Friday, November 29, 2013

Review: Off-Topic: The Story of an Internet Revolt

Off-Topic: The Story of an Internet Revolt
Off-Topic: The Story of an Internet Revolt by G.R. Reader

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While I was reading this I was also teaching a unit on Cyberbullying to my new middle school students. Which was one of those interesting coincidences.

I'd read a few of the parts of this before. Overall, it was an informative read. I found parts of it amusing, parts disturbing, parts a bit of an overreaction. But then, I've got no horse in this race - I don't really care to mark books as no-because-of-author and I've only vaguely followed all the drama as it's gone on around me.

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Review: 419

419 by Will Ferguson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This took me a long time to read. It's more like a 3.5 star read.

I would have had really high expectations for this, as it won an award over Ru, a book I read and adored. But then a group of people read it just before me and reading their comments lowered my expectations a lot and I think that helped. It was a good book - interesting, about topics I'm interested in, incredibly moving at times. But, the way the book was structured didn't work for me at all - there was a whole bit at the beginning with super short chapters that just didn't make any sense yet and then at one point the story shifted and was only about one character for too long at a time. A better balance of when he told each character's story would have strengthened the book for me. I also thought the sentences, especially the dialogue, were a bit clunky at times.

Hopefully I'll come back and update this after I have a chance to look at what I highlighted on my Kindle.

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Review: Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth
Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Usually when I bemoan the lack of exciting sci-fi options in real life, I'm thinking along the lines of the hover cars from The Jetsons, but this book made me wish that there was some way to be a fly on the wall of someone else's brain. What would it be like to read this as a Christian? A Jew? A Muslim?

This atheist quite liked the book. The only real problem I had with it is more with myself - I have no idea how to evaluate the possible validity of the claims he makes, though the notes certainly suggested he's well-read (and I have a huge Kindle complaint - why not link endnotes to the end of the chapter they relate to? It'd be super easy and I'd rather read them then.)

It took me a while to plow through this, but not because I wasn't enjoying it, though it didn't compel me to pick it up

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Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Review: Stoner

Stoner by John Edward Williams

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Stoner was fascinating. I'm startled that I loved something so much that six months ago I'd not so much as heard of.

I loved the first third of the novel - it was so quiet and contemplative. I found the characters easy to empathize with. I thought the exploration of the urbanization of America illustrated well in Stoner. The marital and university conflicts were interesting, especially that the reader was left to try and guess what made Edith do the things she does and how Stoner can't see that Lomax sees himself in Walker and that drives part of his fury.

Stoner's relationship with his daughter was tragic. That he wouldn't fight his wife over the happiness of his child struck me as incredibly sad.

The ending is quite a punch to the gut.

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