Books, Professional Development

Book 507: If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? – Alan Alda

Only two ARC/Galleys left and I am all caught up! The same publicist who sent me Finally Out reached out about this book and the title had enough humor in it I figured it was worth a shot.* I enjoyed this so much more than I thought I would!

What Alan Alda—I didn’t even recognize him from M*A*S*H (IMDb link), I just recognized his caricature—is doing is what the Plain English Campaign (website) has been trying to do since the late 70s, just through a different venue: improv. Both are trying to get things translated from the indecipherable jargon of science or government into easily relatable language. Alda, has basically made a side career out of this with the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University, where the observations he made from his many years on Scientific American Frontiers are put into practice to teach scientists how to talk to non-scientists.

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2013 Challenges, Books

Book 200: The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas – Gertrude Stein

Stein, Gertrude - The Autobiography of Alice B. ToklasThe writing in this book is quite possibly the most beautiful writing I’ve ever read. The premise of the book, however, is incredibly convoluted. Regardless, I am glad I read the book because it counts for multiple challenges this year (Back to the Classics Reading Challenge and Mount TBR Reading Challenge).

When I first thought about reading this novel, I knew it wasn’t an autobiography, but I wasn’t quite sure where this fit into the myriad genres available. Ultimately, this book falls into some gray area between biography and autobiography. This felt like Gertrude Stein’s biography told through Alice B. Toklas but written by Gertrude Stein. And what I found out while reading this was that Paris was an incredibly small place and everyone knew everyone. It was incredibly strange how everyone was connected, but at the same time it was awesome the people who stumbled in and out of the novel including numerous painters and authors.

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Books, Quotes, The Classics Club

Book 138: Doctor Zhivago – Boris Pasternak

Doctor Zhivago counts for three challenges, and actually wraps up one of my 2012 Challenges! It counts for the Back to the Classics Challenge (6 of 9), The Classics Club (12 of 100), and is my final book for the Tea and Books (8 of 8) challenge! I will do a wrap up post for the Tea and Books challenge early next week. For the Back to the Classics Challenge, this book was the novel from a place I realistically wouldn’t visit. After reading Doctor Zhivago and Anna Karenina I can say my aversion to visiting Russia is less, but I still would list it as not likely to travel to.

One thing I’ve learned that is vitally important when reading a classic novel is that you have to read the introduction. Sure it might tack on 20-30 extra pages, but they are there for a reason and they reveal so much information that is incredibly useful when reading a book, not to mention they give you a head’s up of what to look for as you read. For example, in the introduction to Doctor Zhivago, the following quote points out how the novel is written.

“Pasternak’s vision is defined by real presence, by an intensity of physical sensation rendered in the abundance of natural description or translated into the voices of his many characters.” (loc. 146)

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ARC, Books

Book 121: The Absolutist – John Boyne

Where to begin…seriously. I finished this novel Monday night after a whirlwind read—I could not put it down. I stumbled across this novel on Net Galley and requested a copy from the publisher and I am incredibly glad I did! The following is my honest response and the views/opinions are my own. I did not receive compensation to review the novel.

I’ve divided my response into three parts: my response to the novel, a brief comparison and my (rambling) thoughts and questions to those who have also read the novel. If you have any desire to read the novel (WHICH YOU SHOULD ALL BE!), don’t read part three. I’ll try not to say explicitly, but it may give some parts away. Sorry it’s such a long post, but it’s such a good book! I will definitely have to re-read it as I didn’t come close to discussing everything I wanted to discuss!

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2012 Challenges, Books, Quotes, The Classics Club

Book 114: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – Betty Smith

Let’s start this review on a high note. It is rare that a book makes me fall in love with a character, and Francie is one of those few characters. The character was perfectly written and there was something about her that just made me fall in love. From her book obsession to her fierce pride and quick wit – Francie captured my heart and imagination. Even at the end when she started into her teen years and came across as somewhat hostile she kept her innocence and I just wanted to give her a hug.

There is a quote by the Federico Fellini that I believe Francie embodies, “Put yourself into life and never lose your openness, your childish enthusiasm throughout the journey that life is and things will come your way.” (Full disclosure – I found this quote via the film Under the Tuscan Sun.) Definitely check out the quotes at the end to get an idea of her character.

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