Just Kids

April 11, 2013

Last night I finished Patti Smith’s Just Kids and as I was reading the last thirty pages or so it started to rain and then turned into a full-on thunderstorm. And that was just so incredibly appropriate I can’t even begin to express it.

Some books just leave an indelible mark and make you feel as though you’ve been looking at the world in the wrong way or not embracing life’s full potential or something.

Having just finished it I feel kind of drained, but not in a bad way — if that makes sense?

And I feel like I need to read this again (but the library wants its book back, so clearly I need to just buy my own copy).

I feel like this book just resonates truth of human experience and maybe that isn’t actually a coherent thought, but I’m going to run with it anyway.

Just Kids is Patti Smith’s memoir, but it’s so much more than that. In her acknowledgements, Smith writes “Before Robert died, I promised him that I would one day write our story.” She has done that and so much more. Just Kids is an ode to youth and poetry and friendship and love and so much more.

I could probably gush for a really long time about this book.

I don’t know if I’ll feel the same way about it if my feelings are given time to mellow. I suppose we shall see.

Have you read this Just Kids? Did you have a similar experience? Did you have a completely opposite experience? Have you had similar reading experiences with other books?

I recently read Fat Girl, Fairy Boy by Carol McConkie. In the interest of full disclosure I received a free e-pub copy of this book for review. It was officially released this past week via book-hub.com.

The blurb for Fat Girl, Fairy Boy immediately drew me in. The struggles of these two characters and how they find themselves and understand each other in the perfect way was something I hadn’t really seen before.

For that reason the first part of the book was a bit more aligned with my interests and expectations. The entire part in Central America was incredibly confusing for me. I don’t believe that was in the original description and it therefore caught me way off guard. Let’s just say that the book takes a drastic turn for which I was not fully prepared. I was invested in the characters and therefore invested in the outcome, but felt like it was kind of a bizarre direction. I got back into in the last third or so of the book.

There was significant character development in this book, it just happened differently from what I expected. I would have liked to see more of Frei and Robin’s journeys and earlier days together.

Even so, I think this was an amazing portrayal of human fortitude and strength and how people can find salvation in purpose in the wake of difficulty.

This book was a bit unusual for me in that I had to actually stop and evaluate whether I really enjoyed reading it. It was certainly engaging, and I did feel like it came to a mostly triumphant end.

Fat Girl, Fairy Boy isn’t for the faint of heart, but if you like strong storytelling, I say give it a shot. You can find out more about it at http://www.book-hub.com.

Quiet — Review

April 5, 2013

Continuing with my streak of non-fiction, I recently finished Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. It was somewhat enlightening and yet at times almost annoying.

I think I just had different expectations of this book. And while I can’t seem to define exactly what those expectations were, I was thrown off when they weren’t met.

One thing that I find really interesting that I learned from Quiet is that there are a number of different ways to define or otherwise identify introversion depending on the branch of personality studies and the parameters being used.

I just felt like it didn’t quite have the right balance between science and anecdote. Also, it didn’t totally deliver on the subtitle — the author discusses the prevalence of extroversion in the States and maybe even Western Europe and of introversion in Asia, but it didn’t go much farther than that. It also read a bit self-help-y at times, which I probably should have anticipated, but oh well.

Still, I really did like it and I found it to be insightful in many ways. It’s worth a read for introverts and extroverts alike (and everyone who falls somewhere in the middle).

Born to Run

April 5, 2013

I read Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen recently and I think I might just need to read it once a year to remind myself that the human body is actually capable of truly ridiculous things. Ludicrous even.

I can’t remember if I mentioned this, but I’m currently training for a half-marathon, which is both exciting and terrifying because it is now less than a month away and I still don’t feel ready and my ankle has been twinge-y since earlier this week and this is really not a good time to get injured. (I know that was a ridiculous run-on sentence. You should read that as if it was shrill, panicky, and said all in one breath because that’s how I imagined it).

This book was so inspiring and confusing at the same time. I think I want to try barefoot running (once I’m done with the half. I’m not messing with my training right now) and see how that works out for me.

Born to Run is great because it tells this story about these ultrarunners and superathletes, but it’s simultaneously about how anyone can be a runner. It’s fantastic and I definitely recommend it if you’re into running or thinking about getting into running. It’s also super interesting and sometimes really funny, so I recommend it even if you have no interest in running whatsoever.

I recently read another running book, but this one was much shorter. It’s Marathon Mouse by Amy Dixon, and it’s a children’s book that I ran across at work and decided I needed to have in my life. It’s about a mouse whose family lives under the Brooklyn Bridge. He decides to run the New York City marathon even though everyone says that mice don’t run. But he does it anyway! It’s adorable and inspirational and I love it. I think I’ll read it the morning before I run my half and that way I can tell myself “hey, a mouse ran the New York Marathon, I can run this half!” That’s a good plan, right?

I started Ready Player One right after I finished Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, and as opposite as they would seem to be, they were actually kind of similar in bizarre ways. And of course one obvious way: the central story in each follows an epic search for something.

In Ready Player One gamers all over the globe devote their lives to hunting for an easter egg hidden in the Oasis — the future interactive version of the internet created by one of the best video game developers of all time. Halliday, multi-billionaire and Oasis inventor, hid the easter egg just before his death and laid down the stakes: whoever finds it gets everything.

Just as in Penumbra, I loved seeing how clues started to reveal new information in Ready Player One.

I am not well-acquainted with video games and therefore didn’t get about 98% of the references in this book and yet I was still captivated. I can only imagine how awesome Ready Player One is for people who get more of the references.

So yeah, I liked it. A lot. I found the story really engaging, but I kind of wish we could have seen things from other characters’ points of view. I feel like this is a problem I have a lot— I always want to know more about other characters.