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Review: Tom Toner’s “The Promise of the Child”

Tom Toner contacted me in search of an honest review of this book, and when I agreed to give it a shot, his publisher sent me two hard copies (one for me and another for a friend). Given Toner’s enthusiasm and generosity, I truly wish I had enjoyed his book more than I did. Despite some [...]

Review: Nancy Isenberg’s “White Trash”

If such a thing as disillusionment is possible inside the skull of Donald Trump, this may be one of those rare weekends in which it is buzzing about. As the idea that leading America would be somehow simple or easy crumbles before Trump’s eyes, those of us looking on do well to remind ourselves that [...]

Review: J.D. Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy”

Reading J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy officially puts me on the bandwagon of liberal Americans who are trying to figure out what the hell is going on in our country. And while I don’t think it’s fair for a confounded public to turn to a single figure to explain the motives of rural Trumpites, historical circumstances seem to [...]

Review: Patrick Rothfuss’s “The Name of the Wind”

After myriad recommendations from trusted sources, I had high expectations for Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind. But now that I have finally reached the end of this torturous novel, I can safely say it has been a long time since I loathed a book this much. In my view, The Name of the Wind is an [...]

Review: Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson’s “Why Nations Fail”

Why Nations Fail has been weighing down my bookshelf for a few years now, but the recent election of Donald Trump sent me scurrying to dust it off. First published in 2012 by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson, this treatise on the differences between successful and unsuccessful nations feels newly relevant and frighteningly intimate. Looking abroad [...]

Review: Ilona Andrews’s “Magic Binds”

Ilona Andrews’s Magic Binds is the perfect predecessor to the book Kate Daniels fans have been waiting for since the beginning. It’s also a terrific ride in its own right. Just like all the others, Magic Binds retains the core cast of characters and conflicts Kate Daniels fans love, while also breaking new ground. In this book, Kate’s [...]

My Year of Bookish Wisdom: 2016

Introduction: A Year of Contradictions This last year was quite a ride. Without doubt, 2016 was one of the most dynamic years of my life, both in terms of personal development and world events. When I look back on it years from now, I expect to experience feelings of deep ambivalence. This was the year [...]

Review: Ilona Andrews’s “Magic Shifts”

It’s understandable that the eighth book in a fantasy series might come off a bit stale. Ilona Andrews’s Kate Daniels series is one of the best I’ve come across, but Magic Shifts is far from its best installment. Fortunately, what constitutes a slump for this story could be the peak of many lesser narratives, so there [...]

Review: Ian McEwan’s “Nutshell”

I’m one of those people who thinks Shakespeare’s Hamlet is the apotheosis of English literature. I’ve never encountered another text that can move me so profoundly, entertain me so thoroughly, or describe the human condition with commensurate depth and clarity. I consider Hamlet to be a once-in-a-civilization––perhaps even a once-in-a-species––creation. So, in one way, I am the perfect [...]

Review: Adrienne Rich’s “On Lies, Secrets, and Silence”

Months ago, my decision to purchase this book was an act of intellectual calculation. I’d heard an excellent recommendation on a podcast, and believed dipping into the mind of Adrienne Rich would be edifying. In the wake of the recent election, however, I grabbed this collection of essays off my bookshelf in an act of [...]