When I read\review books, I have very simple categories - mind, body and soul. "Mind" is usually something non-fiction and hurts my brain. Body is somWhen I read\review books, I have very simple categories - mind, body and soul. "Mind" is usually something non-fiction and hurts my brain. Body is something about how I should eat better, which I follow for about 48 hours before returning to my dark master, fried cheese. "Soul" is a special one, that's specific to books that caused me to feel different about my outlook on life - typically reserved for books on spirituality or bettering myself. Good Grief checked the Soul column for me, and I didn't expect that.
Good Grief follows some of the worst moments of "Tony", the main character's life and the... interesting.. coping mechanism he has to deal with these events. Tony is a character you love to hate. You'd have a beer with him, but leave the bar before you got to your 3rd or you don't know what would happen. You'd be his friend, but at a distance. You'd be his family member, but only because you have to be. You'd have him as a significant other because he's a human being, but wouldn't marry him.
What I loved.. LOVED.. about this book was the pain and suffering that you *felt* Tony go through. It was kept lighthearted and humorous (I liken it to the balancing act Breaking Bad had, where it's a heavy subject-matter, but you still smile because someone does something odd like throw a pizza on a roof), but you can *feel* what he's going through. His decision making is questionable at best, but enough detail is there that you can talk to the book and say "Tony.. c'mon.. no!".
The story also entails an 8 year old version of Tony.. dressed in a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume that only Tony can see, and it offers so much color and clarity to the book. When Tony screws up, is anxious or is struggling, 8 year old Tony is there to call him out - which more often than not causes a laugh, and provides depth to Tony's decision making (or lack thereof)
I don't typically read a lot of Fiction, after this read I'm starting to question why I don't indulge myself more often....more
Coming in hot after finishing Devil in the White City and Dead Wake, Isaac's Storm was the obvious choice for my next read, and it certainly didn't diComing in hot after finishing Devil in the White City and Dead Wake, Isaac's Storm was the obvious choice for my next read, and it certainly didn't disappoint. Another book set in the late 1800's, Larson's writing allows you to "hear" the ocean in the background, steam ships rolling into port, and the hustle and bustle of every day life for families in a growing city.
Broken into 6 parts, the book set's the scene as to what Galveston is like and the main parties at play. It also informs you of how little was known about hurricane's at the time, and more importantly about this fledgling little thing called the "National Weather Service", which was trying to prove it's necessity in it's own right. As the book continues, you see the ominous signs of tragedy starting to occur, and even become weary at times to turn the pages as the events unfold.
The latter half of the book depict many events of when the flood waters hit, the choices families had to make to survive the onslaught, and the tragedy so many families faced when they awoke (were they lucky enough) to see their entire city in ruins.
Believe me when I say it, I held on to my family close after finishing this book this weekend, for Erik Larson to have the capacity to evoke such emotion is an incredible power, and in Isaac's storm, he is well on point. I can't recommend this book enough.....more
I'm very late to the Erik Larson game - shame on me! This is my second book of his, and for a second time I'm most impressed by the description of theI'm very late to the Erik Larson game - shame on me! This is my second book of his, and for a second time I'm most impressed by the description of the era when the events occurred. Dead Wake describes the sinking of the Lusitania, offering perspective from the ship passengers (offering accounts of survivors before and after the attack), U.S. policy and attitude towards WWI, British Intelligence, and Germany's U-20 Submarine (they're most "successful" submarine during WWI and that which performed the sinking itself).
Erik Larson masterfully combines the 4 main aforementioned parties into a cohesive text. Throughout the book you are offered insight into the joy of those traveling the Lusitania, knowing full well the impending doom that faces them. You are offered terror as you understand the purpose of the German U-Boats intended to terrorize shipping\traveling across the seas. You are offered political jeopardy as you witness Britain's "Room 40" secretly monitoring and cracking German transmissions, but unable to take action as to not tip their hand. You are offered heartache and intrigue at the highest level of political office as you are introduced to Woodrow Wilson's broken-hearted presidency following the death of his wife, amidst the greatest crisis his generation had been witness to.
The book reads like a chronological time bomb, knowing full well the fate of so many of the passengers but remains compelling nonetheless. Despite taking place over 100 years ago you can still smell the saltwater, picture the ship passengers dressed in period attire and hear their native accents as they "speak".
As interesting as this book was, the final chapter was truly masterful, putting it "over the top". Following the sinking of the ship, a final chapter is dedicated solely to the gravity of the action in the United States and the series of steps taken that would ultimately lead to our entrance to World War 1. It wasn't the sinking of the Lusitania that pulled us into war, it was the beginning of that decision, one that was entered into with heavy heart and great timidness.
This isn't a book about World War I, or Nazi Germany, or secret intelligence or U.S. policy - it's a combination of *all* of those items offering intense, vibrant description of that generation's "9/11" and how the world would forever change....more
Every Google, Bing, or Yahoo search of "best nonfiction" always returned at least one item from Erik Larson. More often than not, Devil in the White CEvery Google, Bing, or Yahoo search of "best nonfiction" always returned at least one item from Erik Larson. More often than not, Devil in the White City seemed to be the recommended choice. After months of ignoring suggestions, I found myself taking a trip, and decided to pick it up for the flight. I had never been more happy to have airport delays.
Devil in the White City discusses 2 parallel events that occurred simultaneously in Chicago in the late 1800's. While they're completely unrelated, it's amazing that you can have 2 men with completely different motivations. Each chapter jumps between 2 individuals, one who is going through painstaking efforts to show the greatness of America by assembling the greatest minds to hold the Chicago Worlds Fair. The other is a calculating, sadistic doctor who prey's on the weak.
The story is very compelling, but the writing is what really made the book shine. Erik Larson has this amazing ability to transfer you to this time period. You can smell the garbage in the back alleyways, or the stagnant water, or feel the heat of the humid, summer days where the story takes place.
I'm done looking for my next few books for quite some time now. If the author's name doesn't end in Larson, I'm not reading it....more