Category Archives: Book Reviews

By The Book – Book Review

Title: By The Book
Author: Pamela Paul
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co., 2014
Where I heard about this book: I received this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.

This is such a fun read. If you enjoy books or if you enjoy authors or if you enjoy writing or any combination of those then I think you’ll think the same.

ByTheBook

By The Book features un-edited Q&A sessions with 65 very well-known writers. It’s as if you get to flit about during the epic dinner party of ALL epic dinner parties and eavesdrop on conversations. Names like Grisham, Tyson, Tartt, Chabon, Gaiman and Rowling is just as sampling of who is on the invite list.

The book is a collection of Pamela Paul’s column for The New York Times Book Review of the same title – By The Book. Throughout the pages and sidebars we learn which books inspired these authors, which writers they can’t stand and which books they think are overrated.

This is a book that every book lover will enjoy. Each profile is only 2-3 pages. So it’s great for snacking on when you have a few minutes. Each bite is full of insights into what makes these high profile wordsmiths tick and what pushes them to put pen to paper. If there were ever a book to leave on the nightstand in the guest room, this is it. It’s so much fun.

I’m recommending this book to all my friends who enjoy reading and books. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

The Little Paris Bookshop – Book Review

Title: The Little Paris Bookshop
Author: Nina George
Publisher: Crown, 2015
Where I heard about this book: I received this book directly from the publisher

What first drew me to Nina George’s The Little Paris Bookshop was all the “books about books” chatter accompanying its launch. An area it certainly delivered in. But while books play a central part in The Little Paris Bookshop it is ultimately about loss and the consequences of our choices. All of which is peppered with the food and landscape of France.

TheLittleParisBookshop

The book follows Jean Perdu, book prescriber, bookseller and captain of the Literary Apothecary, a book barge moored along the Seine and overflowing with books and . The first third of the book is filled with thoughts and talk of books, literature and book buyers as Perdu will not allow his customers to buy any old book they want – it must be the “right” book.

“There are books that are suitable for a million people, others for only a hundred. There are even remedies—I mean books—that were written for one person only…A book is both medic and medicine at once. It makes a diagnosis as well as offering therapy. Putting the right novels to the appropriate ailments: that’s how I sell books.” –Monsieur Jean Perdu

This self-imposed hermit bookman displays a knack for sizing up a customer and prescribing just the right book to cure what ails them. But Perdu is suffering from his own pains and deeper issues as well. So he and a best-selling-author neighbor cast the lines ashore and take off down the river, in the book barge, to deal with Perdu’s past choices head on. More literary-minded characters come on board along the way as lives unravel and are laid bare.

Once the journey starts, George really starts to focus on loss, the choices we make in life and the stages of grief. Oh my goodness does Perdu spend time becoming self-aware. A lot of time. Towards the end there’s lots of yelling at the sea and pounding on tables as he comes to grips of lost love, growing older, re-connecting with himself and those around him.

The book is much more of a romance than I was first expecting. There was a lot more pining away and emotional anguish than I planned on. But the jacket designer, for the U.S. edition, nailed it. Just know that the sense you get from the cover is exactly what’s inside.

All of the book talk made it worth it for me though. Lots of Harry Potter and classic literature references to feed your inner bibliophile. And I would be selling it short if I didn’t mention the food and the river scenery. I was ready to set sail and eat my way through France by the time I turned the final page. The book even has a few recipes in the back from meals that were enjoyed in the book. Ultimately this book is filled with folks that I’d love to have over for a dinner party.

I give The Little Paris Bookshop three out of five stars and I’m recommending this book to friends I already know read romance books. But again it was worth it to me, just for all of the bookish discussions and characters.

EXTRA: The publishing team for the book put together a neat promotional book apothecary website where you can go and get books prescribed for you based on how you’re feeling.

Judge a Book by Its Lover – Book Review

Lauren Leto’s book Judge a Book By Its Lover is one of the fastest reads I’ve read this year… And it’s all about books.

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The book feels like it’s collected from a bunch of blog posts, which it may be I haven’t checked. The first half of the book focuses on the “social” part of books and reading. Lots of pieces in the vein of “how to pick someone in a bookshop” kind of thing or “what you’re reading says about you”.

It felt like it was aimed at female readers and I was close to putting it down and giving it a 2-star review, but I stuck it out and am glad I did.
Once I hit the single largest section of the book “How To Fake Reading An Author” the book really got good. Leto is very well read and funny as well.

That section alone of How to Judge a Book By Its Lover was worth my time with the book. It was crammed with smart conversational observations about well-known authors and their works. And then I got to the essay about leto’s family and her grandmother. It was fantastic. (Ms. Leto, if by chance the Google long-tail-search-algorithmic-gods every bring you to this site, my choppy review can be summed up simply – more like this essay please. I’d buy that.)

I’m recommending this book to my female friends who like books and reading. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: The Information Diet

The Information Diet Book CoverClay Johnson’s The Information Diet (published by O’Reilly) is one of those books that I want everyone to read. It is very short. So it won’t take long. But it does get you thinking (and hopefully talking) about some very important points that many of us have not yet thought about.

In order for our country and culture to remain stable we must be well informed. Johnson does a good job of quickly outlining how and why we are becoming less informed these days. To be honest, half of the stuff he mentions – you probably already know, but you just haven’t thought about the implications. The “diet” metaphor isn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. Mainly because it’s not so much ‘counting calories’ but thinking about the quality of what you are consuming and where it comes from (hint: local is better in food and information.)

Things like ‘what’s the difference in getting your news via Facebook rather than straight from a new source’ or ‘just how much do CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, Washington Post, NY Times alter a story/headline to make it “more compelling”‘ and so on. This is one of those books that you will read and then will find yourself bringing it up in conversations for the next two weeks. It helps that the author is so up front with his political leanings so that we know where things are coming from. It allows the reader to follow him honestly and listen to the causes of much of what is changing in the media landscape.

The book not only does a good job of quickly showing how our news sources alter and filter information for us, but it also begins to explain why. Which starts us down the path of trying to fix the problems. The last bit of the book does contain some concrete “how to”‘ information and a pretty strong call to action, with a companion website.

My only complaint is that this wake up call/manifesto is as short as it is. The call to action and tool set offered at the end would have been a little more compelling if backed by some deeper discussion. But then the book would have been longer… and thus, not as approachable. This is one I wish everyone would take an afternoon to read. It’s a solid 4 out of 5 for me.

(In the spirit of full disclosure I did receive this book as part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program.)