Yes. I've gone back and listened to it again, as well.
I am a professional writer of nonfiction, and have been thinking about writing a book, so this book was part of my research. I have to admit that I had a bit of an arrogant attitude going in... I wasn't convinced that the author could tell me something that I didn't already know. Turns out, he could. There is a lot of very basic information that I think beginning writers would benefit from. But I found that his advice on organizing and planning a book -- such as writing a core outline first, so that you have a definite handle on what your book is about and how you're going to write it -- rang true with me. In criticism, I would say that the author repeats himself occasionally throughout the book. But, then, maybe a beginning writer would benefit from the repetition. Finally, I liked the way he encouraged non-writers to try their hand at the craft, with helpful tips on how to get started. The author definitely has a positive attitude!
I really struggled with how to rate this title, because the basic elements of the story are truly spectacular. I'm not giving anything away by saying that the book tells two parallel stories, one set in the Middle Ages and one set in modern times. Both stories connect very well, and every subplot is there for a reason, so it's clear that Connie Willis thought this book through carefully before she wrote it.
That said, I have two problems with the book. First, it could have been about one third shorter. Certain conversations happen again and again, and little plot development results from them. And Willis offers a little too much detail about the daily activities of people working in a modern hospital and a Medieval household.
Second, about half of the characters are intensely annoying. I suppose that lends an element of realism to the story, but so many of the characters are so annoying that I felt myself getting frustrated with the story.
A somewhat related word about the narrator: Jenny Sterlin was very good at conveying just how annoying those annoying characters were. She also does men's voices quite well. But she struggles with speaking in an American accent.
In sum, I've liked other of Connie Willis' books, and I didn't dislike this one enough to stop reading her work.
I started listening to "On What Grounds" with very low expectations. I was interested in exploring fiction in the mystery sub-genre where activities such as crafts or cooking propel the plot. I've read books where knitting is the focus, and jewelry making, and baking, and now this. Sadly, I have found the writing in some of the others to be lacking. In this one, however, the cafe was central to the plot and the descriptions and dialog were rich and authentic. It stands out from the others in this genre, and I plan to read more of the series.
This book grabbed me from the very beginning, and did not let me go. Driving home and listening in the car, I missed the turn for my house! It's not a mystery... We know from the beginning who the killer is, and how he gets away with murder. The question is, will our heroine figure it out in time to save herself and the people she loves? Lauren Beukes created many different characters for the book, and tells the story from each one's point of view. Coming from a less-skilled author, the frequent changes in time and place and point of view could be confusing, but not here. Perhaps the use of multiple narrators helped—and the narrators were all very good—but this is some seriously good writing! I highly recommend this book.
The author seems to have lived some kind of magical life in which he's done amazing things that most people wouldn't attempt, all without negative consequences. Good for him, really! But I would have liked to have some advice for people like me who want to bring some less dramatic forms of non-conformity into their lives.
I'm slowly working my way through this series, in which certain people possess magical powers that are channeled through the geometric shapes around them. Each book is somewhat formulaic, but enjoyable, and I always find myself interested in the lives of the characters. The first few chapters always contain a lot of exposition, so that readers who missed the previous books will still be able to follow along.
This is written in the spirit of a long-form poem, as an ode to (and lamentation of) the creative life. There's some good information here—not presented as a to-do list, but rather as a story, where we learn from the example of the author and her life as a writer. The narrator is absolutely excellent, with her voice inflections worthy of a poetry performance.
This book is based on a course that Dr. McGonigal teaches at Stanford, and it packs eight weeks of information into eight hours—and does it well. I didn't feel overwhelmed. I listened to one chapter a week, and gave thought to each topic in the days between, as her students would. Unlike some self-help books that seem to berate a person into making changes in their lives, this one is kind and empathetic. It's also very well researched, so I'm confident that I learned skills based on real scientific evidence.
This book was strongly recommended to me by a very accomplished and talented creative nonfiction writer, but I didn't find it nearly as useful as she did. There are some good pieces of advice here, but nothing that I would call earth-shattering. Also, having the author as narrator is often a good thing for a book, but in this case, it isn't. I felt that her performance was somewhat wooden. I'd say the book was not bad, but not great, either.
As a writer, I listen to this book every once in a while, when I fell stuck on a particular problem, and I always seem to get ideas while listening to it. It's just a tad repetitive; I feel like it could have been a shorter book, but still useful. The narrator has an energetic tone that fits the book perfectly.
This is the story of what happens to humans and other residents of the galaxy when they encounter more ancient beings in the far beyond. The Internet (or whatever the Internet has become in this future time) plays an interesting role, in that various powers use it to spread information and disinformation in the growing war. I really liked that the heroine was a librarian, so her knowledge of how to find information and act on it made her critical to the humans' survival.
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