It took me a long time to digest this book, which is jam-packed with quoteable insights, new perspectives on familiar ideas, and inspiring thoughts. Reading this collection of essays, which were written as periodic email columns over a span of seven years, felt like trying to eat a rich, dense dessert in one sitting. This is a book that should ... Read More »
I used to read lots and lots of science fiction. Now I basically just re-read a few favorites (LeGuin, Heinlein, Vance, the short stories I loved as a teen). But I still like reading about science fiction from time to time, in the same way I enjoy most books about books and reading; I like the feeling of possibility, all ... Read More »
Satellite radio is addictive! We bought the Roady about 6 months ago and it’s been an absolute delight. It’s a tiny little thing (and the new Roady2 is even smaller). Jonathan uses it in the car for his commute, listening to techno and fusion, then brings it inside where we have the home kit set up, and I turn to ... Read More »
Financial Karma: Real Life Strategies to Help You Control & Save More of Your Money – Robert S. Laura, 2004.
This is avowedly aimed at people for whom Suze Orman and Charles Schwab are too heavy going–for people who are just starting out with financial self-help and need a workbook they can digest in a weekend. On those terms, it’s a very useful book. Laura recognizes that one of the biggest stumbling blocks in typical personal finance books is estimating ... Read More »
I love essays by David Foster Wallace and Nicholson Baker, so Franzen seemed like a good bet (similar demographic, similar niche). I did read this collection all the way through and enjoyed some of it. But overall, I was disappointed. Franzen writes well but not with the awe-inspiring mastery of Wallace and Baker, nor with the clear-as-water unobtrusive skill of ... Read More »
Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero-Tolerance Approach to Punctuation – by Lynne Truss, 2004. GUEST REVIEW BY JONATHAN CAWS-ELWITT
“Have you read it yet?” I always hate that “yet”— as if, by being members of a specific demographic (college-educated humanists?), we’re all somehow obligated to ingest whatever the publishing industry, seconded by our peers, designates — regardless of our individual tastes and interests. Personally, I haven’t read most of them yet. But I did recently read Eats, Shoots & ... Read More »
The resilience of kids is a byword, but at the age of eight Kevin Sweeney came up with a novel way of dealing with the loss of his father. He decided to choose three men to be his surrogate dads–without telling them, he’d observe and emulate them. A terrific premise, but alas this book doesn’t deliver quite as much as ... Read More »
Fear and Other Uninvited Guests: Tackling the Anxiety, Fear, and Shame That Keep Us from Optimal Living and Loving by Harriet Lerner, 2004.
Lerner is among the best of the self-help authors–she’s pragmatic, insightful, funny, literate, and avoids one-size-fits-all/magic pill claims. (Of course, the downside of realism is missing the excitement of “this will solve ALL my problems!”–which is what drives bestsellerdom.) Lerner gives a brief overview of the book’s layout in the first chapter, which ends: …the brief epilogue reveals the six ... Read More »
The Bastard on the Couch: 27 Men Try Really Hard to Explain Their Feelings About Love, Loss, Fatherhood, and Freedom; ed. Daniel Jones, 2004
An assortment of essays, mostly quite good, about commitment & relationships. It’s sort of a sequel to The Bitch in the House, which I haven’t read, and similarly marketed as “representatives of the opposite sex reveal the TRUTH about how they feel.” As I say, these are good essays, some even brilliant, but if they strike you as containing any ... Read More »
An unforgettable memoir of Patchett’s friendship with writer Lucy Grealy. Of course it’s beautifully-written, as one would expect from the author of Bel Canto, and of course it’s sad, since Grealy died young and suffered physically and emotionally all her life. It’s also an honest, funny, evocative, involving story that is impossible to put down, whose central character is neither ... Read More »