Oh my, I finally finished this lengthy book (1076 pages, over 63 hours of listening). I am very glad I read/listened to this book. I should give it 5 stars for being a life-changing book, but because of the literary shortfalls, I just can't.
So here's what I think. The story was good, and very thought-provoking. I see so many parallels in what Ayn Rand was trying to say 60 years ago vs. what is going on in this country today. It is scary and hopeful at the same time. I don't get why we as humans in the 21st century can't understand that when we penalize those who produce we are destroying ourselves. Why do we keep saying things like, "Let's tax those rich b_____s. They can afford it." Well ok, but then who will pay your paycheck. Use your heads, people. The rich guys are the ones with the ability to create jobs for the rest of us. If they are not allowed the freedom to create, where does that leave the rest of us? We will not get far when we are all on government handouts.
So that is the gist of this book. Live and let live. Let those who are able, create jobs for the rest of us. Don't keep taxing and regulating them to death. Or any of us, for that matter.
Now, about the literary side of things. This book is full of lectures. Some of them go on for page after page after page. A lot of good things are said, but many of them are said over and over. The worst one is the chapter "John Galt Speaks" near the end of the book. How many ways can you say the same thing? Whatever number that is, it was reached in that chapter. I read this book AND listened to it as well. About half way through that speech, I put the audio on 3x speed and listened in fast mode. I didn't miss a thing. . .
The story is largely allegorical and I like that sort of thing, but it went a little too far for my taste. Also, the love story just didn't make it for me. It was just too unrealistic. It went something like this: (This might be a semi-spoiler, so be aware)
Woman: Oh Man #1, I have loved you since we were children.
Man #1: You are the only woman in my life. Don't believe all that playboy stuff they say about me.
Woman: Oh Man #2, I have never had a relationship like this before.
Man #2: Now that I can finally admit that I love you, I will divorce my wife so that we may live happily ever after. Well, at least I'll be happier with or without you after I dump that broad.
Woman (upon seeing Man #3 for the first time): "Ah Sweet Mystery of Life, at last I've found you!"
Man #3: I'm sure we can live happily ever after, well, that is, after I save the world and have my near-death experience at which point you sweep in and save my life by taking on a small army single-handedly. We're going to be great together.
Man #2: I always knew you would find someone else. And when I met him, I have to admit I can't blame you. He is AWESOME!
Man #1: Yeh, I kinda like him too.
So taking the good with the bad, it still is a book worth the many hours it takes to read it. (If you listen to it, put the narrator speed on 2x, at least.) I can't recommend it to everyone. It takes a weird combination of being mature and a dreamer to really appreciate it.
A word about the narrator. Scott Brick is one of the most highly rated narrators, and I also think he is very good, but he does some things that bother me a lot. First off, he uses the same syntax for everything. Secondly, he has a way of elongated certain words every time he reads them. "Any" is one of them, or anything with an "n" or "m" in the middle. He reads quite slowly, and does not use a very wide range of characterizations. Still he is a good reader and I am pretty sure I will listen to other books read by him. He just won't ever be my favorite.
This is a beautifully crafted story. I think the thing I enjoyed most about it is how the author, Jess Walter, was able to tell several different but related stories at once, weaving them together into a unified whole. The stories crossed many years and many countries before being tied up so beautifully in the end. Each story has its heartbreaks and happiness, bitter and sweet. It is like a symphony that passes the melody around through various instruments, but at last brings it all together in a glorious recapitulation.
The characters are well developed and run the gamut from many that I loved, to many that I disliked, to some that I loathed. I recommend this book to most adult readers, those who can appreciate a good story without freaking at the yucky stuff. There is some swearing in it, but it is mostly by the bad guys, something that made me dislike them all the more. I just don't like to read a lot of swearing. It isn't classy.
This book made me want to look up information on Richard Burton. Did you know he was #12 of 13 children? His mother died giving birth to #13. He was raised by his sister Cecelia. Burton was not his real surname. He took that name from his mentor who adopted him, Phillip Burton. Phillip made him go up on the highlands in the wind and practice his diction. He had to make himself be heard and understood without shouting. He was very close friends with Dylan Thomas, and grieved a long time when Thomas died young.
Thought you might enjoy that bit of Richard Burton trivia. You'll appreciate it if you read this book.
Narration by Edoardo Ballerini was top notch. Obviously Italian himself, he seemed at ease in both English and Italian.
Ok, here's my problem. As soon as my eyes open, I only have one thing on my mind: Where's the food! So my pre-breakfast productivity is at a startling low. I am feeling guilty. I already get up at 5:30, but I don't get the exercise in. I need to start doing it, but then I need to start doing a lot of things. I enjoyed this book, but there wasn't a lot new in it. I love getting up early and getting a lot done, but then, I also love staying up late and sleeping in when I can. Which should I do? I guess I stay up too late too often because I am not that successful, at least not in monetary terms. (more guilt)
This author reads her own book. I have heard worse, but it would have been much better if she had hired a professional reader.
