Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Guest post: Endgame

Endgame: Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall - from America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of MadnessEndgame: Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall - from America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness

Today I have a guest post from my wonderful husband.  I am very lucky because I have a husband who loves books as much as I do, so he understands my obsession.  He recently read this book and could not stop talking about it.  

Like probably a lot of people, I’d heard of Bobby Fisher but knew almost nothing about him other than the fact that he was a great chess player and disappeared after going somewhat insane. That’s the attitude with which I approached this book when Amanda asked me to look at it. What I found was a very interesting story which shows the rise and fall of a complex  character. The first half of the book does a great job of giving a sense of the fast rise of Bobby to prominence as a chess player. The tone of the book conveys well the astonishment  of a young chess player from an odd background becoming one of the greatest players of all time. But the book describes very well all the hard work that Bobby Fisher had to invest in the game to achieve that. We see how he had to shut out everything to get to were he got. The reader also gets a glimpse at the oddness of cold war politics in the US and Russia. How the paranoia of communism would get the FBI to investigate a young kid playing chess. This and other revelation were made possible by documents the author had access too such as the FBI file about Fisher’s familly.

In the second half we get to follow Fisher’s descent and the book does a great job of describing the puzzlement of Fisher’s entourage as to his increasingly disturbing behavior. We learn of Fisher’s interest in extreme religion and how he became increasingly racist towards Jews and the pure illogical thinking that he used to justify it. While the first half might make you like the odd but sympathetic young Fisher, the second half will leave you with a completely different view of the man. The book also includes a lot about the people Bobby encountered over his life and those who stood by him even when he was becoming more and more hated around the world for the hate speeches that he made public. After reading the book, I think most will understand that most of those things were not coming from a sane.

In all I really enjoyed the book. The books tagline “Remarkable Risee and fall-- from America’s Brightest Prodigy to edge of madness” is very apt. The book was well done, and the fact that the author personally knew Bobby Fisher most of his life really shows in the book. The image of Bobby Fisher that I got from reading the book was one that was neither negative or positive but of puzzlement and understanding in a way and also of respect for his incredible dedication to learning something. That’s what I found the most interesting about him, we get the image of the little boy genius who just know everything somewhat innately but that’s probably never true and this book dispels that myth about Fisher. This book was well written and very complete. I have to say after reading the book I started to become really interested in chess but frankly I know I’ll never be able to put the time and effort it took Bobby Fisher to achieve his incredible level of skill.

I recommend the book to anyone not just people who like chess. I personally had not played chess in years before I got this book. It’s a great story about a complex character. We get to see the fun exhilarating moments of Bobby Fisher’s life and the darkest one also. Pick up the book when it comes out. 4.5 stars. 

***I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish resolutions

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
This week's question:  Top Ten Bookish Resolutions.

1. Read the books I have owned for more than a month before more recently acquired books.  I am going to try to make myself read 2 or 3 older books before I can read a newer book.
2. Use the library more.  I am used to not having a decent library around, so I haven't used a library in quite a while.  Kind of ironic, since I am going to library school.  The library where I am volunteering on weekends has a good selection of new books I want to read.
3.  Review most of the books I read and within a few days of finishing. I am not going to say all because I will never keep that resolution.
4. Read at least 100 books this year.  Last year I read 200, but I had a lot of free time that I will not have this year.
5.  Read books I own that are larger.  I have a habit of not reading the "big" books I have, simply because of their length.
6. Try not to buy so many books.  I am going to try to keep track of how many I buy and how much I spend.
7. It's okay to not finish a book.  If I am just not enjoying a book, I give myself permission to stop reading it.  There are too many good books to read ones that I am not enjoying.
8. Cut down my Google Reader.  I have so many blogs on there that it takes me forever to get through them all.  If I don't really like a blog, I am going to delete them.
9.  Comment on more blogs.  I read a lot of blogs, but I rarely comment on them.  I want to make more connections with other bloggers.
10.  Try to cultivate relationships with publishers. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

Giveaways around the blogosphere

Saturday Morning is giving away a bunch of stuff.
From the Trees is giving away an Amazon gift card. is having a 2 year blogoversary giveaway.
The Saved Quarter is having a huge blogoversary giveaway.
The Book Kritic is giving away an Amazon gift card.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New rating system

I have decided that I am going to start using a rating system in my reviews.  I feel that this would help me better portray my feelings about the books.  I got the thing about prices from another blog, but I'm not sure which one.  If it is yours, I promise I am not trying to steal it, and feel free to take credit! 

Here is my new rating system:

5-  Amazing book.  I would pay full price for this book.  It is going in my permanent collection and I will probably re-read it.
4- Great book.  I would buy with a coupon.  I would give it away to my blogger friends or readers.
3- Good book.  I would buy from the bargain shelf. 
2- Meh.  It held my attention enough to not put it down, but probably not enough to fully enjoy it.  I would borrow it from the library.
1- Bad.  I most likely did not get through it.  It's not worth buying or the drive to the library. 

Review: You Don't Look Like Anyone I Know

You Don't Look Like Anyone I Know
Title: You Don't Look Like Anyone I Know
Author: Heather Sellers
My rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis from Amazon:

Her mother was a paranoid schizophrenic who nailed shut the windows of her Florida home, draped sheets over the television, and believed she was the target of government agents. Her father was a gin-swigging cross-dresser who took swings at her with a cast-iron skillet. No wonder then that Sellers feared she herself might be crazy when she realized that she was unable to reliably recognize the faces of friends, colleagues, even family members when she saw them on the street. Eventually diagnosed with the rare neurological disorder prosopagnosia, otherwise known as face blindness, Sellers was relieved to learn she wasn’t mentally ill, yet struggled to find a way to cope with her disorder. With buoyant honesty and vibrant charm, Sellers paints a spirited portrait of a dysfunctional family and a woman who nearly loses herself in her attempts to deny their abnormalities.

My review:
I was really interested in this book right away when I read the description.  I love stories about crazy families.  The parts that interested me the most were when the author was talking about her prosopagnosia, or face blindness.  The book was really well written.  I really liked how the author was brutally honest about everything in her life, especially her unwillingness to believe that her mother was crazy and her fear that she would turn out crazy like her mother.  This book has been compared a lot to The Glass Castle and I think that is an accurate comparison.  The author is a very strong and inspiring woman, even more so for putting her whole life out there for the world to read.

***Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher.  The thoughts reflected in this post are entirely my own.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010 wrap up

I had a very successful year, reading wise.  At the beginning of the year, I set my goal at 100 books.  Since I had a lot of free time this summer, I met my goal in June.  I then raised my goal to 200 books.

Books read: 203
Pages read: 67,853
Average book length: 334.3

Here are my best books of the year, in no particular order.  I couldn't narrow it down to less than 15.

The Lost City of Z- David Grann 
The Help- Kathryn Stockett
Never Let Me Go-  Kazuo Ishiguro
A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle series)- Libba Bray
Pillars of the Earth- Ken Follett
Year of the Flood- Margaret Atwood
Let the Right One In- John Ajvide Lindqvist 
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt- Beth Hoffman
Those Who Save Us- Jenna Blum
Sarah's Key- Tatiana de Rosnay
Alias Grace- Margaret Atwood
The Book of Lost Things- John Connolly
Room- Emma Donohue
Hidden Wives- Claire Avery
The Passage- Justin Cronin