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Victor Villas

Joined 9 months, 2 weeks ago

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Victor Villas's books

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2024 Reading Goal

20% complete! Victor Villas has read 5 of 24 books.

Madeleine Thien: Do not say we have nothing (2016) 4 stars

"In a single year, my father left us twice. The first time, to end his …

Struggles and Sorrows

5 stars

It is a heavy read, following multiple generations of hardship and turmoil. There's a charm to the characters being connected through music, specifically classical music, but the music is also crucial to the plot development considering how the cultural revolution would redefine "the art of the people".

The storytelling is strong, so strong that I sometimes had to pause mid chapter to take a breath and introspect on my own life and my extended family. The author really is a master of historical fiction and the craft of this intricate novel is a marvel. I sometimes felt a bit too shaken around with the frequent jumps in the narrative timeline, but each section had its own life and I eventually learned to enjoy the dance.

Natalie Hodges: Uncommon Measure (2022, Bellevue Literary Press) 4 stars


Uncommonly Moving

4 stars

The rare case of a memoir that really works, interesting on its own without having to throw around famous people and world changing events. The author used the memoir to guide the reader through many topics: the immigrant experience; motherhood and male abortion; generational trauma; stereotypes surrounding East Asian children; musicology and competitiveness; and, of course, how all these intersect with the realm of classical music in particular.

Another merit, the book is frugal with the neuroscience and quantum physics references, citing just enough to breach the appropriate level of interdisciplinary thinking without deviating into pseudoscientific discourse. The synopsis raised a red flag putting those keywords so upfront, but I'm happy I gave it a chance. Personally, the most interesting bits were mostly subjective accounts on how music changes and is changed by the perception of time.

Brianna Wiest: 101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think (Hardcover, 2018, Thought Catalog Books) 2 stars

> "101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think, the global bestseller and social …

Enumerating Platitudes

1 star

This book is so bad it almost becomes good. It's a collection that rehashes the most popular modern takes you can find browsing the average TED talk playlist. There's no consistency, no overarching theme. The title is truthful, it's one big chain of essays rewording Oprah, Brené Brown, Ryan Holiday at best; Deepak Chopra snake oil psychology at worst. Well, truthful if conceding that these are in fact essays, because a few will read like Buzzed text filler before a quiz on what is your "love language". McMindfulness, endless enumerations, jumping to conclusions, silly wordplay. The whole self help bingo is game.

The book was useful in a way. As I powered through each chapter I would stop to ponder: how would an editor fix this essay? Is it salvageable? This advice is simplistic and weak, but in what very specific situations could it possibly be true? I can immediately …