SmackAMack’s Blog

July 20, 2009

The Tall Book: A Celebration of Life from on High (Arianne Cohen) – Book Review

Filed under: book review — smackamack @ 7:00 pm

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tallest-woman-worldPlot: Though it may in part revere the tall, essayist Cohen proclaims, clearly “society is not built for us.” Six-foot-three Cohen (Confessions of a High School Word Nerd) covers many taken-for-granted challenges facing “talls,” including public toilets, exercise bikes, doorways, couches and airplanes. Especially complicated is dating; some tall women would never “date down”-that is, a man shorter than they are-while other talls (i.e. men) refuse to date anyone but the short. Being tall costs more, due to expenses like “double-price clothes,” “high ceilinged homes,” and “the food,” but it also pays better: tall people earn approximately 2.5% more per inch. Height also helps get presidents elected; 26 out of the last 30 presidential contests went to the taller candidate. Cohen has been frustrated, ever since she was a 5’3″ eight-year-old that no one has written a book about tall people (“The Dewey Decimal index didn’t even assign a classification number to tall people. Surely the world kidded”). She fixes that problem handily with a guide both practical and proud, and with enough self-deprecating humor to charm readers of any height; an ideal gift for talls, their loved ones, and (perhaps) their jealous detractors.

W020070328602420845033Allyson told me about this book, it was reviewed in People Magazine and given 4/4 stars.  It immediately caught my attention obviously because I am tall.  All I can say is…wow.  This book highly impressed me and I absolutely loved it.  It was extremely well researched, hit it right on the head of life as a tall, and was extremely interesting to read.  I truly connected to this author also because so many of our experiences were similar, including loving how tall everyone was in the Netherlands and being swimmers.  

I don’t recommend this book to everyone, but I DO recommend this book to people who are 5’10 and over.  

I don’t want to give anything away, but I give this book 4/5 stars.

Me Talk Pretty One Day (David Sedaris) – Book Review

Filed under: Book,book review — smackamack @ 6:54 pm

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sedaris_davidPlot: David Sedaris, a humorist and writer, presents a compilation of comical personal essays in Me Talk Pretty One Day. The essays are strung together with Sedaris’s candid manner and a persistent language theme. The book is divided into two parts, and with a few exceptions, focuses on the early part of Sedaris’s life in the first half, and the more recent years of his life while living in France in the second half.

I have read several of David Sedaris’s books…I had mixed feelings about this book.  I found some chapters/stories hilarious, and some rather dull.  Sedaris writes his books as a collection of short comical essays, which I love because you can read a short story/chapter each night before bed – perfect!  

I wouldn’t recommend this book above my favorites by Sedaris…I highly recommend Naked and Holidays On Ice – fantastic!  I would give this book 2.5/5 stars.

May 4, 2009

Bel Canto (2001) – Book Review

Filed under: Book,book review — smackamack @ 1:31 am

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Plot: Lucky Mr. Hosokawa. The well-connected Japanese businessman, now in an unnamed South American country on yet another job, is having a very special birthday party. At the home of the country’s vice president, opera singer Roxane Cos will be performing for him and his guests. But what’s this? Armed men invading the premises? These ragtag revolutionaries are looking for the president and disappointed that he is not there, but that doesn’t stop them from holding the party goers hostage. What happens after that was, for this reviewer, a story that failed to ignite. Patchett (The Patron Saint of Liars) generates little tension as she moves her players around the board, and one is disappointed that there is little reflection about the head-on clash of art and life. This book is getting a big promotional pitch, however, so libraries may want to consider.

Whitney Baker gave me this book for my birthday because she had been raving about it for years.  It took me a really long time to get into, but the end result was worth it!  This book is not an adventurous read, it is slow and beautiful, but the second half really picks up and you become truly invested in the characters.  I am interested to read a different Ann Patchett book…

I am surprised this hasn’t been made into a movie yet…I mean, the ending is so visually powerful, I think it would make a wonderful film.  

I recommend this book for people who enjoy music, reading, and an ‘intellectually stimulating’ read.  I give this book 3.75/5 stars.

May 1, 2009

Mans Search for Meaning – Book Review

Filed under: book review,concentration camp — smackamack @ 9:12 pm

jja87dMan’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl is among the most influential works of psychiatric literature since Freud. The book begins with a lengthy, austere, and deeply moving personal essay about Frankl’s imprisonment in Auschwitz and other concentration camps for five years, and his struggle during this time to find reasons to live. The second part of the book, called “Logotherapy in a Nutshell,” describes the psychotherapeutic method that Frankl pioneered as a result of his experiences in the concentration camps. Freud believed that sexual instincts and urges were the driving force of humanity’s life; Frankl, by contrast, believes that man’s deepest desire is to search for meaning and purpose. Frankl’s logotherapy, therefore, is much more compatible with Western religions than Freudian psychotherapy. This is a fascinating, sophisticated, and very human book. At times, Frankl’s personal and professional discourses merge into a style of tremendous power. “Our generation is realistic, for we have come to know man as he really is,” Frankl writes. “After all, man is that being who invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however, he is also that being who entered those gas chambers upright, with the Lord’s Prayer or the Shema Yisrael on his lips.” 

My awesome roommate gave me this book to read last week to help distract me from my finals.  She knew I was interesting in WWII concentration camps and also a psych major and thought I would enjoy the book…she was right.  This book was actually for my roommates extenstentialism class.  

The first half of the book discribes his life for 5 years in the concentration camps.  At the time he didn’t know his family had been exterminated, but keep going in hopes of seeing his wife again.  Before the camps, and after, he was a psychiatrist who had written about psychology before.  This book however is an attempt to explain how a persons life can still have meaning after such a tramatic event.  The second half of the book is psychological and theoretical but very moving.  

For someone such as myself, this book was very powerful.  There was one piece that really stuck with me…he describes a night where he was in the camp and one of his bed mates was having a horrible nightmare and crying/tossing and turning.  He went to go wake him up, but realized, no matter how terrible the dream, the reality he would wake to would be far worse than any nightmare possible.  

I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in WWII, psychology, or the meaning of life.  It’s not a very long book either (like 150 pages).  I give this book 4/5 stars.  

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