This is a story that desperately needs to be told and I am glad that it has been. The book was a bit repetitive and drawn out, though. The whole time...moreThis is a story that desperately needs to be told and I am glad that it has been. The book was a bit repetitive and drawn out, though. The whole time I was reading it, I kept thinking it would have made for a better New Yorker article than a book. But hopefully it will get more readership as a book because this is a message that needs to be broadcast widely.(less)
My dream is to teach a literature class to a group of girls to show them how they can use research and their imaginations to give women a voice in a p...moreMy dream is to teach a literature class to a group of girls to show them how they can use research and their imaginations to give women a voice in a past that's been narrated so disproportionately by men. This was the first book of this type that I read, and it had a tremendously powerful influence on me.(less)
Anita Diamant's characters from this book stayed with me for months after I turned the last page. While I was reading the book, I found it lacking in...moreAnita Diamant's characters from this book stayed with me for months after I turned the last page. While I was reading the book, I found it lacking in details and context. Yet, once I was done, I decided that I had just enough information to make all of the characters extremely real to me.
This is a book about a dying shore town whose industry had all moved elsewhere. There are some women who live alone -- either never married or widowed -- in this old town. They subsist off of the land and some small, odd jobs. But mainly they are just biding their time and surviving until they, too, will die.
The whole portrait of this dying town, and the ways that life still goes on in a dying town, fascinated me. I would have liked for this book to be 4 times as long so I could have had more detail about each character and day-to-day life in Dogtown.(less)
The ideas in this book are great and we have planted our garden using the square foot gardening method. His ideas are great and I expect that we'll ge...moreThe ideas in this book are great and we have planted our garden using the square foot gardening method. His ideas are great and I expect that we'll get a lot more food out of the same amount of space this year.
The only drawback to this book is that it is EXTREMELY repetitive. The whole thing could probably have fit on a single sheet of paper, plus the appendix with information about specific plants and seeds. A quick skim gives you the idea and then you can always return to look up answers to specific questions (like the materials to use to build a net for growing tomatoes, squash, eggplant, etc. vertically).(less)
This book is fantastic. Written by Dave Eggers, it is the story of a boy named Achak who fled Sudan on foot at the age of 7 and became one of the famo...moreThis book is fantastic. Written by Dave Eggers, it is the story of a boy named Achak who fled Sudan on foot at the age of 7 and became one of the famous lost boys. His story is beautifully written by Eggers and it jumps back and forth between the day he was mugged in his apartment in Atlanta and extended flashbacks to his experiences as a refugee.
The book is a great length -- it was nice to immerse myself in a long story that was also captivating and a fairly quick read. I was overwhelmed by his experience at times, and really find it hard to imagine a group of 7 year old boys running for their lives through a pitch black desert and then walking under the hot sun with nothing to eat or drink for days on end to make it to Ethiopia (and beyond). His indomitable spirit through decades of hardship is unbelievable. And throughout the book I found myself rooting for things to finally get better for him.(less)
I couldn't put this book down the first time I read it. It is beautiful and tragic and I would lose myself in the story for hours. Tolstoy's prose, ev...moreI couldn't put this book down the first time I read it. It is beautiful and tragic and I would lose myself in the story for hours. Tolstoy's prose, even in translation, is gorgeous and the images he paints are vivid. I highly recommend reading the Maude translation -- they seem to be the best translators of Tolstoy's works.
I read this book nearly 10 years later, and wasn't quite as engrossed. But as Cari wrote in her review, this is probably an important book to read every 10 years or so because the meaning will be so different at various life stages.
p. 253 "There are times when one would give a whole month for sixpence and others when you wouldn't sell half-an-hour at any price."
p. 288 "Pretence about anything whatever may deceive the cleverets and shrewdest of men, but the dullest child will see through it, no matter how artfully it may be disguised."
p. 830 "If goodness has a cause, it is no longer goodness; if it has consequences -- a reward -- it is not goodness either. So goodness is outside the chain of cause and effect."
I actually don't think I agree with this. Doesn't "goodness" inevitably have a result -- generally happiness or more goodness? If so, it is not outside the chain of cause and effect, but rather is an integral part of it. But I do agree about goodness being less pure if something is only done in anticipation of a reward.(less)
Long at times and definitely not as good as Anna Karenina, but still good. Didn't take as long to read as I had expected. Especially interesting were...moreLong at times and definitely not as good as Anna Karenina, but still good. Didn't take as long to read as I had expected. Especially interesting were his ideas on the role of leadership -- which stood against my conclusions in my senior thesis (in which I argued that it was the charisma of a leader that brought his party to the fore in France). Also many interesting views on "history" and the work of historians.
As with Anna Karenina, I recommend the Maude translation -- they have a real gift for making the magic of Tolstoy's language come alive.
