The Dutch House review

Ann Patchett writes impossibly smooth sentences with precisely found words. And together they describe a story so full of detail— it’s almost as if it must have happened, as if Patchett must have been there herself. How else could she possibly write this? The house is a character as much as the people are. And […]

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Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda review

One of the fantastic things about reading is that it lets you live many stories. And here’s the story of Simon, which can be lived, felt, seen from the inside. It’s almost as living — first-hand — through the considerations and problems carried by gay teenagers — many of which I was unaware of. For […]

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The Enemy review

Jack Reacher books are great fun (although this one isn’t one of the best in the series). Yet I do feel a bit empty afterward each time. Its up a notch from watching TV, but still I feel I’m wasting time with something that’s too close to pure entertainment. Is this the male version of […]

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HSK Standard Course books review

(This is a review of HSK Standard Coursebooks, HSK1 to HSK4上, both the workbooks and textbooks. I’m now making my way through the HSK4下 ones.) The structure is extremely clever, and full of composite words that are useful for later when combined (the Mandarin language is full of composite words). The difficulty doesn’t really increase […]

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Xenocide review

I can separate the work of an artist and her/his art, so I don’t let Orson Scott Card’s homophobic comments bother me too much. Yet reading this book for a second time reveals the conversation uncle that he is; writing passages about chastity, marriage, passing on genes. And all his female characters are overly emotional: […]

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The Gardener and the Carpenter review

‘The Gardener and the Carpenter’ should have been a long blogpost. I’m reminded why I dislike most non-fiction so much: every essay is being dragged out to 250 pages because then it can be sold as a full book. I’d be happy to buy these books for the same price if they’re shorter — but […]

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Into the Woods review

Detective and mystery thrillers are often captivating to read, but the stories themselves are never memorable: who did what to who and how did it end? A few months later I’ve forgotten it all — and in this respect ‘Into the Woods’ by Tana French is no different — yet beside the story itself, there’s […]

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Guns, Germs and Steel review

Here’s a hugely impressive book, and I feel smarter and more understanding after reading it. Diamond writes a beautiful message: all societies are inventive, but the environments and starting materials, conditions are not the same. And most of it is based on the narrative of Yali’s question, an elegant and honest search that shows the […]

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Shoe Dog review

I expected a business book but this is so much more. And it’s surprising, right away from the first page. Phil Knight writes well, and it’s obvious a lot of time has been put into the story of Blue Ribbon and Nike. There are the narratives of financing the company, the legal cases, and the […]

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The Day of the Locust Review

Here’s one of those classic books which I start reading slowly, letting in all its beautiful prose. But as the book fails to accelerate, my reading of it does, anxious to get this act on, eager to get it done. And so, as with other classics, the second half doesn’t get the patience the first […]

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