Too homogeneous to read more than a handful of entries in one sitting, but not meaty enough to work as a coffee table book. It casts a wide net, cover...moreToo homogeneous to read more than a handful of entries in one sitting, but not meaty enough to work as a coffee table book. It casts a wide net, covering everything from bestselling authors to youtube sensations, but the same sentiments are repeated over and over, those sentiments themselves being rife with cliches.
I also take fundamental issue with the premise of the book. I know the point of it is to see what wisdom various personalities have gained in the course of their lives, and there's nothing wrong with that, but I find the medium it's presented in, writing a letter to your past self, bothersome. Of course something like telling yourself that you will meet the love of your life in a nightclub on a trip to a specific country, as someone whose name eludes me does in her letter, is ridiculous, but even just giving yourself general advice is pointless. You're obviously going to learn anything you can tell yourself eventually, and when you do, it will most likely be through (an) experience(s) significant enough to deeply ingrain the wisdom in question in you, instead of trust placed in a letter, even if it is from your future self.
Anyway, there are good and bad letters here, but there's so much overlap between the two that the whole book just becomes a blur of "Don't give up!" and "It's okay to be different!" I'd be content just reading J.K. Rowling's to learn that she was (is?) a Smiths fanatic (such a telling thing about a teenage girl, really) and being unaware of the rest's existence.(less)
Oscar Wilde beats you over the head with excessive wit for a short while and makes you wish you could spew out eloquently spoken truths about human na...moreOscar Wilde beats you over the head with excessive wit for a short while and makes you wish you could spew out eloquently spoken truths about human nature in casual conversation. It's endlessly quotable and unbelievably amusing, but leaves you more impressed with the man than with itself.(less)
A funny, dark, empowering, depressing book about war and life and death and time travel and aliens. There are no spoilers for this book. Everything is...moreA funny, dark, empowering, depressing book about war and life and death and time travel and aliens. There are no spoilers for this book. Everything is inevitable.(less)
It's pretty awe-inspiring that we live in a world that's preferable to the ideal world of less than 600 years ago.
Though it's clearly not what the boo...moreIt's pretty awe-inspiring that we live in a world that's preferable to the ideal world of less than 600 years ago.
Though it's clearly not what the book's remembered for, I'll talk about the writing for a moment: the prose can be pretty tedious, as More gets into these comma/semicolon orgies, and, the book being as dry as it is, is bound to lose you at some point, leading to your eyes darting up a couple of lines looking for the beginning of the sentence only to realize it's half a page up from there. It's also as if you can tell what More's new favorite term was when he was writing any specific part of the book, as you'll suddenly see animate or fall out or suffer or [others that I can't be arsed to remember] start popping up multiple times per page and then just disappear for awhile.
I feel like if Sir Thomas More had been aware of how important this would be, he would have omitted some parts, possibly everything from his point of view, including the entirety of Book I, but at the very least the little ending segment which serves absolutely no purpose other than to end on some concluding note, and actually makes the book that little bit less powerful if anything.
But anyway, the ideas:
I can only assume Utopia must have been mind-blowing to read in 1516, but it's not 1516, and presently, its best ideas will be nothing new to you (though I do enjoy reading about the Utopians' views toward money and material objects), there are some that are just outdated (slavery, Confucian family structure), and then (what I'm guessing are) original ideas that just aren't all that good, like taking children from families and giving them to those who are less fertile in keeping with the regulations on how many members can be in a family. And then there's the ridiculously rigid outline of eating dinner (only for the Syphogrants if I remember correctly, but still). Also a decent portion of religious stuff which, if you have no interest in the subject, will do little to change that.
I can't think of a good way to conclude this and I don't want to pull a Sir Thomas More.(less)
"Hey, Sam, I was thinking about getting a tattoo. I thought maybe something tribal would look cool." "Oh? Well you DO know the goal of tattooing was NE...more"Hey, Sam, I was thinking about getting a tattoo. I thought maybe something tribal would look cool." "Oh? Well you DO know the goal of tattooing was NEVER beauty, but change, right?" "Huh?" "I mean, going as far back as the Nubian priests-" "Jesus Christ Sam, have you been reading Dan Brown again?"
