I should really tell my dad not to bother buying me books for christmas. This was fine for what it is, but wildly implausible and way too long and reaI should really tell my dad not to bother buying me books for christmas. This was fine for what it is, but wildly implausible and way too long and really kind of a bore to read, from what I remember....more
I was bought this by mistake - it has freaking pictures in it! It was nice enough though. This Hitler dude was pretty nasty. The children were prettyI was bought this by mistake - it has freaking pictures in it! It was nice enough though. This Hitler dude was pretty nasty. The children were pretty childish. Racial persecution is pretty overrated... you get the idea....more
A failed re-read, unfortunately. I was much taken with this book when I was about 14 but upon re-inspection with a little more context it seemed a lotA failed re-read, unfortunately. I was much taken with this book when I was about 14 but upon re-inspection with a little more context it seemed a lot more dated.
Would still absolutely recommend people read it that first time though....more
Gladwell really does his research, finds interesting examples, endeavours to understand them in a fun, interesting and often counterintuitive way. HisGladwell really does his research, finds interesting examples, endeavours to understand them in a fun, interesting and often counterintuitive way. His discussion, for example, of the psychological research that went into Sesame Street was really interesting, as were his discussion of the communicability of suicide, and the role of graffiti and petty crime in the context of a major crime "epidemic."
Written in a very journalistic style, which I appreciated because I wanted to skim-read, and not get bogged down in what can be a very under-rigorous book for one that proposes such grand ideas.
I do like the idea of modelling transmission of social phenomena on disease transmission and epidemiology. I'd be interested in reading books that operate in the similar area of memetics.
My main criticism of The Tipping Point is that it catalogues a bunch of intriguing cases that can all be viewed in a similar way, so long as you continue to broaden your definitions. Because Gladwell's definition of phenomena that come under the influence of "The Tipping Point" is imprecise, I'm not sold on the significance at all.
However the idea that small factors can influence very large phenomena, in a positive manner, is a useful point to take away....more
I didn't actually finish this book. I read most of it, and it was OK, and I had about 50 pages to go. I wasn't inspired by it, so I figured I'd knockI didn't actually finish this book. I read most of it, and it was OK, and I had about 50 pages to go. I wasn't inspired by it, so I figured I'd knock those off that evening and start something else. Sadly, at the end of a long train journey that evening, the 13th September 2009, I set it down on the concrete outside Andover train station and must have forgotten to pick it up when my lift arrived.
That was a little disappointing, but not very, which is really as good a verdict on the book as I can give. It didn't impress me but it was just fine. Thomson is a decent writer and his style fits nicely into the late 90s. Soft is hugely anachronistic, in fact, but not in a good way. Its big premise, that a group of people could be subconsciously programmed to become living adverts for a new soft drink product, has basically no shock value whatsoever ten years later. We're au fait with the notion of subliminal messages. Many of us realise advertising is increasingly using psychological theory. Soft shows a little foresight, predating viral marketing, but it's not surprising stuff.
I like Thomson's feel for London, for the grotty towns of the south, the everyday Britain he presents, and I think he was wise to delay playing his cards out - the book only contains one Big Idea, really. It's decently written, the characters are fine, but I just never saw why I should care.
There were a few tangential things Thomson made a big deal of that didn't really seem important. Maybe they became so, although I can't see why. I don't know why the girl had to have a bizarre relationship with an uber-rich american, or why her father was in a caravan in the grim north. I don't know what all the crime-in-St-Louis was about. I don't know why Barker's love interests matter. The problem is that Thomson's characters are fairly 3-dimensional, they do many things, but he placed them in such a constricted 2-d world, where these things seem meaningless, almost esoteric.
In short, if someone reads this and tells me that the last 50 pages of Soft are an unequivocal work of genius, I'll track down another copy. But I think I have to take it as a failure if I can read more than 200 pages of a story and not care too much what happens in the last 50.
And if by chance you found my copy, that's cool. It has a nice cover. I got it in a second-hand bookshop in Penzance, I think, and someone had written inside the front cover, in pencil....more
**spoiler alert** Really enjoyed the first half, but it all gets a bit fluffy and vague. I feel 2001 was good because it left a degree of ambiguity th**spoiler alert** Really enjoyed the first half, but it all gets a bit fluffy and vague. I feel 2001 was good because it left a degree of ambiguity that the reader was allowed to work with, inflating it to mystical proportions and understanding the events of the book as a step forward in human evolution... and so on.
By explaining and fleshing out the forces at work in 2010, Clarke ends up stepping on his own toes, narrowing down our horizons, making the mysticism seem a bit hokey and low-key. Less Zarathustra and more of the Ghostbusters theme. When the star-child Bowman comes into I felt it lost it a bit.
Shame, as the first half is fully absorbing. Clarke is still smart and snappy and knowledgeable, so it's not an unpleasant read, but it's not fully satisfying either....more
Fully enjoyed this book, deliciously colourful and trashy. Initially I certainly preferred the Heart of Darkness homage set in the 18th century, but aFully enjoyed this book, deliciously colourful and trashy. Initially I certainly preferred the Heart of Darkness homage set in the 18th century, but as things progressed I enjoyed the other storylines more and that one a little less.
McDonald's got a great style for this kind of book, although where he let the punctuation give way it did make me feel a bit nauseous. Thoroughly modern stuff, internal monologues chopped and sprayed through paragraphs. At any rate, his language remained good fun throughout, and he changed pace nicely between storylines. Loved the heavily researched Brazilian stuff, could have done with a larger glossary.
Storyline is good, not as clever as it first seemed but nicely in keeping with the fun style of the book. Slightly disappointed in the ending, a bit too much psychedelia, a bit too direct a tie-up for my liking.
Bit of a secular "thought for the day" - most of this book shied away from saying anything worthwhile - Grayling has a really nice way of saying preciBit of a secular "thought for the day" - most of this book shied away from saying anything worthwhile - Grayling has a really nice way of saying precisely nothing, in fact.
Only really heats up when he's having a go at religion or "post-modernism", but even then, it's only that he doesn't like them. In this short form Grayling never feels he has to justify what he's saying, beyond maybe quoting a proverb. Dance is the best and greatest art form... because he likes dance. Later, he says there's a better way to mourn than the approach we take in this country. BUT he spends half the time celebrating multiplicity. This is just a sequence of unrelated nicey nice garbage.
Might try Grayling in a longer form some time - the final chapter, on ID cards and the reasons we should reject them strongly, is actually worthwhile. That, maybe is worth 2*....more