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Nonfiction

Book Review: If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating

If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating
Author: 
Alda, Alan
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

***THIS BOOK WAS RECEIVED FROM A GOODREADS GIVEAWAY***

While miscommunication might be the source of conflict for romantic comedies, it’s a much more significant problem in the real world. If people aren’t able to efficiently and accurately communicate with their fellow man, then we all have room for improvement. Scientists and doctors are often the worst offenders, even though their ideas need to be communicated to the world for the advancement of society. Alan Alda has spent years trying to figure out why people are unable to communicate, and he has also figured out what we can do to improve this situation. As a scientist and writer, I feel many of his insights have merit.

I grew up watching Alan Alda on Scientific American Frontiers, so I know how often he has interacted with scientists. His conclusions that we can all become better communicators through empathy and understanding of our audience makes sense. I dabbled in improvisational theatre a little in college as I was studying to earn my Masters in Mechanical Engineering. Having first-hand experience of successfully improvising, I always touted its benefits for technical professions. Now I know why. When we synchronize with others, our message has a much better chance of being communicated.

As if to prove his point, this book is not necessarily a scientific account of the research, but merely a personal (and relatable) set of anecdotal stories that should open people’s eyes to the potential communicators trapped within each of us. We all have to communicate on some level, whether it’s orally or written, so if we can all improve our communication skills by learning to empathize with others, maybe society could one day be able to hold civil and vigorous debates without instantly devolving into mud-slinging contests.

A must-read for anyone who communicates (i.e., everyone), I give If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? 5.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin

Book Review: I Am Malala

I am Malala
Author: 
Yousafzai, Malala
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

"I Am Malala" was a pretty great book, and is now one of my personal favorites. It did not take me long to read and is good for anyone ages 12+.
This book does contain some sensitive contents and might not be great for younger kids, unless the parents are okay with harsh and sad topics in the Middle East. The book does not contain a whole lot of content on what goes on in that area of the world, and it mostly focuses on Malala and her story.
Malala is a young teen from the Swat Valley in Pakistan. She was raised peacefully, but the Taliban soon started to take over the area. The Taliban started like a little seed, but grew into a giant weed that basically controlled everything. They eventually made it so girls were not allowed to go to school, and women were not aloud out of their house unless they are accompanied by a male relative. Malala would not put up with this, for she has a desire to learn and know answers to her questions. She is the daughter of the principal of her school, and grew up admiring the students that attended. After surviving a bullet to the head, months in the hospital, and a move to England, Malala becomes activist and stands up for girl's rights and her belief that everyone has the right to go to school. I liked this book because Malala is a great role model and author. She really provides a strong figure for any girl growing up in this hectic world. This is definitely one of the best books I have read and I am sure I will read it again in times to come. Any girl (or boy) can relate to Malala because she described herself as being an ordinary girl that wanted to see change in the world. She shows that anyone can adjust their view on the world if they just use their voice to speak out. I absolutely suggest this book to someone if they are looking for a fairly quick read!
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: 
Ella S.

Book Review: The Innocent Man

The Innocent Man
Author: 
Grisham, John
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

A harrowing story of murder, deception, lies, and the struggle of a broken man to gain his life back, The Innocent Man is an incredible novel.
It's exemplary qualities are highlighted because everything in the book happens to be true. The story follows the tale of Ron Williamson, a baseball prodigy who, after his life begins to fall apart after he loses a career with the Yankees, is wrongly accused of a murder. It then describes his experiences in prison and the things he had to do to prove his innocence.
John Grisham's attention to detail and research is impeccable and top-notch, and the book is riveting for it. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes nonfiction novels, or anyone who likes murder mysteries.

Reviewer's Name: 
Peter C

Book Review: Holidays on Ice

Holidays on Ice
Author: 
Sedaris, David
Rating: 
1 star = Yuck!
Review: 

I listened to this book, most of which was read in a nasally, whiny voice. The initial stories about working as an elf at Christmas-time had tears of laughter pouring out of my eyes, Unfortunately, the book rapidly went downhill. This satire started out funny, but it kept going too long as if the author didn't know when to end the story. There were also some disturbing images that added absolutely nothing. The stories were sarcastic, but the bitterness in them really turned me off. Can't recommend it.

Reviewer's Name: 
Robin

Book Review: Into the Wild

Into the Wild
Author: 
Krakauer, John
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

I was required to read Into the Wild for English class and normally I’d be procrastinating to get into those books but I enjoyed this one a lot. In 1990, based on real life events, a wealthy boy named Christopher McCandless, fresh out of college from the East Coast, abruptly decided to donate all of his money to charity, sever contact with his parents, and set out for the great Alaskan wilderness. He journeyed all over the West Coast traveling around California, New Mexico, and Arizona and even held a job at a farm in South Dakota, eventually renaming himself Alexander Supertramp. Alexander picked up new skills and information such as how to skin a moose, different camps he might stay at, what weapons he needed, etc. from all of the individuals he met. For years, he remained in the continental United States but his goal was always to live off the earth in Alaska - he thought there was more to life than the money and fame his parents treasured. What I enjoyed most about this book was that there were actual accounts of Alexander’s journey either from his personal journal or the friends he encountered that allowed the readers to sympathize with Alexander and understand his goal despite his unfortunate fate. The problem with the novel was that I think Alexander was portrayed to be more conscientious and experienced than he truly was due to the fact the author, Jon Krakauer, outright states he idolizes him in the foreword. This concept can also be emphasized by the epigraphs at the beginning of each chapter that provide quotes from famous adventure novels including The Call of the Wild and White Fang as if trying to ensure that Alexander was the hero Krakauer thought he was. However, I did find Krakauer’s bias easier to support the claim that Alexander was naive. Why else would the author be trying so hard to prove he was not? Slow-paced at some parts, but I do think this is an interesting telling of what so many individuals are afraid to do.

Reviewer's Name: 
Isabella W.

Book Review: Oedipus Rex

Oedipus Rex
Author: 
Sophocles
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The hero isn’t always epic and won’t always have a happy ending, sometimes he may face a tragic event and meet his downfall. Sophocles Athenian tragedy Oedipus Rex, or Oedipus the King, is a phenomenal play written and first performed around 430 B.C. The play follows the story of Oedipus, a man who became the King of the city Thebes by solving a riddle and defeating a sphinx that was threatening the city and then marrying the queen of Thebes, Jocasta. One day, when Thebes is suffering from a catastrophic plague, Oedipus sends his brother-in-law Creon to an oracle to find out how to stop the plague. Creon returns telling Oedipus that the plague will cease if the killer of the previous king, Laius, is found and exiled. Little does Oedipus know, he is Laius’s killer. Before Oedipus was born, a prophecy was told to Jocasta that her son would kill his father and marry his mother, and so she sent her son out to be killed in the mountains. That boy was Oedipus, and as the prophecy stated, he has returned to Thebes unknowingly to fulfill that prophecy. I love this Greek play by Sophocles because it is one of the first pieces of literature that tells the story of the “tragic hero” and his downfall. I recommend this play to all, but more advanced readers as the translation is also a bit complex.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Joe T.

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