When I would set this book aside, I had no real desire to learn what happened next. Upon finishing it, the storyline's resolution brought me no satisfaction.
By turning everything into a cliffhanger, Dan Brown ruins not only that everything -- all the little moments which may have provided some suspenseful element if they were presented with any subtlety -- but the big moments, or big moment anyway, as it's immediately tangible how significant the big reveal is to the story once it's brought forth, but by that point, it's really hard to care much for this story.
After reading the book for awhile in one sitting (which is rather easy to do, it must be said), it isn't hard to devote your attention to the story and just glimpse over the flaws. But every once in awhile you just step back and think -- Wait, how many times is Dan Brown going to write this exact same book? Why is he providing me with this needless information about tattoos? Why does this Redskins game keep getting mentioned when it contains absolutely no significance to the plot, or anything at all? Why am I hearing again about Robert Langdon's fucking Mickey Mouse watch? Do so many chapters really have to end with Dan-Brown-blatantly-trying-to-rape-tickle-your-suspense-gland bullshit along the lines of "But... No... this can't be!!"? Am I really supposed to be able to picture Inoue Sato (Here, try for yourself - She's a tiny Japanese woman who's very intimidating, has a good head on her shoulders, and takes no bullshit)? Is there really a little joke about the differentiation between the terms 'twitter' and 'tweet' on the second to last page of the last chapter of the fucking book?
For a second while reading this, I entertained the idea of Dan Brown having the balls to kill off Robert Langdon. I mean, I knew while this specific near-death experience was happening that he'd make it through, and, of course, he did (this is not a spoiler because you've read the same damn thing happen already in this guy's other books). Okay, his death wouldn't really make the book any better, but at least it might allow me to believe that Brown writes books with anything more than the desire to top the bestsellers list. Might sound harsh, but you simply don't write shit like this (especially not for the fifth time) because it's that meaningful idea that's been lingering inside you your whole life that you can finally put down on paper and share with the world.
My favorite part of this book (and I'm going to sound like an insufferable smart-ass by saying this, but I'm actually being completely serious) is this ink splotch on page 260. I can only assume it was a small error made in printing. The book reads "With a bang, the SUV's rear hatch flew open. Bellamy felt a sharp pain." And then there's just these little black spots above and to the right of the word pain, with no real rhyme or reason to them. Maybe there should be books that have subtle touches like that to relate the feelings of words with little abstract images.
Anyway, yeah. The Lost Symbol. Don't read it.(less)
I get the feeling that if I were to possess the patience and vigor to read several of the reviews for Lolita on this page, and then compare them to ot...moreI get the feeling that if I were to possess the patience and vigor to read several of the reviews for Lolita on this page, and then compare them to others written by the same subjects, I would observe that these have a markedly different writing style. If this is indeed the rule, mine is certainly no exception.(less)
Don't make the mistake I made of reading 1984 before reading Animal Farm. The former more or less encompasses the latter, and adds a good deal more on...moreDon't make the mistake I made of reading 1984 before reading Animal Farm. The former more or less encompasses the latter, and adds a good deal more on top of it, so it's hard to read this afterward without thinking it's simply inferior to what came next. Different enough in premise to hold its own, sure, but not in ideas. I think I would have been much better off reading this first and having it as a primer of sorts for 1984.(less)
I do like the plot(poor Sybil), and the dialogue is great, but I could do without a lot of the details. Wilde's descriptions, with all the flower(y) i...moreI do like the plot(poor Sybil), and the dialogue is great, but I could do without a lot of the details. Wilde's descriptions, with all the flower(y) imagery and whatnot, don't do much for me. For a few pages in particular, when he's describing all the culture Dorian indulges in after reading the book Lord Henry gives him, it's outright bad.(less)
