Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Science of Single

The Science of Single: One Woman's Grand Experiment in Modern Dating, Creating Chemistry, and Finding Love by Rachel Machacek

When I read about this book, I got the feeling it had a new twist--someone had actually looked at the science of love and figured out how to date in a way that you easily find the right chemistry. That's not what this is--it's actually just the same dating book that's been written thousands of times. 30-something single woman sets out on a year-long dating experiment to see what tactics work best--online dating, singles events, blind dates, etc. There was nothing original about this book, except perhaps that it took place in Washington DC (usually it's New York--home of the most writers by sheer volume and surely per capita as well). I enjoyed the references to DC landmarks and bars (although I've never lived there, I love DC and have had many good times there) and Machacek is a likable heroine. So, while it's nothing new, it's entertaining nonetheless.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Imperfectionists

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

This one lives up to its reputation of one of the best debut novels in recent years. Rachman has created vivid portraits of several staff members at an English language newspaper in Rome, and the chapters each read like short stories--packed with punch. In between the chapters, each one focusing on a different staff member's personal life, we learn the history of the newspaper--50 years of history. The book is as funny as it is sad, and always incredibly sharp.

History of a Suicide

History of a Suicide: My Sister's Unfinished Life by Jill Bialosky

Bialosky's younger sister took her own life 20 years ago and the writer has only recently begun to come to terms with the loss. This memoir reads like a tribute to a beloved sister and friend and it's truly heartfelt; however, I felt there was a bit more personal information than the reader needed. The book was most interesting when Bialosky talked about the experiences of others in her Suicide Survivors Support Group and the research she's done on suicide. Bialosky has still not figured out the why by the end of the book, but perhaps the comfort is knowing that no one can ever really know why. By the long list of requests at the library for this book, it's clear the subject resonates with many and for that, it's a noble read.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Virtually You

Virtually You: The Dangerous Powers of the E-Personality by Elias Aboujaoude

Aboujaoude, a California psychiatrist who specializes in obsessive-compulsive disorder, presents perhaps one of the best written books (one of the only?) on the dangers of society's Internet dependence. Although he presents studies and uses some medical terminology, this book is very readable and even enjoyable. He gives real-life examples of the ways in which Internet addiction has affected people--breaking up relationships and pulling people away from reality. He touches on the differences in people's actions online versus offline (the "e-personality" really can be quite different from the offline personality in some cases), and really gives the reader pause to think about how dangerous the Internet can be for our mental health.