Almost passed up this book based on a review which mentioned that frequent readers of lay science books wouldn't learn anything new---glad I didn't!
True, there were a couple sections that quoted books and ideas I was already familiar with, but Bryson's books encompasses SO much ground that there were also many areas which were new to me (in this level of detail) and they have actually encouraged me to seek out some of the books he refers to. In addition, like all of Bryson's books, his point of view is frequently hilarious, and always fun reading. An outstanding book.
It's a beautiful story, about a man worthy of emulation.
I was irritated in the beginning by the level of detail in the (pre-) biography, but quickly forgave. As someone in a creative profession, as someone who grew up with Sesame Street and The Muppet Show, and as a dad raising a child, this audiobook resonated with me and literally had me in tears (happy and sad) at several moments. A very emotional read all things considered.
The world is a poorer place without the likes of Jim Henson. Well-written and truly affective.
R.I.P. Mr. Henson, you did well by the world.
I don't know what I expected from this book, but it wasn't what it is! Interesting tale, "alternative future" quasi-sci-fi . . . while I wouldn't say it's a book I'd recommend to all my friends, it was definitely on the better side of what passes for escapist fiction. A very worthy use of a credit, well-written, (much above average in this regard for the genre) and an EXCELLENT performance by Claire Danes.
I never understood Reed Richard's hair . . . a few years ago I woke up and realized I had it.
If you get that joke . . . or if you are/were a Marvel comic book junkie, born between about 1958-78 (I was born in '68) I think you'd enjoy this book in some way, with the particular type of joy dependent on your personality.
For me, it was a bit like reading about a childhood hero ("Say it ain't so, Marvel") who you later found out was an alcoholic, misogynistic, criminal bastard in their day-to-day life.
I usually can't stomach gossip, or seedy insinuation---I could never read "The Comics Journal" back in the day----but somehow this book manages to cover the history of Marvel and such topics in all their tawdry glory without making you feel like you hate humanity in general.
A disclaimer: I probably represent about the most interested possible audience for this book. As a young artist I came very close to working for the major companies (the Shooter/DeFalco regimes) before I became a mainstream commercial illustrator (Briefly, I did later work for Eclipse and Dark Horse) and so almost every name mentioned brought forth from memory a face and a conversation at a convention, but I think even if you were just interested in the 1980's comics as a reader this would still be a fascinating peek behind the scenes.
Beyond all of the above, this book is also an almost accidental testimony to the oblivious evils of corporate greed and what happens when it collides with a creator's idealistic artistic passion. (Creators lose the battle, but have a lot more fun and fewer regrets on their deathbed.)
Excelsior . . .
While dated in some respects, if seen as the "period piece" that it essentially is, it holds up well. Much more enjoyable than the "mainstream" sci-fi that has been recommended to me.
As I was explaining to a colleague: the book leads you into thoughts of how you would cope with such calamities, which makes for interesting thoughts that last well beyond the reading of the book.
This book was not as transformative a listen as Botany of Desire, but I really enjoyed it and found myself talking about it a lot with friends. (always a good sign) It made me want to get into my kitchen on a weekend and experiment with long-ago clipped recipes. Very enjoyable.
Not a 5 star, but a solid, thoughtful 4 star. Away from the book, I found myself thinking about how it would be to live as a human so exposed to the brutalities of nature. This to me is a big factor in how I measure the value of a book or a story----does it make me think a little bit differently, does it transport me to a different world in my imagination?
This book did. I think it would be enjoyed by anyone who enjoys speculative fiction. (Sci-fi, etc.) Compared to most in those genres, this is superior writing.
I'm still looking for the fantasy writers who can sweep me off my feet . . . I think if you're already a fan of the genre, you would enjoy this---the descriptions of magician-craft were well-done and interesting---but I'm beginning to wonder if fantasy just isn't my genre . . . because at the end of the book I'm just left with a half-hearted feeling. (one exception was the first book in Game of Thrones, but I'll be damned if I'm going to invest that much time in a sequel(s) to a book that ends with a "tune in next week."
So for this book . . . well-written, fair use of a credit, but I wouldn't recommend to someone not already into the genre.
You wouldn't believe it if it were fiction . . . just when you think "ok, it can't get worse than that . . ." wait ten pages . . . and I thought that probably a dozen times.
I wasn't terribly interested in the topic but picked it up due to the exceptional reviews. I'm glad I did. I very worthwhile credit even for someone with only casual interest. Superb non-fiction writing . . . I'm kind of surprised it didn't win a Pulitzer---it's of that caliber.
As I believe some other reviewers have mentioned, if you read this sort of book often, you won't find much new material here.
Maybe I'm too close to the industry, but I was struck by two things:
1) I felt like I was reading a book proposal.
2) Authors, DON'T read your own text unless you are acknowledged as an excellent reader of your work. (David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell, etc.)
Summation: An aging frat boy's guide to science. At times this book makes People magazine look literary . . . Dude . . .
A waste of time and credits unfortunately.
On a positive note, if you're interested in this sort of book, Thinking Fast & Slow by Daniel Kahnemen was BEYOND brilliant. One of the best books I've read in years.
A very enjoyable "mini-book" for those of you running low on credits! :)
(I'm assuming it's still a free download!)
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