Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Book 10: Drunk Tank Pink by Adam Alter

This review for Drunk Tank Pink: And Other Unexpected Forces that Shape How We Think, Feel, and Behave is a long-time coming. The reason being that it took me several months to read it from cover-to-cover.

It is my experience that this is not a book that lends itself to being devoured. The content is too dense and just a bit too dry.....the literary equivalent of Shredded Wheat. This isn't to say that it isn't worthwhile. The subject matter is fascinating, and you'll step away from this book wondering if any attempts to thwart your inner biases are anything more than futile. If you like the work of Malcom Gladwell, you'll enjoy this book that is chock-full of facts and cutting-edge experiments. 

A few quick thoughts on some other books that I've read in the past few months:

1. The Love Song of Jonny Valentine by Teddy Wayne: While this book did get decent reviews owing to its criticism of the fame machine, I thought it was pretty tame. There is nothing new here. Jonny Valentine's career seems to be very closely modeled after Justin Bieber's career even down to the small details. Ultimately, this novel is a missed opportunity. 

2. Summerland and The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand: I picked up both of these novels because I needed a break from heavy reads. I'm so glad that I did. Hilderbrand writes stories full of scandal (everyone's a cheater and everyone has secrets) and sets them in the beautiful Nantucket Bay area. The bottom-line: Hilderbrand is a quality writer. While her content won't win her any Nobel Prizes, she knows how to tell a tale.

3. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan: I loved this book. I was hooked after the first four pages. Google worship, ancient cults, conspiracy, and booklove - what more could you ask for? This will feed your inner tech geek/bibliophile (and the cover glows in the dark)!

4. Daddy Love by Joyce Carol Oates: A young boy is abducted and "raised" by a serial-killer/pedophile. This is a story of horrifying abuse and depravity. I could say that I enjoyed this book but that would be misleading. This isn't a book that you enjoy- it's a book that shakes you up inside and makes you uncomfortable. It is raw and disturbing. JCO is a master at her craft. 

5. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams: I waited entirely too long to read this hilarious, brilliant work of fiction! Seconds before the destruction of the earth, the unsuspecting Arthur Dent is saved by his friend Ford Prefect, an extraterrestial who has been posing as an out-of-work actor on Earth for the past fifteen years. The two go on a wild adventure through the Universe with the help of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Adams has an insight into existence that will blow you away. I found myself laughing out loud and dying to share his book with all of my friends. 

6. The Dinner by Herman Koch: Koch explores the ever-intriguing question: how far would you go to protect a loved one who has committed a terrible crime? This has been touted as a European Gone Girl. While both authors explore the dark side of society, Koch's writing is less action-packed and his characters are not as well-done. 

7. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline: The story shifts between the perspective of Molly, a troubled foster teen, and Vivian, a 91year old woman who was an orphan train rider in the early 1900s. The best parts of this novel are the ones that include descriptions of the orphan train movement. Kline did her research, and it shows. The present-day story, which details the blossoming friendship between Molly and Vivian, is one that has been done many times over. Kline is not a brilliant writer, but this book is worth the read if you're a fan of historical fiction. 

8. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler: What a doozy. I couldn't put this book down. Fowler's narrator is witty, engaging, and believable, and the family issues dealt with in this novel are familiar but refreshingly unique. 

9. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer: This is a hefty novel- in size, not in scope. The reader is subjected to a main character whose unabated jealousy of friends of higher socioeconomic status will make you cringe...over and over...and over...and over again.

10. Confessions of a Sociopath by M.E. Thomas: This is a work of nonfiction that begs to be talked about among friends. The author is a diagnosed, non-criminal sociopath. Her intent is to convince the reader that sociopaths can be productive, successful members of society. To do this, she uses her life and the lives of other noncriminal sociopaths as examples. I was blown away by the layer of delusion and mental illness that is readily apparent in her writing. This memoir will make you question whether anyone can really KNOW another person. 

Happy Reading!

Sharlene Edwards

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Banned Book Week

From our dear friends at Better World Books, who truly make a better world by selling and donating unwanted books: 

It’s Banned Books Week, a time to celebrate the freedom to read. As readers, we are thankful to have access to lots of books. (Our warehouses in Indiana and Scotland have around 5 million between them!) The American Library Association keeps an eye on books that are challenged in the U.S. for removal from a school curricula or a library, or even banned. Here are their top 10 books that have been challenged or banned in the US in 2012—you might be surprised at what titles made the list! - 

1. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey.

cpt_underpantsReasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group
2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie.
The-Absolutely-True-Diary-of-a-Part-Time-Indian-9780316013697Reasons: Offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group

3. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher.

Thirteen-Reasons-Why-Asher-Jay-9780141328294Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group

4. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James.

Fifty-Shades-of-Grey-James-E-L-9780345803481Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit

5. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson.

And-Tango-Makes-Three-9780689878459Reasons: Homosexuality, unsuited for age group

6. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini.

The-Kite-Runner-Hosseini-Khaled-9781594480003Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit

7. Looking for Alaska, by John Green.

Looking-for-Alaska-Green-John-9780525475064Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group

8. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz.

Scary-Stories-to-Tell-in-the-Dark-Rpkg-9780060835200Reasons: Unsuited for age group, violence

9. The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls

The-Glass-Castle-9780743247535Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit

10. Beloved, by Toni Morrison

Reasons: Sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence