We started this blog in 2010 after a New Years' Resolution to read 60 books between the two of us. (40 for C, 20 for D.) After reaching our goal, we decided to keep going in 2011. This year, C has pledged to read 30 books, and D will read 12. By no means are we professional reviewers; we're not even professional bloggers. We're just two people who love to read and decided to share our thoughts and offer our limited insights. We hope you enjoy!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Book #5: Let the Great World Spin

Finally! It only took a MONTH AND A HALF, but I finished Let the Great World Spin! What an accomplishment.

First of all, let me point out the cover of this book. The picture above is what the book cover looks like when it's open -- very neat. Note the tightrope walker. If you're one of those people who judges a book by its cover, then you'd love this one.

I cannot say enough about how unbelievably talented Colum McCann is. This book is told from the perspective of several different people from all walks of life. Each chapter has a different narrator. You would swear that a different author wrote each chapter. McCann is able to completely transform his writing style with each character, remaining true to the heart of each one while still creating a lyrical, beautiful story. What struck me the most about this book is how McCann makes you feel each one of the characters so vividly. It's impressive that all of this can come in one book from one author.

The link between these several characters is Philippe Petit, an actual tightrope walker who really did walk a tightrope between the World Trade Centers in 1974. Let the Great World Spin takes this real-life event and uses it to inspire a story that is now hailed by some as the greatest "9/11" book that has been written thus far. The story is set in the days surrounding Petit's tightrope walk, with each of the characters having some connection to the spectacle. (In most of the characters' cases, they actually witnessed the event.) It's really about so much more than that, though. Each of the characters has a story -- an extremely religious Irishman, a ritzy Park Place resident whose son died in Vietnam, a drug-addicted artist, mother-and-daughter prostitutes, a struggling Hispanic nurse... These people are from all walks of life, yet are still connected by a moment in history (and, as it turns out, many other things).

That's why this book is such a wonderful New York City story: people from all walks of life, connected by the city. I get that. I get that this book celebrates the spirit of New York. I get that the tightrope incident happened at the World Trade Centers. I get all that. What I don't necessarily "get" is why this is known as an amazing 9/11 story. Yes, it's about the World Trade Centers, and yes, there's an element that elicits very strong emotions about the incident. I just don't see it as a 9/11 book. I think it should be celebrated for what it is -- a brilliantly executed book about the City. I don't think 9/11 defines New York City. It united it, and it strengthened it, but it doesn't define it. This book speaks volumes about New York City without even mentioning 9/11, actually.

All in all, this book was wonderfully written, and heart-wrenching at times. It's certainly an emotional, poignant piece that is well worth the read. Not entirely sure that it's marketed correctly, but, really, what difference does that make? There were some elements that dragged a bit, and a few loose ends I would have liked to see tied up, although I don't think a sequel would work at all. If you're looking for a good read, pick this up, for sure, but not if you're looking for something breezy and light. This is heavy and deep, but worth it.

Since I had such an issue finding the time to read and finish this, I've decided to go with something a bit different -- When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris. Sedaris' signature style of comedic essays should make it easier to pick up for 5 or 10 minutes at a time, as opposed to a novel that I want to read for an hour or more at a time. Also, I'm taking this opportunity to tell on Derrick, because he finished Pygmy days ago and still hasn't written a review. MAN UP, D!

Read February 14, 2010 to March 28, 2010

3/5 stars


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Just checking in...

Just thought I would check in to inform everyone that I'm not neglecting this blog. It's not that I've read a bunch of books since my last post and haven't reviewed them here. It's that I'm still reading Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann. It's wonderful, but I can't seem to find a spare 10 minutes a day to read. Welcome to full-time student teaching! I'm about halfway through the book, and I'm also halfway through student teaching. I'm going to try to make more of an effort to find time to read, so hopefully things will start picking back up. If not -- Spring Break is just a few weeks away. I plan on putting away a few books in the 5 days of freedom I'll have.


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (3)

A few weeks ago, while scrounging for online deals, I found a really good deal on the 5-disc Collector's Edition of Bladerunner, the classic 80s sci-fi masterpiece remastered and updated by Ridley Scott for Blu-ray. Of course, like any good sci-fi geek who was born in the 80s, I ordered it. I decided that as I waited for the delivery I would pick up a used copy of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, the Philip K. Dick novel upon which the movie is based.

The book is a testament to late 60s early 70s sci-fi in its overarching theme. From the androids that Rick Deckard is tasked to hunt to the electric animals that people keep as status symbols to the machines that alter mood and offer a type of religious experience, the encroachment of technology on humanity is paramount. In fact, the novel seems to hinge on the humanity of the humans/androids Deckard encounters on his search for his own humanity.

For sci-fi lovers, this is a great read, as are many of Philip K. Dick's novels and short stories. For the casual reader, though, this may not be the best choice. Much of the technology could be unbelievable for some and the liberties Dick takes with assumptions of prior knowledge could be troublesome. Personally, though, I loved it.

4/5 Stars