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Showing posts from December, 2014

Book Review: The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout, ph.d.

If 1 in every 25 Americans is a sociopath, as this book suggests, then there must be five sociopaths in my grade alone.  My friends and I have our suspicions, but it's probably best not to tell y'all until we've concluded our investigations.   
     In all seriousness, this book was fascinating.  I learned why sociopaths thrive in Western countries, and that there are different kinds of sociopaths - some are violent, some are slick and charming, some are confrontational, some are driven by jealousy.  The writer, Martha Stout, is a clinical psychologist, and she intersperses true stories of sociopaths, probably first narrated to her by her clients, with chapters of data and reasoning, which was a great way to build the book because if a text doesn't tell me a story, I get bored (unless it's phenomenally written, of course).
     I have only two problems with the book.  One is the writing style, which is fine but not beautiful.  Understandably, the author's point …

A 'Wonderful' Interview with William Zinsser

I don't know if anybody remembers this, but months ago I reviewed a book called On Writing Well by William Zinsser.  Well, life must be even weirder than I thought, because a family friend who reads this blog is connected to Mr. Zinsser, and she sent him my review.  Last Sunday I was in bed (at 10 o'clock, because I take and treasure every chance I get to sleep) when my mom came in with the phone.  It played back a voice mail from WILLIAM ZINSSER, saying how much he liked my review.  He even gave me his number so I could call him back.       Do any of you have remember that scene from The Fault in Our Stars when Hazel gets a letter from her favorite author, inviting her to visit?  My joy at getting this call, and the invitation to return it, was equal if not greater.  I had to pace and gibber for a while before I could go back to bed.  I spent the rest of the week plotting my response, and decided that I could not waste this opportunity - I had to interview Mr. Zinsser for my …

Book Review: Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

Reading this book made me remember all the thousands of reasons why I love to read.
     It is a memoir, but it could also double as Sparknotes - if Sparknotes were about 1000 times more tantalizing and thought-provoking - for classic novels such as Daisy Miller by Henry James, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and, yes, Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.  This makes sense because, in this memoir, author Nafisi chooses to remember a book club she created and nurtured during the early years of the Islamic Republic in Tehran, Iran, after quitting her second university job since the Revolution.  In case you didn't know - and my own knowledge of this time period was embarrassingly sparse before I read this book - Iran became a theocracy in 1979 after religious leaders overthrew and ushered out the old Shah monarchy.  Many Iranians hoped that the new government would be an improvement over the old because the Ayatollah, their new leader, promised to preserve their culture and prevent We…