Monday, February 23, 2015

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked this book because it gave access to a nonverbal character that thinks and feels totally differently than other people. That said, I've been leaning towards books that embrace the spiritual lately (Gilead, End of the Affair, etc.) and this books atheist underpinnings left me a little cold. I get that the character himself might not be able to process spirituality, it's pretty difficult for me too actually, but at a certain point it limits the character in a way that might be unfair to people with autism. How do you grapple and believe in the possibility of something as surprising as the possibility of parallel universes, but dismiss the possibility of God without also grappling with it? I thought the book was interesting and cute, but like I said, it left something to be desired.

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Monday, February 16, 2015

A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin

A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, #4)A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Things got weird. And now I feel bad for all the bad guys getting their comeuppance. I'm looking forward to book 5 but I hope something actually happens in that one. I'm getting tired of all the set-up.

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The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman

The Magician's Land (The Magicians, #3)The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved the Magician's series. The first one was maybe a little juvenile (Lion, Witch, Wardrobe meets Harry Potter goes to college), the second one was fun but very dark. This one tied all the books together with a bow. And I was really sad when it was over.

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor

My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal JourneyMy Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Interesting to see what it's like to have a stroke from the perspective of both an expert and a person who experienced it herself. Unfortunately, the writing isn't very good- possibly this is a consequence of the stroke itself?

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More FunThe Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked it a lot when I read it at the beginning of 2010. Then later that year, my husband and I decided to have a baby, and while I was pregnant my father died, I lost my job, and then my grandmother that partially raised me also died. I became very depressed for a long time. I know Rubin explicitly says that this book doesn't deal with "depression" and "depression" is a loaded word in the modern era, but the reality is that most people go through terrible things all the time.

While I'm sure Rubin has faced many challenges just like everyone else, she describes a happy marriage, a very good financial situation, professional freedom, healthy children, personal good health, and living parents. She could have written a book about happiness without personal information, I've read a number with very limited personal information, but that's not what she did. She also relies on a lot of scientific, historical, and philosophical information. But her particular angle on the book of trying the tips out herself left me a little cold on a reread. What happens when in your year of chasing happiness you're completely railroaded by life? Suddenly the question she skipped in the beginning, "What is happiness" (she says you know when you see it/feel it) takes on the central role. In a way, she's the opposite of Victor Frankl who having survived some of the worst things a human could survive, has full authority to lecture on the meaning of life from a personal perspective. It's not Rubin's fault of course, and she's brilliant and hardworking, but the book does suffer from some lack of spiritual depth.

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Monday, February 2, 2015

The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta

The LeftoversThe Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this because I love the HBO television show based on the book. The first season remained very loyal to the book with some exceptions. I loved seeing the characters from a more interior view, especially Nora. The only reason I only gave this 4 stars instead of 5 is that we don't have a complete ending more an allusion to an ending, and I'd love to read a sequel and not just more television seasons, though I'm excited for that too.

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