Monday, March 28, 2016

The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain by Bill Bryson

This is apparently book #2 to Notes From A Small Island. Which I have not read but mean to read someday. Luckily, you don't need to know the first book to enjoy this one.

I always enjoy Bryson's books and this one was no different. You get entertainment, interesting history, and a lot of information that you can spring on people out of the blue, which, frankly, is my favorite part about Bryson's books.

Before heading back to America, Bryson sets out on a road trip around his beloved adopted country and takes us to some tiny little villages and big cities.  If you like to armchair travel, pick this one up! And, I'm guessing, pick up the first one too!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Reaching Out With No Hands: Reconsidering Yoko Ono by Lisa Carver

My friend lent me this book. I'm not a Yoko Ono fan. I barely even realize Yoko exists, to be quite honest. I'm also not a big Beatles fan - I'm more of a Rolling Stones gal. I think it's ridiculous that people blamed Ono for splitting up the Beatles. If it were that easy to break up a band, then they were destined to break up.

Since she's not on my radar, I thought I'd try this book to see what she is about. I also like Lisa Carver (having read Drugs are Nice quite a while back). In the end, Ono seems unique and unapologetic. I don't think she made it on to my radar.

There were bits of this book that I completely loved, bits I rolled my eyes at Carver and declared her overreaching adoration annoying and bits that made me think about art a little differently. While I have been struggling with issues of people either disliking me or not wanting me involved in something (work-wise, personally I think people are solidly "ok" with me), I took some of the comments to heart. Ono has been, and still is, universally hated. Universally criticized and condemned. But she remains hopeful, positive and keeps creating art. She keeps pushing people to peace, even when it seems ridiculous, like explaining that if she had been Hitler's girlfriend, he would have been a peaceful, nice man. Her art is thought provoking, if people care to think about it. Her squalling and guttural noises may not qualify as music to you but they resonate with some.

All in all, Ono is unabashedly herself, regardless of the situation she is put in. And she'd like for you to be the same. Even if Ono isn't on your radar, this was an interesting read into her life.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

If you can listen to the audio book of this, I highly recommend for it's ability to break your heart. I'm quite sure the printed word will do the same but strive for heartbreak.

Our main narrator is Oskar Schell. A nine-year-old boy who lost his dad in the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center. As with most of the family who lost loved ones that day, there was no body to bury which makes it difficult to accept the loss. Oskar finds a key in his dad's closet about a year or so after they buried an empty coffin. Oskar believes that the key must be very important for his dad to have it and he sets out with the key and the only clue that came with it: Black. His quest is to talk to every Black in NYC in order to find the lock for the key.

We also get narration from Oskar's grandma through letters. She adores Oskar but the more we learn about her back story, the more tragic it is.

Our third narrator is Oskar's grandpa, who left his grandma the day after she said she was pregnant with Thomas, Oskar's dad.

This is a terribly tragic family.

Oskar's quest does wrap up but it's the journey to the end that is so well worth taking. Oskar is an unusual boy but as we walked on, I really grew to love him. The tragedy that seems to plague this family is heartbreaking  and, quite honestly, even in 2016, the attack of 9/11 is still very fresh in memory, so it's even more haunting.

This is a wonderful book, so well worth reading. From reading other reviews, it sounds like reading the book is less preferred because of the difficulty in understanding which narrator is speaking, Try the audio book. With 3 separate readers, it makes it very easy.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King

As much as I love King's epic horror novels, I find myself running more eagerly towards his short stories. He is one of the masters of the short story.

The Bazaar has 20 stories, ranging from "Yup, that was good" to "Holy crap, seriously?". King is very good at bringing in monsters to scare the reader, but he's just as good at showing how humans are pretty good monsters on their own. One of the reasons I always recommend Full Dark, No Stars.

Some of the stories have been published before. I remember that Mile 81 was a Kindle single at one point and had read it then. Others, such as Mister Yummy, Obits and Bad Little Kid, have never been published. King tells you a bit about each story before it starts, a little insight to his inspiration.

Some, such as The Dune, end on a note that leaves everything to your imagination. Some endings, Under the Weather, are predictable but nonetheless disturbing.

All in all, this was a really good collection of little disturbances to cuddle up with on dark nights. Have a bourbon, get your book and leave the lights on.