2 out of 5 stars.
I received an ARC of this work.
I do have an interest in biographical works about young children so I decided to give this one a try. I have heard both good and bad things about the toddler years, and since one of my close friends just had a baby, I am also interested in seeing what the next couple of years have in store.
Most of my disappointment comes from the lack of content in this book. It is short, the chapters are just snippets, and none of the stories are very long or go into a lot of detail. This reads a lot more like an outline of a book than a finished book.
The idea behind this work is that there are a number of chapters, each with an amusing theme, like getting toddlers to eat or toilet training. The author complains or talks in general terms about the more universal experience, tells some anecdote from her life and then at the end of each chapter there are very small snippets from other mothers around the same theme. Very occasionally two professionals also add some more scientific explanation of some phenomena.
They (author and editor) just tried to pack in too many themes. The anecdotes are so short that I did not get a good glimpse of the day to day raising of a toddler. The ending pieces by other mothers added absolutely nothing of substance because they were only a couple of sentences. I very much enjoyed the input of the professionals, but they were only called upon a couple of times.
This was just too short and over too quickly for me to get anything out of this. There are some biographies/ comedies that I could recommend, but this would not be one of them.
2 out of 5 stars.
I did not finish this, just to be completely honest. I loved the premise and was really interested in how much difference a free course in the classical humanities could make. I read about half of the book and I still have no idea. Earl Shorris may have had a brilliant idea about reducing poverty through free college-level courses but the man has absolutely no sense of narrative.
The chapters consist of brief biographies of everyone included in that leg of the project and a timeline of that stage. There are no charming anecdotes or anything resembling stories. It is very boring personal details about the people and dates. It is a simple timeline peppered with unnecessary facts that has been stretched out into a book. Everyone but Shorris is not sketched out in enough detail to seem real and there is not enough narrative flow to bind everything together. It is sooo dry. The thesis of the book is ill defined and not supported. As much as I was really pumped for this book, I could not drag myself through it.
I was provided with an ARC of this work.
4 out of 5 stars.
First, just as a warning, I don’t usually enjoy reading non-fiction. I have had 2 decades worth of schooling that had too many textbooks and too few novels to make a habit of reading non-fiction in my spare time. That being said, this is a very good intro to non-fiction for fiction readers because it is a blend of the two. For every chapter of facts, there is a chapter of fun. A narrative about wizards travelling to earth to deal with interfering elves is worked alongside a thesis about the importance of narrative to the human condition. It is an unusually complex thesis for something that is meant to be read by laypeople, but it is well done. It draws on evidence from a variety of fields: physical sciences to social sciences to the arts and humanities. There are quite a few concepts thrown at the reader, like the philosophical concept of qualia (which the spell correct on my machine is refusing to even acknowledge), but the comic interludes of Pratchett’s wizards being hilarious ensures that there is time to deliberate on them before the next chapter’s deluge. I would recommend this to any fiction reader who is hoping to softly tread into the world of non-fiction without fully committing themselves, as well as to anyone who likes topics that draw from a wild variety of sources and are blended together well.