Friday, March 25, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #13 - Room

I am trying to wrap my head around "Room" By Emma Donoghue. The book was excellent in a lot of ways, but there were a few things that left me lacking. It is hard to say what those things are without giving too much of the plot away.
The premise of the book is our narrator Jack lives in "Room". Jack and Ma are there together. The first section of the book describes where they live and the routines that they go through in their days. He is a 5 year old and so he has limited understanding of certain things, but thankfully for the reader, he does have a decent vocabulary since Ma spends a lot of time teaching him things.

The reason that they are in this room is that Ma was kidnapped some years ago and she gave birth to Jack in the room which is a converted garden shed. There are parts of the book that are upsetting, but Donoghue manages to maintain a level tone.

I was on the edge of my seat during some parts of this book and the pages just flew by. It is something I recommend reading just for the experience. It has left an impression on me that's for sure.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #12 - One Day

Wow. . . I just finished reading "One Day" by David Nicholls and I am frankly just floored. I have been reading this one for the past few days and really loving it, but the ending, wow.

I don't even know what to say about this book. It is the story of two best friends, Dexter and Emma, Dex and Em, Em and Dex. The book gives us a glimpse into their lives on July 15th of each year from 1988 when they meet on the eve of their college graduation, through to the year 2007. They struggle along as we all do, sometimes handling things better than others. Dexter is reckless and parties too hard at times, Emma is perhaps too straight laced, and lacks momentum in certain areas. But most of us can relate to both of those things, or at least I can.

This book was like a comfy pair of jammie pants, I fell in love with the characters and I couldn't wait to read what happened to them next. Nicholls took the concept of telling a story in the unconventional method of one day per year and really made it work. There is really nothing I can write to do it justice. I am perhaps being hokey but that is where it has left me this evening.

I strongly recommend reading this book if you have not yet already, if only so we can talk about it together.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #11 - Hector and the Search for Happiness

"Hector and the Search for Happiness" by Francois Lelord is a parable about a psychiatrist who becomes disillusioned after seeing many people in his practice who are unhappy for no apparent reason. He then travels around the world searching for the secret to finding happiness.

Not to appear ignorant but I had to google parable. I suppose that this book falls under that category. It read like a bit like a fairy tale or a children's book. Hector seems at times simple, yet Lelord tells us that he is very smart since he is a psychiatrist.

The book was enjoyable enough, cute but a bit pointless. I think that I was expecting more out of it, maybe to become inspired or at least feel more emotion from the stories within the story. Hector just travels from country to country, makes a list of what comprises happiness, then comes to the end of his journey without learning much that most of us wouldn’t already know.

Perhaps that is the point and I am missing it? Perhaps I am jaded and can’t appreciate this book for what it is? I am not sure. Either way it only took me a day to read it, and sometimes that is good enough.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #10 - Into The Wild

After finishing Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer I immediately dug into Into the Wild. I have seen the movie and I was moved by the tragic story of Chris McCandless. The book was quite superior to the movie, as is often the case. Krakauer’s book is thorough, and also fills out the story with tales of similar tales lived out by other ill fated travellers and his own close call in Alaska.

For anyone not familiar with the tale of Chris McCandless, he was a complicated soul, a wanderer with strong ideals and a lust for the outdoors. He decided to head out to Alaska and live off the land, and ultimately perished and his body was discovered by hunters. His life during his time as a vagabond is related from those he encountered, he seldom failed to leave an impression on those he encountered on his travels.

His time in the Alaskan country had to be reconstructed from brief journal entries, mostly discussing his diet. A lot is left to speculation, which only heightens the intrigue of the tale. Who among us has not taken a risk, and so McCandless’ serves as both a cautionary tale and as an insight into the part of our self that would like to just burn all our money and go live in the wilderness. Or is that just me?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #9 - Into Thin Air

I read "Into Thin Air" by Jon Krakauer on the recommendation of a coworker. I had just finished reading "In the Path of an Avalanche" and while I enjoyed it I wasn't really looking forward to reading another another snowy disaster tale. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself engrossed into this book. Krakaurer's style allowed me to easily imagine myself among the climbers on the ill-fated 1996 Everest expedition.

One of my pet peeves with mountaineering tales lies in that they simply relay the drama and difficulty of the ascent and downplay or ignore the challenges that lie in the descent. This book relays both, but the tragedy strikes during the descent and many lives are lost.

Krakauer was sent to Everest as part of a paid expedition team to report on the growing number of companies taking people up the mountain for a profit and the pros and cons of such practices. I never gave much thought to the reality of this, the environmental damage, and the pressure on the owners of these companies to get their clients to the top, even at every one's risk.

Towards the end, the book relays that one group actually admitted that they walked right past a group that was close to death since they didn't want to jeopardize their summit attempt. I can see both sides to that argument, however I would think that being able to tell the tale of saving lives might be better than living with the guilt of letting someone die that you could have helped rescue.

All in all, "Into Thin Air" was an excellent read, that gave me many things to think about after reading. I am already reading another of Krakauer's works and I look forward to reading more in the future.