ARC, Books

Book 508: Chemistry – Weike Wang

I first heard of this book through a friend, who also happens to be friends with the author. After reading the blurb I reached out to the publisher for a copy and here I am.* It of course didn’t hurt that the book was set here in Boston at an unnamed University and I’ve started to see it everywhere around the city either!

Chemistry is the tale of an unnamed narrator and her exit from the academic world that has ruled her life and her various reactions to things going on in her world. It’s more complicated than that, but that’s what I boiled it down to. I’m still mulling over many parts of the book, particularly the “conclusion,” but in general I found this to be a wonderfully engaging read.

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Book 122: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot

I need to stop saying I don’t like nonfiction and start saying I enjoy immersive nonfiction. It seems the majority of nonfiction works that I do like are those that delve deeper into societal issues from a different perspective, like The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

This was a fascinating read and it constantly reminded me of an updated (more micro-focused) version of Stephen Jay Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man in which he discusses and shows the errors of many scientists whose procedures created ultimately racist data. If you enjoyed Skloot’s work you should definitely check out Gould’s, although it’s not as much about the personal stories behind the family and behind Skloot’s interest in this subject which makes Skloot’s work more approachable to the general public.

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Book 59: Him, Her, Him Again, The End of Him – Patricia Marx

If I were to write a novel, I assume it would be something like this one, somewhat scatter-brained, somewhat genius and somewhat ludicrous.

I enjoyed the author’s conversational tone, but sometimes the informality of it when she trailed off into the could haves and would haves fell into a long trailing run on lists which are evenly entertaining and annoying. (Entertaining because we all know we do it, and me more so than others, and annoying because after the first few times it seemed wanton and trite.)

We follow the unnamed narrator from her pursuit of a PhD at Cambridge University to the depths of unemployment in New York City with the one constant being her love/lust/infatuation of Eugene, a professor of Ego studies. It goes without saying that the love/lust/infatuation is perceptibly unrequited as Eugene not only marries another woman and has a child by her, but carries on numerous other affairs over their ten-year relationship/fling.

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