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wanderer15

wanderer15

Joined July 2016

Bibliophile, Scrabble lover
review
wanderer15
2666: A Novel | Roberto Bolaño, Natasha Wimmer
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Pickpick

Stunning. As other reviewers of this book have noted, 2666 tests readers‘ endurance to the outermost limits, both in terms of subject matter (part 4‘s relentless, harrowing violence in particular) and in length (900 pages of rich, complex prose). But I found the end result to be masterful, and well worth the effort.

BarbaraBB Yeah, a rewarding read, I thought so too. 4mo
Mcoun It was a difficult read on many levels. 4mo
15 likes2 comments
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wanderer15
The Heavenly Table: A Novel | Donald Ray Pollock
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Typical Pollock fare - expertly written and plotted, unflinchingly violent, darkly comedic. I think I prefer The Devil All the Time to this, but not by much.

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wanderer15
The Young Bride | Alessandro Baricco
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Mehso-so

Wow, what an odd, compelling book this was. I rate basically everything I read a pick, but I truly can‘t imagine recommending this to anyone (though it was rec‘d to me by an old college roommate). Features a bizarre third-person narrative that frequently and seamlessly shifts to first-person as many different characters including the author himself, a heaping dose of magical realism, and artful depiction of courtship, seduction, and love.

Beatlefan129 Your reading buddy is cute ❤️🐱 6mo
11 likes1 comment
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wanderer15
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Pickpick

Finished this on the plane en route to Portland - dazzlingly unique science fiction that takes about halfway to really kick into high science-fictiony gear, and crescendos to complete insanity by the end. Will definitely have to check out the sequels.

8 likes1 stack add
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wanderer15
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Pickpick

Back on Litsy after a long hiatus not because I‘ve forgotten about it, but simply because I haven‘t finished a book in a while (I redirected most of my free time to Scrabble stuff for the last few months). Ready to get back on my reading grind. I really enjoyed this book, which manages to be about war despite almost no scenes of combat - it‘s more about perception vs. reality with respect to the lives of modern soldiers.

7 likes1 stack add
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wanderer15
Song of Achilles | Madeline Miller
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Having recently read Circe I had high hopes for this book, and it exceeded them. Again, there's no need to be a classics buff to appreciate the timeless storyline and superb writing. I just hope Miller tackles more storylines from mythology/epic poetry soon.

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wanderer15
Skippy Dies: A Novel | Paul Murray
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Pickpick

Hard for a book to be simultaneously hysterically funny and deadly serious - this book was exactly that. The book is set in an Irish boarding school and follows a group of young boys, but the themes are very adult (including drug abuse and allusions to sexual abuse). I'll definitely be reading whatever else Murray puts out.

14 likes1 stack add
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wanderer15
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Pickpick

Unique structure, engrossing narrative, and riveting, disturbing conclusion. Really enjoyed this one. It's not an overly violent book despite the title, with the exception of the climactic scene. It's something closer to Rashomon set in the Scottish countryside.

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wanderer15
Circe | Madeline Miller
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Pickpick

A total blast...so well written and immersive. Recommended to anyone with even a passing interest in mythology or fantasy.

Kempii Sold! I placed it on hold at my library. 12mo
Kempii This one didn‘t quite work for me. I finished it, but felt that it dragged a bit and wasn‘t engaging enough. I didn‘t find that I cared enough about what was happening to the characters. 8mo
22 likes4 stack adds2 comments
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wanderer15
Lincoln in the Bardo | George Saunders
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This one will stay with me a while. My natural inclination is to be dubious of style-over-substance "tricks" like the book's unique narrative structure, but I felt it was well executed and appropriate here. I could easily understand if it was a bit too bizarre for many readers, but I was impressed. I wondered how this could ever be made into an audiobook, but after Googling and seeing the voice cast, I'll have to listen to it someday.

Macnjen I‘m listening to the audiobook and while I like the different narrators, it‘s a little confusing. Each author citation is audible as well which really cuts into the storyline. I‘m trying to stick to it as I like the story idea. 1y
20 likes1 stack add1 comment
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wanderer15
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Pickpick

@LiteraryinLititz really got into this one, so I decided to try it too. Intriguing premise, artfully written - several times Wilson defied my expectations for how a scene or plot point would turn out. Will have to try reading his other books.

Meglet I‘m glad @LiteraryinLititz tagged you in one of her recent posts...your reviews are fantastic. They tell me exactly what I‘d ask about in order to figure out if I‘d like a book or not. And I like knowing the things you share about a book, even if it means I decide I‘m not interested in reading it myself. 11mo
wanderer15 How nice of you to say, thanks! 11mo
14 likes2 comments
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wanderer15
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Mehso-so

For as big a baseball fan as I am, I hardly ever read any books about it. The book has three threads - I loved the in-depth history of each different type of pitch, didn't mind the inning by inning recap of Felix Hernandez' perfect game, and was bored by McDermott's account of his upbringing and hometown. I might recommend it to a Mariners fan or huge baseball nerd.

