Book Reviews: 3 for the Price of 1

No, I have not stopped reading. I still read a ton, but didn’t feel the urgent need to review my last 3 books since I can’t say I wholeheartedly recommend them.

In_the_garden_of_beastsIn the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson

This is the true story of William Dodd, an American Professor at the University of Chicago (shout out to my alma mater!) and chair of the history department, who becomes the ambassador to Germany during Hitler’s reign. He moves to Berlin with his wife, his grown son, and his daughter Martha in her mid-twenties who is a big time slut. Not sure how she got away with all of her affairs, being the daughter of a government official.

Larsen is a genius because he makes nonfiction read like thrilling fiction. The author scoured diaries, research papers, memoirs, letters, articles, you name it, to write his book. In fact, the last 50 pages is a list of his references and sources.

I enjoyed the beginning, then I got half-way through it and couldn’t pick it back up. I was also annoyed. The politicians knew what what was happening, but chose to ignore it. It was one big spooked society with no one brave enough to speak up.

Daughter_of_FortuneDaughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende

This wasn’t bad. I liked some parts of it, other parts not so much. It’s about an orphan raised in Valparaiso Chile by a well-off family. She falls in love, gets pregnant, then boards a ship bound for San Francisco in search for her lover. Since Oprah picked this as one of her book club selections, you know there’s some kind of deeper meaning here. That deeper meaning centers around independence and female power bullshit. Call me a cynic, but I personally don’t feel you need to travel half-way across the world and put your life at risk to “find yourself” and have true meaning in life. Remaining where you are, being loyal to your family, taking care of your responsibilities (instead of putting yourself in a situation where your baby dies) sounds more like a true feminist to me!

bbornonbluedayBorn on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant by Daniel Tammet

This guy is so genius that I can’t relate. Here’s an excerpt: When multiplying, I see the two numbers as distinct shapes. The image changes and a third emerges—the correct answer. The process takes a matter of seconds and happens spontaneously. It’s like doing math without having to think.

His stories just aren’t exciting and it’s one long detailed account of his life. I gave up after the first couple chapters, which I have to admit, I skimmed.

Book Review: City of Thieves

Two thumbs way up for David Benioff’s City of Thieves set during World War II depicting Nazi Germany’s attack on Russia. I’m ready to buy all the used copies at Green Apple as gifts to a handful of my Russian friends. The book is an account of the budding friendship formed between two young men imprisoned for unlucky circumstances—one as a soldier deserting his army and the other as a 17-year-old caught stealing from a dead German. It’s a quick, thrilling read, with a gruesome scene midway through that catapulted me to finish the book the following day. Harrowing, but beautiful. Fearful and courageous. This is one of the best coming-of-age novels I’ve read in quite some time. Benioff has an unbelievable talent for characterization (I feel bonded to the main characters) and depicting the war through their eyes. READ THIS BOOK!

Now onto the first book with my second book club: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. Exciting!

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