Archive for the ‘Biography’ Category

Dewey

dewey“Dewey…The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World” was about what you’d expect – a cat.

I’ve looked at this book a million times in the bookstore and kept putting it back on the assumption that it would be a book about a cat.  A friend gave it to me a couple weeks ago for a belated Christmas present so of course I read it…like I do almost everything else that is put in front of me.  It is about a cat but also about a small town in Iowa going through a farm crisis, individuals overcoming personal struggles, and much more.

Dewey had an unfortunate beginning.  As a kitten, he was left in a library drop box on an evening well below zero degrees.  I can personally relate to this with my kitten Bill.  While he wasn’t left in a library drop box, someone decided it would be a good idea to break his tail, hips, and face before he was found, passed around from house to house, and ultimately we ended up with this very abused kitten.  The similarities between the two of them made me much more interested than I likely would have been if I didn’t have a cat, too.

It was an easy and for the most part, light read….Just beware, it is VERY sad at moments too…Though, I’m not going to recommend this book to anyone who doesn’t like cats.  I can hear them now complaining about how much cat people talk about their cats and this book epitomizes a cat person talking about her cat.

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IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas

Chuck Klosterman IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas

rating: 1 of 5 stars

Even though it was a quick, easy read, it was somehow not worth the few hours on the train it took me to read it. Unless you are very into obscure bands or knowing everything that there is to know about musicians from rock bands (like van Halen, KISS, or Morrissey), I wouldn’t recommend it. The entire book is just like reading a 400 page magazine (because it actually is just a collection of magazine articles that he wrote with a short commentary before each one).  All this means that it is the equivalent of watching the love child of VH1 and Entertainment Tonight.

I know from the author’s other books, he has potential and can be much funnier.  So maybe don’t write off Klosterman altogether, just this book might not be your cup of tea if you are anything like me.

Timequake

042516434901lzzzzzzzTimequake by Kurt Vonnegut brings out his pithy comments as usual but is a more personal story.  That being said, if you aren’t one of Vonnegut’s lackeys, I don’t know if you will enjoy it as much as I did.  You really need to have an interest in what motivates the author and how his mind functions.  

The actual story deals with a “timequake” in which everyone must relive the last 10 years in exactly the same way they lived it the first time.  They lose all grasp of free will and when the timequake catches up to actual time again, chaos ensues because people are still just waiting for things to happen that they have no control over.  Cars and planes crash because people are on a new form of “autopilot”, people fall downstairs because they have forgotten how to walk, and in general people do not know what to do now that they have the choice.  

It’s a quick, entertaining, and sometimes funny book that can be easily read in a day or two.  A must read for all Vonnegut fans who want to get a better idea of the artists mind at work.

I, Rigoberta Menchu

51svhc35tcl_ss500_“I, Rigoberta Menchu,” was written in 1983 and is the personal narrative of the life of a young Guatemalan Quiche Indian woman. Menchu’s powerful voice records the plight of the Guatemalan people during the political terror of a 36-year Civil War that ended in 1996.  Menchu describes her culture’s past through her memory, by detailing rituals, customs, and traditions.  She presents her Mayan culture with respect and a sense of mystery.  Menchu includes stories of candles being lit to welcome newborn children, celebrations at weddings, respect for elders, and the harsh life on a plantation. After realizing that her peaceful words are not being heard or considered, Menchu and her family take up arms against the repressive Army of Guatemala.

Reading this book, I found myself hooked from the first page.  Menchu has an amazing ability to tell stories, and teach through them.  Menchu paints both lighthearted and extremely horrific pictures through her narrative.  This is a very informative and interesting testimonial.



A Man Without A Country

Kurt Vonnegut was pulled back into the writing world due to the influence of one very powerful man.  George W. Bush.  This is his version of an autobiography with stories from his past, his friends, and his beliefs.  He begins by telling the reader how he first became a joker out of necessity.  “The youngest in every family is always a joker” (p. 1).  Without jokes, they are never allowed into adult conversations.  And he proves that he is still a funny man (at age 82 or 83) till the very last page.  However, this book is not all laughs, Vonnegut is clearly angry with the direction that the country has headed and makes fun of the current administration with (sometimes crude) jokes that could be found on a current episode of Saturday Night Live.  In his “final” work, he holds back nothing and says the things that most people are too afraid to say and that he only hinted at in his other novels. 

This was not my favorite book of his (it will always be “Breakfast of Champions”) but he maintained his clever, succinct writing style that makes his novels easy and enjoyable to read.  Never a chore.

The Last Lecture

Randy Pausch’s last lecture brought meaning to the ‘last lecture’ series at Carnegie Mellon University.  When he discovered he had pancreatic cancer, he fought to live as long as he could but as so many sufferers of pancreatic cancer, he too hit the point when there was nothing left to be done but live the rest of his life to the fullest.

Throughout this book, he tells about his three young children and not being in their lives anymore.  He speaks his last lecture and writes this book as a series of lessons to them.  Many of them things we all know but still need an occasional reminder and others that are new.

Basically the (expected) moral of the story: follow your dreams and be the person you want to be.  And most importantly don’t wait to do things because there may not be a tomorrow.