I was so excited when I got the email from Audible about The Great Courses series. I love lectures and there's a lot to choose from in this collection. I was a little bit overwhelmed by the prices, though. So I decided to pick something that I love, but would like to know more about.
As an art student in college, I learned about ancient civilizations through beautiful works they created. But I've always wanted to know more. I want to know what they wore, what they talked about, what they worried about, how they lived and what they held sacred. This lecture promised to tell me all of those things. And it did.
In the first few lectures, Scott MacEachern talks about archeological theory. It's boring and interesting at the same time. It's a tedious topic, but something that I was previously unaware of. He talks about getting away from researching grand structures and, instead, looking at how commoners lived. That's very much what I wanted to know. He also stressed that we make a mistake when we compare ancient cultures to modern. They lived and thought in completely different ways than we do. I'm not sure why, but it's very hard for me to think of it in that way, as I'm sure it is for many others, including those that study such things.
There were some things that I didn't like about this lecture series, and one thing I absolutely loved. First, dislikes. Professor MacEachern is from Canada, so I expected him to say things in a "Canadian" way, and I was willing to overlook it. What bothered me about the way he spoke is that he often used words improperly and in the wrong context. (It's been awhile since I finished listening to these lectures, so I can't think of any specifics.) If you're looking up to someone as an expert, it's disappointing when they misuse grammar in such a fundamental way. Another thing that bothered me is something that has bothered me about other lectures that I've taken in the past. Namely, lack of enthusiasm. One of my art history professors in college was soooo.... boring that no one wanted to take her class. In fact, art is the thing I love most in life, and I could barely stay awake in her class. But, if you spoke to her one on one, her passion for art was clear. She lit up. I've always wondered why people who obviously love what they're talking about, and want you to love it too, can't make the subject more enjoyable. There was a point in this lecture, near the end, when Professor MacEachern got fired up. But it was too, little too late.
Now for what I did love about it. I think that experts are often too certain of themselves and what they think. They present their ideas and things that are currently known as hard, solid fact. But the truth is, facts are relative and constantly changing as we discover new and wonderful things. It's rare and refreshing to hear someone in authority say, "This is what we know right now, but it might change as we research this topic further." I really appreciated that aspect of this lecture.
Overall, I'm satisfied with this lecture series. I learned quite a few things. But, I may wait awhile to listen to another of these lectures. Even though it didn't cost as much as an actual college course, and I could listen to them in my pajamas, they are still rather expensive.
I saw Simon Sinek's TED talk two weeks before I started my own business. It greatly influenced the way I thought about my business strategy and how I worded my intent on my website. A few weeks after I had started my business, I saw his book on sale on Audible. Great timing! This book is an extended version of his TED talk.
So far, I have had great success by using his strategy of starting with why. Of course, I've done other things to ensure my companies success, but I always ask myself why I'm making the choices I make. By doing this, it helps keep my on track and focused on my original goals.
This book isn't just about how to be successful in business. It's also I good way to analyze yourself in daily life by keeping in mind why you are doing things and behaving in certain ways. There are a couple parts I keep coming back to. The biggest one is, how we make decisions. I am the sort that makes quick decisions and is usually happy with those choices, even if I find out later that I could have saved money if I had done a little more research. My husband is the kind of person that over-researches every decision and is more dissatisfied because he feels he could have saved even more money if he had taken even longer to research. This used to infuriate me, but now I understand that it is just the difference in the way our minds work.
Like all self-help books, this book will not solve all your problems. But it is informative and insightful. I would recommend it to everyone. Simon Sinek is also a very good narrator and easy to listen to.
Everyone comes into books from different places and at different points in their lives. If I had read this in my early twenties, I would have loved it. That was before I had gone to see the Impressionist's work in its birthplace, before I had taken 3 art history classes, and before I had found my own voice as an artist.
Art history is a fairly dry subject, only interesting to those who truly love art. Therefore, it stands to reason that it's difficult to write a really good art history book, fictitious or not. I know that most real art lovers hate The Da Vinci Code. But you must admit, it had some real entertainment value, even if it was mostly ridiculous. This book didn't even come close to being as thought provoking, or as enjoyable as The DVC. The storyline was formulaic and predictable, the characters were underdeveloped, and the imagined history was silly.
