Zeitoun is an eye-opening account of the devastating effects of two very different disasters in the United States: As Hurricane Katrina wreaks havoc on neighborhoods and lives in New Orleans, religious intolerance toward Muslims becomes more pointed this post-9/11 world. The Zeitouns’ fascinating story of survival in the face of loss and discrimination makes both catastrophes undeniably real to the reader.
This is by far the best book I’ve read all year. The book is original, thrilling, captivating, and heartwrenching. At the same time, it is unexpectedly fresh and optimistic, filled with life and hope and wonder.
Washington’s U Street area is a “contact zone”—a place where cultures and peoples exist side by side. Whether black or white, southern or northern, professional or scholarly, residents in the neighborhood have interacted with each other with very few clashes decades. U Street has bred activists, politicians, scholars, educators, athletes, musicians, dancers, calling such famous figures as Duke Ellington and Ralph Bunche sons.
Michael Powell comments in the book, “I believe nearly every book that deserves to be published gets published.” And if you follow the advice of the authors of this guide, remembering that getting published is a business and treating it as such, you will deserve to be published.
The Graveyard Book was truly a delight to read, and I appreciated Gaiman’s intelligent handling of complex issues without losing sight of his inventive narrative. I would recommend this book to almost anyone for its fully formed characters, excellent prose, and engaging plot.
The book has its strong points, but ultimately I was disappointed. A few interesting scenes involving magic and politics cannot redeem the generally glacial pace of the story. I can’t say I’m going to recommend this to anyone, even though the story is a unique accomplishment.
While it was fun to read and act out a play together, perhaps Jack and I chose the wrong work; neither of us particularly liked this one. The entire play seemed very disjointed, like there was a scene or even an act missing.
Crime and Punishment discusses the effects of mental anguish, morality, and social and fiscal responsibility. Dostoevsky carefully studies the intricate relations between characters rich and poor, male and female, powerful and powerless, sane and mentally ill.
Such a powerful story of love and loss ages well, and the unconventional use of an unreliable narrator had an interesting effect upon my view of the characters and story. The supernatural elements throughout the novel only serve to add to the dark, intense feelings between the two lovers.
Fingerprints, Joel Church’s first collection of flash fiction, captures both the enticing and the mundane. Set against the backdrop of Washington, D.C., Church’s characters explore topics ranging from sexuality and drug abuse to childhood and loss. These stories extend from two to ten pages long, and their brevity makes them an excellent read on the metro; I could read for only one or two stops and not feel completely lost the next time I opened the book.
To Have and Have Not is my least favorite Hemingway book so far. Though Hemingway attempts to dissect grand social issues, such as troubled economic times and the relationship that exists between husband and wife, the entangled sub-plots and the erratic activities of the characters serve to distract from whatever statement Hemingway is trying to make.
The Hobbit is one of the best books I’ve read all year. Because of its intensely imaginative plot and Tolkien’s masterful literary execution, The Hobbit is one of those few books that are equally attractive to kids and adults alike. But you probably already knew that!
I found the story well-written and enjoyable, in spite of its slow parts. Fitzgerald showcases his storytelling talent with his many-layered characters, and his scene descriptions and dialogue are superb.
It is impossible to rate The Souls of Black Folk too highly. It is a worthwhile read solely for the impact that it has had upon American society, both in its time and in the decades since its 1903 publication. The Souls of Black Folk was a major contribution to the African-American literary tradition, and it is also a cornerstone of the literature on sociology. Beyond its historical and educational value, though, I highly recommend this book to everyone for the piercing glimpses Du Bois offers into the souls of all men and women.
Michelle Goodman offers advice geared to women who want to work in nontraditional jobs but don’t know where to begin. Drawing from her years as a freelancer, Goodman suggests practical, step-by-step changes one can make over time so that a transition to the entrepreneurial life doesn’t lead you back to your parents’ couch. Particularly salient in our troubled economy, The Anti 9 to 5 Guide should be consulted by anyone contemplating “life outside the cube.”
Lost and Found is the story of a mother and daughter struggling to mend a relationship torn by deceit and mistrust—in front of millions of TV viewers. The true story, however, is the gradual unfolding of the characters’ lives—the peeks through the curtained windows, the chinks in the armor. Lost and Found is a well-written novel of secrets and yearning, of self-knowledge and self-acceptance, that is simultaneously thought-provoking and entertaining.