Blake’s Quest to Read Many Books

and watch less TV (where appropriate)

#04 – Shutter Island

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Shutter IslandI will start by saying that this was a difficult book to finally get through reading.  It was the first book I purchased and started reading on my Kindle back in early February.  I found the book when I had seen information on the upcoming movie Shutter Island.  I had not heard of Dennis Lehane before, but that is not surprising given I have not read much in the past.  I first noticed that this was his third book that was made into a movie joining Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone.  I had not read either of those books, but enjoyed both movies.  I figured that they had to be somewhat good enough and I picked Shutter Island because I could finish it by the time the movie came out.

I was reading this book the morning that Caroline passed away.  The truly odd connection was that the part I was reading that morning was where the main character was describing his trouble following his wife’s death.  I am completely serious about that.  I could care less about a lot of trivial things including this book for a long while, that once things settled down and I was looking for a diversion I had a lot of trouble returning to this book.  The fact that I was reading it just 20 minutes before the police showed up at our door pushed me away from this book like we were both magnets.  I was afraid to read anymore for awhile for fear it would just bring me right back to that day.  It was over four months before I could pick up this book again.  It was not as difficult as I had anticipated, perhaps that amount of time had helped.  At any rate, I was able to finish it even if I was just trying to get it over with.

I had not read a suspense thriller in a while, so this was a nice change from my typical leanings toward non-fiction.  I felt pulled into the story, although it did take a little longer to get going.  It was not action-packed and I always felt it was just on the verge of just taking off but it never quite got there.  I thought this book could have been just a little bit more of several things.  Faster-paced at times – I did not feel like the action was as thrilling as it could have been.  Scarier – I thought there was a lot of opportunity to really freak you out given they were trapped with psycho criminals.  Darker – it never gave me a really creeped-out feeling and it seemed primed for that.

It all led to a big twist that was better played out then in the movie version.  I certainly did wonder, in the book, who to believe in the final chapters as it did a much better job of setting that twist up for you.

I make it seem bad, but it is a good read.  I did enjoy it and would recommend if you are a fan of his others or anything set in Massachusetts.  Run out and read it next?  Not necessarily.

Next up…non-fiction again with a biography of the late Chris Farley.

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Written by ellavsky

July 18, 2010 at 2:08 am

#03 Freakonomics

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Freakonomics

Who knew that it would take 20 years to fall in love with my major in college?  If only they had let me know that economics can be about finding the true cause and effect of everything around us, I may not have fallen asleep during discussions of the Laffer Curve.  I was actually pretty fascinated by this book because was enough psychology as well to pique my other interest, which was also to be my minor had I not gone overseas and lost out on the 2 more classes I needed.  No regrets.

The book is presented in a series on focused, yet meandering chapters, that set out to make a single point through seemingly incomparable circumstances.  For instance, comparing the incentives of KKK members to real estates agents to show that they both derive their advantages from information control.  A particularly entertaining chapter on the life effects associated with the name you give your child reveals that the name really has nothing to do with a child’s success or failure, the parents do.  In one case, a parent name one child Winner and one Loser only to have Loser become a successful businessman and Winner ended up in jail.  The sobering fact was that a bad parent is more likely to yield a bad child no matter the name.

Now, I realize that the propositions set forth in this book are the theories of one man, yet whether they are completely accurate or not present a fascinating different perspective on many subjects.  A very quick and easy read that is entertaining despite the subject matter.

I will leave you with this tidbit that may be enough to make you want to know how this could be connected….the biggest theory in the book is that the precipitous drop in crime in the 1990’s can be traced to one woman: Norma McCorvey.  Look her up, you know her by another name.

Written by ellavsky

February 20, 2010 at 4:10 am

#02 – In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex

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In the Heart of the Sea

It has been a long while, but life has started to come back to where we like it.  As a result, my reading picked up (a work trip with a couple long flights did not hurt either).

