2012 in books, part two

22. De 100 jarige man die uit het raam klom en verdween – Jonas Jonassen
I think this is going to be one of my favorite books of 2012. The protagonist, Allan, runs away from his nursing home and especially the head nurse hours before his 100th birthday party and gets mixed up with criminals, well-meaning citizens, and an elephant. It’s written so well, and funny, and it takes you through world history in a kind of Forrest Gump way, in the sense that Allan manages to get himself mixed up in every significant event in recent history. (English title: The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared.)

23. Mormonism: A Short Introduction – Richard Bushman
The Short Introduction series are always a good bet. I used this book to introduce Mormonism to the students taking my ‘Book of Mormon and American culture’ class.

24. The Mormon People: the making of an American faith – Matthew Bowman
A wonderful book. Scholarly yet semi-light, well-written, and very informative. Also, a very honest look at Mormon history, so much that it had me wondering if Bowman was Mormon or not since I couldn’t see much bias and writing without bias is a very hard thing to do.

25. The Unbearable Lightness of Scones – Alexander McCall Smith
Aah, Alexander McCall Smith. You know me, I love his work.

26. The Cookbook Collector – Allegra Goodman

27. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie – Alan Bradley
Flavia de Luce is the youngest of three girls and lives with her dad (her mother passed away). She spends her time annoying her sister and engaging in chemistry, until a man drops dead in their garden and her father is arrested for murder. Flavia then decides to solve the murder herself since the police are clearly not going to be successful. (Amazing the sense of self that girl has!) I was divided by this book. I liked it, I like chemistry-minded Flavia, young and precocious and smug though she is, but once I’d finished it, I didn’t feel the need to start the second one, even though I have it on my Kindle. Maybe someday.

28. Bonk: the curious coupling of science and sex – Mary Roach
Mary Roach has a very inquisitive mind and she will do and ask anything for a story. This is pretty much everything you wanted to know about sex research (and some things you might not want to). And I think I learned something about myself and the way I work in the process (even if I don’t quite remember what exactly it was that I learned. Apparently my long term memory needs work). One thing I like about Mary Roach’s books (I’m reading another one right now) is how she goes off on major tangents yet her personality on the page keeps all those tangents sewn together until the end.

29. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot
Interestingly enough, I liked the premise better than the book. Henrietta Lacks was a poor black woman with cancer back in the 1950s who had cells removed without her knowledge in the hospital (common practice back then). Her cells (HeLa) have been proven indispensable for research since then, and the book is about the cells as well as how the Lacks family (still poor) deals with the fact that her cells are famous, but she herself is forgotten. I enjoyed the parts about Henrietta’s life, and about the cells, but much of the book was about how the book was written, and that annoyed me after a while.

(You can find 2012 in books, part one here.)


6 thoughts on “2012 in books, part two

  1. Nemesis says:

    I brought The Mormon People home from the library and GH inhaled it. Had to take it back before I got a chance to read it, though. I believe Bowman is LDS, but it’s funny that you wondered because I think a lot of people have that reaction. When I’ve seen articles on Mormonism by him on Slate or wherever, there are always people in the comments section who will say, “Don’t read anti-Mormon propaganda like this if you want to know what we really believe!” I guess the combination of writing impartially + bringing up history that the average Mormon may not be aware of = anti. 😉

    Hope your travel plans for this summer are coming together!

    • Saskia says:

      It really is wonderful. I’ve had my students read parts of it as well and rely on it in my classes. And yes, I’ve seen that before on Slate etc (but also on BCC, sometimes the assumption that he isn’t Mormon) and I always chuckle inside then. That book deserves all the hype it gets.

      My travel plans are still a bit hectic but things are looking to come together. Can’t believe I’ll be in Utah in a little over two weeks!

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