Sunday, January 18, 2009

Book Reviews

Leigh asked what my thoughts were on the books I just posted, so I thought I would post a (hopefully) brief blog in answer to her request. Here goes:

When You Are Engulfed In Flames by David Sedaris - I've never read a Sedaris book I didn't enjoy. This particular book had quite a few stomach-turning moments, more so than he usually includes, and seemed to always occur just after I'd started a snack while eating. My favorite part of the book is the last, large section about David's journey to Japan in order to quit smoking. If you're a smoker, you can totally relate to everything he says and it will have you laughing out loud. This was the first book I read after finals were over, because god knows I needed some humor at that point. 

Love and Will by Rollo May - This book was like a cross between existential psychology and philosophy of morality. It was up and down for me. There are brilliant insights, but they are separated by pages and pages of dry material. Just about the time when you start to think, "Okay, I think I've had enough of this" you come across a paragraph that warrants highlighting and later quoting, so you keep trucking on. I will probably never read it again straight through, but this is a keeper for my bookshelf so I can refer to the passages I marked and notes I made. 

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld - I LOVE this author. Her novel Prep is one of my all-time favorites. Her writing style reminds me of Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar, which I also love. This book is based around the idea of what it would be like to be married to George W. Bush, only with all the names changed. She did a lot of research into the lives of first ladies Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton. Only the last part of the book deals with life in the White House, the rest of it is a narrative of the life of her fictional first lady from childhood on through middle age. The book essentially ends with the question, "What do you do, what can you say, when your husband makes huge mistakes and you have no authority to change anything because you weren't the one who was elected?" It's very profound when one considers how identities become entwined through marriage. How much of your husband's mistakes are you culpable for?

Social Intelligence by Daniel Goleman - The first few chapters of this book seemed really promising and had me hooked. But it was downhill from there. Introducing the field of social neuroscience, Goleman described a number of studies that argue for the social nature of the brain. This book is great for the general public, but not for those who are in the trenches of social psychological research. 

Lipstick Jungle by Candace Bushnell - I am the biggest Sex & The City fan that there ever was, but I have never read any of Bushnell's books. I love Lipstick Jungle on NBC but they're cancelling it after just two seasons. When I found this out I decided to dust this book off as it had been sitting on my bookcase for a year or so without having been read. I am less than halfway through it at this point, but I'm diggin' it because the characters are largely the same as they are on the show but the plotlines are different enough to justify the read. I think it's gonna be pretty good.

If anyone is looking for some good reading material, I can make recommendations all day long. For some light chick-lit type reading, I love Jennifer Weiner (especially Little Earthquakes) and Emily Giffin (especially Something Blue). If you aren't offended by crude language and near NC-17 material, I highly recommend Augusten Burroughs (especially Dry if you're into addiction stories). For my romantic types I recommend Nicholas Sparks (especially The Rescue, True Believer, and The Wedding). 

But in general, if you tell me the kinda mood you're in, I can usually recommend a good read. 

1 comment:

leigh said...

cool! thanks for posting up the reviews. i enjoyed reading them- and your reactions to books also tell a bit about you :)

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