On my nightstand: October edition

Apparently I have books on my mind right now, but for the bibliophiles out there, I have another book post.  Here's a look at what I've been reading this month.  To see more of what I've been reading or to trade book recommendations, follow me on Goodreads.  I'd love to hear about any recent literary gems you've found (or books that I shouldn't waste my time reading)!

The Smart Swarm
I wanted to love this book, but I didn't.  It combined many of my loves--biology, anthropology, and sociology--but fell flat.  Perhaps because the examples of human swarms in comparison to the commentary on animal behavior proved lackluster, perhaps because the conclusions drawn at the end were just too general...for whatever reason, this book did not capture me as I thought it would.

Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough
Lori Gottlieb is herself single at forty-one and questions why she cannot find a suitable mate.  Her adventures with speed dating and matchmaking lead her to the conclusion that she had been too choosy in her earlier years, waiting for the "perfect" man who would never come.  At once humorous, truthful, and wistful, this memoir affirmed some of my beliefs about marriage being a good thing, but not everything.  (It also kind of reminded me of this Times article, and surprise, surprise, Gottlieb wrote it!)

The Goldfinch
Not for me.  Does anyone else feel that lately drugs+art+tragedy=critically acclaimed hit?  I'll offer the caveat that I am not much of a fiction reader, but I found the novel dark and depressing often simply for the sake of being dark and depressing.  The plot line dragged and the story culminated in a conclusion far too tidy and incongruous with the rest of the book.

 

Americanah
Complicated and imperfect, a perfect testament to our post-colonial and postmodern world.  Some of the book's content is quite mundane and recounts the daily routine's of the book's characters.  But I caught myself sucking my breath in at some apt observations, like how black American women are always said to be "strong black women," never any other descriptor.  With precision and insight, Adichie gets stereotypes.  I find myself reflecting on her observations well after putting the book down.

 

The 4-Hour Body
I HATED Tim Ferriss's The 4-hour Work Week but surprisingly enjoyed this. I wouldn't necessarily follow his advice but enjoy Ferriss's perspective--he views things from a unique angle and always looks for a better hack for doing the necessary parts of life--in this case, staying fit and, well, having good sex (so be forewarned about the less-than-G-rated content in these pages). Minimum effective dose, indeed.


The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line
This book, of course, is more about entertainment than great prose.  The characters came across as flat, but I've never watched the TV series or movie, so the book may assume an audience of devoted fans.  Nothing special, but it does offer the complete thriller package of kidnapping and ransom, murder, wild beach parties, long-lost family members, and drug scandals.




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