Often, serendipity plays a role in putting the perfect book in my hands at just the right time. That is the experience I had last week, when I happened to be finishing Does Jesus Really Love Me? by Jeff Chu on the same day the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on two cases related to same-sex marriage. In the book, Chu, a journalist who grew up in California and now lives in New York, sets out on a year-long pilgrimage to ask tough why so many people who read the same scriptures and follow the same God can end up at radically different conclusions on issues of faith, the church and homosexuality.
If you were a woman hired at Newsweek magazine in the 1960s, you had a limited career path. Most women were hired as researchers, working to provide background and information to male writers who received all the bylines and credit for each of the magazine’s stories. Women had almost no chance to move up from researcher to writer, and an even smaller possibility of ever becoming an editor or among the top brass at the magazine.
One Sentence Summary: Budding journalist Iris Dupont tries to take down a secret society at her New England prep school while investigating a mysterious science teacher and an incident from the past still making waves today.
One Sentence Review: The Year of the Gadfly is a book that appealed to all of my literary weak spots that managed to surprise me with every turn of the page.
When I first heard that there was going to be a documentary made about what it is like to work at the New York Times, I may have squealed. Loudly and repeatedly. Just maybe.
Although I’ve never wanted to work at the Times, that newspaper — for better or for worse — is the standard of journalism in the United States. During my first visit to New York for the Book Blogger Convention in 2010, I was one of those total dorks that took a photo in front of the New York Times building (well, Care took the photo, I just posed like a total fan girl).
The Taliban Shuffle was a book that hit on many of my book weaknesses – journalism, the Middle East, foreign politics, and the role of women in all of those fields. So in that respect, I should have been completely in love with The Taliban Shuffle. Except I wasn’t, at least not as entirely as I expected, and I cannot figure out why.
As I sat down to start writing my review for today, I realized I have a bunch of books in the queue that I just don’t have a lot to say about. They all happen to be fiction, which is probably because I’m out of practice writing fiction reviews. I also didn’t take take any notes on these books, which made writing long reviews impossible.
I kept all of these to two paragraphs (super short for me!), so if you have more specific questions about any of the books, leave them in the comments and I’ll answer them as soon as I can.
I check out and buy a lot of books that end up getting returned or languishing on my shelves unread for reasons that have nothing to do with the book. I wanted to find a way to highlight those books, so decided to start a new weekly-ish feature called “Off the Stacks.”
Each week in “Off the Stacks” I’ll highlight one recent nonfiction that I want to read but, because I can only read so many books, may not get to try. I’m hoping that by highlighting titles this way, I can encourage other people to give the book a try, and, if it’s great, consider nominating it later this year in the Indie Lit Awards.
Review: I read Nothing Left to Burn midway through the Read-a-Thon and know that I enjoyed it, but I’m having a complete brain malfunction trying to talk about it. I was impressed with the way Varner was able to build tension in the story even though at least part of the mystery — his grandfather’s history as an arsonist — is disclosed early in the book. There’s still a strong tension as Varner uncovers the clues and puts together the stories of his past.