Mini Reviews of Recent Reads

Hello darlings! I don’t know about you, but I have been reading up a STORM. And most of the books I’ve read lately have been really, incredibly good. Now, I haven’t had time to write full reviews of everything I’ve read in the last few months, so I’d like to share a few mini book reviews!

mini reiews 1

Sleep Donation by Karen Russell
Atavist Books; March 25, 2014
(Purchased)

In the future, thousands of Americans have lost the ability to sleep, and the crisis grows into an epidemic. The Slumber Corps is founded to combat the illness by accepting sleep donations from healthy dreamers. These sleep donations work much the same as blood transfusions, and even an hour of healthy sleep can save an insomniac from death; a full eight hours can cure him/her.

Our protagonist, Trish, whose sister was one of the first to die from insomnia, works as a recruiter for the Slumber Corps. Although she is one of the Corps’ most effective recruiters, her faith in the organization is shaken when the first universal donor is discovered in “Baby A.” Despite Baby A’s parents’ hesitation, the Corps is intent on continually mining the baby for her perfect sleep, regardless of her best interests.

Although the premise of this novella is classic Russell, it wasn’t one of my favorite stories of her’s, although I couldn’t quite put my finger on why.

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill
Knopf; Jan 1, 2014
(Purchased)

This wonderful little novel is the fragmented musings of a woman as she goes through her marriage, dealing with everything from a colicky baby to bedbugs to infidelity. It’s a difficult book to describe because it doesn’t really have a plot; it’s more a series of lyrical, beautiful vignettes about marriage and motherhood, with all of their ups and downs.

The format of this novel is unusual, but it makes this book really special. It can easily be read in one sitting, but it has stuck with me since I read it two months ago. It’s starkly, sparsely, achingly beautiful.

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
Back Bay Books; June 5, 2001
(Purchased)

I’ve had two Sedaris books sitting on my bookshelf for about two years, picked up at a library sale and a used bookstore, and I figured it was finally time to read one and see what all the fuss is about!

This collection of personal essays reads almost like a memoir, as Sedaris describes his childhood in North Carolina, where he had to undergo speech therapy for his lisp (instead of fixing his impediment, he just stopped saying words with the letter “s” in them), his years doing drugs and trying to be a performance artist (without any talent to back him up), and the time he spent living with his boyfriend in Paris (where he tried to learn butchered French at a language school).

I know a lot of people really love Sedaris, but I didn’t really think this book was all that special. It was a fun, quick read, but the essays are a bit formulaic, and this isn’t a book that’s going to stick with me.

Mini Reviews of Recent Reads

Hello darlings! I don’t know about you, but I have been reading up a STORM. And most of the books I’ve read lately have been really, incredibly good. Now, I haven’t had time to write full reviews of everything I’ve read in the last few months, so I’d like to share a few mini reviews!

Mini Review: Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offil
Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill
Purchased
Knopf; Jan 1, 2014

This wonderful little novel is the fragmented musings of a woman as she goes through her marriage, dealing with everything from a colicky baby to bedbugs to infidelity. It’s a difficult book to describe because it doesn’t really have a plot; it’s more a series of lyrical, beautiful vignettes about marriage and motherhood, with all of their ups and downs.

The format of this novel is unusual, but it makes this book really special. It can easily be read in one sitting, but it has stuck with me since I read it two months ago. It’s starkly, sparsely, achingly beautiful.
Mini Review: Sleep Donation by Karen Russell

Sleep Donation by Karen Russell. 
(Purchased)
Atavist Books; March 25, 2014

In the future, thousands of Americans have lost the ability to sleep, and the crisis grows into an epidemic. The Slumber Corps is founded to combat the illness by accepting sleep donations from healthy dreamers. These sleep donations work much the same as blood transfusions, and even an hour of healthy sleep can save an insomniac from death; a full eight hours can cure him/her.

Our protagonist, Trish, whose sister was one of the first to die from insomnia, works as a recruiter for the Slumber Corps. Although she is one of the Corps’ most effective recruiters, her faith in the organization is shaken when the first universal donor is discovered in “Baby A.” Despite Baby A’s parents’ hesitation, the Corps is intent on continually mining the baby for her perfect sleep, regardless of her best interests.

Although the premise of this novella is classic Russell, it wasn’t one of my favorite stories of her’s, although I couldn’t quite put my finger on why.

me talk pretty one dayMe Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
(Purchased)
Back Bay Books; June 5, 2001

I’ve had two Sedaris books sitting on my bookshelf for about two years, picked up at a library sale and a used bookstore, and I figured it was finally time to read one and see what all the fuss is about!

