Sunday, October 12, 2008

Then We Came to an End by Joshua Ferris

It's been a while since I read this book, I fell behind on my book reviews, but here's what I remember...

Do you watch the movie, Office Space, and the TV show, The Office, and laugh hysterically because it's so ridiculous and true? You laugh because you lived it, and you survived, or are surviving it, and you have to laugh to keep from crying?

I spent nine years in an office. I started making plans to leave about seven years in, and around that time, things started to fall apart. Moving in new directions, relocations, etc. It worked out well for me, around the time I was ready to leave, the company was ready to be rid of us, so I waited for the severance package. We all did okay.

It was after I'd been away from the office for a while that I found this book at the library. As is often the case, it was the title that attracted me. I thought it was a tragic love story. But instead it's the story of an office and what happens in an office when a group of people work together every day. It's about the way their unique, individual personalities mesh and collide. In this particular case, it is about what happens in such an office when the economy takes a hit, and downsizing begins - which explains the title.

As I was reading this, I thought, this person must have worked at the same company I worked. I did some research, thinking of all the wanna-be writers at our news distribution service. I was unable to find any connections, and it was then I realized that all offices, for the most part, are very much the same. It doesn't matter if they are distributing news or paper or plastic, in the end, it's all the same.

The story rang so true. I could match the characters with characters from my own experiences in the corporate world. It was funny and it was sad because that's what real life is.

I've recommended this book to all of my former co-workers, though I don't think any of them took me up on the recommendation. It's an enjoyable read, if only for nostalgic purposes. I don't know that I'd find it so humorous if I was still in that situation.

And here's the website that accompanied the book, which I found to be amusing:

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sundays at Tiffanys by James Patterson

A sad little girl has an imaginary friend named Michael. Years later, as an adult -- who is still tormented by her overbearing mother -- Michael returns to her life. They fall in love and live happily ever after.

But no explanation is ever provided as to how this is possible. Why is Michael suddenly real and no longer imaginary? Am I expecting too much to want to know this?

I was drawn to this book because -- well, how can I put this without sounding a little off? -- I'm a big believer in imaginary friends. I exist almost entirely within my head. I gave up on real, human relationships long ago. I couldn't handle the disappointment. I became attached too easily and broken too completely. As a child, I created a group of people to befriend me because I didn't have the social skills to make real friends. As an adult, while I'm sane enough to realize imaginary friends are indeed imaginary and not real, I keep them alive by writing about them. I never give much thought to my real world surrounding, I'm too busy focusing on my fictional people. I tell myself someday I'll put the story together, call it a novel and turn it into my livelihood, but honestly, I think I just keep the characters going because without them, I'd be alone, completely and totally alone.

I can write this because the few people I know who read this already know that I'm, well, how did I describe it earlier? ... a bit off.

Anyway, point being, I had hoped this book would further explore the idea of people depending on imaginary friends. I needed an explanation. I'd assumed that the story would be about someone who met a person who embodied everything she's once yearned for in an imaginary friend. But none of that happened. The imaginary friend had no explanation and he agreed that he was very much imaginary.

Very disappointing book.

The Next Thing on my List by Jill Smolinski

I enjoyed this book quite a bit.

I read about this book while reading a story about people making lists. I'm a big list maker. Books to read this summer, things to do before I turn 30 (that one passed a few years ago), places to visit, languages to learn, you get the idea.

This book is about a woman, June, drifting through her life. She's content enough, but doing only what she needs to do to get by. She meets a woman, Marissa, at a Weight Watchers meeting, they're in a car wreck and the woman dies. Later, a list is found in the car, "things to do before I turn 25" that belonged to the Marissa. June is well past 25, but she's struck by the list and the idea of Marissa having these goals, and not ever having the chance to fulfill them. It's been a few months since I've read the book, but if I recall correctly, while visiting the cemetery she runs into Marissa's brother and in an attempt to strike up a conversation with him and she tells him that she's decided to finish the list for Marissa.

What becomes apparent is that June has never had a list or a set of goals. As I said, she's drifted through life, letting life happen to her. For the first time ever, she's got a purpose and this changes her.

