book review

Thumbs up for A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. Literature.

A Russian Count is placed under house arrest in a Moscow hotel in the early 20’s. My two coworkers and I (I work in a bookstore) all have different taste in books, with areas of overlap. A Gentleman in Moscow is the first book we’ve all adored. Very few things are as purely charming.… >> Read more

Thumbs up for Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. Romance.

My very last unread Austen! This is the funniest, I think: the others are full of satire, to be sure, but this one satirizes the entire idea of Gothic romances, while still being one (sort of): a meta-mockery, if you will. Delightful. I recommend the Penguin edition with the excellent introduction by Marilyn Butler, which provides a useful and thorough explanation about the books Austen is referring to.… >> Read more

Thumbs up for The Translator by Leila Aboulela. Literature.

I was traveling to Edinburgh and wasn’t able to find any book set there that wasn’t either too cutesy or too bleak for my taste, so I had to accept Aberdeen as a close-enough setting. The Translator is about a Muslim Sudanese-Scottish widow who works as an Arabic translator at a Scottish university.… >> Read more

Thumbs up for Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion. Nonfiction.

My only excuse for not already having read Didion is that I don’t read many books of essays; and furthermore these essays are mostly about things I do not care about. That doesn’t matter. Her writing is so good it’s like the taste of water when you’re thirsty. Not many people can see truthfully or write beautifully; Didion does both.… >> Read more

Thumbs up for Snotgirl Volume 1: Green Hair Don’t Care and Snotgirl Volume 2: California Screaming by Bryan Lee O’Malley, illustrated by Leslie Hung. Graphic novel.

Girl with bad allergies struggles to deal with mysterious goings-on and her awful friends, while still maintaining her public identity as a “perfect” L.A. fashion blogger. Very engaging! The simple but expressive art and wonderfully upbeat coloring further seal my excitement for the next volume.… >> Read more

Thumbs up for Mrs. Bridge by Evan S. Connell. Literature. Thumbs up for Mr. Bridge by Evan S. Connell. Literature.

Mrs. Bridge was one of the first works of Literature-with-a-capital-L I ever read, and it quietly blew my mind. I’ve read perhaps a thousand books since then—and it still does. The two books follow the marriage, in vignette form, of a deeply conventional upper-middle-class couple in Kansas City in the 1930’s and 1940’s.… >> Read more

Thumbs up for Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory. Fantasy.

An utterly delightful family drama…about a family composed of con men and people with genuine paranormal abilities. I read it in one day, laughing all the way through, because my father was, in fact, a respected amateur paranormal researcher in the 1990’s, when this book takes place. But I’m confident you’ll find it funny even if you had a more mundane upbringing.… >> Read more

Thumbs up for Circe by Madeline Miller. Fantasy.

I liked Miller’s first book The Song of Achilles enough that her new book, Circe, immediately went to the top of my read queue. In it, she lets Circe—a witch who was Odysseus’s lover in part of the Odyssey—tell her own story. A knowledge of Greek myths might add something, but I don’t think it’s necessary.… >> Read more