Posts Tagged ‘Books’

Book Review: Art of Mindful Living by Thích Nhất Hạnh

Author: Thích Nhất Hạnh
TitleArt of Mindful Living
Publication Info: Sounds True, Incorporated (2000)

Summary/Review:

This book is actually a lovely collection of lectures delivered by Thích Nhất Hạnh on finding the “kingdom of God” here and now by escaping distraction.  He mostly focuses on breathing exercises (a bell tones throughout to remind listeners to breathe). He also has interesting techniques such as taking a moment to breathe every time a phone rings (which benefits both oneself and the person calling) and the practice of hugging.  Only two hours, but full of wisdom and a delight to listen to.

Rating: ****

Recommended Books: Contemplative Prayer by Thomas Keating

Book Reviews: The Walking Dead (Volume 21): All Out War Part Two by Robert Kirkman

AuthorRobert Kirkman
TitleThe Walking Dead (Volume 22): A New Beginning
Illustrator: Charlie Adlard
Publication Info: Image Comics (2014)
Summary/Review:

Can the creators of The Walking Dead tell a story that does not revolve around survivors merely fighting zombies or fighting wars with other survivors?  The answer is yes!  This volume moves ahead a bit into a future where Rick and the leaders of surrounding communities are succeeding in developing sustainable communities amid the zombie horror.  Problems encountered now are the challenges of doing things that were normal in the old world.  For example, Carl is growing old enough to want to move out on his own to the Hilltop community.  Meanwhile, newly admitted survivors find the community too good to be true, an ironic turnabout.  Finally, the creepiest new antagonists are introduced.  This is a much set of stories and gives me hope for the continuing story of The Walking Dead.

Rating: ***1/2

Book Reviews: The Walking Dead (Volume 21): All Out War Part Two by Robert Kirkman

AuthorRobert Kirkman
TitleThe Walking Dead (Volume 21): All Out War Part Two
Illustrator: Charlie Adlard
Publication Info: Image Comics (2014)
Summary/Review:
I’ve put off continuing to read The Walking Dead series because it seems to have run out of ideas.  There’s only so many times you can read about the survivors of the zombie apocalypse fighting one another to the death.  And the current villain Negan has really run his course.

So thankfully this volume has some good things to offer as Negan is finally defeated.  This volume is also very slender, so at least the “all out war” isn’t drawn out.  Actually, Rick’s big speech about how they’ve learned to live with the constant threat of the dead around them and now it’s time to stop fighting and work toward rebuilding society seems to be a commentary on the comics series itself.  It seems to me that a story about the survivors facing the challenge of rebuilding without relying on the easy plot of the violent antagonist (whether it be from outside or within the group) is an interesting story to tell.  Now let’s see if Kirkman and co. can do it.

Rating: *1/2

Book Reviews: Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon

AuthorMichael Chabon
TitleManhood for amateurs : the pleasures and regrets of a husband, father, and son
Narrator: Michael Chabon
Publication Info: HarperCollins, 2009
Summary/Review:

This book collects together essays by author Michael Chabon about being a husband, father, and son.  Particularly his efforts to avoid the cliches of masculinity in these roles.  I can relate to his sensitive and introspective thoughts on fatherhood.  One particularly interesting essay discusses the loss of wildness in childhood (much like the concerns of Free Range Kids’ Lenore Skenazy).  This goes beyond children being able to wander around outside though as Chabon discusses how fart jokes in children’s books and movies have allowed adults to gentrify what once was a means for children to rebel against the grown-up world.  Other essays are less relatable such as the uncomfortable reminiscences of his early sexual encounters with much older women.  The essays are good and bad, but the good outnumber the bad and they all offer something worth reading.

Favorite Passages:

“A father is a man who fails every day.”

“Make all families are a kind of fandom, an endlessly elaborated, endlessly disputed, endlessly reconfigured set of commentaries, extrapolations, and variations generated by passionate amateurs on the primal text of the parents’ love for each other. Sometimes the original program is canceled by death or separation; sometimes, as with Doctor Who, it endures and flourishes for decades. And maybe love, mortality, and loss, and all the children and mythologies and sorrows they engender, make passionate amateurs–nerds, geeks, and fanboys–of us all.”

Recommended booksAmerican Nerd: The Story of My People by Benjamin Nugent, Free-Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy and Lost In Place: Growing Up Absurd in Suburbia by Mark Salzman
Rating: **1/2

Book Review: Night of the Humans by David Llewellyn

Author: David Llewellyn
TitleNight of the Humans
Narrator: Arthur Darvill
Publication Info:  Bath, [England] : AudioGo/BBC Audiobooks, p2010
Summary/Review:

This Doctor Who New Series Adventures joins Amy and the Eleventh Doctor early on their travels as they’re drawn to an enormous pile of space junk known as The Gyre where they encounter noseless humanoids with Arabic names known as the Sittuun, who’ve also been shipwrecked.  The villains of the piece turn out to be primitive humans who believe they’re on Earth and condemn those who say differently as blasphemers. There’s also a shady character named Dirk Slipstream who is very Douglass Adams.   The book takes advantage of its medium in creating settings and characters that would not likely translate well to a low-budget television show, but the story didn’t hold my interest too well.  The audiobook is narrated by Arthur Darvill even though his character Rory doesn’t appear in the story.  He does enjoyable impersonations of Karen Gillan and Matt Smith, though.

Rating: **

Book Review: Cheesemonger : a life on the wedge by Gordon Edgar

Author: Gordon Edgar
TitleCheesemonger : a life on the wedge
Publication Info: White River Junction, VT : Chelsea Green Pub., c2010
Summary/Review:

Edgar wanted so much to gain employment at a San Francisco worker’s cooperative that he applied for a job in the cheese department despite not knowing much about cheese.  This memoir/manifesto tells of his two decades learning about cheese, visiting farms, attending conferences, and dealing with customers.  Edgar draws on his past in punk rock to explore the community and ethics of the cheese world.  This may be the least pretentious book about cheese possible, and I enjoyed reading Edgar’s stories and opinions.  I’m also hungry for some cheese.

Recommended booksCoop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting by Michael Perry and The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan
Rating: ****

Book Review: A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin

AuthorGeorge R.R. Martin
TitleA Feast for Crows
Narrator: John Lee
Publication Info: [Santa Ana, Calif.] : Books on Tape, 2006
Summary/Review: The fourth book in A Song of Ice and Fire is a departure from the style of the earlier books, as it focuses on stories of only some of the major characters, while characters like Daenerys, Jon Snow, Tyrion, and Davos are not featured at all.  This leaves room to explore the Greyjoy/Iron Island and Martell/Dorne story lines in greater depth than ever before.  More familiar characters appearing in this book include:

  • Cersei, using the deaths of Joffrey and Tywin, and absence of Tyrion to consolidate power as Queen Regent.
  • Brienne and Podrick, continuing their search for Sansa and Arya in the lawless lands of Westeros.
  • Samwell, Gilly, Maester Aemon, and Dareon travel to Oldtown so that Samwell can train to be a maester.
  • Arya takes on a new identity in Braavos.
  • Jaime grows distant from his sister/lover and tries to reestablish himself as a military leader despite his missing hand.
  • Sansa adjusts to her new life in the Vale disguised as Littlefinger’s daughter.

In some ways, this book seems to restarting the story.  It also seems to be dragging its heels at points. But mostly it continues to tell a complex and epic tell in interesting ways.

Rating: ***

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