What I thoroughly enjoyed about the book was the manner in which it was written. June seemed like such a real character. In so many ways, unfortunately, I could relate to her -- settling in a boring job, living alone, drifting. I'm around her age, and constantly faced with the same realization that I stopped living my life years ago, just threw in the towel and decided I'd observe from the side. Throughout the book, she name drops bits of pop culture that reminds me that she's one of my contemporaries. Her surprise of Marissa's love for Trent Reznor, without providing a description of Trent Reznor ... women of a certain age and mindset know exactly what was meant, no elaboration needed, those older and younger, well, this book isn't really meant for them, is it?

Near the end of the book, I thought the storyline got a little bizarre. One item on the list was to change someone's life. She takes on a troubled teenager, and then possibly too caught up in the idea of goals and changing the world gets too involved with the teen, almost destroys her own life in her zeal to save this girl. It all works out in the end, but it seems a little too simple and neat.

In the end though, you feel that June has begun living with a purpose, and that's what matters. She'll never go back to drifting again. She's involved and present, no longer a neutral observer. And that's a whole lot more than I've been able to accomplish in my 32 years of life.

Overall though, I enjoyed the book and would readily recommend it to anyone in need of light, yet inspiring, read.

For One More Day by Mitch Alborn

This book was supposed to be a selection for our book club. Not something I would have normally read.

The person who suggested the book really liked it.

Didn't do much for me. As I said later when we discussed the book, it left me underwhelmed.

I read it a few months ago, and now that I'm writing this, I remember very little about the book, it had that kind of non-impact.

The story is all about this guy who is on the verge of ending his life. As he's dying he's thinking of the ways his mother supported him and the ways he didn't support his mother. He was a young boy who wanted love from his dad. He was being raised by his mom though, his dad having left, or his mom having left his dad. (His dad was having an affair, had an entirely other family off in another town, I don't remember now if the mother discovered this and ended the marriage or if the father chose the other family over her.)

The mother had a rough life, being single in a time when being divorced was quite scandalous.

But for the most part, the son didn't behave any differently than any other young boy would behave. He loved baseball; he loved his father. He was too young to understand the sacrifices his mother made. As he got older he should have known better, one stupid moment in particular that stands out was the father dragging his son away from the mother's birthday party to participate in a game for old-timers. The son is a grown man by now and at that point should have had the good sense to tell his dad, "Nope, sorry, I'm busy today."

I guess the idea of the book is that the man's life is in shambles because he didn't love his mother enough. As he lays dying, he revisits his mother and he realizes she loved him unconditionally. This changes his life. He survives and changes his life, because a part of abandoned daughter's life and all is well.

It's all a little too simple and silly for me. The nice thing about the book is that it is quite short, so I didn't feel like I lost much time in reading it, but I didn't think I gained much from it either.

Strapless by Deborah Davis

When I saw John Singer Sargent's Portrait of Madame X for the first time at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, I didn't anything about the painting's history. I just thought the picture was beautiful. The placement at the museum ensures that she's seen from a distance.

After I left the museum, I wanted to know more about this painting.

That's when I learned about the scandal this painting caused. This painting created such an uproar, it ruined Singer Sargent's career for a while.

There are a few books written on the subject. I found this one at the library and enjoyed it quite a bit.

It's a nonfiction book, but written in such a way that it reads as easily as a novel. It tells the story of how Singer Sargent wanted to paint Virginie Gautreau, an American living in Paris. She's described as the "it" girl at the moment. He believed painting her would be advantageous to his career. But everything backfired on both of them.

The picture, because one strap of the dress was depicted as falling off her shoulder, was deemed too scandalous. The pale skin and haughty look on the subject's face were considered offensive. According to the critics, she looked as if she were ready for or had just had sex.

The book reveals quite a bit about the artist, as well as the subject and the effects of the scandal.

I thought the book provided an entertaining way to gather some art history. I'd recommend to anyone who wanted to know more about this painting.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Twilight, New Moon & Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

I realize it's very hip to hate on these books. Write them off as teen trash or whatever.

But I liked them.

They reminded me of a time in my life -- a long, long time ago -- when I still believed it was possible to fall completely and totally in love. A time in my life when I dreamed of a beautiful, handsome boy falling in love with me.

I'm old now, I've never loved anyone and don't expect anyone to ever love me in return, and I'm very okay with that. I've had years to get used to the feeling. But sometimes it's nice to revisit that memory of hope and wondering about what might be.