***This part might contain spoilers. You should stop reading here if you don't want to know some specific details.***
The main character, Claire, was a sniveling little brat. Most artists are neurotic, egotistical and self deprecating. Not tattle-telling, whiny nitwits. Her famous artist boyfriend makes a name for himself by passing off her painting as his own, which she encouraged, by the way. Then, when he breaks up with her to go back to his wife, she rats him out. She acts all noble, saying that she just wants the truth to come out. I call BS. If you're going to be spiteful about something, don't make it worse by lying about it. Hold your head high while ruining someone's life and career. At least then you're not a liar and a jerk.
Then there's Aiden. He was her ex-boyfriend's art rep. But now he's the devil on her shoulder, and her lover. Not to say that doesn't happen in the art world. There's plenty of lasciviousness going on. But you know what everyone calls the girl that tries to ruin her ex's career, then gets a show of her very own at his former art rep's gallery, that, oh by the way, she's sleeping with now? You know the word I'm looking for. Anyway, Aiden is so silky smooth that he is an unbelievable character. He owns a successful art gallery, a large historic home decked out in priceless art, he grows his own food in his backyard, he cooks gourmet meals after working all day, and he's thoughtful and considerate. This would send up red flags for almost any woman. The first thing that comes to my mind is serial killer. But maybe I'm being a bit harsh. Maybe he's just a creep.
There are some halfhearted sex scenes thrown in there to appeal to the froo-froo sensibilities of the general female population, that don't add anything to the book. In fact, I was sort of put off by the whole thing. Claire sort of, kind of, puts off his advances, while secretly wanting to rip his clothes off. Then when she finally does give in, it's because he cooked for her, was nice to her, and after being rejected by her, stands with his hand pressed against the window watching her leave. Blech! This is the sort of thing that ruins real romance. If that's what women are told to expect, then they will be forever disappointed with the slob that is sitting on their couch all day, smelling of corn chips and playing X-Box.
Having ripped this book a new one, I suppose I can say something nice to finish off this review. The art. I get it. When I was in art school, I lived in a city with the best free museum in the country. It wasn't like I had never seen really good art before. But then I went to Europe. When I walked into those museums, it was like I had never really breathed before. Sure, somehow I was maintaining enough oxygen in my body to support life. But this was different. It was like my lungs were filled full for the first time ever. Right then and there I knew I could never live another day without the amazing beauty of man's creations surrounding me. And you can tell that the author has had a similar experience through art. She loves it. She loves it so much she just had to write a book about it. Too bad she had to pander to people who don't know what that kind of passion feels like. But a girl's gotta make a living I suppose.
I listen to this podcast every week. I've found some amazing books, and listened to some great authors. It was a shock when Kim Alexander announced at the end of this episode that this is the last one. What? Where will I hear all these awesome interviews? And get the top ten count down? Amazon, is this your fault?
I did not give the story three stars because I didn't enjoy it. I gave it three stars because I would need to be a genius, and probably an Indian Historian, to be able to understand it all.
I did like the book though, and for many reasons. The most important being that Salman Rushdie can turn words inside out and upside down and form them into something beautiful that you've never seen before. This book made me feel like what I imagine it would feel like to be in India. The smells, the traffic , the poor people hanging onto buses and trains. He doesn't make things picturesque. He makes things real. Not only the good, but the bad as well. The narrator of the story, Saleem Sinai, doesn't hold back from telling us how things really are. He tells us about his snot, accidentally seeing his mother's woohoo, fighting on the wrong side of things and falling in love with his sister. He is the kind of narrator that most of us are. He forgets things, backtracks, skips ahead, gets muddled. But through it all you learn about his whole family and history, and how the history of India is a part of everything. My favorite character is the grandmother, Reverend Mother. She is absurd, and yet, somehow quite likable. Every time she said "what's his name" it made me smile.
I found Midnight's Children easier to understand than The Satanic Verses. Even though it doesn't flow in chronological order, and the story is often interrupted by Padma, it is not as fantastical or as dreamlike as SV. But there are some similar themes in both books. Rushdie seems to be fond of the good/evil, God/Satan dynamic. Also, reality and non-reality play an equal part.
If you like books that push you, that expand you, that make you question things and look at the world in new ways, then you will like this book. It's not easy, but it is worth it.
