Sunday, May 30, 2010
"A Moveable Feast" by Ernest Hemingway
My grade: B+
If you like Hemingway, you must read this book. This is a series of sketches about his early days in Paris. It provides so much insight into the kind of person he was, you fall in love with him in a whole different way, and grow to understand his writing in a whole different light. I was likewise really captivated by the other writers, poets and artists Hemingway was friends with at the time, and to hear him describe them.
If you are a writer, you should read this book.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
"In the Dojo: A Guide to the Rituals and Etiquette of the Japanese Martial Arts" by Dave Lowry
My grade: didn't finish
Hmmm... you're probably asking yourself the question, why did she want to read a book about that? After I started reading this book, I struggled to answer the same question myself. But then I remembered. A while back, I watched a program on National Geographic about martial arts. Its focus was on which form of martial art has the most harmful bodily effect. As I watched the program, my curiosity grew as to how these martial arts, as well as their deeply-rooted etiquette and culture, originated.
In (partially) reading this book, I realized that its focus was likewise not exactly what I'm looking for. Or perhaps, my interest in the subject is not great enough to study it so extensively? I think this is a good book for people interested in getting involved in the Japanese martial arts themselves, or those already involved. If anyone knows of a good book that addresses this subject from a sociological perspective, I'd be happy to take on recommendations.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
"Message in a Bottle" by Nicholas Sparks
My grade: F
WOW... I don't remember the last time I read writing this bad! I'm not even sure where to begin... There's one cliche after another, entirely unbelievable and flat characters, not a single emotion evoked, a lot of telling and no showing whatsoever, all wrapped in less-than-mediocre writing. The saddest part of all is not that I actually finished reading this book, but that so many of Sparks' novels have had such great 'success' and have been turned into [less-than-mediocre] movies. I find it quite depressing to know that this is what sells!
Needless to say, Sparks is not a "writer" I will be coming back to in the future.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
"The Spoils of Poynton" by Henry James
My grade: C
This book was, generally, a big disappointment. Starting with the fact that I couldn't relate to a single character and all the way to, in my opinion, an incomplete ending, I'm not sure that great writing alone could save it. This is about a story taking place in the late 1800s England, and I think it is definitely outdated.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
"The Sum of Our Days" by Isabel Allende
My grade: A-
In one word, this memoir is beautiful. Allende correctly labels her family a tribe, and she has, as the matriarch of the clan, built a very close-knit tribe, with love as the basis for all of the relationships. This is the first book I've read of hers, and I don't think this is the right one to start with. Allende has a varied portfolio, composed of several memoirs, a book dedicated to her daughter (who died at 27 years of age), a trilogy of children's book, fiction and a sensual book about love and food. If going down the memoir lane, though, it would make sense to start with her earlier work, as this one essentially starts a couple years after the death of her daughter. It is clear to see, nonetheless, that Allende is not only an interesting and unique person, but also a great writer. Her fiction is definitely on my Amazon wish list.