For all the people who get up in arms about how horrible it is that Bella allows Edward the power in the relationship, isn't first love supposed to be irrational? You don't stop to analyze the long term effects. Not when you're a teenager and ruled by your hormones. You just fall, right? What do I know? But this is how I would imagine it to be.

I really liked Bella. She reminded me of myself in high school. Not caring about fashion or trends, keeping to herself. Of course, I didn't have a beautiful vampire boy fall in love with me :( She's not created to a feminist hero, but she is a character that the not-so-popular girls might be able to relate to. The character represents the idea that you don't have to be dumb and blonde and obsessed with the brand of your shoes to get a boyfriend.

Some of the complaints about the books are so silly. How dare they not have sex! Edward is repressing her desires. Really, that's a bad thing? Edward is trying to be careful and mature by having them wait for sex. Well, damn. That evil bastard. Because you know teen girls don't have enough sex and wouldn't it be awful if they allowed boys to tell them to wait? Whatever.

Then there are the claims that Edward is too protective of her, always watching her. Well, duh, he's worried about her. She's clumsy. He's in love and not completely rational. His actions are hardly dangerous or creepy. We've already established that he's not stalking her to have sex with her. And in the second book, he leaves her because he thinks that is best for her safety. Isn't that sort of the opposite of stalkerish.

I really don't feel there was anything in these books that would have a long lasting negative effect on young girls. If it makes them want to wait to have sex, well, that seems like a good thing. If they are deluded into thinking men are supposed to be considerate, concerned and protective, then maybe they'll not give in to the first teenage loser who expects a blow job. As a teacher, I am supportive of anything that encourages teenagers to wait to have sex, even if it gives them false illusions about relationships. At some point, they'll realize they're not going to meet a gentlemen vampire, and they'll, sadly, they'll move on to normal men.

When I was in high school, I loved classic literature, but I also read all kinds of trashy books -- Danielle Steel and bodice ripper historical romances, Christopher Pike. I didn't turn into a nympho or a drug used. All these people worried about the effect Twilight will have on teenage girls -- just be glad they're reading!

Reading is supposed to be fun. Sometimes it can be profound and meaningful, but it doesn't always have to be. These books were fun and harmless as far as I could tell and I enjoyed reading them.

The fourth book, though, that's a whole different story...

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I read this book back in high school because I love Gatsby and I was haunted by the title. So beautiful. And the story that it told was as beautiful as the title.

I decided to re-read it though because while I could say that I loved the story, the prose -- as expected from Fitzgerald -- paints such a captivating pictures of a tragic love affair and Paris and the French Riveria -- I was fairly certain that I was too young to fully understand what all was happening in the story.

So I read the book again. It was as beautiful and tragic as I remember. A doctor falls in love with a mental patient. He seems to be the only person capable of saving her. But he does too well in caring for her -- at least that would be his assessment. After years of marriage and two children, Nicole becomes well -- as well an anyone else at least. And seeing that she is no longer dependent on him, her husband Dick Diver begins to lose interest. Instead he's drawn to young actress, attracted by her youth and her need. Dick doesn't want to be in love, he doesn't want a healthy partner, he wants someone dependent on him. He wants to be the hero, his lover's salvation. He has no use for a healthy Nicole. Therin lies the tragedy.

The story is about their love affair, their marriage and then subsequent disintegration of their relationship. While that could be a story told a million times, one which happens in at least half of all relationships, it's Fitzgerald's prose that makes this story worth reading. This is the kind of writing that makes you ache and you feel their lives falling apart, watch them begin to go their different directions and realize their love was never love at all.

Finished reading: April 20, 2008 (second time)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman

I'm fairly picky about my mysteries. Only those written by British women, and then only by a handful of authors. But when establishing those sorts of limits, you are well, obviously, significantly limiting your reading options.

At the end of the year, I tend to peruse the best of lists to get an idea as to what I want to add to next year's reading list. This book was mentioned several times, it's a mystery, written by an American woman, and was lauded as a thrilling mystery. And yet, by the time I finished it, I remembered why I prefer the British.

Two young girls go missing at the mall. After an extensive investigation, there are no clues. Thirty years later, a woman is in a car wreck, attempts to flee the scene and when she's caught, she claims to be one of the missing Bethany girls. Thus begins the story...

The story flips back and forth between now and then, including examinations of the effects on the parents and the investigators, intertwined with flashbacks from the mystery woman. I found this to be aggravating because the only mystery is the tease the author is creating for the reader. The actual events cover two or three days and aren't nearly as exciting. A hesitant, spoiled woman with selective memory, a detective who wants to screw anything that moves and a sad divorcee and an angry lawyer are all standing around waiting for the truth.

There are too many characters who have no real impact on the story. While the writing succeeds in keeping the reader guessing, upon learning the truth, it feels like such a wasted effort. It was set up to seem so mysterious and horrible and in the end, it's all quite pathetic. The implied cruelty was not at all what was implied, and was in fact very much a hell of the victim's own making. Harsh, yes, but I felt no sympathy at all for this character.

As I said, the story drags out for quite a while, with teases and hints and blind flashbacks from the mystery woman. Then the whole truth is quickly explained in about ten or so pages, leaving me saying, "What the hell? That's what happened?" Very, very unsatisfying read. So many other books I could have been reading during this time.

My biggest issues with the story -- it's set up to imply that the girls are much younger than they are. As I read it, I kept thinking, two, young, innocent little girls. (I realize their ages must have been mentioned, but still... ) And in the conclusion, the innocent young girls become fiesty, rebellious women. Didn't see that coming, at all. Maybe that's my own fault. But if that was the case, why was it regarded only as a kidnapping, and not a potential runaway situation?

Another problem was that it was not at all believable. The parents are described as being open-minded and progressive. The mother even points out that these weren't the sort of children who would go off with someone claiming to be a cop because their father had taught them to question authority. But if they were such great parents, why would their daughter behave in such a way? It doesn't make sense at all. As horrible as the events are, for the characters to behave in the way they do initially and then continue to behave in such a way for the next thirty years? Their behavior is more like that expected from children who have abusive or cold, distance parents, not the liberal, loving ones described.

I didn't enjoy this book. I liked it even less when I learned later that it was loosely based on a real life case. Meaning the events that did make sense in the story were copied from real life and the assumption as to what happened -- the part that seemed so absurd was the work of the author.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Giving by Bill Clinton

I've always been a Clinton fan. Bill was the president of my idealistic youth. Granted, he broke my heart with the Lewinsky scandal, but I forgave him and moved on.

In the last few years, I've been quite impressed with the way he has stayed involved in the world. He could sit back and relax, his job done, but instead he's still out there, doing whatever he can to make this a better world. He and his wife could retire comfortably right now, but they both believe so strongly in public service, they keep working.

I saw Bill Clinton talking about this book on Oprah and then checked out a copy at the library. It took me a while to getting around to read it, but I needed something safe to read while at school, something that I wouldn't mind stopping and starting and this seemed convenient for that purpose.

This book is specifically about ways people give and contribute to the world through money, time or service. It serves not only to praise though who have given, but also as a way to provide examples to others who want to do the same. A person doesn't have to be rich or brilliant, everyone has something they can contribute.

This book felt a little dull in the beginning, but as I continued reading, I found myself getting excited about the opportunities discussed. It gradually starts to sink in that everyone does have something to give. As I was reading, in the back of my mind, I started thinking of things I can do. I don't have any money -- I'm unemployed at the time, making just enough to pay my bills by doing some substitute teaching. But I can paint, and maybe I could contribute paintings to my favorite causes, let them sell the work and keep the money. Little things like that. Reading it felt empowering.

It's a nice read, with a lot of inspiring stories. The sort of book I think everyone should read, but the people who need it most won't.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Heroin Diaries by Nikki Sixx

Nikki Sixx was one of my first loves. Oh my god, Nikki Sixx. Say his name and even now, I feel a twinge and if you knew how thoroughly frigid I am, you'd know what a feat that is. Hmmm, Nikki, darling Nikki, the ignitor of so many fiery young fantasies.

I was such a repulsively boring good girl during the teenage years, not because I was sincerely good, but rather because I was profoundly bored with what was available to me in the desert wasteland of west Texas. While my empty-headed, desperate female classmates spent their free time necking with dusty, tobacco chewing shit kickers, I sat alone in my room, escaping into a pencil drawing, a thick book, old movie or dreams of Nikki Sixx.

