Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Time Traveler's WifeThe Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

My review

rating: 2 of 5 stars
I had very high expectations for this book. Several people I know read it and loved it, and I love anything that has to do with time travel so this seemed to have all of the elements of a favorite book right there. But it fell flat.

Maybe this is a guy vs girl thing. Chicks think this story is romantic, finding the perfect, eccentric, man who just happens to be a fantastic lover... but he disappears from time-to-time, oh and he can win the Lotto... at will. I don't know, maybe I need to get the female perspective on this book. Maybe I'm missing something.

Things I Liked
  • I liked how the story was told in short, out of sequence segments, it built the characters based on the relationship between the two of them in different times.
  • As a writer, I can appreciate how difficult it had to be to tear this story apart, stitch it back together, and make sure that it fit and had no loose ends.
  • Claire and Henry are likable viewpoint characters.
  • The book is engaging. You want to keep turning pages to find out what happens next, expecting something big... but the problem is, nothing big ever does happen.

Things That Bothered Me

  • There's something kinda creepy about you traveling back in time to visit your future wife at age 6.
  • The author really glossed over some of the more interesting aspects of time travel, like how he can't change something that has already happened. She presents it as he's just powerless to act (sort of like losing your voice or being unable to move in a dream). It is a cop out. I also find it strange how he can time travel to be with himself... isn't there paradox issues to deal with here... I mean I really was trying to suspend disbelief here, but it was a bit hard to believe. In any good sci-fi or fantasy you need to clearly delineate the rules that govern the fantastic power and she didn't do that here.
  • Not a lot of conflict throughout the story. Other than the inconvenience of the time traveling, but the characters mostly all got along with few issues between them.
  • Why is Henry a librarian? He doesn't have to work a day in his life, yet he works there.
  • Why does Claire's family accept Henry so easily considering the age difference, the class difference, and the just plain weirdness that surrounds him?
  • Why does Henry change his hard-driving, womanizing lifestyle so easily after meeting Claire? It seems as if he would not change overnight, and that could have created some much needed conflict for the novel.
  • It ended too abruptly. The loose ends between Claire and Gomez, Henry's last letter to Claire... did she heed his advice? I can't tell.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Muse Reviews: The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit

The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick) The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit by Seth Godin

My review

rating: 2 of 5 stars
Seth Godin is a marketing demi-god. And he knows a thing or two about everything else as well. He is one of those rare individuals who deserves the title of visionary. His blog at is a must read if you are in the workplace as an owner, manager or cubicle grunt.

And he knows what’s best for this ADD brain of mine. Keep it short (a mere 96 small pages with big print) and keep it focused. The core idea the entire book centers around one dilemma that each of us has faced in our lives at one time or another: Do you quit? Or do you gut it out, hoping that things get better? And how do you know when to make this decision. This book focuses on one key principle: the dip AKA that “long slog between starting and mastery.” You know what this is… the difference between the guy who is the resident golf pro at a country club and a member of the PGA tour, or the writer who has finished a manuscript and has gotten it rejected, but with a personal note to try again, and the agented, published writer.

The dip creates scarcity. That is that it weeds out the people who aren’t that serious about what they want, and creates the demand for the skills and products for those that make it through the dip to the other side. Godin insists that you need to be able to determine what is a dip and what is a dead-end, and to make sure that you don’t waste energy on the dead-ends. Sticking with something because “winners never quit” is a stupid strategy, because it is inherently untrue. We all are quitters in some way.

Godin has some interesting ideas (as always) but I’m not sure I’m in 100% agreement with him here. I understand the need to strive for excellence. But, if I can’t be number 1 or 2 in a market, it is time to get out?!? Not sure about that one. If I play Football Tycoon on Facebook, should my goal be for the Poo-Flinging Sock Monkeys to get trophies for being #1 or #2 in several categories? What if you take a job (or are in a dead-end job) that simply meets the needs of your family for now, even if it is not going to inspire you or catapult you to the top of the organization? I think there is some value in “settling” in the short term and acknowledging that there are different definitions of success.

It is a good book that makes you think about how you spend your energy and how to decide when to cut your losses and run.

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