Saturday, January 19, 2008

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

Holy cow. This is one of the very best books that I have ever read. I don't want to say anything about the story because I don't want to give it away. But it has been years since I've liked a novel this much. Highly recommended.

Call of the Mall by Paco Underhill

This was a really fun book. And I don't even like malls.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Saturday, January 12, 2008

In Defense of Food : An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan

If I had to recommend one book to someone who wanted a readable critique of "the Western diet," this would be it. His history of health advice and fads and laws is enough to make anyone angry. The book isn't perfect (for example, I think he romanticizes native diets by neglecting to mention malnutrition issues and he doesn't distinguish between most processed foods and healthy processed foods, such as bagged salads) but it is very good.

Monique and the Mango Rains : Two Years with a Midwife in Mali by Kris Holloway

Wow! This is one of those books that everyone should read: a Peace Corp volunteer tells the story of an amazing story of a woman with a sixth grade education and a few months of midwifery training who is the sole source of health care for several villages. Highly recommended.

The Dirt on Clean : An Unsanitized History by Katherine Ashenburg

If there were an award for which book had the post "ewwww" moments, this one would win. The history of bathing (or, more correctly, the lack thereof) isn't pretty. But this book wasn't very interesting.

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg

I read this to the boys. They liked it; I thought it was unremarkable.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

I enjoyed reading this, but at the end felt disappointed. The writing didn't hold a candle to The Yiddish Policeman's Union and the plot was disjointed. I'm not sure why it won a Pulitzer.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Hittite Warrior by Joanne Williamson

This was a pre-read for Simon. It probably isn't as good as, say, The Golden Goblet, but given the paucity of sources for this era and place in history, it is worth reading.

River Torn by Peter Hessler

This was really interesting; I always like books about China. I think he did a good job encapsulating the paradoxes of Chinese culture and politics.

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM by Robert O'Brien

I read this to the boys; they liked it, I thought it was kind of dull.

The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier

I mildly enjoyed this.

The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon

Verdict: really weird and really good. I usually dislike it when I notice the writing (even if I am noticing that it is good) but--wow--Chabon is something else. Amazingly creative metaphors and similies. Recommended.

The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta

There was so much potential here with a story of the culture war writ small, but it fizzled at the end.

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