This collection of personal essays reads almost like a memoir, as Sedaris describes his childhood in North Carolina, where he had to undergo speech therapy for his lisp (instead of fixing his impediment, he just stopped saying words with the letter “s” in them), his years doing drugs and trying to be a performance artist (without any talent to back him up), and the time he spent living with his boyfriend in Paris (where he tried to learn butchered French at a language school).

I know a lot of people really love Sedaris, but I didn’t really think this book was all that special. It was a fun, quick read, but the essays are a bit formulaic, and this isn’t a book that’s going to stick with me.

Book Review: Every Day is For the Thief by Teju Cole

A young Nigerian man living in New York returns home to Lagos for a visit. While there, he wanders the city and reflects on what has changed and what has stayed the same. He experiences the systematic corruption of consulate workers taking bribes, the internet cafes full of young men carrying out email scams, the everyday aggression and constant threat of violence, and the slow upswing in culture and education.

The format of this book is difficult to define; although it is technically a novel, it reads like a memoir and a travelogue. Instead of telling a cohesive story with a plot arc, Cole muses on different episodes of his narrator’s visit to Lagos. Each chapter is accompanied by a black-and-white photograph, and it is easy to imagine that many of the vignettes are drawn directly from Cole’s experience of Nigeria’s capital city.

Cole’s writing is exquisite, and I loved his portrayal of life in a city that I am so unfamiliar with. Every Day is for the Thief felt much more like a novel about a place than about a character; the narrator doesn’t even have a name, but Lagos and its people are described in detail. Although this might bother me in some books, I liked this approach with this particular novel. On the other hand, it does make me question Cole’s choice to write this book as a novel. Because it seems to be more about Lagos than the narrator’s personal journey, it might have made more sense to write this as a non-fiction book. Perhaps Cole wrote Every Day is for the Thief as a novel to tell the true story of a place without being restricted to his own, specific experiences. Instead of writing about real people he knows, he is able to create characters who combine their traits to tell a better story.

Whatever the format of this book, it’s a fascinating look at Lagos: the huge home of his aunt and uncle, where the power goes out every night, the muezzin’s call to prayer that wakes the narrator every morning, the shops selling bootleg CDs the small record store that sells jazz records, and the school that teaches children how to play music.

There has been a huge movement lately read more diversely, and this is an excellent book for readers wishing to expand their understanding of the world. Every Day is for the Thief offers a beautifully written glimpse into life in a corner of the world most of us haven’t experienced. Cole portrays Lagos in all of its vibrance and corruption as his narrator revisits the city of his youth, describing it from the perspective of someone who grew up in Lagos but later made the US his home.

Mid-Month Book Look: What I’m Reading in May

Hello booklings! I’m extremely happy to report that it’s finally feeling like spring here in Buffalo! After a few days of glorious weather last week (during which I got to spend a perfect hour reading and drinking beer on the patio of my favorite bar) it rained like crazy, and now, in the last few days, there has been a positive explosion of leafy growth. There’s nothing better than the sight of brand new leaves on the trees lining my street.

It’s also been a pretty great reading month so far! I loved An Untamed State by Roxanne Gay, couldn’t put Brain on Fire down, and enjoyed Midsummer, a novella I read for TLC Book Tours. And now I’m reading The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer! I’m loving it so far and can’t wait to meet Ms.Wolitzer herself at BEA in a few weeks! Amid all of these great reads was one book I didn’t like: The Quick by Lauren Owen. It wasn’t at all what I was expecting, and although I tried to be open-minded, I just didn’t enjoy it.

What have you been reading this month?

Mid-Month Book Look: What I’m Reading

mid may.jpgHello booklings! I’m extremely happy to report that it’s finally feeling like spring here in Buffalo! After a few days of glorious weather last week (during which I got to spend a perfect hour reading and drinking beer on the patio of my favorite bar) it rained like crazy, and now, in the last few days, there has been a positive explosion of leafy growth. There’s nothing better than the sight of brand new leaves on the trees lining my street.

It’s also been a pretty great reading month so far! I loved An Untamed State by Roxanne Gay, couldn’t put Brain on Fire down, and enjoyed Midsummer, a novella I read for TLC Book Tours. And now I’m reading The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer! I’m loving it so far and can’t wait to meet Ms.Wolitzer herself at BEA in a few weeks! Amid all of these great reads was one book I didn’t like: The Quick by Lauren Owen. It wasn’t at all what I was expecting, and although I tried to be open-minded, I just didn’t enjoy it.

What have you been reading this month?