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wanderer15
The Name of the Rose | Umberto Eco, William Weaver, David Lodge
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Pickpick

It certainly took me long enough to finish this one, but I'm glad I did. The core mystery component was great, but the period-piece stuff about different monastic orders and philosophical meditations often felt like frustrating distractions from the main narrative. Have to follow up with something a little livelier.

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wanderer15
Loser | Thomas Bernhard
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Pickpick

I seem to rate everything "pick" even if it's a book I'd recommend to almost nobody, but I can't give this anything else. My first Bernhard - 170 pages, one gigantic stream-of-consciousness, Kafkaesque paragraph from an unreliable narrator with more than a little Salieri in him as he is both inspired and tortured by the genius of the pianist Glenn Gould. Not an easy read, but I was gripped.

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wanderer15
Lost For Words | Edward St Aubyn
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Such a treat to get all of St. Aubyn's biting wit from the Patrick Melrose novels without the accompanying heavy dose of gloom. The book is about a thinly veiled Booker Prize and the hilariously absurd process of picking a winner. I was uncomfortable for a while with the dichotomy between "good" literature from the white guy and "bad" literature from non-traditional authors, but to avoid spoilers I'll just say I'm no longer concerned.

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wanderer15
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This deep dive into lexicography and how dictionaries get made was littered with anecdotes sure to delight any word nerd - as a Scrabble player I have different relationship with dictionaries than most, but it was cool to see the Merriam-Webster dictionary from a different angle.

quanners Have you read Word Freak? I recommend it as a word lover and scrabble player. It‘s an easy and entertaining read. 1y
wanderer15 Not only have I read it, I am good friends with the author and went on his podcast! :) it's a great book that helped spur me to start playing myself. 1y
Kempii Have you read The Professor and the Madman? It‘s about the making of the Oxford English Dictionary. 12mo
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wanderer15 @Kempii Yes, I read it and greatly enjoyed it years ago! 12mo
Kempii Was this book better than The Prof? 12mo
wanderer15 It's a bit different. Word by Word doesn't have a central narrative the way Prof has with Murray and especially Minor, who is a fascinating character. Stamper talks a bit about herself and her co-workers but the book is primarily about lexicography...no overarching character-driven storyline. 12mo
12 likes1 stack add6 comments
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wanderer15
One of the Boys | Daniel Magariel
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Pickpick

This book's compact size belies its impact - it's packed with devastating moments and raw emotion. It's similar to My Absolute Darling - a monstrous, charismatic father and his tortured relationship with his kids. As I often do with this sort of book, I'll call it a qualified Pick...only for those with high literary pain tolerance.

11 likes1 stack add
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wanderer15
Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. (International) | Neal Stephenson, Nicole Galland
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Pickpick

Really enjoyed this. Stephenson can do no wrong as far as I'm concerned, but Galland's influence was a welcome addition - sometimes NS's casts of characters feel like variations on the same theme, but DODO has a vibrant, varied cast of narrators/characters. Magic and time travel combined with a typically intricate Stephensonian plot is a winning combo. My only gripe - so, so many acronyms. There's room for a sequel and I hope it happens.

14 likes1 stack add
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wanderer15
Less: A Novel | Andrew Sean Greer
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I really enjoyed this - really high caliber writing, and the eponymous Arthur Less is an amazingly vibrant character. I laughed out loud more than once, and the ending was very satisfying.

DebinHawaii 🐱❤️ 2y
15 likes1 stack add1 comment
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wanderer15
Behind Her Eyes | Sarah Pinborough
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An engrossing psychological thriller with an ending that meets the apparently considerable hype. Now I understand @LiteraryinLititz gasping in shock at the final pages!

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wanderer15
Pompeii: A Novel | Robert Harris
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Harris has a gift for making stories set thousands of years ago feel like modern thrillers, and Pompeii was no exception. I'll have to try one of his books set in the present day sometime.

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wanderer15
Brookline | Greer Hardwicke, Roger Reed
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Huge haul from Brookline Booksmith for @LiteraryinLititz and me today! This place kicks ass. I found so much stuff I've been hunting for forever.

BennettBookworm You two are TOO CUTE! 2y
10 likes1 comment
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wanderer15
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Pickpick

Brilliantly written, but unrelentingly brutal. Turtle is as vivid a protagonist as I can recall. I seem to be gravitating towards these types of books lately - need palate cleansers!

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wanderer15
4 3 2 1 | Paul Auster
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Wow. Extremely ambitious book about four parallel lives of one character. Occasionally felt gimmicky to me (still processing the ending...) but overall I'd say Auster pulled it off. Chock full of sprawling, crescendoing paragraph-long sentences. I thought it was gorgeously written but could understand if other readers felt differently.

BennettBookworm What a feat to have finished this! 2y
8 likes1 comment
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wanderer15
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Pickpick

Finished this as a warmup for Auster's 4321 with the aid of my snazzy new book sleeve from @LiteraryinLititz - these are not your usual detective/mystery novels with tidy endings that bring everything together. These stories are equal parts mystery and deconstruction of mysteries - but although normally books that are overtly postmodern make me roll my eyes, this worked for me.

BennettBookworm So snazzy!! 2y
10 likes1 comment
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wanderer15
Magpie Murders | Anthony Horowitz
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What an innovative approach to a murder mystery - a book within a book! Poirot approves! Thanks to @LiteraryinLititz for recommending/not spoiling the surprises.

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wanderer15
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Yikes. Short, but dizzyingly complex (thematically - plot is straightforward and writing is elegantly simplistic), and packs quite a punch. I'll be thinking about this one a while. I'm not sure how to quickly say what it's about - it's about pain, identity (how we see ourselves and others), and how we cope with an absurd world, among other things. I'll give it a qualified pick - I enjoyed it but it's not for everyone.

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wanderer15
Possession | A. S. Byatt
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A slow burn but ultimately extremely satisfying. I found the characters' poetry, letters, and journals very authentic - impressive on Byatt's part. Excited to get back on my reading grind with Scrabble stuff quieting down!

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wanderer15
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Haven't been doing my usual reading for the last couple months, unless you count swaths of the Scrabble dictionary, but yesterday I realized a dream I've been working towards for many years and won the National Scrabble Championship, held in NOLA this year. @LiteraryinLititz and her family were watching along from vacation in Aruba, which made me happy. Passing up reading on the beach was tough, but fortunately I now have a good excuse :)

Lacythebookworm Congratulations! 🍾🎉🎈 2y
BekaReid Congrats! 2y
susanw Wow! That's so awesome, congrats 🎉 2y
BennettBookworm YOU ARE THE CHAMPION!!!!!!! 2y
Zelma Wow, that is completely badass! 👏👏👏👏👏 2y
11 likes5 comments
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wanderer15
The Devil All the Time | Donald Ray Pollock
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Pickpick

I'm rating this a Pick despite the fact that I wouldn't recommend it to most of my friends. I was riveted from start to finish and the prose is deceptively rich considering the book's plain-spoken style (think C. McCarthy). The problem - a plot that frequently involves extreme violence and downright nightmarish events. If you like McCarthy or southern Gothic (this is basically "midwestern Gothic"), it's a pick - otherwise, stay away.

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wanderer15
Reamde: A Novel | Neal Stephenson
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Pickpick

Prototypical Neal Stephenson thrill ride - huge (1040pp), action-packed, technologically-savvy, maybe a little over-descriptive in spots, but on the whole really entertaining. Some of the action takes place in a World of Warcraft-like online game, which was especially fun for me as a former player - but the plot moves from virtual world to real world seamlessly and I would think even non-gamers might enjoy it.

Riveted_Reader_Melissa This one is on my to-read list, I really enjoyed his 2y
wanderer15 @Riveted_Reader_Melissa you can also use it as a doorstop when you're done... 2y
Riveted_Reader_Melissa @wanderer15 I might have to splurge on the ebook there, or see if the library has it in ebook, hauling that brick might result in wrist injury. 😂 (edited) 2y
15 likes1 stack add3 comments
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wanderer15
The Son | Philipp Meyer
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Appropriate that my own feline "son" walked into my picture here...I was really impressed with this book, though once again anybody put off by unflinching depictions of violence should pass. I need a palate cleanser/something fun!

BennettBookworm Hey Fitz! 2y
8 likes1 stack add1 comment
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wanderer15
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Pickpick

This book packs one hell of a punch. Not for the faint of heart (some truly horrifying scenes from the WWII POW camp in which most of the book takes place), but well worth the experience for anyone willing to endure it. If I had any criticism, it would be that the relationship/peacetime portions weren't as masterful as the wartime ones, but the prose is consistently superb throughout. I won't quickly forget this one.

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wanderer15
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An impressive book about big ideas, both mathematical and philosophical. The protagonist struggles to harness his genius and alienates his family and friends but is still sympathetic despite his myriad flaws. I think the math parts would still be engaging even for those normally allergic to it - the book is about familial relationships, not theorems and proofs. Maybe a bit longer than necessary, but I never felt that the narrative dragged.

