Skip to content

July & August Reading

August 30, 2011

The Master and the Margarita

Even with the numerous footnotes explaining a lot of the phrases & people mentioned, the book was over my head,  While it was certainly entertaining at times, I did not love it -it was just too crazy of a plot and I struggled to get into it.  As I mentioned, I was trying to read some Russian literature in prep for my trip, and this one popped as one of the most popular novels.  Wikipedia says: “Many criticsconsider the book to be one of the greatest novels of the 20th century, and one of the foremost Soviet satires, directed against a suffocatingly bureaucratic social order.”  Hmmm… If I were you, I’d trust those critics and ignore my negative review!

Neither Here Nor There:  Travels in Europe

I loved this book!  It was hilarious.  I eventually tired of Bills attitude, but not until almost  the last chapter of the book.  Each chapter focuses on a particular city or country, and they are basically self-contianed little chapters, so this was a convient way to break up some of the heavier reading I was doing.  My favorite chapter was Lichtenstein – I burst out laughing several times.  Please read this, and let’s talk about it together, ok?

A Patchwork Planet

I picked this up as another light read – I’ve read Ann Tyler in the past and know I can breeze through her books and I usually like the characters.  This book was enjoyable and qick, but not outstanding.  I didn’t so much like the two main characters but I did like the more minor characters – senior citizens, mostly.

Crime and Punishment

After The Master and the Margarita, I was nervous to try another Russian novel – but this was surprisingly readable for such an old book.  I mean, I know it is a classic and people love it, but I still was surprised I enjoyed it so much!

Shanghai Girls

I loved this one too.  It starts with two  “modern” young girls living a comfortable life in Shanghai,  follows them as their life falls apart, then describes their journey to build a new one almost from scratch.  It was a really facinating glimpse into the world of these sisters, both as young Shanghai girls then as new immigrants in Los Angeles, all the way through their first 18 years here.  I really enjoyed watching the relationship between the two sisters develop over the years, as well as the dynamic of the entire family.

Winning

This isn’t my usual type of book, but I read it in hopes of understand a little bit about something my company has been talking about the past year or so – differentiation.  This is method of management where you rate all your employees as a 1, 2 or 3 and you force them to fit into a distribution (top 20%, middle 70%, bottom 10%).  Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, makes a decent case for it, but I think it only works when the management has frank conversations and sets clear expectations.  I’m still waiting for that.  On the other hand, I know that I’d be fighting and motivated to get in/stay in the top 20%, so I do see the pull.    I read most of it in an evening (skimming some sections I may or may not come back to).  I do think I learned a lot about what my company management might be thinking, and also that they are doing a bad job of explaining what they are thinking!  At least my manager was nice enough to mention the book so I could find out the information on my own!

That’s it for the past two months – but I just picked up The Help and am dying to get started!

Advertisements
9 Comments leave one →
  1. August 30, 2011 9:16 am

    A couple of years ago, Andrew Lloyd Webber (of Phantom of the Opera fame) wrote a musical version of The Master and Margarita. I never saw the show or heard any of the music, but it closed pretty quickly. Perhaps the story doesn’t resonate now?

    Also, I also thought Crime and Punishment was surprisingly readable (although it helped that I was reading it in a class where the teacher loved it, which probably helped too).

    • August 30, 2011 6:11 pm

      Maybe it resonates if you are more familiar with the nuances of russian history.

      For crime and punishment, I suppose having a good translation helps?

  2. Serendipity permalink
    August 30, 2011 11:08 am

    I loved The Help but I didn’t like the author’s attitude towards the story in her authors notes. She felt a bit closed minded to me.

    • August 30, 2011 6:12 pm

      So often I end up hating the authors in their little notes or interviews in the back! I should just skip it!

  3. August 30, 2011 4:23 pm

    Did you know that there’s a new book out by Lisa See that’s a sequel to Shanghai Girls? Follows Joy after she goes to China with her mother following. Can’t wait to pick it up!

  4. August 30, 2011 6:21 pm

    Never read any of them. I do have Jack Welch’s book and will hopefully get to read it in the coming days. I may have to check out Bill Bryson’s book. It looks interesting. I will let you know what I think!

    Martilyo

  5. August 31, 2011 10:50 am

    I love all of Bill Bryson’s books! He’s hilarious.

  6. September 1, 2011 3:59 am

    I read that BIll Bryson book not too long after I came by from my own 3 month backpacking Europe adventure… and laughed out loud through at least half the book! Everything he writes is SO true!!! And yes, all his books are great!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: