I really enjoyed her lightly self-deprecating sense of humor and the colorful Russian flavor in her writing, especially after reading The Tiger, which was quite descriptive of far eastern Russia/Russians but in a different way.
Completely engaging and accessible, this book is a fascinating biography of one of history's most influential individuals. Genghis Khan is responsible for originating some of the most innovative military strategies, uniting and making wealthy the warring Mongol tribes, creating the largest trading economy, and various other groundbreaking concepts such as diplomatic immunity, full religious tolerance, widows' inheritances, meritocratic promotions, etc. Unjustly vilified, Genghis Khan was not the cruel and brutal savage I had always believed him to be. He was truly an outstanding and compelling personality that permanently changed the course of history.
I love the way Nabokov toys with and manipulates the English language. It was so skillful and artistic! There were plenty of erotic passages and references but they were conveyed with poetic delicacy, no crass play-by-plays here. Also, I love the Humbert Humbert (great name!) character. He's such a caricature of opposing forces, I found him to be at different times comical, admirable, and pathetic. His early descriptions of his passions for Lolita were so tender and lovely, I began to worry about how much I was sympathizing with a pedophile. Then his passion devolves into obsession (or was it always?) and we begin to see his insanity and start to loathe him. No one will ever accuse this novel of one-dimensionality. Similarly, I had an initial perception of Lolita as an innocent victim. But as the story progressed, I was more disconcerted by her sexual maturity and disdain for adults. I even began to wonder if maybe nymphets really do exist. This should be an interesting book club discussion...
I cannot rave enough about Jeremy Irons' performance. It was sublimely perfect. I didn't realize until after I finished listening that Jeremy Irons also played Humbert Humbert in the '90s remake of the movie. So, it's no wonder that he seemed to have an uncanny insight into Humbert's character. His performance was delicately nuanced, deeply emotional, and completely compelling. I wouldn't necessarily say that Lolita is my favorite book of all time, but Jeremy Irons has delivered one of my favorite performances of all time. Exquisite!
This book spells out the variety of positive effects that exercise has on a person's brain. Ratey explains how the human brain has evolved to benefit in many ways from physical activity, including mood regulation, anxiety moderation, higher ability to learn, even staving off mental deterioration. He then details how exercise has benefitted particular subgroups, such as those with ADHD or depression, pregnant women, and the elderly. Despite discussing some unfamiliar neurochemical names, the narrative remains very accessible to the layperson. I would highly recommend this to anyone who wants or needs a motivational boost to start an exercise/fitness program.
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