75 Books In 2015: February, Part I

Here is what I read and listened to in February. Let’s do this!

17737025My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind by Scott Stossel (2014)

I listened to this one. Overall, I enjoyed it. I found it to be a little long, but thought the mixing of personal stories with the history of anxiety to be quite successful. As an anxiety-sufferer myself, I could relate to a lot and was fascinated by some of the long-suffering historical figures.

From Amazon.com: A riveting, revelatory, and moving account of the author’s struggles with anxiety, and of the history of efforts by scientists, philosophers, and writers to understand the condition. As recently as thirty-five years ago, anxiety did not exist as a diagnostic category. Today, it is the most common form of officially classified mental illness. Scott Stossel gracefully guides us across the terrain of an affliction that is pervasive yet too often misunderstood. Drawing on his own long-standing battle with anxiety, Stossel presents an astonishing history, at once intimate and authoritative, of the efforts to understand the condition from medical, cultural, philosophical, and experiential perspectives.

Musicophilia_front_coverMusicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks (2007)

I didn’t finish this one and won’t be counting it to my 75, but wanted to review it here anyway (I am counting the pages I read to my total). I am a huge Oliver Sacks fan. This book never really stood out as one I would enjoy however – and, in the end, I was right. After renewing it once, I admitted that I would never get past 1/2 way done and gave up. It was interesting, for sure, but seemed a bit repetitive since I wasn’t enthralled by each of the separate chapters. Unless this seems really appealing, I wouldn’t dive into it as you first Oliver Sacks experience. I’d probably suggest Hallucinations first, if you haven’t read any of his before.

From Amazon.com: Music can move us to the heights or depths of emotion. It can persuade us to buy something, or remind us of our first date. It can lift us out of depression when nothing else can. It can get us dancing to its beat. But the power of music goes much, much further. Indeed, music occupies more areas of our brain than language does—humans are a musical species. Oliver Sacks’s compassionate, compelling tales of people struggling to adapt to different neurological conditions have fundamentally changed the way we think of our own brains, and of the human experience. In Musicophilia, he examines the powers of music through the individual experiences of patients, musicians, and everyday people—from a man who is struck by lightning and suddenly inspired to become a pianist at the age of forty-two, to an entire group of children with Williams syndrome, who are hypermusical from birth; from people with “amusia,” to whom a symphony sounds like the clattering of pots and pans, to a man whose memory spans only seven seconds—for everything but music. . . . Music is irresistible, haunting, and unforgettable, and in Musicophilia, Oliver Sacks tells us why.

asylumAsylum by Patrick McGrath (1997)

I think I liked the idea of this book more than I actually enjoyed reading it. That being said, it wasn’t bad. Sometimes predictable, sometimes not – I’m firmly in the middle on this one.

From Amazon.com: Patrick McGrath has created his most psychologically penetrating vision to date: a nightmare world rocked to its foundations by a passion of such force and intensity that it shatters the lives–and minds–of all who are touched by it. Stella Raphael, a woman of great beauty and formidable intelligence, is married to Max, a staid and unimaginative forensic psychiatrist. Max has taken a job in a huge top-security mental hospital in rural England, and Stella, far from London society, finds herself restless and bored. Into her lonely existence comes Edgar Stark, a brilliant sculptor confined to the hospital after killing his wife in a psychotic rage. He comes to Stella’s garden to rebuild an old Victorian conservatory there, and Stella cannot ignore her overwhelming physical attraction to this desperate man. Their explosive affair pits them against Stella’s husband, her child, and the entire institution. When the crisis comes to a head, Stella makes a decision–one that will destroy several lives and precipitate an appalling tragedy that could only be fueled by illicit sexual love.

lo-resHollow City by Ransom Riggs (2014)

I read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children when it first came out in 2011 and enjoyed it enough. I wasn’t a can’t-put-it-down type of situation and I wasn’t thrilled with the ending, but I liked it enough to suggest it to my daughter. I probably wouldn’t have picked up Hollow City if I hadn’t received it through Early Reviewers, although I was pleased to read the sequel when I did.

One big problem – it had been too long since I read the first book; I didn’t remember who the children were, what their powers were, or how they related to each other. For the first couple of chapters, I was trying to rebuild those relationships in my mind while the plot was moving right along. I seemed to remember more by chapter five though – at least enough that I no longer felt lost.

What can I say at this book? I think I didn’t enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed knowing the story. Does that make sense? I kept turning page after page because I wanted to know, not necessarily because I couldn’t put it down. I’m a little disappointed that it ended on another cliffhanger.

From Amazon.com: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was the surprise best seller of 2011—an unprecedented mix of YA fantasy and vintage photography that enthralled readers and critics alike. Publishers Weekly called it “an enjoyable, eccentric read, distinguished by well-developed characters, a believable Welsh setting, and some very creepy monsters.” This second novel begins in 1940, immediately after the first book ended. Having escaped Miss Peregrine’s island by the skin of their teeth, Jacob and his new friends must journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. Along the way, they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and other unexpected surprises.


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