Miracles and Absurdities

IMG_7591Rating  ★★★


Summary A man with a peculiar (to say the least) outlook on life, a stranger to its joys and tragedies, commits an apparently unintended murder, stands trial, and comes to grips with his existence.


Review Look at your hand. Fingers, nails, knuckles… Palm. The colour of your skin, the creases on it and the veins under it. Maybe a paper cut or a blister. Look around your room or the outside. Maybe there are books. Furniture. A TV. Cars, birds, flowers, grass and clouds. Amazing. Miraculous. … And so absurd, no? Continue reading

All the Light We Cannot See: Close, but…

Rating

★★★


Summary 

The lives of a blind French girl and a gifted German boy, and the destiny of an ancient diamond, become intertwined during the liberation of the town of Saint-Malo, France in 1944.


Review 

So many things about this novel felt perfect. Continue reading

It’s a sin to kill a mockingbird

To kill a mockingbird copy

Rating 

★★★★★


Summary 

The story of Atticus Finch, public defender for an innocent black man accused of raping a white woman in a sleepy Southern American town in the 1930s. More accurately, the story of his children, and how they coped with small childhood troubles, as well as the larger troubles and prejudices of the adult world with which they were suddenly confronted.


Review

It does not do Harper Lee justice to praise To Kill a Mockingbird solely for the emotional force with which it confronts racism and prejudice at large. A fictional story like this, I think, does more to trigger our humanity, understanding and tolerance than any number of reports, statistics, and logical arguments. I will not expound on this here.

Rather, what I would most like to praise is that To Kill a Mockingbird is, in a strictly literary sense, one of the most brilliant examples of narration that I have ever seen. The narrator’s voice confidently walks a subtle line between the voice of childhood and maturity. Each word, event and feeling is authentically that of a nine year old girl. At the same time, without an express statement that the narrator is now older, the story is carefully infused with mature and perceptive judgment. This creates an incredibly realistic feeling of reminiscence . It makes you remember back to your own tender years, and reverts you, at least in part, to the innocent state and outlook of the child. I think it is precisely this that makes the story so powerful.

We don’t see the events in the book with our eyes, or even those of Atticus Finch. We see them with them with our childhood eyes, which makes it that much easier to take note of their tragedy and absurdity.

Serial Killers: the Method and Madness of Monsters by Peter Vronsky

Serial Killers the method and madness of monsters

Rating 

★★★


Summary 

A brief overview of various aspects of the serial murder phenomenon, including its history, methods of criminal profiling, suggestions for avoiding a serial killer and killers’ psychology. 


Review 

Much like a common newspaper report, the book is broad in scope and full of sensational details, but lacks depth and thoughtfulness. After a few chapters, Vronsky’s background as a journalist becomes evident. Continue reading

The Fault in Our Stars – the one and only

TFioS

Rating 

★★★★★


Summary

Two teenagers meet in a support group for youths with cancer and fall in love. They struggle together through the ordeals of their disease, as well as the difficulties common to all humans at that age.


Review

I suppose that reading The Fault in Our Stars was virtually inevitable. Between all the talk of the book and my sister wholeheartedly weeping into it one night, it hit me like a train and, admittedly, broke my heart.

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Reach for Infinity, edited by Jonathan Strahan

reach for infinity

Rating 

★★★★


Summary 

A collection of “hard” science fiction stories, that describe space travel, as well as future life on Earth, the Moon, and Mars in realistic scientific detail.


Review

We don’t always appreciate that life is precarious.

Reach for Infinity was a reminder that it is.

A collection of hard science fiction, the anthology aims to stay scientifically consistent and doesn’t tiptoe around the more technical details of its subject matter. This meant that throughout its 350 pages, I was reminded, again and again, just how fragile the balance of life is, how many comforts we take for granted, and just how much effort must be put in to sustain it as we explore the Universe. I marvelled also at the extent of human imagination and ability. It was enjoyable to delve into this semi-realistic, technological setting – the atmosphere was often akin to the movie Gravity. In the space stories especially, there was a feeling of… well, precariousness, of a thin line of scientific progress separating exploration from death.

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Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In: the New Feminist Manifesto

 

Lean In

Rating 

★★★★★


Summary 

Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, shares her story as a career woman and mother, offering advice and inspiration to young women along the way.


Review

I have written the below review as part of my Human Resources Management course taken in Winter 2014.

“The blunt truth is that men still run the world” (Sandberg, 2013, p. 5).

After decades of struggles and successes, how come women are still severely underrepresented as leaders of countries and corporations? According to Sheryl Sandberg (2013), it is a “chicken-and-egg situation”: the “chicken” is that women will break down barriers to leadership when they are leaders, but the “egg” is that those barriers need to be broken to get women into leadership in the first place (p. 8). In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg focuses on the “chicken”: on how women can become leaders even in the presence of institutional barriers to their success, by first breaking down the barriers that are internal to themselves. With personal stories, advice and inspiration, and with occasionally humorous and always sensitive narration, the book looks to help young women overcome their hesitance to strive for leadership positions, which Sandberg (2013) calls “the leadership ambition gap” (p. 15) and “lean in to [their] career,” (Sandberg, 2013, p. 25) despite the obstacles that lie in the way of their leadership success.

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On Fascination with the Macabre

This is one of the books I most recently purchased, on the recommendation of @matthew_lawson on Instagram:

DSC_1091

It is a history and socio-cultural analysis of the phenomenon of serial murder, chronicling famous serial killers since Ancient Rome and into modern times.

As it says in the title of this post – macabre.

I once spent three hours of my birthday watching a documentary on the Manson Family. I spent hours googling various serial killers, trying to get inside their mind, to see why they did what they did. I sometimes imagine extreme events – hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, zombie invasions, wars, mass shootings, attacks – within my vicinity. I think how I would react; how others would react; what it would feel like.

Why, why, why?

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The Circle by Dave Eggers: great subject, rather disappointing execution

the circle 2

Rating

★★★


Summary

Mae lands her dream job at The Circle – the corporation that swallowed Google, Facebook, Twitter and the rest of them under the direction of the Three Wise Men. We follow her as she rises through the company and gradually surrenders to the Circle’s ideology, growing to believe that “secrets are lies” and “privacy is theft.” As The Circle’s surveillance capabilities expand to offer people evermore convenience and safety for the price of their privacy, its founders gain evermore control and the Circle becomes complete.


Review:

I get a lot of my book suggestions from The Economist, and have been looking to pick up The Circle by Dave Eggers since an excellent review was published by the magazine in the business fiction section. I finally came across it, and I have mixed feelings.

Continue reading