Friday, November 23, 2012

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Little House on the Prairie (Little House, #2)Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is crazy to read as an adult. It's largely about the white settlers breaking treaties with the Native Americans and expanding Westward into their territory. Of course, I missed the importance of all this when I read it as a kid obviously. It's definitely worth an adult-reread. The father moves the family from Wisconsin to future Kansas over treacherous terrain and then builds a new house from scratch, including all the furniture. Unfortunately, he builds the house basically on top of a Native American trail so they proceed to have a lot of interesting interactions with numerous different tribes.

I'd give it 5 stars now, but I'm sticking with my childhood rating of 4. (I kept a reading journal as a kid. Are you surprised?)

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis

Simply Irresistible (Lucky Harbor, #1)Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The literary equivalent of chocolate bonbons for your brain. This book is no stress. Just a happy little romance. There's also some heartwarming sister-reunion stuff.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

The Ironwood Tree by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi

The Ironwood Tree (The Spiderwick Chronicles, #4)The Ironwood Tree by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Guess it's getting a little repetitive now without delightful twists or turns to make it more entertaining for an adult. Aspects of Snow White in this one, but not a lot of fairy fun.

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Lucinda's Secret by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi

Lucinda's Secret (The Spiderwick Chronicles, #3)Lucinda's Secret by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This filled in a little background information about the childrens' aunt Lucinda and her father who made the Field Guide. While it progressed the narrative, nothing was really resolved in this one and the ending left a little still in the air. Definitely not a stand-alone book.

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Friday, November 16, 2012

The Field Guide by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi

The Field Guide (The Spiderwick Chronicles, #1)The Field Guide by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I like that the characters are not the typical children's book characters. I like that the older sister Mallory is a tough girl without being the one that gets in trouble. It would be nice if she had interests besides fencing, but at least fencing is interesting. I like that the typically "nerdy" sibling Simon isn't actually nerdy but a vaguely obsessive animal-lover. Interested to see how Jared develops. Sounds like he might be interested in art.

The story itself is pretty cute though still maybe a little scary for little ones. This one is a little unresolved- it's more of an introduction to the characters and their situation in a house filled with magic.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind by Shunryu Suzuki

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and PracticeZen Mind, Beginner's Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice by Shunryu Suzuki
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I took a Buddhism class in college and this was part of our required reading. At the time, it made no sense to me. This is because this book did not explain how to meditate. Since then, I've read books about how to meditate, I've attempted meditation (hundreds of times at this point), and I've read about consciousness. So now it makes sense. Even so, it was a horrible choice for an introductory Buddhism course with no discussion of meditation. It's also a poor book if you haven't already learned about meditation and attempted it, especially because he doesn't give any explicit directions about meditation beyond sitting in the correct posture. Meditation itself is barely implied. You only know that what he's talking about if you already have a background in it.

There's no explanation of how Zen is a school of (East Asian) Mahayana Buddhism, or that there are even branches of Buddhism with different beliefs. Is zazen just another word for meditation or is there something unique about it? Meditation with no purpose? I can't really figure it out from the text. You will acquire something from this practice but you can't practice it in order to acquire something or it is not zazan? Ah, koans even where we don't expect them. "Intellectually my talk makes no sense." Well, I agree with that.

Despite the name, this is an intermediate or advanced meditation book, with an emphasis on zen practice specifically which like I said is just one kind. There are some interesting thoughts here worth considering. Some of it reminds me a lot of Christianity.

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Self-RelianceSelf-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As for the first half of the essay: If you are an excellent person and follow the advice in this essay, then it's probably going to work out well. If you're a horrible person, or if you think you're an excellent person but you're really kind of a low-grade specimen, and follow this essay, it's a recipe to be a huge jerk.

I like the second half of the essay better. I appreciate it's anti-consumerist bent. Even it's anti-technology section has some good points.

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Little House in the Big Woods (Little House, #1)Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Takes place in the semi-wilderness of 1870s in Wisconsin, US. Takes us through a year in the life of a middle sister age 4 (celebrates her 5th birthday during the book). There are at least 4 stories just about bears in this book.

I think I like this book even better as an adult. It's like a survival guide for the zombie apocalypse or a pandemic.

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

A Visit from the Goon SquadA Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love the first chapter, and I probably would have been happy to read a novel about just the first character. Still, I liked how the novel moved around a group of friends and acquaintances and their different perspectives on each other, music, and life as time passed. And since the first character was my favorite, I was glad to see how she'd changed with age in a subsequent chapter. Her transformation was totally believable.

As many other people have commented, this is pretty much a short story collection with overlapping characters and themes, but I love short story collections, so that definitely wasn't a problem for me.

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