I wasn't really sure what to expect when I picked this up, but I thought if I were to read about bullfighting, Hemingway might be a good choice as a g...moreI wasn't really sure what to expect when I picked this up, but I thought if I were to read about bullfighting, Hemingway might be a good choice as a guide. I had no idea it would be so detailed.
I feel like I came away from it understanding the structure of a bullfight, the environment, the emotion. I was fascinated by his descriptions of proper killing, the work of the picadores and banderilleros (who I didn't even know existed before), and all the moves that a matador may perform, properly or improperly. Perhaps the most interesting part was Hemingway's recurring theme of the bravery of the bull. It's easy for an outsider to think of the matador as brave (or crazy), but one rarely considers the idea of a brave bull and how that bravery can raise the level of a bullfight to sheer brilliance if properly used by the matador.
Also, you get a glimpse of Spain and its people through his writing, which I also enjoyed immensely. And finally, some of it was quite funny, as my boyfriend can attest because I kept reading passages out loud to him.(less)
If you don't know, Fever Pitch is about soccer and his obsession with it, specifically with Arsenal. (Not Jimmy Fallon and his obsession with baseball...moreIf you don't know, Fever Pitch is about soccer and his obsession with it, specifically with Arsenal. (Not Jimmy Fallon and his obsession with baseball - did they use the Red Sox in the movie? I know nothing about baseball.) The book isn't a romantic comedy, either.
I like Hornby's writing, mostly, including his nonfiction writing on music and books, which are two other things he loves. However, I felt like something was really missing here, and at least part of that is his sense of humor. Soccer seems to be something he doesn't have much of a sense of humor about - and while the point of the book is how it's serious business to him and how his relationship with the sport has undoubtedly been unhealthy at times, a little more humor wouldn't have been misplaced.
Also, there's honestly not enough of Nick Hornby himself in the book. He talks about how as a child, going to soccer matches gave him a means to communicate with his dad after his parents' divorce. These sections are good. Later, as an adult, he mentions suffering from years-long depression and having failed relationships, but there's not much made of those things. It's hard to get a handle on what was really going on - and saying that his depression was magically cured by Arsenal's winning season is either flippant or disingenuous. We don't have any way to tell which, because while he makes relatively frequent mention of the depression, we don't really find out much beyond that.
Overall, not a particularly strong Hornby book, but it was an early one (published in 1992), so I guess that's to be expected.
"They offered me a drink and I declined, so they shook my hand and offered commiserations and I disappeared; to them, it really was only a game, and it probably did me good to spend time with people who behaved for all the world as if football were a diverting entertainment, like rugby or golf or cricket. It's not like that at all, of course, but just for an afternoon it was interesting and instructive to meet people who believed that it was."(less)
Oddly perhaps, I find this an uplifting story. Yes, people died, and other people had very hard choices to make about how they were willing to survive...moreOddly perhaps, I find this an uplifting story. Yes, people died, and other people had very hard choices to make about how they were willing to survive. But they did survive, and two men hiked across the Andes to try to get help - when they didn't have any gear or training to do so. It's an amazing story.(less)
I like adventure and outdoors tales, so I thought this book would be a good fit for me. George Grinnell tells of a canoe expedition he went on in 1955...moreI like adventure and outdoors tales, so I thought this book would be a good fit for me. George Grinnell tells of a canoe expedition he went on in 1955 across some of the most desolate parts of Arctic Canada. The leader, Art Moffatt, dies on the trip after their canoes go over a waterfall.
Grinnell was young, and he was looking for something with more meaning than his privileged background had provided up to that point in his life. After dropping out of Harvard and a stint in the military, he was trying to find his place in the world, it seems. For a while, it looked like he'd picked the right expedition to help him along with that. He idolized Art and his one-with-nature attitude. But eventually, their improper preparation for the trip and their unwillingness to admit that the Arctic winter would close in on them before they came anywhere near their destination caught up with them.
