Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Books

A few more book reviews.

* <-----------> ** <-----------> *** <-----------> **** <----------> *****
Easy - - Pretty Easy - - Moderate - - Pretty Challenging - - Challenging

Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes
$7.99 at Bn.com ISBN: 015603008X
** (pretty easy)

A science fiction novel in which an experiment makes a mentally retarded man super-intelligent, but of course it's only temporary and he slowly declines back to his original IQ. It starts when he works as a mop-boy in a bakery who's outwitted by a mouse. Fascinating stuff: the transition happens so gradually you hardly realize what's happening. A fun read that's just over 100 pages.


Wicked, by Gregory Maguire
$11.20 at Bn.com ISBN: 0060987103
*** (moderate)
Every story has two sides, and Oz is no exception. This is the story of the Wicked Witch of the West, from her conception and early childhood to her death at the hands of Dorothy Gale. She's never really an "evil" character, just disdainful of the stupidity of the people around her, a subject we can all relate to. This takes a little while to get into, the first chapter doesn't much resemble the Oz from the movies, but stick with it! You'll be captivated before she rides her first broomstick
. Now remade as a Broadway musical.

Freakonomics, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
$20.76 at Bn.com ISBN: 006073132X
*** (moderate)
An economist uses economic factors to explain various aspects of modern life. How many people cheat and how can you tell who does? What are the pay-offs versus the risks of becoming a drug dealer? My favorite chapter involves how parents might pick the first name of their child, and what your first name says about your parents and you. It sounds tedious, but it's actually a very pleasant read. Fascinating stuff you'll plow through in no time.


No Logo, by Naomi Klein
$15.00 at Bn.com ISBN: 0312421435
**** (pretty challenging)
It's true of many of the products in American stores: the advertising campaign costs more than the product itself. The result? Nike sneakers that cost $3 to make and $150 to buy in stores. Klein explains the disparity between the sweat-shop workers in developing countries and the CEOs who become billionaires at their expense. And a lot about marketing, that can make a typical razor blade or tampon into something cool that all the teenagers will envy, and pay big bucks to get their hands on.

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