Monthly Archives: November 2007

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

tttw_uk.jpgVintage (Random Hse Group), 518 pages

I know I’m pretty late. This has been in all bookstore’s bestsellers section for more than a year now i think.  Got my copy early this year at Kinokuniya in Singapore, but only got to read it now.

And this is what a week without work can do to me. I finished reading this book in just 3 days. It wasn’t really hard to finish– a work as grand as this. Pretty hard to put down and you won’t even feel that over 500 pages have gone by.

Henry deTamble, witty and charming as he is, suffers from a very rare genetic disorder known as “Chrono Displacement”.  Just like regular epileptic seizures, he gets attacks which make him disappear, and go either forward or backward in time. In short, he involuntarily time travels.

In one of his time travels, when he is 36 years old, he sees his future wife–who was then a 6 year old girl, Clare. Their real age difference is 8 years, and since that first meeting, Henry periodically appears and disappears from Clare’s life.  Clare has known to wait for him regularly, and when she is 22, and Henry is 30, they marry each other.

They try to live a relationship and life as ‘normal’ as they could. And though the situation sounds quite tragic, they deal with it in a good natured manner–astonishing and horrifying friends, co-workers and families.

Most of all, Henry and Clare prove that true love is eternal–time is nothing.

This book is mostly romance, rich in feelings, literary and poetic citations.  Even though the situation is unrealistic, the characters’ feelings (the story is told alternately by Henry and Clare) make it so believably moving.

The story unfolds in a reader-friendly way (not as confusing as i initially thought. what with all that age difference and time traveling)–yet i often found my simple one track mind stopping to mentally calculate and estimate time sequencing. It’s a pretty good workout 🙂

Just one gripe–I know the author wanted to portray how truly and deeply in love Henry and Clare are to each other–but must they always be that sex-hungry? Especially  when she was 8/9 months pregnant (after 6 miscarriages!) and to risk the pregnancy because of their libido was abit illogical.

This one of a kind love story has a movie adaptation on it’s way. Eric Bana plays Henry, and the fabulous Rachel McAdams brings Clare to life. I can’t wait to see the movie. I love Rachel McAdam’s versatile acting. Clare’s character reminds me abit of McAdam’s Alice Calhoun (from The Notebook), so I’m sure she will do a convincing Clare Abshire.

The Time Traveler’s Wife is Audrey Niffenegger’s first novel.

 Eric Bana plays Henry deTamble

 

 Rachel McAdams as Clare Abshire

 

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FREAKONOMICS by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

freakonomics.gif284 pages. Penguin Books Ltd.

Full title: Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. This book was also published with a different cover (a more ‘formal’ one at that). The copy I got was this more commercialized one.

Very catchy back synopsis got me:

‘What do estate agents and the Ku Klux Klan have in common? Why do drug dealers still live with their mothers? How can your name affect how well you do in life?’

The answer to all this is Freakonomics: it’s at the heart of everything we do and the things that affect us daily, from sex to crime, parenting to politics, fat to cheating, fear to traffic jams. And it’s all about using information about the world around us to get to the heart of what’s really happening under the surface of everyday life.

Reading through this book brought me back to uni days, listening to that wonderful professor who just about knows EVERYTHING in life.

It wasn’t, as I initially thought, an Alvin Toffler Future Shock type. It does not predict or forsee anything (except the probable top 20 names in 2015?) but it gives reasonable (though NOT only) explanation to the featured questions, apart from many others.

In Levitt’s view, economics is a science with excellent tools for gaining answers but a serious shortage of questions. His particular gift is the ability to ask such questions. For instance: if drug dealers make so much money, why do they still live with their mothers? Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? What really caused crime rates to plunge during the past decade? Do real estate agents have their clients’ best interests at heart? Why do black parents give their children names that may hurt their career prospects? Do schoolteachers cheat to meet high-stakes testing standards? Is sumo wrestling corrupt?

–New York Times Magazine, August 2003

The answers to few of these, we already know with just a simple yes or no.

I found particularly interesting the controversial theory that the rise of abortion rate is linked to the decrease in crime rate. The simple (but probably un-thought of) theory goes like this: the women most likely to seen an abortion are poor, single, black, or teenage mothers–were the very women whose children, if born, have been shown most likely to become criminals. But since those children weren’t born, crime began to decrease during the years they would have entered their criminal prime. This was based on the marked decrease in crime rate in the US in the 1990’s–linked back to the legalization of abortion in many states in the 1970’s.

Most of the information in the book are based on statistics (there are over 20 pages of footnotes) and the last 1/4th pages of the book are articles about the book and author, and snippets from the Freakonomics blog.

There are a lot more controversial and unusual theories in this book and although I can’t say that reading this book will make you feel smarter, it definitely made me feel more well-informed.

freakonomics-cover.jpg

the other book cover release

the authors