I'm torn about this one - the book itself was generally good, readable, and drew me in. However, I get frustrated with wilderness tales that involve people willfully ill-equipped (Grinnell bought the cheapest sleeping bag possible and didn't even bring gloves) romanticizing the idea of starving out away from society as being somehow noble.(less)
I have to admit to being an American who knew very little about how the Rwandan genocide had come about, and in fact about the real scope of it. I am...moreI have to admit to being an American who knew very little about how the Rwandan genocide had come about, and in fact about the real scope of it. I am considerably more educated after having read this book.
If you've seen the movie Hotel Rwanda, you know the basic outline of how Paul Rusesabagina sheltered approximately 1,200 people in a hotel in Kigali. In the book, he tells how he did it - by calling in favors from people whose acquaintance he'd made as a hotel manager. That doesn't begin to describe how much he had to use his wits. He had to sit down and talk with people who were commanding others to hack their fellow citizens to death with machetes, and often doing it themselves as well. He had to face these men and find a way to whatever small measure of humanity might be inside them. Failing that, he had to figure out what sort of bribe might allow them to make a deal with him.
It's inspiring what can be accomplished by simply doing what seems to need doing. Luck was involved, and perhaps some naivete on Rusesabagina's part, but it was a combination that worked miracles for his family and the refugees he housed in the Milles Collines Hotel.(less)
For someone who is more of an indoor type of girl, I sure do love adventure stories. Seafaring, mountaineering; you name it, it probably appeals to me...moreFor someone who is more of an indoor type of girl, I sure do love adventure stories. Seafaring, mountaineering; you name it, it probably appeals to me. So it's not surprising that I was drawn toward this amazing tale. I had only heard the barest outlines of the story before - I knew Shackleton had a famously doomed expedition to Antarctica and that somehow everyone had survived. That, obviously, doesn't begin to describe what really went on. In some ways, the book is a little like an exercise in Murphy's Law - if there's a way things can get worse, they probably will. The Endurance gets stuck in packed ice, eventually being crushed by the pressure from the moving floes. Now the men are stranded hundreds of miles from anything vaguely resembling civilization, and they are floating on an ice floe, hoping it will blow in the right direction. I couldn't even entirely wrap my mind around that.
And then things get worse. The story involves near-starvation, exhaustion, facing some of the world's worst weather, sailing treacherous seas in small boats, and much, much more. Yet, none of that will spoil the story for you. I've seen others say that knowing the outcome doesn't spoil the story in the least, and I have to agree. You'll find yourself forgetting that they all make it, and wondering how on earth it's even possible for them to have all survived. I highly recommend this book to anyone.(less)
This was a very interesting book about Billy Tipton, a musician in the jazz/swing era who was born a woman but passed as a man almost his entire adult...moreThis was a very interesting book about Billy Tipton, a musician in the jazz/swing era who was born a woman but passed as a man almost his entire adult life. It's both fascinating and frustrating trying to dig into how that was possible, and who knew what and when, because he didn't confide in anyone at all.
Nevertheless, the fact that Dorothy Tipton (as Billy was named at birth) started dressing as a man to pursue a career as a musician was definitely known in her home state of Oklahoma and surrounding areas when she started out. As much as a modern reader would expect people in the early part of the 20th century (and in that part of the country) to be up in arms about her cross-dressing, or expose her ruse at any chance, they didn't. Billy was part of the entertainment world, and "show people" had different rules that the average person didn't always understand, but also didn't infringe upon. As Billy found more success as a musician and began moving farther and farther from home, years passed where no one knew his secret. Slowly it became something he really had to take steps to keep hidden, lest he lose everything.
Billy lived with 5 different women over the course of his life, calling them all his wives even though they were never legally married. The women the author spoke to claimed they didn't know Billy's secret, nor did they notice anything amiss in their relationships with him. The truth was revealed when he died, but with very few exceptions, the revelation didn't change how anyone he knew viewed him - he was still remembered as the man they had known, in spite of being physically female.(less)