Book Reviews

Personal challenge for 2019? Review every book I read! (All reviews available on Cannonball Read, benefiting the American Cancer Society.)

BOOK REVIEW: What's Not to Love?

My romantic expectations hover somewhere between The English Patient and Lust, Caution. (Love is brief and destroys lives. THE END.) Reading The Rosie Project, I found myself loving the dispassionate narrator in spite of myself. Don is bright, witty, and somewhere on the spectrum. Though he has no use for love—he’s busy with his successful career and finds satisfaction in his careful routine—he decides a wife could be a helpful addition to his overall situation. Imagine Mr. Spock going on OKCupid.

BOOK REVIEW: The Original YA Novel: Classic for a Reason

Strong and sensitive Jane Eyre is the progenitoress of Anne of Green Gables, Meg Murray, Lyra Belacqua, and Katniss Everdeen. Unlike any English novel prior to 1847, the story happens *inside* a young woman’s mind, giving the reader direct access to her thoughts, emotions, and observations. (The book couldn’t exist otherwise: her actions are usually unremarkable and the world finds her inscrutable.) Brontë alchemizes her life experiences into semi-autobiographical prose and clearly relishes playing with her young doppelgänger.

BOOK REVIEW: Murder Mysteries: Hercule Poirot > Miss Marple

If I had to pick my poison, I would go with Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, he of glorious mustache and elegant mind. His interview skills and nose for detail are bar none. Like Holmes he has a bit of a reputation and takes joy in the specificity of his job. His considers psychological profiles and creates timelines. Eliminate the impossible and what’s left must be the truth. Not that Miss Marple is some slouch. Though she’s scatterbrained in her dotage she retains a flair for investigation and a refined sense of evil. She’ll mistrust a person on sight and then discreetly sniff around to determine why. Mysteries have a way of finding Miss Marple, in the same way dead bodies found Jessica Fletcher on Murder, She Wrote.

BOOK REVIEW: These Virtues are Formed in Man by His Doing the Actions

Narrator Candace, a second generation Chinese immigrant, is outwardly calm and efficient as she goes about her unflashy life in New York City. She works a decent publishing job that she knows to be meaningless and mediocre. She lazily falls into a romantic relationship with a nice-enough neighbor. She ruminates at length about her parents and whether she has earned their sacrifices. Her one tepid passion is for photography, which she pursues whole-heartedly only once the city is empty and desolate.

BOOK REVIEW: Undiagnosed Mental Illness Will Wreck Your Life

Our man Greyson, a successful Hollywood executive with a wife and an eight-year-old daughter, has an undiagnosed mental illness. It’s an unescapable, nameless issue that dictates more and more of his life. Sometimes it’s a boon to his career, boosting his confidence and energy. Other times, he retreats from the world and self-medicates while his spouse covers for him. At the top of his game, Grey knows the only way left for him is down. His bitter memories of his mercurial and pathetic father drive him to abandon his family before he destroys it. He will become a nomad with no ties, someone incapable of hurting anybody but himself.