Review: The Fall of the House Usher

Fall of House of Usher
Fall of House of Usher

The Fall of the House Usher by Edgar Allan Poe is a short story, 36 pages, that even though I have not read the Tell Tale Heart I have to believe is super similar.  The story starts when the main character is invited to cheer up a childhood friend.  The main character visits the house Usher and a verbose amount of description starts about the house and how spooky and depressing it is.  Turns out his friend is all bummed because his sister is wasting away.

The sister dies after a long illness that the doctors can’t figure out.  They bury her under the main characters bedroom.  Weird right?  Of course she isn’t dead and comes after her brother.  She falls on him and I guess both are dead the main character who is telling us the story runs from the house scared out of his wits.

This story for me demonstrated how a whole great story can be told in only 36 pages.  Writing short stories can be hard, but Poe nails this one!

The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Writings Book Cover The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Writings
Edgar Allan Poe
Horror tales, American
BookSurge Classics
February 2, 2004

Dive into this classic from the singular mind of Edgar Allan Poe, who is widely regarded as the master of short horror fiction. "The Fall of the House of Usher" recounts the terrible events that befall the last remaining members of the once-illustrious Usher clan before it is -- quite literally -- rent asunder. With amazing economy, Poe plunges the reader into a state of deliciously agonizing suspense. It's a must-read for fans of the golden era of horror writing.

Review: Unreasonable Men

I was lucky enough to have Unreasonable Men: Theodore Roosevelt and the Republican Rebels Who Created Progressive Politics sent to me for free from St. Martin’s Press as part of The History Book Club, of which I am a member.  The opinions expressed below are my own.

Mike and Ben
Mike and Ben

Michael Wolraich moves you ten detailed and fascinating chapters, through the progressive politics of Theodore Roosevelt’s era.  In the story you will get to know the players like “Fighting Bob” La Follette and Teddy himself as well as a larger cast of personalities.  This well researched history takes you through a time in American politics that has been largely forgotten.

I found the book riveting and the story fun and education as my understanding of this period and the players was limited.

If you are interested in this topic I encourage you to browse through the discussion forms at History Book Club and read all the great information that club moderators put together as well as many comments from the author himself!

Unreasonable Men: Theodore Roosevelt and the Republican Rebels Who Created Progressive Politics Book Cover Unreasonable Men: Theodore Roosevelt and the Republican Rebels Who Created Progressive Politics
Michael Wolraich
Non-Fiction, History, Biography
St. Martin's Press
July 22nd 2014

At the turn of the twentieth century, the Republican Party stood at the brink of an internal civil war. After a devastating financial crisis, furious voters sent a new breed of politician to Washington. These young Republican firebrands, led by "Fighting Bob" La Follette of Wisconsin, vowed to overthrow the party leaders and purge Wall Street's corrupting influence from Washington. Their opponents called them "radicals," and "fanatics." They called themselves Progressives.

President Theodore Roosevelt disapproved of La Follette's confrontational methods. Fearful of splitting the party, he compromised with the conservative House Speaker, "Uncle Joe" Cannon, to pass modest reforms. But as La Follette's crusade gathered momentum, the country polarized, and the middle ground melted away. Three years after the end of his presidency, Roosevelt embraced La Follette's militant tactics and went to war against the Republican establishment, bringing him face to face with his handpicked successor, William Taft. Their epic battle shattered the Republican Party and permanently realigned the electorate, dividing the country into two camps: Progressive and Conservative.

Unreasonable Men takes us into the heart of the epic power struggle that created the progressive movement and defined modern American politics. Recounting the fateful clash between the pragmatic Roosevelt and the radical La Follette, Wolraich's riveting narrative reveals how a few Republican insurgents broke the conservative chokehold on Congress and initiated the greatest period of political change in America's history.

Book Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

KonMari-ing my books
KonMari-ing my books by Kars Alfrink

I gave The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo to my wife for Mother’s Day.  It was meant to be a slight joke.  My wife falls into the third category that Kondo points out in her book:

Marie Kondo
Marie Kondo

the “can’t-throw-it-away” type, the “can’t-put-it-back” type, and the “first-two-combined” type.

When I gave this to my wife on mother’s day my mother-in-law was also over at our home celebrating.  When my wife opened the gift she rolled her eyes, but my mother-in-law shrieked.  She said she had had this book on hold at the library for months, waiting to read it.

Since my mother-in-law has such a reaction we made sure she had a copy.  As she read it (she reads faster than my wife) we discussed it and the book interested me.  It’s a short read.  While 224 pages long the text is large.  So, I decided to read it as well.  So, now we have three copies in the family.

As I read the book though, I found it read surprisingly fast and smooth.  I also found lots of tid-bits to use.  Kondo states, that you should clean house in a particular order:

The best sequence is this” clothes first, then books, papers, komono (miscellany), and lastly mementos

I agree with this list as the easiest things to drop are listed first.  However, books would come after papers and komono for me.

As this all these self-help type books there are things you will take away from them and others that you will prefer to leave.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up Book Cover The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Marie Kondo
House & Home
October 14, 2014

Presents a guide to cleaning and organizing a living space, discussing best methods for decluttering and the impact that an organized home can have on mood and physical and mental health.