Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Mini Book Reviews (1)-- April 11, 2018

I am behind on 7 books for reviewing! Yikes. OK. I'll do some themes here and hopefully catch up between two posts....

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

This was suggested to me by Powell's Books...25 Memoirs to Read Before You Die. I love lists and I love memoirs and Powell's so great combo. I'd never read anything by her before, but I had heard of her book "Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit." Her memoir was not the easiest of reads. She had a very troubled and abusive childhood which was hard to fathom. But her chapters come across more as essays and glimpses into her life rather than a full picture. Which probably makes sense when one writes about one's life...but it was a bit hard to follow.

She's a thinker and a philosopher. Her writing is beautiful and full of insight. I'll just leave one quote:

"...Reading things that are relevant to the facts of your life is of limited value. The facts are, after all, only the facts, and the yearning passionate part of you will not be met there. That is why reading ourselves as a fiction as well as fact is so liberating. The wider we read the freer we become."

She carries a distance from herself in her writing. I can understand why but at the same time it made for a more cold reading of her life. Overall, a fascinating and very different memoir from what I'm used to.

The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir by Alexandria Marzano-Lesvenich

The material in this book was very disturbing and was hard to get through. She writes about her life while she writes about the murderer of a young boy. The way she intertwines it all is beyond anything I can describe. Reading her memoir and true crime book all-in-one is truly an experience. But you must be up for this grim experience.

The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester

As a Linguistics major, I used and studied a lot from the OED. As such, I'd been meaning to pick this one up for years. The story is a conglomeration of history of Linguists at the time, the making of dictionaries, and mental illness and how it was treated at the time. You get a bit of everything. Overall, it truly is a fascinating tale on how a doctor who is criminally insane, helps out with the making of this grand dictionary. It's almost impossible to believe. The only complaint I have is it was a bit dry. It's a quick read but it felt a lot longer than it should have. I don't think this would be a book for everyone. More for those who have a love of language and history who can trudge through the dry bits and dig into the story at hand.

The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole by Michelle Cuevas

I read this one aloud with G. It was a surprisingly quirky, fun, and sad book. Great things about this book. She mentions Carl Sagan and his project Voyager that contained a golden disc with sounds and images from Earth that is still sailing away in space. Boom. I was sold.

We follow Stella's journey as she wades through her grief after the death of her father. The book is one long letter to him as she tells him all about a small dog-like black hole that shows up and causes all sorts of problems like eating her Brussels sprouts or pictures of her and her father or other things. It's a beautiful story of grief and how we work through it, though it never truly leaves us.

*all images were retrieved from

1 comment:

  1. I've had The Professor and The Madman on my wish list for years and picked it up a while back but still haven't gotten to it yet. I'm due to pick up a nonfiction next so maybe it's finally time for this one.


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