Walnut Creek, CA, United States | Member Since 2002
If you just read this book, knowing what most people know about Lincoln, you will likely learn a lot and enjoy the read. For me, the book was interesting, but it seemed to systematically leave out anything essentially negative about Lincoln himself. This bothered me a bit. Although Lincoln was, and should be, a hero, a good history should show him as human, with all the faults and weaknesses that make heroism so extraordinary. Team of Rivals was more fun to read than Carwardine’s or Donald’s Lincoln, but both of those books portrayed much more flawed, balanced, and believable Lincoln. The best part of Team of Rivals is the portraits of the men in Lincoln’s cabinet which are given short shrift in other histories. The downside is Team of Rivals has a strong point of view about Lincoln as a politician and a heroic man. Instead of presenting the evidence questioning the author’s point of view and refuting it, such incidents are just left out. The author even guesses at Lincoln’s pre-marital sexual experience based (it seems) on little more than guy talk and common sense (both notoriously unreliable). This is a very good read, but should not be the only Lincoln history one reads.
I generally find Teen/Young-Adult fiction tedious but I laughed more than I cried (I did both, sometimes simultaneously) during this wonderful book. I have not been a teen for several decades (and was never a teenage girl), but I could not put this book down, and sighed when it came to an end. This is decidedly NOT a book about cancer, this is a book about life. The narration was fantastic, depicting subtle and incongruous teen emotions and the breathless panic of oxygen deprivation. The characters are mostly teens, with fledgling self-images yet they are written with nuance and power and grace. I find most books in this genre sappy, boring, and (unintentionally) uninspiring. I found this book deeply inspiring. It is about choice, particularly the choice to love, regardless of the inexorable outcome of pain, or death, or both.
I really enjoyed sharing many books with my daughter when she was young, in installments on short car trips, or whole books on long trips. Although I would have recommend this book to her, this book has a particularly personal narrative style that I think is better absorbed personally, at least the first time.
Quite a few reviews say things like “heartbreaking” or “sad”. I did not find this book ever sad or heartbreaking, but instead intensely poignant. This is not a tear-jerker. This is a classic that I expect will be recommended and read for many decades to come.
I am generally unimpressed by self-help books and this is no exception. I strongly agree with the basic premise, but I was not impressed at all by this book. There are hours of profiles of happy successful people (largely sports figures) who the author says have a growth mindset and unhappy people with limited success who the author says lack a growth mindset. This “new” psychology seems quite reminiscent of the deep philosophers of the last century like Norman Vincent Peale.
I am dubious that anyone starting without a growth mindset will be changed by this book. I am just as dubious anyone already possessing a grown mindset would appreciate these mind numbing profiles. This book felt like it was selling something. I checked out the free sample of the associated Brainology online program. Again, I totally agree with the premise, but found the sample Brainology lesson really weak. I am dubious of new educational fads with weak evidence that charge thousands of dollars for a school program.
I also found the author’s claim that our society worships talent more than effort and grit weak. Many of the qualities the author attributes to a growth mindset, openness, determination, effort, team-work, overcoming adversity, limiting-ego, are all celebrated in our society. Society holds talent which is wasted or not tempered by team-work and humility in disdain. It seems to me the more critical issue is that our society worships success more than happiness and success more than growth.
The last forty minutes of the book have a few practical suggestions but I did not find these made up for the many hours of profiles of sporting heroes and villains..
I much prefer books like Stumbling on Happiness which presumes a growth mindset and focuses more on strategies to be happy.
This was a good book but I never really connected with this writing or with the characters. The narration was excellent, with nice tone and pacing and was wonderfully clear. The writing is not bad, but, other than a few passages near the end of the book, I found very little that was moving or interesting. Perhaps some might find the sexual references titillating. Perhaps some will enjoy the subtle and ambiguous characters. The characters are not unpleasant and are likable enough. The theme of long life and long love was mildly pleasant, but lacked magic or power. I did modestly enjoy the last fifth of the book (particularly the manatee story), but certainly not enough to read this again. The end of the book had a bit of the magical realism I expected from the start, but it was too little and too late to make this book great for me.
The Book Thief is rather light reading considering it is about death and life in Nazi German during WWII. The narrator is a mildly funny and likable Death who is being overworked by the massive carnage of WWII yet is lovingly careful with each of his human consignments and is hauntingly interested in a few of the living. The protagonist is a young girl growing up with a foster family during the horrors of war and adolescence. The Book Thief seems written for young teens, but is good enough for adults to share with their kids. If you start this, do finish it. The ending is, by far, the most powerful aspect of the book and is worth the prior, less powerful, bits. For a young person this is a compelling and heartwarming and heart wrenching, but not overwhelming, story of war and death and genocide. The narration if quite strong and clear, adding an enjoyable expressiveness to the characters. I liked this book, but did not love it.
I love Steinbeck but this is not one of my favorites. The prose were wonderful and there is marvelous imagery and strongly developed characters, yet I found something missing. Most of Steinbeck novels have a structure and flow quite different from most modern American novels. This is strongest in his short story collections and The Grapes of Wrath and To a God Unknown, but is also true of the Cannery Row novels. These all have a bit of a mystical flow and lack formulaic structures. East of Eden, in a few places, becomes slightly preachy and is slightly more formulaic than the best of Steinbeck. It is nevertheless very good and quite well worth reading. I really enjoyed the narration which was clear and had subtleties that enhanced the experience. I give this four stars only relative to the greatest of novels, which one might expect from Steinbeck.
The author attempts to present some basic principles of science, then explains his Authorized Version of Reality (a history of science), then explains some of the various cutting edge physics theories (multiverse, string theory, mathematic universe) and attempts to demonstrate these theories are unscientific.
The author presents six principles of science; Reality is a Meta-Physical concept; Facts are inherently based on a Theory; Theory formation is complex and intuitive and often involves hidden assumptions; A scientific theory must be testable, but sometimes failure of a test just leads to adjustment of assumptions; Scientific Truth is transient; and finally Humans are not privileged observers.
The book presents a history of physics and cosmology in a reasonable but uninspired way. There are a lot of books that present this stuff. I found this version somewhat dry, with no excitement, very little (or amazingly dry) humor, no insightful explanations, and no unifying theme.
The author, while presenting his Authorized Version of Reality, doesn’t seem to accept it deeply. He makes subtle, yet telling, mistakes. Like the atomic electron wave function giving a probability of where the elector is. That is not what the theory says. Instead the wave function is the probability of an interaction occurring somewhere if we look. This seems similar, but is quite fundamentally different, the first presumes the existence of an electron when it is not observed, the other does not. The author makes several such misstatements, each time subtly and incorrectly assuming the existence of unobserved particles. This is not the Authorized Version. Instead this is a physicist who thinks classically attempting to explain, and persuade about, non-classical physics.
The author also seems biased when referring to theories he likes as “discovered”, and theories he does not like as “proposed”. Again this seemed telling (and a bit funny).
Baggott does not seem to like (or understand) the Mathematical Universe of Max Tegmark. He basically calls Tegmark stupid and suggests he shut up. I just finished Tegmark’s book and found Tegmark’s history of physics and descriptions of why physicists feel the need to introduce multiverses significantly more interesting than Baggott’s. Not to mention Tegmark’s theory of a Mathematical Universe which seems both obvious and brilliant. Bagott’s refutation of the Mathematical Universe is that it does not make sense to him.
I largely agree with Baggott about non-testable aspects of multiuniverses and string-theory, but this was covered better in Smolin’s The Trouble with Physics.
Baggott seems to fear that a generation of theorists may lose their way on these paths of fairy tale physics. They may. So what? 99.9% of theorist are always on the wrong path 99.9% of the time. The final theory of everything is more likely to come from an outsider (like Einstein) anyway.
It seems to me Baggott does not realize that sticking with his Authorized Version of Reality and the historical scientific method is unlikely to make progress in our current environment. I believe the world has been poised on the edge of a final theory of everything for nearly a hundred years. Only the abandonment of some absolutely fundamental aspect(s) of his Authorized Version of Reality will lead to progress. Theorist must think outside this box. Which of the fundamental aspects must go? How far is too far? We may be quite surprised when it happens.
