Book reviews: (almost) everything I read in May

I set a goal to read fifteen books in May. Today’s the 29th and I’m about to start number seventeen. Here’s what I’ve been reading, now with shorter reviews because I don’t feel like writing longer ones (and you probably don’t want to read this many long reviews).

Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer: I didn’t really like this book. The multiple points of view added more confusion than clarity, and to be honest, I only found myself caring about the actual quest, not the backstory that led to the quest.
Goodreads rating: 2 out of 5 photographs

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins: I enjoyed The Hunger Games and finally gave this book a shot. While the Hunger Games concentrated on well, the Games, this book tells the story of the aftermath of Katniss and her actions. The narrative is for the
Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 survivors

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins: The last Hunger Games book. This book was… okay. The narrative isn’t quite as tight as in the first two books, dragging on in points. I’m also not a fan of the ending. No, it’s not because I shipped Katniss with the other guy.
Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 revolutionaries

Coraline by Neil Gaiman: Okay, I didn’t find this as delightfully creepy as the book is touted to be, but it was still a good and quick read.
Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 other parents

Once Upon a Number by John Allen Paulos: On the relationship between statistics and stories. He rambles sometimes, but I found the book easily digestible. You don’t need to know advanced math to read it, though!
Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 mathematical stories

Spellbound by Janet McDonald: I’m a sucker for spelling bee stories. Sure, this one’s a little campy, but I enjoyed the different perspective, one I might not have sought out on my own.
Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 spelling bees

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson: I’ve heard great things about this book, so when I saw it, I grabbed it. And it doesn’t disappoint. Fair warning: it’s not a happy book by any means.
Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 utterances

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner: This book is just good. It doesn’t have a central theme but instead explores many cultural phenomena and how sometimes unrelated things can in fact be related. This thinking outside the box skill is one everyone needs to learn.
Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 correlations

Language, Culture, and Society: An Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology by Zdenek Salzmann: Informative, easily readable, and written at a good pace. I read an older edition of the book, but I’d imagine this applies to future editions.
Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 languages

Storm Front by Jim Butcher: I’ve heard a lot about ths Dresden Files, and the first book was worth the read. Not sure if I’ll commit to the series yet, but if I stumble across the second book, I’ll grab it.
Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 wizards

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins: I’m an ex-Christian, so this book mostly reaffirmed that belief. (I now feel obligated to read a book on a topic I don’t agree with.) Dawkins tears down just about every argument that one might use to establish one’s belief, along with religion and what it does to culture.
Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 arguments

Redshirts by John Scalzi: A bunch of folks on a ship that turns out to be stranger than it sounds… It’s a quick and fun read, but I had a hard time telling some of the characters apart. Which is kind of the point in a way… but spoilers.
Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 redshirts

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz: I tried to like this book, and not just because I fistbumped the author once. But in the end it was just okay. Yes, Diaz has a way with words, but I couldn’t find the ability to care about the characters mentioned in the past.
Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 curses

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow: This book is scary real, and I zoomed my way through it in one evening. Good plot, good characters, good (though sometimes scary) message. Sometimes the technical bits (which are well-explained) feel like infodumps, and the ending felt rushed. But oveall a fun read.
Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 hacks

Up next: J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy. I know it’s not going to be Harry Potter. But still, I’m looking forward to reading something else by JKR.

2 replies on “Book reviews: (almost) everything I read in May”

I loved Freakonomics and The God Delusion. I read both in high school, though, so I don’t really remember too much of either one. Maybe I’ll get around to rereading them one day. It’s funny – I didn’t like Speak when I first read it, but then I listened to the audiobook and finally got why everyone loved it. Guess I’m just slow sometimes.

Also, Loki has pretty much the entire Dresden series in various forms (paperback, ebook, and audiobook)… just if you’re interested. I’m only on book 5 (6? 7?), but so far I’ve been enjoying them.

I’m still way too scared to read The Casual Vacancy. It’s stupid, but I’m afraid my expectations will be too high. I’ll wait and let you tell me how it is. 😀

Your Speak review kept that book in the front of my mind when I checked it out.

I probably will keep going with the Dresden Files; there’s just so much else I want to read first!

And as for The Casual Vacancy, it’s not Harry Potter, something I had to tell myself. It is a good book with JKR’s brilliant writing and plot-weaving, but with a lot of small town politics and a slow start. It really picks up in the second half. Still, I do recommend it and may have to reread it eventually since there are so many small things I missed.

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