This is the true story of an unbelievable ordeal that befell a group of Nantucket whalers in 1819-20.  Rammed by a sperm whale more than 2000 miles off the coast of South American, these whalers endured over 90 days at sea in 25 foot rowboats.  The book reads well and in a way that is not purely historical, but almost like a novel.  There are a surprising number of facts that exist about the experience.  I also read The Perfect Storm a while back and, while good, it was mostly conjecture on what may have happened on their voyage.  I cannot imagine how anyone survived 96 days at sea with virtually no food or water.  The story does take a very dark turn towards the end of their time.

If you are into ships, harrowing ordeals, whales, the sea, starvation, and/or good historical drama…then this book is good for you.  I do like 4 of those things, so it worked for me.

I give it 3 stars.

Written by ellavsky

December 15, 2009 at 6:26 am

Will be back…

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This has been a difficult year to find time to read.  I am also fighting off the idea that I love books, but hate reading.  If this is to work for me, I need to commit to spending more time in front of pages than screen.  Wish me luck in that endeavor or you will likely not see me post again :).

Until next time…

Written by ellavsky

October 22, 2009 at 7:03 pm

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Slow reader…

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So, I warned you I was a slow reader.  For that, I apologize.  I am still currently reading the book listed in Currently Reading.

I will however provide you a quick review of a shorter book I read this evening with a rising scholar.

In this book, there are people that are participating in the hustle and bustle of city life.  They are all headed to their own destinations around town, however share a common experience.  This is the story of their trip together.

Highlights include:

  • A crying baby
  • Annoyed parents
  • A pushy, disgruntled bus driver
  • Poor suspension systems
  • An all-about town adventure
  • Wheels going round

In the end, we don’t get to really know the characters and their individual dilemmas.  I was not able to connect with any of them, in fact the author never even provides their names.  To me, this book seemed more appropriate for a toddler although I think the next time I am on a bus I will be humming a catchy tune.

Back to reading…

Written by ellavsky

January 8, 2009 at 6:45 am

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#01 – The Tales of Beedle the Bard

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The Tales of Beedle the Bard

The Tales of Beedle the Bard

Always warm-up before heavy activity and I have done so with this rather quick read.  Weighing in at a very not-so generous 100 pages with generous margins, this is easily an evening’s read (even for me).

The book was pretty much what I expected, nothing great, nothing terrible.  Just a nice reminder of how I enjoy J.K. Rowling’s style and descriptive adeptness.   Nothing new is really exposed in the 5 tales in the book.  In fact the only one that clearly relates to the HP series in terms of plots is The Tale of the Three Brothers, which I cannot remember if this was actually in The Deathly Hallows or not because it seemed very familiar.  At any rate is tells like a history of the unbeatable Elder Wand.

All of these stories are followed by a commentary of equal or greater length by Albus Dumbledore.  Most of these commentaries feel like filler to get the book to 100 pages.  The aforementioned, The Tale of the Three Brothers commentary does provide some historical lessons if you are into that level of HP lore.

All in all, it was a nice jaunt down not-so-distant memory lane and a decent way to spent an hour or so.  I would not expect a lot, but enjoy it over watching The Hunt for Red October for the 23 time, which is what I decided to turn off instead.

Notes:

  • I need to find more occasion to use the word beseech.  As in, “I beseech you not to schedule that meeting during lunch lest you be smitten.”
  • SAT word alert:  sagacity, prodigious, benison, and simulacrum
  • The book actually supports a very good cause:  The Children’s High Level Group (http://www.chlg.org) that supports resources for institutionalized children in Europe to set up better environments for these children to grow and be nurtured in.

On to the next, likely longer book.  Enjoy reading!

Blake

Written by ellavsky

December 30, 2008 at 6:23 am

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First book off and running…

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The process begins here…the first book in the list is adhering to the LIFO strategy as it was a Christmas gift.  Off I go with The Tales of Beedle the Bard.  It is a short book and the J.K. Rowling follow-up to the Harry Potter series.  My expectations are not too high despite loving HP, but we will see.

See you soon.

B

The Tales of Beedle the Bard

The Tales of Beedle the Bard

Written by ellavsky

December 28, 2008 at 4:24 am

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