Let's admit it, Shakespeare is daunting! I have a goal to read all of the plays, and then perhaps the sonnets, etc., but sometimes I don't know where to start. When I found this audio book that includes a commentary, I snapped it up. I could listen to and enjoy the fabulous play, but when I got lost or just didn't understand something, the commentator was there to help. She helped me understand word usage of the time, symbolism, and other useful things that are jam-packed in this play and make it the classic that it is. For me it was perfect. You can listen without the commentary as well, for people who would rather not have those comments going on but want to hear some great readers performing this play. I will definitely pick up other titles in this series.
I don't want to be a Stephen King fan. Nevertheless, he knows how to tell a story! I have really liked some of his books in the past, and I really loved this book. It gave me so much to think about. I'm afraid I will have to read a few more King novels in the future. Darn it!
I was a kid when Kennedy was shot, and no explanation yet satisfies me as to what really happened. I didn't find an answer here either, but it was nostalgic to go back and revisit the scenes of that awful day. Everyone wishes it would never have taken place, but what if someone had stopped it? How different would things really be now? King stretches the imagination to the max, which is what he does best.
. . . you wouldn't believe it. A baseball game that lasts for 33 innings? Of course, there is much more to this book than 32 innings of a tie baseball game. It was interesting getting to know the players in a more personal way. Coming from a family of baseball fanatics- my dad and two older brothers, I knew the names of every player on every MLB team in the 1960s, so my feelings for baseball run deep. OK, maybe not EVERY player, but I knew a lot about a lot of them. In a lot of ways this book made me thing, "Those were the days." Everything is so formulaic and predictable these days, or so it seems. Well, I am a true blue, dyed in the wool Cubbies fan (I think they need at least one fan who doesn't HAVE to be), and when they finally make the playoffs for the World Series, I'm making a trip to Chicago to see them play. I hope it doesn't last 33 innings, though. But on the outside chance that it does, I'll be there until the bitter end.
I read this book the first time many years ago. I was hooked instantly, and went on to read the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I have loved these books ever since.
It was great this time 'round to have it read to me by a fabulous narrator. As I have read other reviews, I was struck by how many people were lucky enough to have a parent read this to them as children, or to read it along with a parent. I did not have that experience and am envious of it. So having Mr. Inglis read it to me is second best. That is not to say his reading is anything but amazing! and I also loved his singing of the songs. I want to believe he made the melodies up himself.
All in all, I was charmed again by this book, by the characters, the journey, the deep meaning, and the flow of Tolkein's writing. I rarely reread fiction, but this one is, and will be in the future, and exception to my rule.
In an allegory, characters are often straight forward with little depth to them. That is the way Christian is in this timeless tale from John Bunyan, originally published in 1678. Nevertheless, he does grow and change as he advances in his journey toward the Celestial City. I really loved this story, and I think I liked the second half, the story of Christian's wife, Christiana, and her own journey with their four sons, even better than the first. This book is easy to understand and has many lessons for life contained in it, and presented in a way that won't be soon forgotten. I will read and listen to it agina.
This is one of the few times where I liked the movie better than the book. Not that the book was bad. I just didn't catch the vision of it. Perhaps I should have read it as a young person. I would probably have appreciated it more than I do now. I did get to see the movie with the irrepressible Shirley Temple multiple times as a child (we didn't have the capability of seeing a movie any time we wanted back then - had to wait until it came on TV, perhaps once every other year). I had a hard time believing in the deep relationship between Heidi and the Grandfather in the book, whereas the movie made it easy to see through him and into his heart. Just my observations. But I definitely think it is worth reading, especially if you are a youngster.
As this book has been recorded by multiple narrators, i was careful to choose the one I thought was best. I thoroughly enjoyed Marnie MacAdam's narration. It was natural and engaging. Some of the others I listened to had annoying pronunciations that I could never have listened to over a long period of time. I'm glad I chose her.
What a surprise to find that this story is based on things that really happened. I loved this story, I loved the writing, the narration, and the incredible ending. Please listen to this one. It will restore your faith in mankind.
Speaking as one who has struggled with being overweight my whole life, I can say I learned a lot from "Skinny". I totally understand those emotions, and the self-abuse whenever I would fail at a diet or eat stuff I should not eat. My heart goes out to all who have this same struggle because it eats at your very being and can destroy your self-esteem. Not to mention how hard it is on your health to be overweight. I lost my only sister, all 350 pounds of her, to obesity-related illness at the young age of 47. I miss her every day.
This is a great book and I am very glad I read it. Everyone who has struggled or does now struggle with weight should read it. Although the method this young girl finally chose to help her become more healthy is not the route I would take, I certainly understand her reasons for doing so, and admire her courage.
The revelations about "Skinny" that we learned at the end of the book were worth the entire read! Fabulous!
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