Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Pig Did It

By John Caldwell

This book is written splendidly. I enjoyed the way the author uses the language to create the right atmosphere and to give the situation described in the book (the finding of a skeleton of murdered person) so light and even funny. This is done in a  way that seems completely natural and uncontrived. This is apparently the first of a trilogy. I feel like this book could definitely stand on its own, and I would not seek the other ones "to see what happens" (even though the book includes the first chapter of book number two). However, if I happen to find that next book, I will be happy to dedicate a few hours to reading it. [214 pp.]

Book link

Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep

By David K. Randall

This is a very easy to read book about the science of sleeps, which is not well developed. Whatever is known is simplified for the lay reader and written in an engaging way. It has interesting stories about sleepwalking (and other parasomnias), about where the baby should sleep, about the importance of sleep in war and work, and how we are not really good at evaluating the quality of our sleep. Also, toward the end, there is a list of things one can do to improve their sleep. [290 pp., including notes.]

Book link

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Venus Envy

By Shannon McKelden

It must be the library's fault, but this book was categorized as SciFi. Not that I read much SciFi, but judging by the back cover, it looked like it would be interesting and not heavy on the SciFi. Kind of like Gods Behaving Badly. It started out kind of like that, but soon became annoyingly more like some romance novel. As if that wasn't enough, it also had parts that made me squirm because things happened that absolutely did not need to happen - they made no sense. It seemed like they only happened to create "funny" or "amusing" situations. Sort of like a sitcom. Which I didn't like at all. I read through it though, and all in all it was okay, but I was disappointed. The cover is nice, and this is one case where I was wrong to judge a book by the cover [336 pp.]

Book link

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Tortilla Curtain

By T. C. Boyle

Well... This book is something. I am quite ambivalent about it. On the one hand, it is very well written, thought provoking, and intense. On the other hand, it is intense. Keep-you-up-all-night-with-an-adrenaline-rush type of intense. I don't like watching movies that are this intense, and for the same reason, I didn't like reading this book. It just kept me up all night: I ended up getting a different book for bedtime, because this one just wouldn't let me sleep. It also made me read it when I was supposed to do other work. Also, the poor characters... they had no reprieve. Always horrible things happening to them. And I mean horrible! Gosh, I was so happy to be done with the book yesterday, now free to imagine the good things that happen to the characters. Not that it could be a happy ending, horrible things kept happening at the end, but at least, maybe, a slight change of luck?
As a side note, this book was published in 1995, but it felt VERY relevant and current. Has nothing changed in the past 20 years??? [355 pp.]

Book link

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Beasts of the Earth

Animals, Humans, and Disease

By E. Fuller Torrey, MD, and Robert H. Yolken, MD.

Well, this book is exactly about what the subtitle says: how we got our diseases through our various interactions with animals, and how those interactions changed over the years and as our technology advanced. Sometimes amusing, most of the time frightening, the descriptions here are pretty factuals, which is not to say it is a difficult read. Some interesting points about food safety and the cost of exotic pets (did you know you could get a buffalo for just $2,000? A giraffe is a bit more pricy: $60K). [191 pp., including a bunch of references, comments, and an index.]