Top 10 Books of the Year
For the past four years, I have been a staff book reviewer for WEEKEND, and for the past three years, I have written a “Top Ten Books of the Year” column as the school year comes to a close. This will be my third such list, and I’m only mentioning this because it is my final book review for the News. After this, on to the “real world.”
“Acquiescence” in the 21st Century
In “The Age of Acquiescence,” Steve Fraser, an historian and muckraking author, argues powerfully that America has had two so-called “gilded ages”: the years between the Civil War and the Depression, and today. But Fraser sees a critical, some might say heartbreaking, difference between the first gilded age and our current one: people aren’t angry anymore!
An “Onion” That Brings Tears of Laughter
Few historical figures are as sexy to modern academics as the legendary abolitionist John Brown. Brown, who looked and talked like a biblical prophet, who claimed to commune with God and who brutally murdered many, who attempted to foment a slave uprising in Virginia and ended up swinging from a hangman’s noose, who did more than almost any other person to spark the Civil War, was a complex and heroic and tragic and endlessly fascinating figure.
An Old Formula, Reheated: John Grisham’s “Gray Mountain”
Sometime early in ninth grade, a substitute teacher saw me reading a John Grisham novel and laughed. I told him I liked the book and he said something like, “Yeah, but it’s not like they’re going to be teaching Grisham in a hundred years.”
“Yes Please,” if nothing else, departs from that model. It is a hybrid, and it is an enjoyable one. I would have liked more about Poehler’s life — or, at least, a book organized in a way that allowed her life story to make more sense. Nonetheless, “Yes Please” is hilarious and touching and pretty short and totally worth the read.
The Short and Powerful Biography of Robert Peace
A lot of books declare themselves to be “the [insert adjective] life of [insert name].” “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” “The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.” “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry” (which I reviewed a few weeks ago). Now, there is one more: “The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace,” by Jeff Hobbs ’02.
Cask Republic: Great Food, No Joke
Most bars serve food, but it seems to me that some do it with noticeably less enthusiasm than others. (Toad’s, I’ve heard, serves soup.) Cask, though, in spite of its definite bar-ness, doles out food with surprising good cheer and efficiency. All in all, my three-course lunch was tasty, timely, and even a little trendy.
Presidents and Precedents
Check out Scott Stern’s cover on Salovey and the changing role of the Yale President: http://technology.yaledailynews.com/features/weekend/presidents/
A Short Story Writ Long
“The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry,” by Gabrielle Zevin is a hard book to describe. It is at once heartbreakingly sad and airily light. It is simultaneously weighty and ephemeral. It is undeniably sentimental, but it also kills off important characters with a sort of blasé shrug. It’s hardly even a novel; I would classify »
Comeback Kid: “The Silkworm”
Maybe some authors only have one blockbuster idea, but maybe not. Robert Galbraith, as many now know, is a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling. And “The Silkworm” is about as close to an autobiography as we will likely ever get from the tight-lipped Rowling.
Forcing the Revolution, Or Not
So Becker penned her book — not a thrilling tale of absolute victory, but still an interesting, well-documented story about one small part of the broader movement for equal rights. Except she went too far.
Summer Reading Roundup
So obviously I figured there was no better time to discuss this summer’s best reads than after the summer, just as a new, time-devouring semester is about to begin.