Guinevere and so on that you're used to. The last book ties everything up pretty well, and the final chapters give the reader an idea of Cooper's overall thoughts on humanity. All the books are pretty quick reads, although the last one was a bit longer than the others. (less)
I enjoyed this, and plan to keep reading the series. I'll probably pass it on to my 8 year old nephew (if he hasn't already read it). Reading this boo...moreI enjoyed this, and plan to keep reading the series. I'll probably pass it on to my 8 year old nephew (if he hasn't already read it). Reading this book, I was constantly reminded of Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events series. I'm betting he is familiar with Susan Cooper, and this book. It has a similar feeling to it, although this book didn't have clever word puns or lessons embedded inside. But it does set up a group of children, with an adult helper, against a shadowy band of evil adults whose motives are mysterious. There are maps and clues and dangerous trips out on moonlit nights, there are codes and translations, and disguises. And there's a bit in there about King Arthur. Good fun!(less)
This was originally written for The New Yorker, and was featured in an issue completely devoted to the article. It follows 6 survivors of Hiroshima th...moreThis was originally written for The New Yorker, and was featured in an issue completely devoted to the article. It follows 6 survivors of Hiroshima through their activities just prior and after the bombing. Written with both journalistic evenness and human feeling, it's an intimate look at what it was like for the people on the ground. Has scenes of truly horrible tragedy and stomach-churning sadness, as well as moments of triumph and optimism. I'm going to seek out the follow-up article he wrote 40 years later, called "The Aftermath". In addition, the copy I got at a book sale appears to be a first edition, without dust cover, but still in great shape!(less)
This is super great! I'm a total convert. I can't believe the amount of info I learned about my own body reading this...and I'm a well-educated medica...moreThis is super great! I'm a total convert. I can't believe the amount of info I learned about my own body reading this...and I'm a well-educated medical professional! I started my first monthly chart, and can't wait to get comfortable with it. Seems that charting will not only help me know when is best to try to get pregnant, but also will help me be more in touch with my body and my overall health. Charts are available for free printing on her website, and there are also free apps out there. I downloaded "Fertility Friend" to my iPhone (free), which looks pretty good. A must for all women! And def a good read for men who want to know more about women's bodies and health. (less)
Burkeman lays out the case for negative thinking- but it's not what you think, or at least, not all of what you think. The book tackles that problem t...moreBurkeman lays out the case for negative thinking- but it's not what you think, or at least, not all of what you think. The book tackles that problem that most people have at some point with positive thinking: it just doesn't seem to work. I've also had an issue with positive thinking for years- I find it cheesy and embarrassing and just, well, fake. Burkeman gives me an out here by making the case that it doesn't really work anyway. Yay!
He begins by going to a positive thinking conference, and talking a little about what the self-help, positive thinking movement is all about. He then discusses the various ways that positive thinking fails us. He backs it up with scientific studies (there are citations at the end). He breaks the book into a few big chunks. First, he talks about Stoicism, and the idea that our judgments of events and not the events themselves are responsible for how we think about them. If we can think about this when perceiving events, it can help us see things differently. Also, thinking about the worst possible scenario is not a bad thing. What's the worst that could happen? Take it to that conclusion, and very often, you'll find that it won't turn out as bad as that. He also talks about Buddhism a good deal in the book, since that religion is all about balancing negative and positive, relenting to the universe, seeing things as they are. He goes on a meditation retreat that changes how he sees things. He talks about the backward approach to problems- the idea that the very way to not get what you want if to try try try to achieve it. He discusses how goal-setting can trip us up- that sometimes sticking to a goal no matter what is the wrong way to gain happiness or even to gain the goal. What if the original goal is not the right goal? In research, it's been found that people will stick to that goal even more, when it's discovered that the goal should be changed. We seem to throw ourselves even more into it, rather than change midstream. And finally, he discusses failure. Failure has been contorted in our culture into something that it is not. He discusses the need to embrace failure, and how doing this can lead to happiness.
It's really excellent, check it out! Lots of quotes from various writers on these ideas throughout- from ancient Hindu and Buddhist texts, to Stoic writings, to Alan Watts and Huxley. (less)
It's been a long time since I've read a book, and been truly excited about it. Throughout my reading of this novel, I found myself bursting to tell my...moreIt's been a long time since I've read a book, and been truly excited about it. Throughout my reading of this novel, I found myself bursting to tell my boyfriend tidbits and quotes from it, and had to restrain myself as he plans to read it himself. I was constantly like "ahhhh!!! Look at this! This, is! Amazing! Ah, why am I not done with this so you can read it too?!"
Without giving away too much, the book is set in the nearish future, in an America that seems totally crazy, but totally believable, if you take out current culture to its logical conclusion. I have to put this novel in the same league with "Cat's Cradle", "Fahrenheit 451" and also with many of Twain's writings. It does an awesome job of satirizing our culture, while providing the reader with real people trying to live in that culture. The characters feel like real people. They aren't black and white, they are truly human, with deep flaws, as well as positive attributes.
Shteyngart is obviously pulling much of his main character's personality and life from his own, being a Russian Jewish immigrant's son living in NYC. It feels again like Vonnegut in many ways. You feel the depth of the author's own personal life, while you know that he's also pulling from many other sources, and ending up with something more than merely autobiographical. It's richer than merely telling his own experience. I can't wait to read Absurdistan, which I have on the shelf.(less)