Some of these are actually pretty good, but as a whole, my entertainment can't begin to approach my respect. And, with some of the stories, even the l...moreSome of these are actually pretty good, but as a whole, my entertainment can't begin to approach my respect. And, with some of the stories, even the latter falters.(less)
Starts out great, with some parts in particular being absolutely fantastic, most notably Oskar's grandparents' relationship. It would occasionally cro...moreStarts out great, with some parts in particular being absolutely fantastic, most notably Oskar's grandparents' relationship. It would occasionally cross the line between tasteful and overly sentimental, but not so much that it wasn't forgivable. But about two-thirds of the way through, with the 'my city gets bombed and I kill a bunch of animals' chapter, it completely crosses the line, and more or less remains there for the rest of the novel.(less)
Due to its conversational tone, and the general strength of Holden Caulfield as a character, it's never a chore to read. Holden has his own view on pr...moreDue to its conversational tone, and the general strength of Holden Caulfield as a character, it's never a chore to read. Holden has his own view on practically everything and everyone, and I enjoy reading those views. I enjoy his tangents (though I don't like much how they're highlighted by having him relate a story about a speech class where you're encouraged to not digress from the point). Most of all, I enjoy his sister Phoebe. She's a child who's smart and compassionate, but still very much a child.
Not a whole hell of a lot really HAPPENS though. There is some stuff to dig into under the surface level, but unless you're someone who really relates to Holden (and I'm sure there are many who do), neither the surface or its underbelly are all that engaging.(less)
So this was my favorite book back in middle school. I think most of the appeal to me came from being amused by Alex, but there was extra incentive to...moreSo this was my favorite book back in middle school. I think most of the appeal to me came from being amused by Alex, but there was extra incentive to refer to it as my favorite book because there's the whole moral aspect to it that would make me look smart.
Now, I still like everything alright, up until part three. And everything really just falls apart in part three. Alex is released back into the world after undergoing this immoral treatment, and all sorts of ills befall him. The problem is practically none of these ills are results of the treatment; they're pretty much either retribution for his acts in part one or attempts to take advantage of his situation for political reasons. Seeing as by any account I can imagine the central aspect of this book is the idea of the necessity of choice in moral constitution, you would think that part three would go something more along the lines of: Alex is released, shies away from any violent endeavor, causing the Ludovico technique to be applauded and increasingly implemented, meanwhile Alex is inwardly tormented by his clockwork orangeness.
But that doesn't happen, and at the end of everything (spoilers I guess):
He relapses. No time is given to how this is achieved, or what it affects, or how it matters at all, but he does. And that's how it ends.
Well, that's not how the British version ends, or the new American version with the new introduction by the author stating how important this final chapter is to the book, because it provides character development, the element which makes fiction fiction or the novel the novel or whatever. Problem with that is, the character development in this chapter is the ONLY character development in the whole book - not just for Alex, but in general. But let's focus on Alex: last pages of chapter 20 he's threatening his sobbing mother, i.e. he's shown absolutely no signs of tiring of violence at this point in the book, and then abruptly in the final chapter he's just bored with it all and wants to settle down. Where'd this all come from? I mean, it's not implausible or anything, but in context it's practically a digression. The whole third part of the book, this chapter especially, seem only to serve the point of obfuscating the point.
Oh, and what's with the oddly inaccurate onomatopoeia? Kashl for coughing? Arrrgghh for a burp?(less)
I suppose any book that features a scene in which teenagers with a Eurasian background, and no palpable interest in hip hop, have a freestyle rap cyph...moreI suppose any book that features a scene in which teenagers with a Eurasian background, and no palpable interest in hip hop, have a freestyle rap cypher which ISN'T utterly cringe-inducing is commendable. John Green is a much braver man than I for even attempting that, though. A Herculean task, really.
Also, Alaska name-drops The Flaming Lips, so I suppose can see why everyone falls in love with her.(less)