Books in Brief, Part Two

I haul eight or ten books home from my local library every week. About half of those don’t get my attention past the first few pages. A couple of others may get a cursory scan through selected chapters. The remaining two or three books I read, relish, and review fully. Some of the books that don’t make the cut for a full review end up in a Books in Brief post. Read on!

Idaho     Emily Ruskovich     (2017)

The terror in this novel lurks deep within, and it is revealed ever so slowly. The novelist is highly skilled in describing the rugged landscapes of northern Idaho and in exploring the perspectives of multiple characters at multiple time points. In short, this is an excellent novel. But the crime that sets the plot in motion is so horrific that I simply had to stop reading about a third of the way through. If you don’t have problems with nightmares from scary books, you may like this one.

Here I Am     Jonathan Safran Foer     (2016)

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This novel is exasperatingly self-referential, long (571 pages), and long-winded. I can see the brilliance of much of the writing, but the author swaggers with his own importance too much. For example, Foer constructs many descriptive lists. When Michael Chabon employs this device, he illuminates his subject. When Foer does it, he suffocates his subject. There’s a lot of discussion of the politics of Israel, and I hoped that would redeem the story, but it didn’t. I gave up less than a quarter of the way through.

 

The Sleep Revolution     Arianna Huffington     (2016)

I’ve read a lot of books and blog posts on the subject of insomnia, and as I paged quickly through The Sleep Revolution I recognized all the standard assertions:  lives too fast-paced, blue screens too ubiquitous, dinner too late, snoring too loud, pills too dangerous. If you need to be convinced that you should seek more healing sleep, you might want to read this entire book. Otherwise, turn to chapter 9, “What To Do, What Not To Do.” Among the many sleep tips summarized in this chapter I found one I may try: extended bedtime meditation rituals. Huffington helpfully lists guided meditations for sleep in her Appendix B. Her Appendix D, on mattresses, doesn’t mention the best resource I’ve found: sleeplikethedead.com