Customer Reviews for

House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East

Average Rating 3.5
( 10 )
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(5)

4 Star

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

I'm with you "Why" --- shorter reviews please. We rea

I'm with you "Why" --- shorter reviews please. We really don't care to "hear" whether you are a literary giant or an illiterate. Three sentences in he review will suffice. If you feel the compulsion to write more than maybe you should take a few &...
I'm with you "Why" --- shorter reviews please. We really don't care to "hear" whether you are a literary giant or an illiterate. Three sentences in he review will suffice. If you feel the compulsion to write more than maybe you should take a few "writing classes." Great book. Entertaining and educational at the same time.

Anicus

posted by Anicus on November 7, 2012

Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review

Most Helpful Critical Review

6 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

Every review of this book I read called it "an instant clas

Every review of this book I read called it "an instant classic". I'm sorry -- I didn't find the 'classic' in these pages. I am interested generally in discovering the history of old homes and in particular, in the work of bringing back the former glory of o...
Every review of this book I read called it "an instant classic". I'm sorry -- I didn't find the 'classic' in these pages. I am interested generally in discovering the history of old homes and in particular, in the work of bringing back the former glory of old buildings. I can even lay claim to some curiosity in trying to find your own heritage and identity in the restoration of an old familial property. I also hoped that if nothing else, I might find a greater understanding of the culture of Lebanon in Shadid's admittedly often lyrical writing. However, this book was uneven in the extreme and just about impossible to follow in terms of a time line as Shadid bounces from the beginning of his family's exodus from Lebanon, back and forth from their homes around the world (but primarily in the US), to his own travels and work throughout the Middle East. Without any seeming connection, he weaves stories of his ancestors and of the town and its characters where his ancestral home is located with tales of the foibles of renovation with snipets of his personal history with bits and pieces of global events that take place in the Middle East during the year he spends working on the stone house. Some of the personalities he encounters are of interest but he never quite develops them, nor is it ever really possible to figure out who is who or Shadid's feelings about most of them. Nor does his narration ever really provide any insight into the basic culture of Lebanon. Unless you are conversant in the entire political development of this part of the Middle East, most of what Shadid has to say about events seems dropped from the sky for no particular purpose. For instance, he mentions the ordering of the USS Cole to the area but never mentions its relevance to anything.

I guess what upset me the most about this book is that there was the possibility of so much information to offer to readers not well-versed about any of the topics touched upon, but in the end, you don't know anything more than you did when you started except perhaps the names of some restaurants that may or may not still exist in Beirut. And superficial as it may seem, I feel this story of the endless renovation of this home would have been greatly enriched by some photographs. Shadid rhapsodizes about the tile he restores to the house but the reader is left with no idea of what is so remarkable about said tile. Nor does the reader ever have much of a picture of the garden that drifts in and out of Shadid's story. For a Pulitzer-winning writer, I felt Shadid's narrative would have been much more impressive -- not to mention enjoyable and informative -- if it hadn't been so terribly jumbled in its telling. There are some moments where his love for his heritage and the house in particular shine through but mostly this book is just a collection of thoughts and impressions jotted down in no particular order with no cohesive thought for the story he seems to be trying to tell......

posted by bookiecookie on April 9, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2012

    WHY ?

    Do some people know the difference between a book review and book report??? Who wants to hear yourh endless rantings on and on of the whole book? Why buy a book when you have already told it all? We can read you know and a couple of sentences will do just fine. PLEASE just knock it off!

    6 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 9, 2012

    Every review of this book I read called it "an instant clas

    Every review of this book I read called it "an instant classic". I'm sorry -- I didn't find the 'classic' in these pages. I am interested generally in discovering the history of old homes and in particular, in the work of bringing back the former glory of old buildings. I can even lay claim to some curiosity in trying to find your own heritage and identity in the restoration of an old familial property. I also hoped that if nothing else, I might find a greater understanding of the culture of Lebanon in Shadid's admittedly often lyrical writing. However, this book was uneven in the extreme and just about impossible to follow in terms of a time line as Shadid bounces from the beginning of his family's exodus from Lebanon, back and forth from their homes around the world (but primarily in the US), to his own travels and work throughout the Middle East. Without any seeming connection, he weaves stories of his ancestors and of the town and its characters where his ancestral home is located with tales of the foibles of renovation with snipets of his personal history with bits and pieces of global events that take place in the Middle East during the year he spends working on the stone house. Some of the personalities he encounters are of interest but he never quite develops them, nor is it ever really possible to figure out who is who or Shadid's feelings about most of them. Nor does his narration ever really provide any insight into the basic culture of Lebanon. Unless you are conversant in the entire political development of this part of the Middle East, most of what Shadid has to say about events seems dropped from the sky for no particular purpose. For instance, he mentions the ordering of the USS Cole to the area but never mentions its relevance to anything.

    I guess what upset me the most about this book is that there was the possibility of so much information to offer to readers not well-versed about any of the topics touched upon, but in the end, you don't know anything more than you did when you started except perhaps the names of some restaurants that may or may not still exist in Beirut. And superficial as it may seem, I feel this story of the endless renovation of this home would have been greatly enriched by some photographs. Shadid rhapsodizes about the tile he restores to the house but the reader is left with no idea of what is so remarkable about said tile. Nor does the reader ever have much of a picture of the garden that drifts in and out of Shadid's story. For a Pulitzer-winning writer, I felt Shadid's narrative would have been much more impressive -- not to mention enjoyable and informative -- if it hadn't been so terribly jumbled in its telling. There are some moments where his love for his heritage and the house in particular shine through but mostly this book is just a collection of thoughts and impressions jotted down in no particular order with no cohesive thought for the story he seems to be trying to tell......

    6 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 7, 2012

    I'm with you "Why" --- shorter reviews please. We rea

    I'm with you "Why" --- shorter reviews please. We really don't care to "hear" whether you are a literary giant or an illiterate. Three sentences in he review will suffice. If you feel the compulsion to write more than maybe you should take a few "writing classes." Great book. Entertaining and educational at the same time.

    Anicus

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2012

    highly recommended

    Thoughtful and informative narrative.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2012

    Highly Recommend

    Wonderful story and provides excellent insight into the difficulties in the Middle East.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2013

    Shelby

    *runs in my awesome room and jumps on bed with nickleback blastin out of my stereo*CUZ WE ALL JUST WANNA B BIG ROCK STARS!!!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2012

    Hum

    Ygbhvhttffffhnkmoojojoopkpkponjbjvgxdxdxdzezeexrxrrctcggvyfyfyfgvgvhhbubububuhhuhihihihhuhugygftttgvhbjbbjubfhgjjjhggcggccccvvvhvhvvgfcgggccccxxxzrxrxrxxerexdccfvhghgubhhhhhhhbibujjhijiijmoommmpkpmomomomomomooijhihubhvhvvuyybhbvvyyyuihuugyvvyvvbuuhuuhyvgtffvvyvyybububuuuuuuguhuuhuguugbuububguguguguguguguguguhbubgcgcttctt. Translation: whats this book about

    0 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 29, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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