book review: One More Thing by B. J. Novak

Before reading this book, I really didn’t know anything about B. J. Novak, other than he was on the Office (and I’ve seen some but not many of those episodes).  I had no idea he was a writer until I heard something about a children’s book he did called The Book with No Pictures.  It sounded like such a neat concept that I looked him up and found this book.  One More Thing is a collection of short stories.  I don’t even like short stories in general, but I enjoyed these so much that I started pacing myself so that I wouldn’t finish the book so quickly.

There is some irony in the short stories, but they’re not ALL irony, which gets old (ahem O. Henry).  The stories are so witty – at times funny, at times sarcastic (but not a mean sarcastic), at times serious and contemplative.  I read a lot as I take the bus to/from work and people were probably starting to think I was crazy for laughing out loud.

Based on his writing, B. J. Novak seems like it would be really great fun to hang out with or to have dinner with.  He seems like one of those rare people that you don’t have DO something with to have fun.

I even read the acknowledgements at the end.  I hope he writes more soon … and if he participates in Barnes & Nobles signed editions next year, I will be buying multiple copies to give out as gifts.

If you’re interested, in my search, I also ran across this video where he answers a question sent in by a girl.  I liked his thoughtful response.

I think I am slightly in love B. J. Novak now.  How tedious to have a celebrity crush, and yet, I can’t help it.  The more I’ve found out about him, the more interesting he seems.

 

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Book review: American Wolf by Nate Blakeslee

We used to believe that humans were the only ones who were capable of using tools.  Then Jane Goodall told us about how chimps made and used tools, had social hierarchies, and were basically a lot more like us than we had previously realized.  The work that Rick McIntyre has devoted to observing wolves has the same implications, except with wolves.  While many know that wolves have a social hierarchy (alpha and beta wolves in a pack), the stories in this book brought to light their complex social structures and their capacity of feelings of joy and grief.

American Wolf is a non-fiction book about the wolf reintroduction program at Yellowstone National Park and its impact on the people, animals, politics, geography, and the ecosystem.  It follows a wolf known as 06 (O-Six) who becomes the alpha female of the Lamar pack.  Not only was she the alpha female, she was the leader of the pack.

The stories were incredible.  I often forgot that this was a nonfiction book.  Nate Blakeslee did an amazing job of making 06 come to life without sensationalizing.  The book was well documented, as evidenced by the extensive sources cited section.  I loved that the book allowed readers to see the different wolf personalities and the dynamics of the wolf pack without anthropomorphising the wolves.

I felt the author did a fair job of presenting the arguments for people who were anti-wolf reintroduction.  There were some legitimate arguments, especially about ranchers who were losing livestock to the wolves, but it’s hard to argue with the what happened after the wolves were reintroduced (more diversity in the ecosystem).

I’ve already recommended this book to other people and I can’t say enough good things about it.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

 

book review: Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik

Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons is a book about a group of five women who are neighbors.  Their friendships develop and deepen as they participate in a book club with each other.  The book follows these women over the span of several decades, revealing dark pasts, an abusive spouse, parenting, etc.  The women’s friendships with one another draw in their families so that their spouses and children become friends, too, by default.  The book shows how a book club causes a ripple effect in their relationships.

The book is what you would expect from a book about friendships and was fun to read.  The theme of the book is nothing new (see Jane Austen Book Club), but that doesn’t diminish its entertainment value.  It is somewhat sappy and predictable, but it leaves you with a content, after-school special feeling.

Book review: Ice by Anna Kavan

There are a few books that I have read that I just don’t understand.  The first book I tried to read that left me completely bewildered was Ulysses by James Joyce.  Parts of his book made sense and then all of a sudden, I had no clue what was going on.  Ice was similar to my experience reading James Joyce.  The writing itself was beautiful and painted vivid pictures.

The narrator is a man who is in love or infatuated with a young woman with silver hair.  The story takes place in a dark, apocalyptic setting with lots of war and military control.  In the book the man encounters this woman in various scenarios.  It is almost like he jumps between alternate worlds, but there is no way for the reader to tell that he is doing so, except by what is happening in the text … and the text doesn’t always make sense.  He sees this woman in a number of different situations.  In some, he is pursuing her.  In some, she is dead or he witnesses her death.  In all of the scenarios, she is a victim.  She is abused, raped, chased, an object locked away in a room.

Because I didn’t understand this book, I went on-line to look up the author and the book.  The book is considered an important literary work by most people who are much more important than me.  Anna Kavan had a sad life that ended when she overdosed.  Honestly, this explained a lot to me.   One review I read said that the book was an allegory for her own addiction.  I didn’t get this from the book, but the disjointedness in the story could certainly be explained by her doing drugs.

If you like “trippy” books that don’t have to have a meaning, this might be the book for you.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary e-book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.