Tuesday, April 07, 2015

2015 Books Part III

This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession by Daniel J. Levitin - I wanted this to be a five-star book. I love music and I enjoy books about the brain. But somehow this didn't quite work for me. Levitin begins with a lesson on music theory, but I never really "got it" and struggled through the book. 4 stars

Ticket to Ride: Lost and Found in America by Sarah Darmody - Aussie Darmody wins the visa lottery and the opportunity to become an American. After spending some time in Florida with her father, she sets out to see the country she has won.,, via Greyhound. This is a great story packed with experiences around the Lower 48 and all-too-vivid details of riding the bus. Along the way, she examines what America and being American are all about from a balanced, thoughtful perspective. 5 stars

Thin Is the New Happy by Valerie Frankel - This is a memoir I shouldn't have even bought. It's a total "chick book" about a lifetime of body image issues. Then I almost never read it.* But Frankel is a talented writer (she wrote 14 novels before this memoir), and I breezed through this entertaining though narcissistic book. 4 stars

Life Is a Wheel: Love, Death, Etc., and a Bike Ride Across America by Bruce Weber - Ostensibly about a bike tour, this book is really more of a memoir than a travelogue. Throughout his journey, Weber delves into various aspects of his 57-year life past and present. After all, there is a lot of time for reflection on a solo bike trip. This isn't necessarily a great bicycle touring book, but it is excellent nonetheless. 5 stars

* Much like Frankel and her body image, I have had a long and complicated relationship with this book. I bought it for $2 in the clearance section of Half Price Books (Minneapolis in 2010, IIRC). Several times I put it in my "read soon" pile, and once I even took it along on a trip but didn't read it. Eventually it lost favor and wound up in The Boxes, an attic exile for unread books that I doubt I will ever read (ultimately headed to Open Books, but perhaps not until I die). Then I bought Frankel's follow-up memoir a few months ago from BookOutlet.com (which was odd since I had previously examined and rejected it in a store, but this time it was a good deal—gee, how did I end up with so many books?). Several weeks ago I revisited The Boxes and fished out a few dozen books for another chance, replacing them with an equal number banished from the "unread" bookcase in our library (which also includes half a dozen stacks in front of the bookcase—I am awful). When I finished Ticket to Ride, I decided to choose one of the formerly exiled books and settled on this one.