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review 2018-06-13 09:29
At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails
At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails - Sarah Bakewell,Antonia Beamish
At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails - Sarah Bakewell

The upside to the 90 minutes I spent in a traffic jam with a top speed of 7km/h this afternoon is that I was able to finish this most excellent book.


At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails is a comprehensive look at the overall existentialist movement and its major players from the 1920's through the 1950's and 60's.  Part biographical, part exploration of the different facets of phenomenology and existentialism as advocated by Sartre, de Beauvoir, Aron, Camus, Heidegger, Husserl et. al, the book and narrative both are outstanding.


I am at best a dabbler in philosophy, and considering how easy it is to tie one's brain into knots musing over the philosophical aspects of life, Bakewell had her work cut out for her making such dense material comprehensible - and she did.  Most of the time when I got bogged down trying to follow, it was when she was relating concepts that are widely acknowledged to be amongst the most labyrinthine.  


My takeaways after finishing this is that I am, by and large, an existentialist (though I'm interested in learning more about Epicurean philosophy), but there were many areas where I diverge, especially if we're talking about Heidegger's existentialism.  That man ... I swear he just made stuff up just to see how inaccessible he could get and still be considered a genius.  Also, Bakewell makes a pretty convincing argument that he was a nazi.  I also was left with a distaste for Sartre in spite of his profound early-career work, although I give him credit for living a "good faith" life until the very end.  The existentialist whose work I most connected with was Husserl; he felt the most rational and accessible, and his life the one that seemed the most authentic.


I listened to this on audio, as narrated by Antonia Beamish and I cannot say enough good things about her narration.  She read this like she wrote it, understood it and lived it, with a voice I just wanted to listen to no matter what she was reading.  Imagine the best, most engaging, professor you've ever had the pleasure of listening to and learning from, and you'll have a good idea of what this book, and this narration, holds in store for you.


Needless to say, I'll be chewing on this book and its contents for a very long time to come.

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text 2018-06-12 01:34
Reading progress update: I've read 42%.
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson,Richard Armitage
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text 2018-06-10 23:14
Reading progress update: I've read 20%.
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson,Richard Armitage

Richard Armitage should read all the things. All of them.

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review 2018-06-02 18:11
(Audiobook) Classic Love Poems
FREE: Classic Love Poems - William Shakespeare,Edgar Allan Poe,Elizabeth Barrett Browning,Richard Armitage

Richard Armitage reading classic poetry. I mean, how can you go wrong, right?


The only thing that kept it from a 5-star rating was it wasn't long enough to suit me.

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review 2018-05-01 01:21
Wyrd Sisters (Discworld Witches, #2)
Wyrd Sisters - Terry Pratchett,Celia Imrie
Wyrd Sisters - Terry Pratchett

I've been listening to the audio for the past month, as narrated by Celia Imrie, but either my copy, or the production as a whole was so horribly done - 90% of the thing sounds like it was recorded from underneath a feather pillow - that towards the end I finally cracked and last night picked up my hardcover edition and finished it off.


That's not to say Celia Imrie did a bad job - she didn't, she was excellent (although her Nanny Ogg voice was too shaky and sometimes made her difficult to understand).  If you're tempted to listen to this book on audio, and you see this particular edition, listen to a sample first and make sure you're edition is not muffled under a pillow.


As for the story - taken at face value, it was ok.  But you can't take any Pratchett at face value, and the veiled subtext upgraded it, for me, to good (with bonus points for the mugging scene).  I love Granny Weatherwax, and Nanny Ogg.  I wasn't quite getting the appeal of Greebo, until the scene with the Fool - that moment where he looks down at the Fool from atop of his head was sublime, (and Celia did it perfectly).  As for the Fool himself, I think I liked him more for having heard him narrated, than I would have had I read him from the start; Celia infused an intelligence in him I'm not sure I'd have given him, given the repetitious nature of his speech.


I think I failed to receive the characters of the Lord and Lady Felmut the way the author intended them.  If satirically humorous is what he was aiming for, I definitely failed.  These two just came across bitter, twisted and creepy - I should say Lord Felmut did; Lady Felmut just seemed to me a straight caricature.  And since I'm complaining (not really) I'll add that while I loved the element of The Land, I wish Pratchett had not been quite so vague about it and it's connection to the throne.  I understood it well enough but would have enjoyed it more with a tiny pinch more detail.  And I understood the dynamic at the end, between the two brothers, until Granny, Nanny and Magrat got through with me.  And how old is Magrat supposed to be anyway?


Overall, even though it doesn't sound like it, I did enjoy the story - it's Pratchett after all, and even his weak books are better than a lot of best efforts.  I'm going to try Witches Abroad on audio too, because even though this edition's sound quality sucked, I think I get more enjoyment out of the stories when they're read by someone who obviously understands Pratchett's writing.  But I'm definitely checking out the samples first.

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