Book Review: Neither Here Nor There by Bill Bryson

Book Review: Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe by Bill BrysonNEITHER HERE NOR THERE: TRAVELS IN EUROPE
by Bill Bryson

Non-Fiction: Travel Memoir
Harper Perennial, 1992
Paperback, 245 pages
Source: Gift

Twenty years after backpacking across Europe as a young man with his (rather unlikable) friend Katz, Bryson retraces his journey across the continent. Now middle-aged and somewhat less wild and spontaneous, he travels from the northernmost town in Europe through Scandinavia, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, the former Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and Turkey. Continue reading


Book Review: Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

book review: reading lolita in tehran azar nafisiREADING LOLITA IN TEHRAN
by Azar Nafisi

Non-fiction: Memoir
Random House, 2003
Paperback, 326 pages
Source: Purchased

Azar Nafisi is an Iranian writer and academic who taught at the University of Tehran during the years following the Iranian Revolution of 1979. However, by 1995, she felt the restrictions placed upon her impinged upon her ability to teach properly, and she left the university. Instead of teaching large classes at the tumultuous university, she selected seven of her brightest, most committed students to teach in the privacy of her home. For the next two years, this group met weekly to discuss forbidden Western classics including LolitaThe Great Gatsby, Henry James, and Jane Austen. Continue reading

Book Review: The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

book review: the end of your life book club by will schwalbe THE END OF YOUR LIFE BOOK CLUB
by Will Schwalbe

Non-Fiction: Memoir
Knopf, October 2012
Hardcover, 326 pages
Source: Devourer of Books giveaway

When Will Schwalbe’s mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at a “treatable but not curable” stage, he began accompanying her to her chemo appointments. Spending hours together at a time, their conversations drifted naturally toward one of their favorite topics: books. Thus, the End of Your Life Book Club was formed.

Over the next two years, Will and Mary Anne discussed the books they were reading in conversations that strayed beyond the pages and into more personal territory. In addition to the books, they talked about faith, courage, and learning to listen. In sharing their thoughts and insights, this son and mother grew to know each other better, and Will got to know Marry Anne in a new way. Continue reading

Book Review: Paris, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down by Rosecrans Baldwin

book review: paris, i love you but you're bringing me down by rosecrans baldwinPARIS, I LOVE YOU BUT YOU’RE BRINGING ME DOWN
by Rosecrans Baldwin

Non-Fiction: Travel memoir
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, April 2012
Hardcover, 286 pages
Source: Library

Rosecrans Baldwin has been a lifelong Francophile; ever since visiting Paris with his family at the age of 10, he has been in love with the city and everything it represents. When he is offered an opportunity to move to Paris and work for an advertising firm seeking a copywriter who can write in English, Baldwin is thrilled to pack his Brooklyn belongings into storage and move with his wife to the City of Light — even though he speaks little French and has never worked in advertising.

However, life in Paris is not the romantic ideal he had envisioned. The coffee is bad, the first charming bistro they visit turns out to be an Australian bar that serves ostrich fillets, bureaucracy thwarts many of their plans, and their tiny apartment is surrounded by noisy construction on every side. Instead of the Paris of Hemingway, Baldwin finds himself in the Paris where, “Luke Skywalker had happened. Supermarkets happened. Hip-hop happened and Joan Didion happened. Email happened.” It is the Paris of Sarkozy, frozen food from Picard, and the Tecktonik dance craze. Continue reading

Book Review: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

by Cheryl Strayed

Non-Fiction: Memoir
Knopf, March 2012
Hardcover, 315 pages

At the age of 26, Cheryl Strayed hit bottom. In the previous four years she had lost her mother to cancer, watched her grief-ridden family disintegrate, gotten divorced from a man she still loved, and developed a dangerous heroin habit. With her life in tatters and a constant howling misery inside her head, she decided to do something that was at once incredibly gutsy and ridiculously foolish: with no previous backpacking experience, Strayed made up her mind to spend roughly 100 days hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,663 mile trail running from Mexico to Canada along the crest of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges. And she was going to do it alone, reflecting on her life and working through her grief while her body pounded out the miles. Continue reading