Friday, June 29, 2012

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston

This is the most unusual of stories. Not told in a typical fashion, this is an actual (fictional) scrapbook that Frankie Pratt created of her life, starting with her romance with a married man (the married part unknown to her) and going to college in Vassar. It leads to her adventures during her life, about living with a roommate in college and meeting the roommate's family, about romantic steps and missteps, and travelling. A book I definitely recommend, if only to look at the ephemera from the 1920s.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

End This Depression Now! by Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman is pretty darn amazing and level-headed, especially when it comes to economics. Well, I'll be darned, he even received one of those Nobel Prize thingies! How this story goes it that it is essentially a recap of how we got to where we are and how to get to where we need to be, aka people with jobs and a growing economy and away from austerity measures. He talks about all the different parts of the economy and how they interact...especially about gridlock in Congress (it is ridiculous that the GOP has pledged to not raise taxes to Grover Nordquist...I thought they were supposed to serve America, but what do I know), the issues that Europe is having and how that could cross the Atlantic, and kind of has with the GOP wanting to cut spending without raising taxes, or having to offset a debt ceiling increase with spending frustrating to me!...and also what the Fed could do to help things along. It really was a very interesting read and it sounds like a deceivingly easy solution to get America back to full employment (aka 5% unemployment), but I doubt it will happen, as Krugman does, too. He even says at this rate, it will take 5-7 years for us to get back to full employment, and he does call what we are in a depression, not just a recession or Great Recession. It is also really interesting to read the exerpts at the beginning of each chapter--some are taken from during the Great Depression and scarily echo current sentiments and others are from only a few years ago declaring that the recession was over and we were on the path to growth. I enjoyed Krugman so much, don't be surprised if you see more reviews of his books here.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer

I really, really enjoyed this book. It is about exactly what it says it is. It begins by explaining where creativity happens in the brain. The book as a whole is divided into two sections; the first is about creativity on your own and the second about creativity in groups. I found it absolutely amazing to find out that larger cities have more patents due to its citizens' interaction with one another, essentially bouncing ideas off of one another. There were a lot of other gems in it, and all the examples from Pixar to a degenerative brain condition that leaves people especially creative before killing them just blew my mind (pun not intended). I definitely recommend this book.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Odds by Stewart O'nan

Every chapter in this book begins with an odd, like 1 in 6 marriages make it to their 25th anniversary. The book centers around Marion and Art, a long-timed married couple up against unemployment, bankruptcy, house foreclosure, and divorce, but give it one last go at Niagra Falls on a second honeymoon. While there, they bring thousands of dollars with them in the hope to not only rekindle their romance, but to also gamble their way out of debt. Art had had an affair twenty years prior, and so had Marion, but with a woman--an affair she has not told Art about, nor plans to. Finally, after three days in Canada, they have all their money traded into chips and set out to get back what they lost in life.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

This book was a much, much faster read than 1Q84. It helps that it was YA and only took me 3 days to read. It is about Hazel, a 16 year old who lives with lung cancer, who meets Gus in a cancer support group for teens. Gus is missing part of one of his legs from cancer, but has been cancer-free for a while. They immediately click, but Hazel worries about Gus being more interested in her than she is with him, but eventually that worry is resolved. She introduces him to her favorite book (that ends mid-sentence) and Gus to his favorite book (which is part of a series that she breezes through). Through this, they create a budding romantic relationship. Hazel tells Gus about the times she has written to the author of her favorite book, and he also writes to him, but emails it (rather than snail mails it). He ends up getting a response--amazingly!--and the author invites them to visit him in Amsterdam. Gus then informs Hazel that he had not used his Wish (she had already to go to Disney), so they will go to see the author! During their time in Amsterdam, their relationship deepens and they found that the author was not quite how they pictured him would be. Also, Gus revealed a secret to Hazel that changes their relationship forever.