I'm a huge fan and was not disappointed.
“Far from the Tree” is so much more than promised by the title. It consists of twelve distinct, fascinating and perspective-changing chapters that weave into a cohesive story of love and resilience. The author performs flawlessly, not so much because he is a professional narrator, but because this story is told from his heart.
Before listening to this book I questioned whether or not I would be able to sustain interest for 40 hours, but as soon as it started I was hooked. Hours flew by like minutes and I devoured this book until the very end.
“The Future” is extremely well-researched, thoughtful and eye-opening. Al Gore does a great job with the narration!
If you listen to only one book this year, it should be this one. And then buy a copy and read it to your kids. The future may depend upon it.
This book was so dreadful that I hardly know where to begin. On the outset, I will disprove the author’s contention that no good deeds can emanate from a publically-schooled person. Given the opportunity to return this book to audible.com for a full refund, I declined so that I may write this review, thus hopefully saving others from wasting their time and money.
John Taylor Gatto does start well by enumerating seven true enough points about school. (I think that most of us can agree that the public school system has problems.) They are:
1. It makes the children confused. It presents an incoherent ensemble of information that the child needs to memorize to stay in school. Apart from the tests and trials that programming is similar to the television, it fills almost all the "free" time of children. One sees and hears something, only to forget it again.
2. It teaches them to accept their class affiliation.
3. It makes them indifferent.
4. It makes them emotionally dependent.
5. It makes them intellectually dependent.
6. It teaches them a kind of self-confidence that requires constant confirmation by experts (provisional self-esteem).
7. It makes it clear to them that they cannot hide, because they are always supervised.
From here, things go way downhill. The next three hours are dedicated to asserting (although not explaining nor backing with statistical evidence) the author’s main argument that school is the root of all evil including, but not limited to, the breakdown of family, community, and society in general. He expresses a longing for the good ole days when kids had mischievous fun – he is proud to have been a juvenile delinquent having been arrested three times – and people didn’t have non-propagatory sex. He is tormented by modern society and has appealed to the reader to do what they can to sabotage schools, as he admits to have done and, one can only assume, continues to do. I contend that Gatto (and society in general) would be better if he joined Glenn Beck and his fellow anarchists in Beck’s planned utopian city of Independence, USA where young’uns would know how to make their own rocking chairs and crossbows and education is strictly home-grown.
Yes, the public education system is broken. A sane and rational approach to the problem is definitely needed, but that is something that this book does not provide.
If you're not familiar with the brilliant and funny Fran Lebowitz, this book is a good introduction. In the preface Fran acknowledges that many of her stories are outdated, which they are. The book was written several decades ago. Some stories have remained relevant, others have not. But the chapters are short so less interesting ones pass quickly. I wouldn't recommend that you drop everything and get this book, but I also don't regret having purchased it nor having spent the time to listen.
Rushdie is a brilliant author (mainly novelist) and it’s a rare treat to read a memoir by someone who writes so well.
I hesitated to review this book because my prose pale in comparison to those of Salman Rushdie. But this is such an extraordinary work that I feel compelled to share my opinion, even if clumsily. “Joseph Anton” is the story behind the story for those of us old enough to remember what happened. And for younger people, or anyone who cares about our constitutionally granted freedom of expression, it’s an important reminder of how easily that right can be taken away.
I give this book five stars because it delivers as promised and the fact that I didn’t like it is rather a reflection of my poor choice in having selected the book (it was on sale) than the quality of the author’s work. Celebrity lives just aren’t all that interesting and even the most talented actors do not necessarily (or likely) have the literary skills to write compelling stories about themselves. After having read some other celebrity memoirs - “Stories I Only Tell My Friends” (Rob Lowe), “The Elephant to Hollywood” (Michael Caine) - I shouldn’t be surprised that this book fell flat for me. “Happy Accidents” follows the predictable formula of many in this genre: the misfit/defiant childhood, insecure adolescence, years as a struggling actor, first break, climb to greatness, and all the wonderful people who helped along the way. If you’re a huge fan of Jane Lynch and have seen most of her work, you’ll probably appreciate her book. If you’re looking for a good piece of literature with novel insights, then you may want to pass on this one.
Stephen Tobolowsky’s “The Dangerous Animals Club” is a charming, insightful, and often funny memoir delivered in the form of non-chronological stories that somehow make perfect sense in their seemingly random sequence. As to be expected, some stories are better than others, but the really good ones are so captivating that I had to stop everything else I was doing and just listen in awe. The not-so-good ones were still okay. And while I was bored by his many bible references, they were short enough to be bearable.
Stephen’s performance was funny and flawless.
With the exception of a few jewels of wisdom, I found this book to be a bit boring and frequently checked the time remaining. It's the first 9-hour book that was actually too long, particularly the bits about Caitlin's childhood and adolescence. Having said that, I would highly recommend the book to women under the age of 30. But by mid-life, most of us have been there and done that and are ready to move on.
This book is brilliant on so many levels and no doubt gets better and funnier with subsequent listens. Characters are simultaneously bizarre and humdrum, yet so real. The dialogue is rich and flawless and the narrator was perfect. While the book’s plot is shallow – there aren’t many twists and turns or high adventure – there is tremendous depth just under the surface.
Having said all that, I prefer non-fiction so I probably won’t listen to this one again.
As always, Jon Ronson is thought-provoking and funny in this glimpse into his personal life.
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