Looking for Calvin and Hobbes: The Unconventional Story of Bill Watterson and His Revolutionary Comic Strip by Nevin Martell (7/10)
This is a well-written biography of Bill Watterson, the author of the best comic strip ever, Calvin and Hobbes. The author writes about Watterson’s reclusiveness a lot, describing how few interviews are given. Martell interviews lots of friends and people who know Watterson, and provides an interesting portrait, although you don’t learn a lot if you’ve read all of the Calvin and Hobbes books; however, I do recommend this if you’re interested in the man behind the comic.
A Midnight Clear by William Wharton (9/10)
This is a semi-autobiographical story about an American squad on a mission around Christmas in 1944 – World War II. It’s a powerful tale about war and humanity – a classic. Highly recommended. The movie is worth watching, too. The author, William Wharton, writes touching, readable, poignant stories and non-fiction. We’ve posted a lot about William Wharton.
The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment by A. J. Jacobs (7/10)
This is fun non-fiction about a guy who does social experiments with himself as the main subject: impersonating a movie star; saying whatever is on your mind; pretending to be a woman… he doesn’t come across as narcissistic, although he makes fun about that. His self-deprecation and awareness of his reputation as one who does odd things in the name of journalism is sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. I did get tired of his experiments towards the end, but he has enlightening observations about his experiences. A good read.
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski (7/10)
This is a wonderful story about a boy, his family, and the dogs he grows up with. The boy is mute: he can’t talk, but he can hear and speak sign-language. Their family breeds dogs, dogs you wish you could own. The story has sections that are better than others – it seemed the author threw more variety in the tale to keep himself and the readers entertained – it seems deliberate. I found myself not caring about some of the story and then engaged in others. “Dog people” may enjoy this more than authors: there’s a lot about breeding, training, and dog behavior, which was fun to read. Not a great book, but good.
The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins (9/10)
This is non-fiction about the science of evolution. It’s a thorough but fascinating explanation of the facts behind evolution and what it is. There are some chapters that are heavy into scientific description, which you may have to read twice; the author warns about those chapters, too; but one needs them to get a complete picture of the complexity of evolution. Highly recommended.
Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama (7/10)
An autobiography of Barack Obama written before he become President of the United States, it describes how he was raised, worked hard, went to university after various jobs, then slowly became involved in politics – how his work experience and mentors influenced him. Obama is a wonderful writer and he makes his story interesting, although I grew bored when he went on about his extended family in Africa – too many damn names to remember.
King Leary by Paul Quarrington (6/10)
This amusing novel is about hockey, which may turn you off right there and I thought the same – but it won the CBC Canada Reads competition in 2008, which compelled me to try it. It’s about a former famous hockey player hired to advertise ginger ale. I laughed a lot at times, but I also found it dragged often too. It’s well-written and amusing, but I grew tired of the characters half way through.