A lot of regurgitated info, but gives plenty of credit to the sources - all while providing good insight into the shortsightedness of money-driven motivation. Dollars aren't the best long-term motivator, and intrinsic motivation trumps extrinsic in many cases. There are also some fantastic business stories about how companies took different approaches to motivate workers. Good stuff and a quick read.
But less generously: not half as interesting as either. Foucault's Pendulum is much more worth the time.
Some have called this book pretentious, but I think anytime an author's main characters are moderately intelligent, it can turn off the more pedestrian among us. I am tired of reading about dumb people, and also quite glad to see the brokenness and truth with which Eugenides handles his characters, as well as the inter-relationships and complexities of smart college students trying to find themselves. To the first half of this book I would give a solid 5 stars, but somehow it gets a tad tedious yet still very well-written in the latter half. This man has chops, and I am definitely picking up Middlesex soon. As for the reader, Pittu blows the door off its hinges by smoothly transitioning between characters, gender, and accents. I would love to hear more from him.
This book actually depressed me, but not for the reasons it was intended to. Sure, the main character is supposed to be an anti-hero who cheats on his girlfriends. He's barely likable, and really only for his incorrigible inability to make good choices or learn anything from his mistakes. The level of filthy detail makes me feel like it was autobiographical, which leads me to the deeper issue here: how every male in this story treats women. Misogyny is an understatement, as if the author does not even realize that objectification is just as dangerous as discrimination. The prose style is smooth, with plenty of Spanish words sprinkled throughout. I can see why he is respected in the literary community - although I'm pretty happy to not be in this man's cabeza anymore.
Otherwise known as My Leisurely Journey to Vegetarianism And Incidentally You're An Idiot If You Don't Convert To It Also
I was pretty let down by Foer's first stab at nonfiction, especially since the reviews said it was even-handed. This was not as detailed or remotely objective as Omnivore's Dilemma and Fast Food Nation. Although it had some interesting information - like the brief info about PETA and Smithfield - I felt like I was being force-fed (trying... to... avoid... puns) the conclusions instead of letting me have the facts and come to revelations/decisions on my own. And the conclusion-jumping was a bit much: If we stop eating meat > animals won't be hurt > factories won't pollute > Global Warming will cease > we'll be happy lettuce munchers.
With the two books mentioned above (which he openly criticizes) there was a pull instead of a push, and I didn't feel like I was being talked down to. This just made me feel entrenched in meat for no other reason than I was insulted... and it makes me want to bathe in steak and drink turkey blood.
Tone aside, this does present a good case against animal cruelty, which even meat-lovers would want to change. Reform is something we need to demand, but saying that the only way to change factory farming is to become a vegetarian is just plain naive.
Covering a broad range of topics, from dog whisperers to the Veg-o-Matic, NASA to mustard, and such awesome-sounding topics like risk homeostasis and creeping determinism - Gladwell delivers once again with his series of essays from the New Yorker. He meanders pleasantly from theme to theme, so you're not stuck with any overarching idea for too long, and yet he still manages to put together some incredible comparisons and conclusions. What is the difference between choking in a sport/skill vs panicking, and why would that matter? Why do we have issues connecting dots that lead up to terrorist attacks? What does breast cancer have to do with birth control and third world countries? On top of all that, Gladwell is such a master storyteller that he can make the evolution of condiments fascinating. My only minor complaint is that the Ron Popeil story in the beginning was a bit long and probably a decent story for the middle somewhere, but a bit weak for an opener. The cherry on top is how brilliantly he reads his own stuff. Well played, Sir.
Suddenly cancer is not an abstract term that is thrown about in literature as a device for injecting importance into a story. These characters wrestle with their diagnoses with piercing honesty and humor. In the same way that NBC's "Community" earns the right to use race as a common discussion topic, Fault in Our Stars owns the cancer cards and transcends the abstract so it can paint a sincere and surprisingly not overly cynical picture of living with dying. The dialogue is fast, witty, memorable, and downright endearing throughout. Kate Rudd was brilliant.
I was pretty floored by the fantastic rebuttal to "Love Wins", compassionate honesty, and exegetical research. Very powerful stuff, while still remaining very personal and un-academic. We can't afford to get this wrong.
60% obvious observations, 30% "Lie to Me", 10% fascinating and applicable information. The accompanying pdf is pretty cheesy, but does serve to sum up the info.
For a book detailing the slow and macabre proliferation of disease and dissolution of language, this reads like a methodical and ominously gorgeous work of prose. It wasn't without its flaws, but still earned its 5 stars (maybe 4.5) through its descriptions, analyses of familial relationships and religion, and execution of a great concept without going Hollywood Thriller. I keep turning parts of it over in my head and continue to draw out more about culture, spirituality, and of course language itself.
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