Mind you. I said Nikki was one of my firsts... Jon Bon Jovi was my absolute first and my teenage bedroom reflected my devotion to my first, the walls covered in Jon, Jon, Jon. But Jon is all things good and pure. Part of the adoration of Jon is the fact that he married his high school sweetheart and because I placed him so high up a pedestal, he was elevated to god-like status and well, you get the idea. Nikki, though, he was the opposite of good and pure and the object of a whole different sort of adoration. I hung a huge poster of Nikki Sixx inside my closet door, hidden from the casual eyes, it was from the Dr. Feelgood era, he was wearing a pair of unzipped leather pants, shirtless, exposing his pierced nipples and tattoo-covered chest and arms. His hair was aqua-netted to hell, long and black and sticking out in every direction and he had twisted snarl on his face. Oh, Nikki... I was certain that only a man like Nikki could succeed in melting this ice queen... I'm not so sure I was wrong in that assumption.

But anyway...

Now that I've revealed my past history with Nikki, it only makes sense that I'm going to find a way to get my hands on anything by or about Nikki... even now that I've reluctantly accepted the role of frumpy, spinster school teacher.

The Heroin Diaries looks gorgeous. Fans have been hearing about this book for years, wondering if it would ever be released. It looks as if a lot of time was put into this tome. Each page is illustrated, it includes new art, as well as old photographs, all in a collaged, scrapbook-on-crack sort of way, in an impressive red, black and white color scheme. On looks alone, it stands ahead of most rock biographies.

The premise of the book is that Nikki found some old journals, written during an especially bad year (1987) of his drug addiction, and has decided to make those public to provide a cautionary tale and show the sort of damage and horror that accompanies heroin addiction.

The story is interesting enough, quite disturbing actually, as he details the paranoia and the drug deals, the damage and the depression that accompanies loving drugs more than anything else. Throughout the book, quotes from bystanders in the experience are included, as a way to confirm or at times contradict Nikki's writing. I don't doubt the truth of his stories, though I am suspicious of the accuracy of his writing. He seems too aware of his downward spiral. He knows when he's being paranoid and he knows when he's being excessive. If you were that aware, would you continue down that path? I don't know. That being said, I know that I could glance through some of my old journals and read my own writing in which I elaborated on being lazy and stuck in a dead-end job and paranoid and very aware of my own dire circumstances and doing absolutely nothing to change the situation, content to merely record the misery. So I'm not exactly an authority on this.

However, as a cautionary tale, I don't think the story is successful. It's an interesting read for a fan who is interested in the life of Nikki Sixx. But there is nothing in this story that will warn an impressionable young, potential drug user away from these substances. For the average, sane minded, person, then yes, it's a horrifying picture of what drugs can do. But for the type of person most likely to get involved with this junk... not so much. I say this based on my experience around teenagers. For the most part, they aren't especially wise, and I can see them devouring the book and saying, "oh my god, Nikki's so awesome, he did drugs all night and banged fifteen women, he crashed his motorcycle and walked home. He pulled a gun on his drug dealer and torn down the blinds. He went to Hong Kong and he made an ass of himself on the train, isn't that hilarious? I wanna be just like Nikki."

I hear the kids sitting around whispering and laughing about their own drunken exploits or how someone jumped out of the window on acid or was naked in the front yard, etc. You get the idea. They aren't scared of much and think they can survive anything.

And the reason this really doesn't work as a cautionary tale is because Nikki survived. He hit rock bottom, he stayed away from drugs for a while, but then he went back to them. (At the end of the story, he provides a timeline explaining his ups and downs with his career and drug use following the year described in the book.) These experiences didn't even serve as a cautionary tale for him. Nikki lived this excessive, decadent life, and he lived to tell about it and now he's successful and he has a family and he's still making great music and he's pursuing other career venues. He didn't end up dead or broke or alone or living in a cardboard box on the street. He's doing great, which stands as a testament to his talent and his strength -- something a lot of people don't have. I'm glad he's doing well because, well, I mentioned my adoration for him earlier in this post. But I don't see how his experiences serve as a caution for others tempted to follow that path. If anything, I feel like that decadent lifestyle is glamorized to some extent. Yes, he was battling drugs, but he was still living a life most people only dream about -- drugs, sex and rock and roll.

One issue I had though was the many quotes about how Vince Neil is a jerk. After a while, I was like, "Okay, we get it, no one likes Vince, you made the point." And the repeated mentions of "poor" Mick Mars' illness. They went into this quite a bit in Dirt and I didn't really care then either. Most readers of Heroin Diaries probably read Dirt, so why bring that all up again?

Also, I could have done without the pictures of the naked girls -- including those sort of added to the "glamorous" aspect -- he's trying to describe how bad life was on drugs, but then he's showing pictures of the naked chicks he banged? And what part of that was considered bad?
He talks about ending up with stupid women, but what did he expect, picking up strippers and drug users and women so willing to have sex within minutes of meeting him? Nice, smart girls don't behave that way. He does at one point make a comment about ending up with garbage when you pick through the trash. Still... including those photos sort of detracted from the supposed message he was trying to present.

I recommend this book to all Motley Crue or Nikki Sixx fans, anyone interested in rock bios or the metal music of the late 80s, mid-90s, or the L.A. glam/punk scene of that time period. I enjoyed the read. I picked it up at 3 a.m. one night and didn't put it down until I finished it around 8 a.m. And after reading it, I love Nikki just as much as I ever did, and that's quite a bit...

Monday, January 21, 2008

Rules for Saying Goodbye by Katherine Taylor

I love the title of this book. Every time I walked past it on the "new release" shelf, it caught my eye. But I was always looking for a specific book. Finally I picked it up to find out what it was about. The blurb on the jacket said something along the lines of, "Katherine's in Rome and she's just broken up with her boyfriend and she needs to get her act together."

I had just returned from Rome. After taking a big trip, I like to bask in the memories, spending forever organizing the vacation photos and reading about the places I saw. Seemed like a good reason to check this out.

Well, the blurb is stupid and misleading. This isn't about about a woman in Rome trying to recover from a bad relationship. The event mentioned in the blurb doesn't happened until near the end of the book. The part of the book that takes place in Rome is a very small, and rather minor part of the story. London also plays a role in the story, but most of the action takes place in New York City -- areas of New York that are familiar to me and added to my reasons for liking this book -- despite being misled by the book jacket.

It isn't quite literature, but it is significantly better than the typical, "chick lit" filling the shelves these days. This is more along the lines of Melissa Banks' books. (I loved Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing and Wonder Spot.)

This is the story of Kate and follows her life from attending a boarding school in Massachusetts to going to college in California and then moving into a rent controlled apartment in New York. She's trying to be a writer, but her life is quite comfortable working as a bartender, staying up all night and sleeping during the day. Sometimes she dates, sometimes she falls for guys and at one point she moves to London with a guy who eventually provides the inspiration for the essay titled: Rules for Saying Goodbye. She returns to New York and goes back to bartending and develops something of an email relationship with another European guy. She moves to Rome, she falls in love with the email guy. He proposes, she meets his family and somewhere along the way, she becomes aware of what she wants in her life, or rather what she doesn't want.

What I enjoyed about the book was the way the characters rang true. From her crazy, selfish mother to her strange cousins and unstable classmates, these never felt false. I could recognize my friends and myself in the people she described as she reached adulthood. The life she detailed reminded me of the life I wished I'd lived when I was younger. I know people like her and her acquaintances. These are "my people" -- the writers, artists, musicians, actors, bartenders.

But a glance at some of the harsh reviews on amazon displays that these people are not for everyone. We don't fit into the expected mold, the sort who grow up, see the light and focus our lives on pairing up and reproducing. But it's nice to find a book like this and realize that we do exist.

She wasn't especially ambitious, (sadly, again I can relate) but she did care more about having a career than having a man. She cared about her friends and cared about the people who were important to her. She'd not the typical heroine, in hot pursuit of a man, any man to put a ring on her finger, which some people may find disconcerting.

I liked the book. It's a light read, but a fun read. I loved the characters in the story, after the book was over I wanted to know more. But I got the distinct impression that part of the story was over. She left New York, she moved to L.A., putting that part of her life behind her. Time to grow up or at least start over in a new place. It's a nice book and lately, I've been recommending it to everyone who brings up the subject of books.