February book reviews

Carina lim ‘21


Stranger than fiction: True Stories by chuck palahniuk

Length : 23 Stories, 233 Pages.

Rating : 9/10 Highly recommend.

Similar Books : Cross-Worlds : Short Stories on Global Themes by Suzanne S. Choo

Stranger Than Fiction is a collection of essays, interviews, and personal reflections by Chuck Palahniuk, who is better known for his other work, Fight Club. There are 23 stories divided into three parts; People Together, Portraits, & Personal. People Together consists of intriguing and sometimes even coarse non-fiction stories from all over the nation, from the North Regional Olympic Trial in Iowa to the submarine USS Louisiana. Portraits covers interviews and short essays, while Personal consists of mainly autobiographical reflections. While the story I found the most moving was You Are Here, written about a writing conference Palahniuk attended at the Airport Sheraton Hotel, the collection I liked best would definitely be Personal. The stories might at first might seem crude and strange, but Palahniuk's skilled storytelling combined with the raw material he derives the stories from creates an intensely visceral prose that is guaranteed draw you in.


Educated by tara westover

Length : 334 Pages

Rating : 9/10 It’s good. Read it.

Similar Books : North of Normal by Cea Sunrise Person

Educated is a heart-wrenching, powerful, and deeply compelling memoir about Tara Westover, a woman who grew up in a mormon family with a bipolar, abusive father and several older siblings with varying problems of their own. She manages to escape her roots and, by sheer force of will, taught herself and got a 27 on the ACT without ever having stepped into school. She went on to study at BYU, Cambridge, and finally was a visiting fellow at Harvard. She postulates that education is a way of seeing the world and comes in many shapes and forms. It should be noted, however, that while she titles this memoir ‘Education,’ she places a larger emphasis on her family background and might, at some times, appear repetitive to audiences expecting a deeper examination into her educational circumstances.


A guide to being born by ramona ausubel

Length : 11 Stories, 208 Pages

Rating : 10/10 I loved it

Similar Books : Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami

A Guide to Being Born is a collection of eleven stories organized in four parts— love, conception, gestation, and birth— and examines the transformations people experience as they go through life. The book mirrors Haruki Murakami’s (A Japanese writer whose works are intensely melancholic and fatalistic) works with its slightly surreal setting, blurring the lines of reality and creating a deeply enchanting, sometimes Kafkaesque narrative. From stories about several grandmothers stranded on a ship with no idea how they got there to stories of a young girl playing baseball with a ghost in the woods, all these tales are built around a strong emotional core and leave a lot to the reader’s own interpretation. The stories are what you make of them, leaving a haunting impression on the reader.


Just mercy by bryan stevenson

Length : 349 Pages

Rating : 9/10 Good if you’re interested in law

Similar Books : The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

Bryan Stevenson, a brilliant lawyer who grew up poor in the racially segregated South, published his groundbreaking memoir, Just Mercy, in 2014 — right in the heat of the growing epidemic of racially motivated death sentences. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1985 he founded Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in Montgomery, Alabama, a non-profit that focuses on combating injustice and racial prejudice in the American judicial system. In Just Mercy, Stevenson focuses primarily on the case of Walter McMillian, a black man wrongly sentenced to death for the murder of a white woman, examining his journey through the judicial system, death sentence, and eventual exoneration. However, other cases involving the wrongful conviction of juveniles or other similar death row cases are also intertwined. The book is, at its core, an intense critique of racial bias and inherent inhumanity in America’s judicial system. Just Mercy was amazingly well written and eye opening; I strongly recommend it, especially to those interested in law.