I am always interested in listening to (reading) artists' perspectives on how to "make it" and survive in each area of arts. She provides several useful advices. I understand that the field of modern dance is extremely competitive and under-appreciated. I am sure she worked very hard, tried creative approaches, and definitely deserves the success. But, reading her stories, I could not help feeling that she was still a lucky one. Although this is supposed to be a how-to book of sort, sometimes I felt like she was bragging a bit. I had to compare this to David Byrne's How Music Works, which, to me, provides broader perspective in art in general as well as very practical considerations in music industry. Anyway, I still appreciated her advices nevertheless...
I liked the way this book made me feel a bit uncomfortable. You don't hear or read these bluntly honest opinions about the type of lies that we often consider socially acceptable (if you think about it, as the author explains, they are harmful). I did not agree with some of his arguments, but the most important thing was that this book made me re-evaluate my approach to life. I also liked the last 30 minutes where he responded to readers' questions. When there are too many books out there in which the authors stretch and repeat the same points over and over again, this to-the-point style was also refreshing.
I admit that I never seriously studied Einstein's equations or quantum physics, but this book gave me a great outline of the development of modern physics. I am now motivated to listen to other audiobooks on modern physics or even get some paper books that contain equations. Michio Kaku is also good at depicting human side of Einstein and other physicists. It's fun to think about Einstein writing numerous love letters. I also never imagined that Schrödinger was a serious womanizer!
I cannot help comparing this book to "The China Study" by Colin Campbell, who recommends plant-based diet, which may appear to be at odds with the recommendations given in "Grain Brain". Both authors have "credible" (though this can be subjective) research background. However, I felt that this book provided more scientific arguments and thus, to me, more convincing. Through reading this book, I felt that I learned a lot in various areas of biology - brain, causes of many illnesses: inflammation and oxidation, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, etc. To me, the most convincing argument against the wheat-filled eating habits of modern society is the fact that we humans started eating wheat only ten thousand years ago or so, and that the characteristics of modern wheat (e.g, gluten content) changed in the past several decades and is nothing like what ancestors ate. I can believe that the increase in obesity and diabetes has something to do with the increasing consumption of wheat. I did think that the author is opinionated and probably biased (this was also the case with Colin Campbell). Yet, I am convinced that there is no harm in avoiding wheat most of the time. It is SO hard to avoid wheat-containing food though.
If you have not read any of Murakami's books, I would suggest that you start with "Kafka on the shore" or "The wind-up bird chronicle". This book does have some of the ingredients common in Murakami's books (unrequited love, alienation, metaphors, etc.), but it's not as haunting as "Kafka on the shore" or as intense as "The wind-up bird chronicle". The story could be longer to resolve some important mysteries that I expected to be explained. It left me with somewhat "unfinished" feeling. But I still enjoyed this book because of the interesting balance of characters and some memorable scenes I could visualize.
This is my first five-star audiobook. The relationship between Patti and Robert is more moving than anything that I ever read even in fictions. Beautiful and precious. The way Smith writes and narrates is also so honest. I am so glad that she read this herself. I feel lucky to have encountered this book. I will listen to this again.
I couldn't help but compare this to the 1939 movie (Judy Garland as Dorothy) production that I saw on television when I was a teenager because that movie created a very special image of the story in my memory. I have to say that this production (Anne Hathaway's narration) is as good but also in a different way. Anne Hathaway is just amazing in narrating different characters in the story (and I wasn't particularly a big fan of this actress in movies). She creates a special world out of this story. She must have gone through a lot of trouble preparing for playing more than ten different characters. As a teenager, I thought the story had (cute) flaws (e.g., a brainless scarecrow wouldn't be asking for a brain if he did not have a brain, etc.), but now that I am an adult, I could just enjoy the way this brilliant actress presents the story. I highly recommend this audiobook.
I have read several biographies and auto-biographies of musicians (Miles Davis, Janis Ian, Jimi Hendrix, etc.) recently, and, content-wise, this one is probably the least moving and dramatic. And yet, I still liked what Neil Young had to say. As he mentioned in this book, for a hippie-type, he is materialistic. He writes a lot about cars (old ones, mostly). He cares a lot about sound quality. He went trough a lot in terms of his illness and his children's conditions. But he does not make a big deal out of them. The events in the book are not organized chronologically and are somewhat disorganized, which reflects his spontaneity style (a former pothead?). He is a peculiar nerd who happened to experience the 1960s and 1970s and thus was influenced by the attitude of the period. But he keeps up with the technology, knows what he wants, and intends to be around for awhile (and thus gave up drinking and smoking, for now anyway). Often, the book read like a diary, but I still enjoyed it.
I am not a writer, but I bought this book because I am curious about how writers craft sentences. As the author clarifies early in the first chapter, this book is actually about building good LONG sentences. He explains how good, long, sustaining sentences are built. He cites many good examples from current and past writers. Some of the analytical observations and technical terms used to describe certain approaches in building sentences are bit too much for me, and I somehow doubt that Hemingway and other great writers studied these technical aspects of writing, but the materials covered in this book are still fascinating to me, and I now appreciate long sentences more. One small issue for me was that it took me some time to get used to this professor's tone of voice and his accents. You might want to check out the sample to hear his voice first to see if you are comfortable listening to the sound for 12 hours.
This book is full of information on all things sushi: cultural, ecological, biology of various fish, gastronomical, business, and more. I am from Japan but did not know about 80% of the information presented in this book. The book is also entertaining as it follows stories of the classmates who attended the California Sushi Academy during one semester.
Some of the reviews of this book gave me the impression that this part (the events that happened during the semester and the "characters" who appear) is fictional, but that is not the case. While reading this book, I also thought that level of details (e.g., what each character said) and the way the story was written are such that this had to be fictionalized/dramatized - this bothered me a little bit. So, after a half way through the book, I searched and found the author's web page, and you get to see the photos of these students and people who appeared in the book and updates of how they are doing since the book was written. So much detail of the events in the class are depicted in the book (as if they are a fiction) because the author actually attended the class and took detailed notes and interviewed these people. When you read (listen to) the book, it would help, at the outset, that you know these students are real people, because otherwise the book may sound like a mixture of facts and fictions.
The narrator's pronunciations of the Japanese words are accurate, and as a result, they may sound too "foreign", but this should not bother you because all these terms are not meant to be memorized or remembered - even Japanese people in Japan do not use many of these technical terms associated with sushi. They just reflect the depth of the knowledge that the author acquired during his research.
What was most fascinating to me overall about this book is that it is an illustration of how the food and its culture get transformed as they travel through different cultures and times. There is no such thing as a "pure" culture. It also made me wonder what "sushi" would be like 50 years from now, when, as some researchers predict, there will be no wild fish in the ocean.
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