Of course I have seen the movie and loved the subtle story and Audrey Hepburn and Moon River, but I never noticed the story was written by Truman Capote. An Audible banner ad pointed this out and got me to order this short novel. It was great. Narrated wonderfully by Michael C Hall (Dexter and Six Feet Under) this novel is more enjoyable than the movie. But this is a rare case where you should see the movie first. Having Audrey Hepburn in your head while reading this is definitely not a bad thing. The writing is beautiful, with full and interesting characters and a story that is subtle yet extravagant. I have always appreciated Capote’s writing, and appreciate it even more now. This is a book I will likely come back to, and share with others.
If you like gossip and seamy stories of wild, violent, dirty, sexual, drug infused behavior with respectful references to wise-guys and some cooking professionals you may be quite entertained by this book. If you are an aspiring chef, don’t waste your time, unless you aspire to make good money as the boss of a huge, good (yet run-of-the-mill) two star NYC restaurant. If you love eating in restaurants (especially swordfish, mussels, bread, or just about anything else) and you are the least bit squeamish or impressionable don’t read this book. Many reviewers seem to find the references to violence, the mob, drugs, crime, and dick jokes colorful. I found it mostly tedious. At one point the author stabs a guy for patting his butt. The whole thing had a weird vibe of intense insecurity, fierce mediocrity, and homophobia.
There are a few nice bits. These were: The story of Bourdain’s first oyster (sweet); the very brief comments on equipment for the serious home cook (see instead a free trial of Cooks Illustrated dot com); the short bit of does and don’ts of eating out; and the section on Scott Bryan (a successful and truly creative chef that does everything exactly the opposite of Bourdain).
I love restaurants and chefs as well as home cooking. Give me Scott Bryan, or Jacques Pépin or Julia Childs any day. Bourdain is (I presume deliberately so as to make money) provocative in his writing, which I think is counter-productive. He suggests not eating swordfish, mussels, and some other stuff. Arg. Swordfish is good. Mussels are good. Ten minutes of research would have resolved his issues with swordfish; a nose & sending it back will protect you from bad mussels.
The writing style is quite approachable and conversational and (at times) passionate but is loaded with clichés and other unpolished bits that drove me nuts. My favorite cliché was “needless to say”. OK if it is needless then don’t waste my time saying it. The writer has a Henry V style youth, but seems never to make the transition to maturity. Instead he changes just barely enough to find a nitch of survival with some achievement but seems not quite happy and does not quite excel. Bourdain (since this writing) seems to have become exactly what, he says in this book, he hates.
The synchronized illustrations worked great on the iPhone and iPad. This is a very nice little bedtime story with very nice illustrations and very simple bedtime focused story. I personally like a bedtime story with a bit more of a message, nevertheless this is an excellent book for a sleepy child, particularly one who has been having bad dreams, or is scared of the monster in the closet. The narration is wonderful as are the illustrations that are displayed as the story plays. NOTE this is only 5 minutes and 69 cents so don’t use a book credit!
Excellent narration is the cap to the fascinating and enjoyable novel. As much as I enjoyed this novel, I can see that many people would really not appreciate it. This is largely an inner stream of consciousness and there are a lot of four letter words and frank thoughts about sex and death. In the first chapter involving a death from cancer I was literally laughing and crying and nauseated and uplifted at the same time. I don’t mean alternately, I mean at the very same instant. This is pretty unusual writing. I was thinking Gen-X meets James Joyce. The characters, even some very minor characters, are quite well presented. If you want a story where the protagonist faces adversity only to take heart and overcome, you might not want this book (but maybe you should read it anyway). The characters do change, but not in pat ways, instead in the ways people really change. The protagonist is often not very likeable, yet he is human and the beauty of his existence sporadically flashes through. I am nearly as far as it gets from being a Gen-Xer but I really liked this book. The narration more than does justice to the text, shouting and crying, mumbling and enunciating when the writing called for it.
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