Book Reviews

Hans Rosling

Flatiron Books

Educating girls has proven to be one of the world’s best-ever ideas. When women are educated, all kinds of wonderful things happen in societies. The workforce becomes diversified and able to make better decisions and solve more problems. Educated mothers decide to have fewer children and more children survive. More energy and time is invested in each child’s education. It’s a virtuous cycle of change.

                               from Factfulness

 

Willy Vlautin

Harper Perennial

It seemed the closer he was to what he wanted the more lost he became. The sinking feeling that had plagued him his entire life wasn’t going away. It was getting worse…Mr. Reese had told him that life, at its core, was a cruel burden because we had the knowledge that we were born to die. We were born with innocent eyes and those eyes had to see pain and death and deceit and violence and heartache. If we were lucky we lived long enough to see most everything we love die. But, he said, being honorable and truthful took a little of the sting out of it. It made life bearable.

                     from Don't Skip Out on Me

 

Murder & Scandal in Prohibition Portland

J.D. Chandler and Theresa Griffin Kennedy

The History Press

Juries were reluctant to convict people for liquor offenses, especially when the evidence disappeared. And the evidence did disappear. There were several cases of liquor evidence disappearing out of Central Precinct or Multnomah County Courthouse. There were at least two cases in Portland where juries drank the evidence during deliberations and then acquitted the accused bootleggers for lack of evidence.

 from Murder & Scandal in Prohibition Portland

 

Madeline Miller

Little, Brown and Company

“War has always seemed to me a foolish choice for men. Whatever they win from it, they will have only a handful of years to enjoy before they die. More likely they will perish trying.”

“Well, there is the matter of glory. But I wish you could’ve spoken to our general. You might have saved us all a lot of trouble.”

“What was the fight over?”

“Let me see if I can remember the list.” (Odysseus) ticked his fingers. “Vengeance. Lust. Hubris. Greed. Power. What have I forgotten? Ah, yes, vanity and pique.”

“Sounds like a usual day among the gods.”

                                from Circe

 

Jon Gosch

Latah Books

“So how did the suspect enter your warehouse?”

“Just walked right on in.”

“Was there forcible entry?”

“They certainly had no right to be in here.”

“Yes, but how did they gain access to the warehouse? Did they punch through a window or break the lock on the door?”

“Wasn’t any lock on the door.”

“I see.”  

                                from Deep Fire Rise

 

Richard White

Oxford University Press

Nineteenth-century Americans were a sickly people. The decline of virtually every measure of physical well-being was at the heart of a largely urban Gilded Age environmental crisis that people recognized but could neither name nor fully understand. By the most basic standards—life spans, infant death rate, and bodily stature, which reflected childhood health and nutrition—American life grew worse over the course of the nineteenth century…An average white ten-year old American boy in 1880, born at the beginning of the Gilded Age and living through it, could expect to die at age forty-eight. His height would be five feet, two inches. He would be shorter and have a briefer life than his Revolutionary forebears.

  from The Republic for Which It Stands

 

  

Stephen McCauley

Flatiron Books

(David) thought of his true mission as helping his teenaged clients gain a realistic understanding of who they were and what they could achieve in life once they stepped away from their parents’ self-aggrandizing fantasies of them. Their parents had been so insistent about instilling self-esteem, they’d fallen into the trap of telling their kids they could do anything. Unfortunately, almost everyone interprets doing “anything” as doing the same three or four glamorous and impressive things—going to Harvard, retiring before ever working, giving an Oscar acceptance speech, and becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg, except hot.

                                from My Ex-Life

 

  

Meg Wolitzer

Riverhead Books

The light touch of this powerful woman was profound. So too was her choice to use her power in this tender way. Maybe that’s what we want from women, Greer thought… Maybe that’s what we imagine it would be like to have a woman lead us. When women got into positions of power, they calibrated and recalibrated tenderness and strength, modulating and correcting. Power and love didn’t often live side by side. If one came in, the other might go out.

                    from The Female Persuasion

 

  

André Aciman

Picador

“Right now you may not want to feel anything…If there is pain, nurse it, and if there is a flame, don’t snuff it out, don’t be brutal with it. Withdrawal can be a terrible thing when it keeps us awake at night, and watching others forget us sooner than we’d want to be forgotten is no better. We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster than we should that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything—what a waste!”  

                    from Call Me by Your Name

 

  

Ursula K. Le Guin

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Because competition for primacy, for literary supremacy, doesn’t seem as glamorously possible for women as it does for men, the whole idea of singular greatness—of there being one great anything—may not have the hold on a woman’s imagination that it has on a man’s…The hell with The Great American Novel. We have all the great novels we need right now—and right now some man or woman is writing a new one we won’t know we needed till we read it.

                          from No Time to Spare