To infinity and beyond! … Ok, Buzz Lightyear was not in Andy Weir’s novel The Martian; however, after over 500 Sols on Mars (one Sol is greater than one earth day!) it’s understandable as to why Andy Weir’s character Mark Watney might feel a bit like Buzz Lightyear. Mark Watney, a Botanist/Astronaut is left stranded on Mars after his crew is forced to leave him there during a dangerous sandstorm. While stranded on Mars Mr. Watney is faced with a variety of challenges that range from creating a sustainable food source to establishing communication with NASA. This novel does a tremendous job of taking you through the character’s thought process (and at times in a very witty/sarcastic manner) as he races against the clock to survive and find a way back home!
If you are a person with an analytical mindset or have a deep love for space, this book would be a great read! From my standpoint, I was very impressed with the level of research and knowledge that Andy Weir demonstrated through each of his characters, as well as the level of thought that went into articulating each problem (and their respective solution) that his main Character Mark Watney had to deal with. As a reformed nerd (or maybe not reformed) I was amazed with the level of detail that went into this novel and am giving it a 5 out of 5 stars! Must read!!
Submitted by Greg C.
Leap head first into The Overstory if you enjoy prose with the soaring emotional grip of an aria. Or, characters so completely authentic you'd have tons to discuss if you bumped into them in real life. Above all take this leap if you love trees, or even find them the least bit intriguing. I learned a ton from this wonderful book and not a word of it would I think of as preachy or pedantic. Author Powers' precise prose also gifted me some wonderful new words. For example, frass, (the powdery refuse produced by boring insects), and, pleaching, (interweaving of branches of adjacent trees and shrubs strengthening the collective - as a hedge does).
Pleaching also suggests the intertwining of the ethereal tentacles of humans and trees author Powers so eloquently describes in The Overstory. This is just great writing.
Comparisons to Wallace Stegner, or, Larry McMurtry are easy to make, but Powers clearly has his own voice.
This is one of those books that comfortably burrows into your brain and takes up residence for a good long stay... extending well beyond the turning of the last page. I welcome such intellectual and psychic invasions as a measure of the greatness of a book. Sure It’s a long read but I never once wished it were shorter. It’s a confusing narrative at times but I never once wished it were more tightly organized. It’s a melancholy story with a depressing ending but I never once wished for Disney. It’s just perfect as it is.
Submitted by Ned
I know I’m supposed to say something bitingly clever about this satirical novel by trending satirist and social commentator Nell Zink, but I can’t bring myself to do it. I liked Zink's breezy Aaron Sorkin style narration. I, mostly, became attached to her characters, although their self-defeating life strategies were tiresome at times, and Joe can be really annoying but we're not supposed to say that because he has something called Williams Syndrome. So I take that back. Williams Syndrome is the opposite of autism. So you can imagine, this guy is out there socially, and a non-stop high wire act. Lotta lotta impulsive manic behavior, and not just in Joe's orbit.
Colorful fringe characters abound in this satirical and subversive family history of the last 30 years of NY/DC-centric life. It’s perspectives expand and contract geographically as the decades roll and 9/11 disturbs everyone’s life trajectory with its seismic reorientation of American life.
Doxology has a coherent, character-driven narrative, but at its soul it’s a zinger fest.
Hilarious, at times astonishing, social commentary. Sometimes just this side of glib.
If something observed has been popping up on your radar but you haven’t been able to articulate its essence, Nell Zink tosses the perfectly thrown dart. It’s a little like meeting someone for the first time and really connecting. This Nell Zink really knows me and what I’m thinking. A lot of readers will appreciate the vitality of her writing. Dare I say it... this is an important voice. She has an almost god-like societal acumen not to mention, by the way, being a mind meld of the best rock critics of the last two decades. Her characters are witty people. Smart, quick on their feet. Self-contemplative without self-pity. Good people, with few exceptions, but complicated as we all are. Treat yourself.
Submitted by Ned
Long considered a classic as well as Dostoevsky’s best work, The Brothers Karamazov is a fictional tome of 729 pages. After seeing tons of reviews, I decided to be brave and find out what all the fuss was about.
Many commentaries raved about the profound psychological and theological themes and revelations. Others claimed it was an in-depth analysis of Russia’s ethics, politics and religion. I just wanted to see if I could even read the book! I’m happy to report that I did indeed read and even FINISHED the novel. But it was NOT easy!
In all fairness, I believe it loses a lot in the translation from Russian to English. The idioms and cultural aspects were often confusing and distracting. Therefore, I readily admit that in Russian this book is likely much better……..maybe?
The English translation I read was by Constance Garrett and it was pretty much a chore to read. There were numerous times I put it down never intending to pick it up again! Really. Yet there was SOMETHING compelling and intriguing about the book that kept me going back for more. There were even a few chapters that I liked so much I couldn’t put the book down! (Ok, I admit it, I loved the murder and mayhem parts!)
So what is my humble opinion? It is an epic story of greed, envy and mental illness. The Karamazov family gives new meaning to the word dysfunctional. Their interpersonal relationships are at times bizarre and puzzling and at other times there is some love and tenderness. However, the family dynamics are so intriguing and beguiling that I kept being drawn back into the unfolding saga. I developed a fascination for the characters that compelled me to see how it all turned out. (Spoiler…….it did not turn out well!)
My recommendation? If you have the time and are curious enough to find out why this is a classic, I say, “Go for it!”. If nothing else you will have bragging rights that you were able to tackle this tome. UDACHI!
Note: This novel is in the public domain therefore both the ebook and audiobook are readily available and Free on sites such as Librivox.com
Submitted by Mary Hall