Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Fallows is a linguist, and this book is about how she learned and studied Chinese during her three years of living in Shanghai and Beijing. She writes about how learning the language gave her insight into Chinese culture. For example, foreigners use "please" and "thank you" much more often than the Chinese when they speak Mandarin. However, Chinese people rarely use these niceties because it indicates that you are speaking with a stranger or someone not very close to you. By omitting the "please" and "thank yous", you're actually saying something about the relationship - that we're close so there's no need for all that. It's not rudeness in the context of Chinese culture.
This book would had been really helpful when I was attempting to learn Mandarin and trying to understand some about the culture.
As a memoir, however, this book is pretty shallow. But as a supplementary tool to learning Chinese, I think it would be pretty valuable.
Recommended if you've ever tried to learn Chinese or if you're thinking of trying.
Posted by Elaine at 12:23 PM
Monday, November 28, 2011
Saturday, November 26, 2011
The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible by A.J. Jacobs
Jacobs begins his journey as a Jewish agnostic. He ends the year by describing himself as a "reverent agnostic."
This was a really funny book. There are some moments of deeper thoughtfulness (like when he accidentally gets locked in his bathroom for four hours until his wife comes home, and he finds that being away from technology and the rush of life was actually quite nice). Overall, a very entertaining book that made me laugh out loud.
Posted by Elaine at 12:00 PM
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
I wasted too much time reading this book. The first 100 pages or so were good and then it just became horribly awful.
I'm not going to waste more time thinking about this book and writing a blog post about what it's about and all that.
All I have to say is: Skip this book. Don't even pick it up. Move on.
Posted by Elaine at 12:57 PM
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
I've reviewed a bunch of cooking memoirs, but this one is different. This is from a father's perspective during the first year of his daughter's life as he cooks for himself and his wife, and indirectly, their newborn baby.
The recipes sounded great, but the ingredient lists were way too long for me, so I doubt that I will try any of the dishes described.
Touching and honest. Another title for this book could have been True Confessions About Being a Parent.
My only complaint is that the book ended rather abruptly. It could have used an Epilogue.
Posted by Elaine at 12:53 PM
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Then I remembered that you all already know that I read all of Tori Spelling books, so what's the big deal about admitting that I spent a good chunk of time on the sofa reading about William and Catherine? They are quite a bit classier than Tori Spelling. (But, Tori, let me know when your next book is coming out...)
I didn't know much about William and Catherine, so this book provided some good information about their lives and upbringing. There are also lots of pictures. I'm not sure if this was an "official" biography- I thought it was because Morton also wrote a biography about Princess Diana...and if it was "official," I was surprised that Catherine wasn't written about in a more favorable light, especially when it came to her 20s. She apparently didn't really have any real career/job to speak of as she waited around to get engaged? Is that true? That's what this book reports.
Anyway, I did like reading this one, and if you want to know more about the royal couple, then check it out.
Posted by Elaine at 12:04 PM
Monday, November 14, 2011
101 Things I Hate About Your House: A Premier Designer Takes You on a Room-by-Room Tour to Transform Your Home from Faux Pas to Fabulous by James Swan
James Swan, a designer, goes room by room through your house and writes about how to decorate/what not to do. Some of the hints are very helpful, but the writing was so ridiculous and flowery that it was tough to find the hints in the long paragraphs.
A good one to skim if you're interested in some decorating tips. But check it out from the library and DO NOT BUY this one.
Posted by Elaine at 9:31 AM
This one is about the death of her adult daughter. But it's more than that as well. Didion shares her thoughts about motherhood and growing older.
It's all done in a rambly kind of way which can be confusing. This book didn't feel very cohesive to me although I did end of mildly liking it, sort of. It's okay, but don't take that as a very strong recommendation.
Posted by Elaine at 9:21 AM
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
There are so many books out there I want to read. I have the maximum number of books on my Waiting List at the library.
I was actually a bit grumpy this past weekend because I wasn't in the middle of any books. A trip to the library solved that fast.
Let's keep reading, my friends!
Posted by Elaine at 12:30 PM
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Abigail Carter lost her husband, Arron, who was in the Windows on the World restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center on 9/11. She writes about her grieving process in the years after as she raises her two children and tries to orient herself and them to life without their dad.
Grueling but honest, this is probably one of the best books I've read about grief.
This book was in stark contrast to A Year and Six Seconds that I recently reviewed. I know that the writer in A Year and Six Seconds was dealing with divorce, not death. But reading these two books back to back made it very clear how much more in-depth The Alchemy of Loss was and how much more Carter let the grief process take its course. There's no happy ending per se, just movement in her grief. She's willing to confront and feel her grief (all forms of it, including anger), and that makes this book very real.
Posted by Elaine at 3:31 PM