10 likes1 stack add
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wanderer15
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Pickpick

Finally got to this delightful book, a Valentine's gift from @LiteraryinLititz . Full of surprising twists, it describes the experiences of three kids competing in the national youth Scrabble championship. I've served as "color commentator" on the live broadcast of the real-life school championship in 2015 and 2016 and am slated to reprise that role in April, so I feel qualified to recommend this book (though I had no fictional counterpart).

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wanderer15
Old Filth | Jane Gardam
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A strange little gem of a book. The eponymous protagonist isn't entirely lovable, but it's hard not to sympathize with the hardships he endures (there are many) and to feel for him as he struggles to navigate old age and a changing world.

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wanderer15
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Read this in literally one sitting (that included reading at the dinner table) at the behest of @LiteraryinLititz . I was hooked! A top notch thriller.

8 likes1 stack add
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wanderer15
Watergate: A Novel | Thomas Mallon
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The deeper into this I got, the more impressed I was with the caliber of the writing and the vibrance of the characters - you actually feel downright bad for Nixon at times. Scenes with White House staff are often darkly comedic, which somehow feels appropriate in today's day and age...

7 likes1 stack add
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wanderer15
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Pickpick

Dazzlingly well written, but not for the faint of heart - there's some stuff in here that's tough to stomach (realistic portrayal of heavy drug abuse, extremely abusive family relationships). Darkly comedic scenes skewering the English upper class ease the tension somewhat. It's hard to believe these novels are semi-autobiographical.

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wanderer15
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An absolute treat for this long-ago classics major. So vividly reimagined and Harris clearly takes great pains to be historically accurate. It's also surprisingly well written for a legal/political thriller. I'll be moving right along to the sequels - Cicero is a genius, but unfortunately we know his story doesn't end happily...

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wanderer15
HHhH | Laurent Binet
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A gripping fictionalization of an amazing true story I'm ashamed I knew nothing about. Unique presentation/narrative. Heavy subject matter (WWII Germany) but recommended for fans of historical fiction.

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wanderer15
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Working through a backlog of birthday book reviews from September...I loved this one. Alternately a hysterically funny takedown of modern investment banking and a dark meditation on modern life. Not sure it hits the stated goal of being a "modern day Ulysses" but I applaud the ambition.

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wanderer15
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Loved it - the characters felt so alive. The baseball-heavy parts rang true for this devoted fan, but the book is about so much more. Highly recommend.

7 likes1 stack add
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wanderer15
The Nix | Nathan Hill
Pickpick

Got a bunch of books for my birthday a few weeks ago and started this one first - I wanted to see whether it met the hype. Boy, did it ever. One of those rare kaleidoscopic books - full of humor, sadness, wisdom, and 100 other things. An instant favorite.

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wanderer15
Logicomix: An epic search for truth | Apostolos Doxiadis, Christos Papadimitriou
Pickpick

Certainly one of the top ten graphic novels about logic and the foundation of mathematics that I've read. Seriously though, not for everyone, and I couldn't quite shake the "why is this a graphic novel?" feeling, but still a lot of fun.

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wanderer15
Lexicon: A Novel | Max Barry
Pickpick

I had read Jennifer Government years ago, so I generally knew what to expect here - page-turning, action-packed narrative, trenchant political and cultural commentary, and big plot twists. Lexicon delivered all of these.

6 likes2 stack adds
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wanderer15
The Life of Elves | Muriel Barbery
Mehso-so

A little restraint would have gone a long way with the writing style. Flowery, elegant prose is fine, but this was a bit excessive. The main characters also felt like ciphers, defined only by their prodigious abilities. Not unreadable, but disappointing after Elegance of the Hedgehog.

LiteraryinLititz That's too bad. Elegance of the Hedgehog is one of my favorites because of the writing style. 3y
LauraBrook Welcome to LITSY! 3y
3 likes3 comments
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wanderer15
Infinite Jest | David Foster Wallace
Pickpick

One of a small handful of books I've read that captures feelings I've always had but have never been able to verbalize. Not much else I can say about IJ that hasn't already been said. In the running for my favorite book, and overdue for a reread.

LiteraryinLititz I've never read it, but I liked some of the essays in Consider the Lobster. Infinite Jest has always intimidated me! 3y
4 likes1 comment
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wanderer15
Pickpick

Worth the price of admission for Albertine Notes alone - the other two stories are fine, but paled in comparison. Perfectly captures the neurosis of modern life.

LiteraryinLititz I remember when you read this and loved that story! 3y
2 likes1 comment