Sunday, January 29, 2017

Catching up on Non-Fiction: November 2016-January 2017

Faith Salie. Approval Junkie: Adventures in Caring Too Much. New York: Crown, 2016. 256 pages. ISBN 9780553419931.

Faith Salie was the emcee at one of the special events that I attended during the 2016 BookExpo America convention. She was one of the best emcees that I've seen there; she had read all of the books and had funny things to say about and to each of the other presenters. Her book is both humorous and heartfelt.

Adam Grant. Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World. New York: Viking, 2016. 322 pages. ISBN 9780399564192.

I really liked Adam Grant's Give and Take, which I reviewed here, but this book wasn't as interesting for me. It could be that I read it too soon after reading Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers (reviewed here), since they address some of the same themes. Nevertheless, it was entertaining and a quick read.

Lawrence Wright. Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief. New York: Vintage Books, 2013. 538 pages. ISBN 9780307745309.

This is a fascinating but frightening book about the history and development of Scientology as a religion. It's particularly interesting in our current political climate when we see how credulous people can be when they really want to believe something's true in spite of all evidence to the contrary. I recommend this well-written and deeply researched book.

Catching up on Fiction November 2016-January 2017

Chinua Achebe. Things Fall Apart. New York: Fawcett Crest, 1959. 192 pages. ISBN 0449208109.

This classic is the most-read book by an African author. It's fascinating and incredibly sad.

Anthony Marra. The Tsar of Love and Techno. New York: Hogarth, 2015. 334 pages. ISBN 9780770436438.

I'm not usually a fan of short stories, but these intertwined stories that cross generations in present day and Soviet-era Russia and Chechnya feels like a novel. I found myself going back and forth to remind myself how the characters in the different time periods were related. Wonderful writing, but again, very sad.

David Baldacci. The Forgotten. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2012. 446 pages. ISBN 9781455523153.

If you like fast-paced thrillers, this is an excellent choice.

Joakim Zander. The Swimmer. New York: Harper Collins, 2013. 417 pages. ISBN 9780062337245.

In the mood for another thriller, I picked up this first novel by Sweden's Joakim Zander. It was very satisfying; I recommend it to anyone who likes the genre.

Kerry Kletter. The First Time She Drowned. New York: Philomel Books, 2016. 341 pages. ISBN 9780399171031.

I guess I was really in the mood for some escapism after the election. This psychological thriller will keep you guessing, and perhaps a little distracted from our all-too-scary reality.

Jacqueline Winspear. Leaving Everything Most Loved. New York: Harper Collins, 2013. 339 pages. ISBN 9780062049605.

This is another in the excellent Maisie Dobbs mystery series. Good writing, interesting characters, and the fascinating setting of between-the-two-world-wars England.

Lily King. The Pleasing Hour. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1999. 237 pages. ISBN 0871137542.

I loved this novel by Lily King, who wrote the later Euphoria, reviewed here.

Stephen King. Gerald's Game. New York: Viking, 1992. 332 pages. ISBN 0670846503.

This novel about a woman whose husband dies during some adventurous sex, leaving her handcuffed to the bed in their summer cabin during the off-season, should be a warning to everyone to think through their decisions before they make them! Gripping and suspenseful.