I found descriptions of the comfort of routine (p. 418) and idleness (p. 519) interesting -- particularly in the way that he argued that the army provided an excuse for them.
Other quotes that spoke to me:
p. 734 "Such is the inevitable fate of men of action, and the higher they stand in the social hierarchy, the less they are free."
p. 880 -- An example to support his idea that no history can possibly be accurate: "The first method of history is to take an arbitrarily selected series of continuous events and examine it apart from others, though there is and can be no beginning to any event, for one event always flows uninterruptedly from another. "The second method is to consider the actions of some one man - a king or a commander - as equivalent to the sum of many wills; whereas the sum of individual wills is never expressed by the activity of a single historic personage. ..." etc.
p. 1193 "They all three of them now experienced that feeling of awkwardness which usually follows after a serious and heartfelt talk. It is impossible to go back to the same conversation, to talk of trifles is awkward, and yet the desire to speak is there and silence seems like affectation."
p. 1196 "We imagine that when we are thrown out of our usual ruts all is lost, but it is only then that what is new and good begins. While there is life there is happiness. ..."(less)
I read this while in Peace Corps in Uzbekistan, so it was more meaningful than it would have been had I been here. I think what I enjoyed most about t...moreI read this while in Peace Corps in Uzbekistan, so it was more meaningful than it would have been had I been here. I think what I enjoyed most about the book was my simultaneous real-world discovery of Uzbekistan along with my in-the-novel discovery of the same place. But the story, too, was interesting and it was quite terrifying to see what it might have been like in a Soviet cancer ward. I devoured this book in just a few days.
p. 39 "Zoyenka, how can you tell which part of the world you'd be happy in and which you'd be unhappy in? Who can say he knows that about himself?"
p. 342 "She had this holiday feeling because she felt she was in the right. Suddenly your powerful arguments, unspoken because everywhere ridiculed and rejected, which are the rope by which you hand all alone over a terrible chasm, turn out to be a rope of steel wire. And its reliability is recognized by a worldly-wise, suspicious, hard-headed man who is ready to hang by it himself in complete confidence."
p. 447 "One should never direct people toward happiness because happiness too is an idol of the market place. One should direct them toward mutual affection. A beast gnawing at its prey can be happy too, but only human beings can feel affection for each other, and this is the highest achievement they can aspire to."
Kelly and I went to college together and were 2 of the 12 International Studies majors in our class. We bumped into each other on Columbia's campus 5...moreKelly and I went to college together and were 2 of the 12 International Studies majors in our class. We bumped into each other on Columbia's campus 5 or 6 years later when both of us were there for our master's degrees. She told me about all of the research she was doing on breast cancer rates and radiation exposure on Long Island, but I had no idea she had turned her research into a book until I joined GoodReads. Shortly after I joined I clicked on the "authors" link and her photo was there along with a link to her book. It's really exciting that all of that research culminated in this great book.
Welcome to Shirley is Kelly's memoir of growing up in the Long Island town of Shirley, but in many ways the town is the main character of the book. In public health we talk a lot about fundamental causes of disease and this book is full of them -- for the residents of Shirley as well as the town itself, which never really had a chance to be the suburban paradise its founder had envisioned. I read the book with a lot of fear about the radiation levels in the groundwater -- particularly because Frank's hometown of Smithtown isn't too far from Shirley. Kelly points out that there is a ridge under Long Island and that the pollutants being generated by the Brookhaven Lab flowed south, which means they probably didn't flow north toward Smithtown. I felt guilty for being relieved that my in-laws (not to mention my husband!) probably didn't have to worry about the same horrendously high levels of radiation exposure as the folks living and dying in Shirley. It's really tragic and sickening to read about the people who lived so close to this SuperFund site and who were (and probably still are) kept so much in the dark about the risks they face every day just being at home.(less)
While this book wasn't quite as good as Plainsong, it was another great story. Haruf's characters are well-developed and the reader really gets an und...moreWhile this book wasn't quite as good as Plainsong, it was another great story. Haruf's characters are well-developed and the reader really gets an understanding of the complicated loyalties and devotion in the story. The dedication of the daughter's life to the father (despite his cruelty), her continued devotion to her brother, her boyfriend's respectful love from afar. Definitely a good book and a very quick read.(less)
Amazing book! He starts at a murder trial and goes back into the pasts of all the characters so you can see how they're all related ... to each other...moreAmazing book! He starts at a murder trial and goes back into the pasts of all the characters so you can see how they're all related ... to each other and to the mystery. You feel like you know everyone in the book -- all necessary details are provided and there is nothing superfluous. The order is amazing, everything flows together beautifully, and something about his story-telling made me feel like I had read 1,000 pages instead of just 400-something. I loved this book!(less)