Mini Reviews of Recent Reads

Posted May 22, 2014 by LeahAdmin in Reviews / 10 Comments

Mini Book Reviews

Hello darlings! I don’t know about you, but I have been reading up a STORM. And most of the books I’ve read lately have been really, incredibly good. Now, I haven’t had time to write full reviews of everything I’ve read in the last few months, so I’d like to share a few mini book reviews!

mini reiews 1

Sleep Donation by Karen Russell
Atavist Books; March 25, 2014

In the future, thousands of Americans have lost the ability to sleep, and the crisis grows into an epidemic. The Slumber Corps is founded to combat the illness by accepting sleep donations from healthy dreamers. These sleep donations work much the same as blood transfusions, and even an hour of healthy sleep can save an insomniac from death; a full eight hours can cure him/her.

Our protagonist, Trish, whose sister was one of the first to die from insomnia, works as a recruiter for the Slumber Corps. Although she is one of the Corps’ most effective recruiters, her faith in the organization is shaken when the first universal donor is discovered in “Baby A.” Despite Baby A’s parents’ hesitation, the Corps is intent on continually mining the baby for her perfect sleep, regardless of her best interests.

Although the premise of this novella is classic Russell, it wasn’t one of my favorite stories of her’s, although I couldn’t quite put my finger on why.

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill
Knopf; Jan 1, 2014

This wonderful little novel is the fragmented musings of a woman as she goes through her marriage, dealing with everything from a colicky baby to bedbugs to infidelity. It’s a difficult book to describe because it doesn’t really have a plot; it’s more a series of lyrical, beautiful vignettes about marriage and motherhood, with all of their ups and downs.

The format of this novel is unusual, but it makes this book really special. It can easily be read in one sitting, but it has stuck with me since I read it two months ago. It’s starkly, sparsely, achingly beautiful.

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
Back Bay Books; June 5, 2001

I’ve had two Sedaris books sitting on my bookshelf for about two years, picked up at a library sale and a used bookstore, and I figured it was finally time to read one and see what all the fuss is about!

This collection of personal essays reads almost like a memoir, as Sedaris describes his childhood in North Carolina, where he had to undergo speech therapy for his lisp (instead of fixing his impediment, he just stopped saying words with the letter “s” in them), his years doing drugs and trying to be a performance artist (without any talent to back him up), and the time he spent living with his boyfriend in Paris (where he tried to learn butchered French at a language school).

I know a lot of people really love Sedaris, but I didn’t really think this book was all that special. It was a fun, quick read, but the essays are a bit formulaic, and this isn’t a book that’s going to stick with me.

  • Glad to see you enjoyed Dept. of Speculation. It’s still one of my favorites this year. I can’t believe I haven’t read any Karen Russell yet – everyone seems to really love her first collection and Vampires in the Lemon Grove, so those look like the ones I need to find.

    • Dept. of Speculation was so surprisingly lovely! I can’t believe you haven’t read Karen Russell yet either! She’s kind of my spirit animal, and her first collection is the bee’s knees.

  • Sleep donation sounds so interesting! I wish you enjoyed it more. I am going to trust your blah review of it, though, because I didn’t trust you on Ben Marcus’s short stories and totally live with regrets on that one! 😀

    I enjoyed Swamplandia! (and loooove the !!!! at the end) but still need to read Vampires.

    • I mean, it’s still a Karen Russel story, which means it’s pretty great… it’s just not one of my favorites. Still worth a read, though, I think.

  • Isi

    What a shame you didn’t like it Sleep donation, because when I read your review I thought it was a book for me: I LOVE sleeping! It’s one of my favourite activities 😀 And you know, it’s healthy! haha

    • LeahAdmin

      I didn’t dislike Sleep Donation… it’s pretty good, but just not my favorite of Russell’s stories.

    • I didn’t dislike it… it’s pretty good, just not my favorite of Russell’s stories.

  • It’s a pity you didn’t like Sleep Donation, but that book cover kind of creeps me out. Love the new blog-look.