Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Namesake - Jhumpa Lahiri

The Namesake: A Novel

I very much liked the collection of short stories that I just read by Jhumpa Lahiri, so I was eager to get into The Namesake which is supposed to be her best novel.

I'll be short and sweet with this review.  It's about a Bengali man who moves to the US and soon brings a wife over to live with him.  They start a family and the story moves to the point of view of their first son and his life which seems stuck between the two cultures.

Most of the book made me feel sad.  The way he was torn between the life of his family and the life of his 'american' friends put so much stress on him and his relationships.  Toward the end he starts to appreciate his family's culture so he grows as a character which is interesting to see.

The writing was ok... Lahiri style is very simplistic and to the point which makes for quick easy reading, but sometimes felt unfinished or unprofessional.

Overall it was a good book.  I won't put it on my list of favorites, but I did enjoy the story and the characters.


This Is How: Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More. For Young and Old Alike

For my second read in May, I read This Is How: Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More. For Young and Old Alike. by Augusten Burroughs

I REALLY wanted to like this book.  I have been a fan of Augusten Burroughs since I read Running With Scissors and then proceeded to immediately read all of his other books.  I then waited impatiently each time for his next work to come out and devoured it as well.  This book was no different.  I was ecstatic when I read it was being released in May, back in January.  I pre-ordered it months ago.  However having just finished reading it, I'm wonder what on earth just happened?

This Is How is not a typical Burroughs book.  If you are a fan of Burroughs you'll already know that his other works are all memoirs, except one highly entertaining fiction novel.  This Is How is a "self-help" book.  He takes on a variety of topics and basically give you his opinion on how to deal with them.  That might have been okay, if it was written at all in Burroughs' usual style.  There was no humor.  There were very few personal stories to relate his opinions too.  There were sections and chapters where he kept repeating himself.  This is me, disappointed. 

It honestly pains me to write this, but I did not like this book.  There were a few chapters that were tolerable, but overall I just can't say I would recommend reading this.  I would give this book a 2/3 out of 10 rating based on my own reading preferences.  However, as a "self-help" book I would still only give it a 3/4.  If you want to read a fantastic book by Augusten Burroughs, go pick up his memoir Dry

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

For my first read in May, I read The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg.  It is a non-fiction book that explains how habits are created and also how they can be changed.

This book was quite interesting.  I consider myself to be a "creature of habit" and so I was intrigued to see how habits are formed and what can be done to change habits we don't like.  The book is broken up into three parts: Habits of Individuals, Habits of Successful Organizations and Habits of Societies.  Each part has a few chapters that give examples of real life people, companies, etc. and how they have managed to create and change habits.  Some of the habits are good and some were ones that needed to be changed.  I really enjoy these sort of "case studies" in non-fiction books, so I found the examples to be quite interesting.

My only complaint about this book is it got a little repetitive at times.  They kept going back and reminding you about things they had mentioned before such as patterns and case studies and it also bounced back and forth in time a bit.  I understand why the author did this, but I thought it made some parts longer than they needed to be.

Overall, I'd recommend this book.  If you have a habit you'd like to change, the appendix at the end of the book has a "readers guide" to using the information discussed in the book.  I thought it was a nice touch since it breaks down habit changing step by step for you in a short and easy to read format.