Book review Archive

What Are We Doing Here?

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June 1, 2018 Gordon Houser

By Gordon Houser “What Are We Doing Here?” is the title of one of the 15 essays in Marilynne Robinson’s new book, What Are We Doing Here? (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27 USD), and while it addresses a specific audience that includes many literature teachers, it also serves as a major theme of the book, addressed to all of us. Although Robinson is known more as a novelist (Housekeeping, Gilead, Home, Lila), this is her sixth book of nonfiction. It collects mostly lectures she’s given in the last few years. In the preface, she notes that these essays reflect “matters of […]

Reason vs. belonging

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April 21, 2017 Gordon Houser

We live in a society where facts don’t seem to mean much. If the president, for example, doesn’t like a report or scientific study, he simply calls it “fake news.” When this ruse was revealed, the one group still thought they were better than average at identifying real suicide notes. He’s not alone. Many of us take similar positions, and, according to some recent books, there are reasons for that. In her article “Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds” (The New Yorker, Feb. 27), Elizabeth Kolbert reviews three of these books. All, by the way, were written before last November’s […]

The School for Good and Evil trilogy (audiobook)

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September 23, 2016 Michelle D. Sinclair

As much as I enjoy young adult fiction, I’ve been burned by widely popular novels before (Veronica Roth’s Divergent series was a notable disappointment). When I discovered my favorite audiobook narrator, Polly Lee, had performed Soman Chainani’s bestselling trilogy, The School for Good and Evil, I embarked on the series with deep reservations. Could the world-building and characters make me believe in the story? Or would there be a fatal flaw in the presentation that would be too distracting to transport me away? What is the nature of Good? What makes a person Evil? How does True Love fit into […]