Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Belated Reviews: The Alchemist and Seriously... I'm Kidding

I haven't posted in 3 million years (give or take). I have been meaning to. I have about four blog entries that I've started but haven't found the time/motivation to complete them, mostly because I've developed this kind of fear of not posting perfect blogs (perfect in the sense of grammar and spelling, etc.). Not sure why, really, since I don't think my audience has grown or shrunk significantly. Maybe I have lost some readers, which is fair since I apparently don't post anymore.

Anyway, we are into the season of Lent and I have given up watching YouTube videos and watching TV in an effort to spend more time on school, reading, and with people. I have hardly finished any books I've started in the past two months, and I needed that to change. So today I have for you two book reviews of books I have finished in the past week. Yay!

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

I picked up this book when one of my favourite YouTube beauty vloggers, Fleur de Force, posted a video about her favourite books. She's not the most voracious reader, nor does she read anything beyond the "Bestsellers" aisles of Chapters. She mentioned Paulo Coehlo, though, and said that he was most well-known for The Alchemist, which rang a vaguely familiar bell somewhere deep in my memory. I headed to the library to pick it up, in the hopes of finding a page-turner.

The Alchemist is a young adult novel that tells the story of a young Spanish man who has left the seminary school to become a shepherd. His dream is to see the world, and he has been pleased with his year of travelling around his country. However, as he is on his way to meet a young lady in a nearby town, he meets a mysterious man who knows a great deal about him. The man reveals himself to be a King, and says that the boy must follow his heart, which has been telling him to go to the pyramids, in order to find his Personal Legend. The boy, skeptical at first but quickly convinced, begins a journey of faith, perseverence, and personal discovery across the Sahara desert.

This book is incredible. The plot and writing are so simple, and yet I was profoundly moved. It's very much a story about understanding your heart and the Soul of the World, and that we are connected with everyone and everything around us. It speaks of the power that we can have when we allow ourselves to listen to our hearts, our souls, and what the world - nature, wind, the sun - is saying to us. It's heavy on the spirituality without being specific to a particular religion. It's really quite beautiful and I felt so hopeful when I closed the book, that we hold much more power than we let ourselves believe.

Seriously...I'm Kidding by Ellen Degeneres

I like Ellen. I like her standup. I think her show is entertaining, and I think she does a lot of good for people. But this book is absolutely awful.

Wait. It's not awful. It's 135% disappointing.

I've read her other two books and I laughed out loud. I thought they were clever and interesting and everything that a comedy book should be. Seriously...I'm Kidding feels like an insult to Ellen, to her readers, and to the genre. 

The book is a collection of essays, but none of the chapters say anything worth while. Firstly, it is by and large a re-hash of her stand-up DVD "Here and Now," but what works on stage doesn't work in written form. Second, there is absolutely no narrative. There is no coherence. None of the chapters have a reason for being written. It's just a series of jokes that might work on stage but on paper it looks like a drunk person trying to make you laugh, but really just relishing their own words and laughing at themselves. 

I think this book might work as an audio book. (There is a chapter dedicated to just noises, for example, which is a complete waste of paper). But do no pay money for the paper copy. To me, it's clear that Ellen's publicist thought that writing a new book would look great next to Portia's successful Unbearable Lightness. This is clearly a publicity stunt and not a well thought-out piece of literature. Wholly disappointing and irredeemable. 

Jillz

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