Book Reviews

The Hawaii Project Book Recommendations

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The Hawaii Project brings you books and book news you'd never have found on your own. We track what the web's leading tastemakers and book reviewers are writing about, uncovering things that match your favorite authors, personal interests and current events, and bring them to you daily.

From The Hawaii Project Book Recommendations

The 10 best books of 2015 - Washington Post

In our annual roundup of best books, you’ll find 10 that we think are exceptionally rewarding and 100 more you shouldn’t miss. In addition to our usual recommendations for lovers of mysteries, graphic novels and audiobooks, we’ve added lists drawn from our new monthly columns in romance, poetry and science fiction and fantasy.

From The 10 best books of 2015 - Washington Post


Behind ‘King Lear’: The History Revealed by Fintan O'Toole

King Lear cannot end because authority cannot be restored. This impossibility results from Shakespeare’s greatest act of opportunism. James’s interests have given him the opportunity to write a play about the collapse of all political order and that in turn gives him the opportunity to show what authority really looks like when it is not propped up by power. In King Lear, it is the old king himself, speaking to the viciously blinded Gloucester, who utters the most savage attack on all authority:

From Behind ‘King Lear’: The History Revealed by Fintan O'Toole | The New York Review of Books


New Title: Biblio Tech by John Palfrey

Review of a new book entitled Biblio TECH on how to keep libraries relevant in the digital age. John Palfrey’s lucid, passionate account of the state of American libraries reminds us both how important public libraries are to a healthy democracy and how close they are to going the way of the dodo bird. The author is the Head of School at Phillips Academy, Andover.

We are in the midst of a tectonic societal shift from print to digital and without a concerted effort to transform the library into its 21st century equivalent we just might lose these hubs of democracy for good.

The disconnect is huge; survey after survey remind us how important libraries are to their communities while in budget after budget funding for libraries continues to get slashed.

A Hearty Laugh for Work Weary Librarians

After a long day of answering questions and serving up information to the public (students, etc), a librarian could use a laugh. So pick up a copy of Roz Warren's OUR BODIES, OUR SHELVES: A COLLECTION OF LIBRARY HUMOR (HOPress, 2015) and see what might be between the covers that tickles your funnybone.

Here's an excerpt from one story: Freeze! It's the Library Police [a librarian's fantasy of recovering stolen books]

"Open up bitch! It's LIBRARY SQUAD!

Library Squad! A group of enraged middle-aged librarians. We're brainy, we're relentless. We'll hunt you down. We'll never give up. We know the Dewey Decimal Sysytem and we're not afraid to use it. And we always get our book.

And if you resist? We'll shush you. Permanently."

In addition to her library duties at the Bala Cynwyd Library right outside Philadelphia, Roz Warren writes forThe New York Times, The Funny Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The Jewish Forward and The Huffington Post. And she‘s been featured on the Today Show. Our Bodies, Our Shelves is her thirteenth humor book. Years ago, Roz left the practice of law to take a job at her local public library “because I was tired of making so damn much money.” She doesn't regret it.

Our Bodies, Our Shelves, ISBN 9780692406465

When Google is Your Librarian & Starbucks Your Wifi, Do We Need Libraries?

Book Review of the title Biblio Tech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google (nice title!!)

In his new book, author John Palfrey, former head of Harvard Law School Libraries writes about the necessity of maintaining public libraries as one of the essentials of society.

Libraries are repositories of books, music and documents, but above all of nostalgia: the musty stacks, the unexpected finds, the safety and pleasure of a place that welcomes and shelters unconditionally.

John Palfrey shares these memories, but he is also wary of them. After all, fond recollections of pleasant reading rooms can cloud our judgment of what libraries offer us — and need from us — today. In an era when search engines, online retailers and social media are overtaking some of libraries’ essential tasks, “nostalgia can actually be dangerous,” Palfrey warns. “Thinking of libraries as they were ages ago and wanting them to remain the same is the last thing we should want for them.”

Harsh Children's Book Reviews

From Quartz.

"One hundred years before post-millennial parents were deeming Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs inappropriate for young vegans, the children’s librarians of the New York Public Library kept a card catalog of hand-typed kids’ book reviews.

“There’s about a billion card catalogs in the library,” says Lynn Lobash, who oversees reader services at the NYPL. “But these are special in that they were used as a tool for collection development, for the staff to evaluate the children’s collection.”

Fave comment written in 1975 on an index card is "Just what we've been waiting for. A DIRTY TEENAGE NOVEL" about Judy Blume's Forever.

The World's Strongest Librarian Redux

The New Yorker reviews Josh Hanagarne’s new memoir about growing up with Tourette's Syndrome and becoming a librarian at the Salt Lake City Public Library. Worth a read, especially if you didn't catch our earlier review.

LibraryThing Offers Free Accounts through this Sunday, March 31

In reaction to the recent purchase of Goodreads by, LibraryThing announced the following:

In the wake of Amazon’s acquisition of Goodreads, we’ve had some blow-back on the fact that LibraryThing charges for a membership to add more than 200 books. In fact, when you go to pay, it’s pay-what-you-want. The money helps pay for the site, and keeps us advertisement-free for members. Also, we believe customers should be customers, with the loyalty and rights of customers, not the thing we sell to our real customers.

However, some people don’t like it. And we want everyone. So, as a test and a welcome, we’re giving out free year’s accounts to everyone who signs up through the end of Sunday. We’ve also upgraded everyone who signed up since 4pm yesterday.

More on their site.

They neglected to mention however that they too are part-owned by (40% due to previous small business purchases by Amazon). This was referenced in the NYTimes article about Amazon's purchase of Goodreads.

"The deal is made more significant because Amazon already owned part or all of Goodreads’ competitors, Shelfari and LibraryThing. It bought Shelfari in 2008. It also owns a portion of LibraryThing as a result of buying companies that already owned a stake in the site. Both are much smaller and have grown much more slowly than Goodreads."

Reading and Reviewing Every Bestseller Since 1913

For this blog ( ) I plan, among other things, to read and review every novel to reach the number one spot on Publishers Weekly annual bestsellers list, starting in 1913. Beyond just a book review, I'm going to provide some information on the authors and the time at which these books were written in an attempt to figure out just what made these particular books popular at that particular time.

I decided to undertake this endeavor as a mission to read books I never would have otherwise read, discover authors who have been lost to obscurity, and to see how what's popular has changed over the last one hundred years. I plan to post a new review every Monday, with links, short essays, and the like between review posts.


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