I've had this book on my to-read list for years, but I kept putting it off because it's described as a horror novel. Horror books and movies give me freaky dreams, so I usually stay away from them. But this book isn't scary at all. (At least it wasn't for me, and I'm a big sissy.)
This was Bram Stoker's second novel, published in 1897. For a second novel he really showed that he knew what he was doing. The characters all have unique and well developed personalities. His descriptions of the settings are perfect and not as flowery as some would have done during that time period. The epistolary format adds to the believability of an otherwise preposterous situation. And I enjoyed the inclusion of popular psychology and medical practices of the Victorian Era. You can really see how far we've come in 120+ years. The only thing about this novel that I disliked was his description of women. They were swooning, helpless messes that would be lost without men by their sides. But, at the same time, Mina is one of the strongest and smartest characters. Without her this book, and the men in it, would have been lost. It just irritated me when she would push aside her own feelings and desires because her husband, or some other man, told her it would be for the best, and of course men know better than women. Ugh. So, I kept reminding myself that it was the accepted ideas of the time, and then tried to let it go.
Also, the narrators were fantastic! They brought the characters to life. I agree with other reviewers , the whole cast should have been listed during the end credits.
I have enjoyed all of Christopher Moore's books, except for this one. It felt clumsy and heavy handed. Some of the characters were interesting, but none were well developed. The story became muddle and difficult to understand.
A Room With A View is on my top 10 favorite movies list. When I see a movie that is based on a book, I usually don't read the book because one of them is likely to be a disappointment. But in this case, I think both the movie and the book were good in their own way. The movie entertained and elicited an emotional reaction, while the book was entertaining and thoughtful.
When watching the movie, I always had the feeling that Mr. Vyse was perhaps seeking the wrong gender in his attempt to marry Ms. Honeychurch. After reading the book, and learning a little bit about E. M. Forster, it became much clearer. Mr. Forster was a closeted homosexual. Through the internal thoughts of the characters in the book, we learn that Mr. Beebe, the minister, thinks that Mr. Vyse is much like himself. A life long bachelor. Or, in truth, gay. While I suspected it of Mr. Vyse, I was a bit shocked about Mr. Beebe. I had assumed from the movie that he had a little crush on Ms. Honeychurch, when in fact, he only found her to be an interesting person full of potential.
Knowing that Mr. Vyse is gay makes his character more understandable and sympathetic. Yes, he's still a bit of a stuck up twit, but he's also struggling to fit in to a society that will never accept him for who he really is.
As for Ms. Honeychurch, she is also much more complicated than can be seen in the movie. In the movie I thought she seemed a little bit confused about what she wanted out of life. In the book, however, she's a complete mess. She's so concerned about being proper and doing the right thing that she misses out on the fun and enjoyment of life.
George Emerson is also a more complicated character in the book. The movie makes him out to be a weirdo, when really he is depressed and trying to find a reason to live. He finds no joy in life until he meets Ms. Honeychurch.
I cannot say which I enjoyed more, the book or the movie. I liked the romance of the movie and the rich character development in the book.
I think this is the first book I've read by a Japanese author. I think there's a definite cultural perspective in this book. Every time I came across something that seemed odd, new or different, I tried holding it up to the light, turning it this way and that, and trying to see it with new eyes. I'm not entirely sure this strategy worked. Perhaps it's the fantastical aspects of the book, instead of the cultural one, because I didn't really enjoy this listen. Not to say that I hated it. It just wasn't my thing. It was an interesting adventure, though, that took me out of my familiar literary groove.
This book made me feel not quite as old as I usually feel. My teenage son is constantly asking me if I remember things about the past. Did you feather your bangs in the 80's? What's the thing about going to the mall? Did they even have computers when you were a kid? Seriously? I was only two when we hit the 80's. And I lived in a tiny little farming community in Southern Missouri. All I remember about the 80's is the corn fields, going to Walmart and how much my mom hated the one kid in town who dared to have a mohawk. Come to think of it, that's what I remember about the 90's as well.
Anyway, about this book. I loved coming across things in this book that I do recall from the past. And Will Wheaton? Genius pick as narrator. How crazy it must have been for him to read about his fictionalized self as president of the whole online world.
The story, however, did get a little clumsy toward the end. And I began to get a little bit tired of the nerd-fest. OK. I get it, Mr. Cline. You're an old nerd. But it's still a good book overall. You don't need to know about all things geeky and gamer to understand what's going on.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.