I have five books here that aren’t going to get full reviews but deserve at least a mention. I’ve got a three, two fours, and two fives coming in one post. Here we go!
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
by Hank Green
I am a long-time Nerdfighter and general fan of the brothers Green. I preordered this little number knowing it was likely going to be a dissapointment next to John’s books, and I made my peace with that. Because I went in with low expectations, a lot of goodwill, and tons of familiarity with Hank’s personality and intentions with the book, it was an enjoyable reading experience. Apart from my personal affection for the author, though, this was not a great book. There are some interesting ideas and a couple fun scenes, but nothing that justifies anything longer than a short story. Unfortunately, Hank Green just doesn’t have good instincts for story or great writing, and the book has several huge flaws that prevent it from working.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
I picked this up because I’ve been enjoying binging the Stars series and it seemed perfect for me, what with the history and time-travel and romance. It was fine, and I might have been more into it if I hadn’t seen the show first, but it didn’t rock my world the way it does for lots of other readers. I might pick up the other books at a library and read the important scenes to see how they compare to the show.
The Vanishing American Adult and Them
Ben Sasse started writing his first book while he was still a college administrator but it wasn’t published until he was already a Senator (Nebraska), so it gets shelved with other politician’s self-promotional current event titles. That’s a shame, because The Vanishing American Adult is a lot more than your typical biographical manifestos from future presidential candidates. I don’t agree with everything in the book, but it’s very well-written and thouroughly argued. Sasse carefully lays out the philosophical perspective he’s working from and grounds his arguments in history and sociology. Don’t believe the blurb! The books are marketed as get-off-my-lawn, I-hate-trigger-warning rants, but that’s just not true to the content.
I think his first book (focusing on the transition from adolescence to adulthood and how our society is screwing it up) is a little stronger than Them, but they’re both strong, relevant books.
William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope
by Ian Doescher
I received this as a gift last Christmas and it has a place of pride on my shelf. It’s really meant to be a gift/coffee table/novelty book, so it might have been lazily written, but it’s actually very well done. The entirety of the first Star Wars is rewritten in (pretty good) blank verse, and it makes for a charming, often hilarious read. I like to read a few pages at a time, and it’s perfect in bite-sized pieces.