It seems you guys really liked my shorter book reviews so here are five more of them. Now I only have 27 or so reviews to write to get caught up.
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout Where I Got It: Paperback Swap Genre: Fiction, Literary My Rating: 4 stars
A Pulitzer Prize winner, this book feels more like a collection of short stories with a common thread (Olive Kitteridge) than a novel. (In fact, I suppose it is.) I found this format interesting, and I was curious to see how it would all come together. We get to know Olive in a variety of different ways and from different viewpoints. In some stories, Olive plays a central role. In others, she is a tangential player who makes a cameo appearance. I found this a surprisingly effective way to present a character, and I enjoyed this slim book immensely. My only complaint is that I often got so caught up in a particular story (not always Olive-centered) that I wanted more than Strout gave me.
Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs Where I Got It: Bought it from Amazon Genre: Non-Fiction, Humor, Health My Rating: 4 stars
I’m a huge fan of A.J. Jacob’s particular brand of humorous, participative journalism. Whether he is trying to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica (The Know-It-All) or attempting to follow all the rules of the Bible (The Year of Living Biblically), Jacob’s has made a living out of treating his life like a bizarro experiment. In this book, he attempts to live healthier … even if it kills him. As readable and fun as always, the book will give you some food for thought and a few laughs. It was also surprisingly sad at times when Jacobs deals with a few deaths in the family. Although this wasn’t his best effort, it is still worth reading and I’ll continue to follow him wherever he wants to go.
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson Where I Got It: Bought it from Amazon Genre: Non-Fiction, Biography My Rating: 4.5 stars
The irony of this book is that it was purchased by Mr. Jenners (Apple devotee and Steve Jobs fan) and yet he never finished it (pooping out somewhere about 100 pages in). I, on the other hand, didn’t really know all that much about Apple and Jobs (although I enjoy Apple products) yet I found myself fascinated by the Job’s story. I think much of the appeal is that so much of the technology that influences our lives today (iPods, iPads, digital music, computers) were developed, perfected and revolutionized by Apple at Job’s behest. Learning why Apple is the way it is and why it is so wildly successful was really interesting to me, and Jobs himself is a fascinating person (albeit not someone you’d want to live or work with). He certainly left the world a better place than he found it, and I think most of us owe him a “thank you” for his vision and insistence on quality products that work they way they should. It also makes you think about the importance of design in consumer products—not something I ever gave much thought to but now think about quite frequently.
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel Where I Got It: Paperback Swap Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Graphic Memoir My Rating: 4 stars
A graphic memoir, Fun Home is Alison Bechdel’s examination of her relationship with her father, which was complex, confusing and conflicted in many different ways. Her father, who was a closeted gay man who never fully acknowledged his homosexuality, was killed in an accident that Bechdel is convinced was suicide. Her brutally honest look at her childhood, her father’s complex personality, family relations and her own budding lesbianism are explored, and it felt so intimate to me that I almost felt guilty reading it—like I was poking around in someone’s diary. I applaud Bechdel for facing her issues head-on, but I wonder how her family felt about this book. (Turns out, they must be OK because Bechdel has a follow-up book dealing with her mother that recently came out.) The drawings are in black and white and are amazingly detailed. If graphic depictions of gay sex bother you, you should know there are some drawings of gay sex scattered throughout the book. Still, this is an unusual memoir in a unique format and it is worth checking out.
Perfection by Julie Metz Where I Got It: Paperback Swap Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir My Rating: 4 stars
Imagine if your husband dropped dead in his 40s … leaving you widowed with a young daughter. Just that alone would provide fodder for a memoir. But imagine if that dead husband ended up having a secret life that ended up being revealed to you only after his death—a secret life that changes everything you thought was true about your husband and your marriage. That is what happened to Metz, and she writes about her attempts to come to terms with her husband’s death and deceit in this fascinating and compelling memoir that almost makes you look at your spouse and wonder “Are you hiding something from me?” Although I suspect that some people will disagree with some of the ways Metz dealt with things, I just wish her well and admire her grace and strength in what must have been a hellish and confusing time.
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