Bel Canto review

What makes a good book? If you derive pleasure out of reading it — or if you look back on it afterwards with pleasure? Bel Canto does the latter, but not the former, so I’m very mixed on this one. The words and sentences are as beautiful as I’ve ever read, and Pratchett continues to find […]

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Remembrance of Earth’s Past review

This is a review about The Three-Body Problem, The Dark Forest, and Death’s End — as it’s one story and reviewing an individual book in this series makes little sense. Science-fiction is best when it confronts big issues, when it sees us from the far-flung high-tech future, and from that distance looks at the things […]

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When Breath Becomes Air review

You’d think the world has enough books from terminal cancer patients, who, in the face of death, try to give us all an urgent message that money and careers don’t matter — but only love does. And how would anyone disagree with those sentiments, taking place in hospitals and bad-news conversations. The message is always […]

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Leftover women review

Through ‘Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China’, Leta Hong Fincher shares an important message and she deserves credit for this, but I have several problems with the book itself. Firstly — and I say this while I understand that gathering quantitative research data about China is difficult — this book takes cherry-picking […]

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The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are review

“All knowledge is a recognition of the mutual relationships between sense experience and/or things and events.” This is a dense book, packed with insights. Some of them so wise that they make you look at life in a different way. But others feel just plainly wrong or overly simplistic (“You are IT”) — or are […]

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Speaker for the Dead review

This story on understanding comes in the unexpected shape a science-fiction novel — although anyone who has read Orson Scott Card’s books before would not be so surprised. It’s very different from its prequel, Ender’s Game: Speaker for the Dead is about understanding others, be it different individuals, families or even alien races — and its meditative […]

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How to Be Both review

Here’s a book I really want to love, as it’s lighthearted tale about how art connects time and space and its people. Even the form is highly original, telling about two motherless figures, six hundred years apart — one a troubled teenager, the other an Italian fresco painter. These perspectives draw you in. The book is marketed […]

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An Excess Male review

A dish spinner keeps spinning disks on top of sticks afloat and needs to alternate spinning each dish before one of them slows down and falls, making the performance fail. An author’s role is similar in that he or she must keep characters alive before they fall from memory, so that the reader is not […]

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‘How to build a car’ review

‘How to build a car’ is a fascinating read that starts with a hard-to-educate boy hobbying in the shed with his dad, who picks up a study in aerodynamics. Much of Newey’s approach lays in these formative years, en route to becoming one of the most dominant car designers of Formula One. It’s interesting to […]

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21 Lessons for the 21st Century review

Despite 300-something pages, the book feels compact and leaves me wanting for more. Any of these chapters could be a fantastic standalone book, and any of them raises a lot of important questions — although not necessarily ‘Lessons’ as the title suggests. Nobody has these lessons, and while Harari sometimes over-simplifies or dramatises, he acts as […]

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