Monday, March 29, 2010

Books I Finished Last Week

Last week I read three books I really liked....I don't always post all my books on this blog, but I thought I'd review these. I can easily recommend all of them!

The Art of Choosing
By Sheena Iyengar

Why would a person choose to eat more chili flavored yogurt if it had been picked for him than if he had selected the flavor himself from an array of equally disgusting options? Why do children do better at math puzzles they choose themselves than they do at puzzles selected for them by their parents? Through questions like these, this book discusses the amazing power choice wields our lives. Author Iyengar presents a fascinating series of studies centered on our ability to choose, from the big decisions, like marriage and career, to the little decisions, like what to where and what color of polish we want on our toes.

The subject matter presented here is completely fascinating and the author is able to present it in an entertaining and vibrant voice. Many of the studies offered were conduct by Iyengar herself and she adds a personal note to conclusions made and how one set of results led to more inquiries and further studies. While not as readily accessible as some of Malcolm Gladwell’s books, this is still quality science writing.

Mrs. Mike: The Story of Katherine Mary Flannigan
By Benedict and Nancy Freedman

Katherine Mary is sent from a sheltered life in Boston to live with her uncle in Canada where, her mother hopes, she will enjoy better health thanks to the cleaner air. Soon after her arrival she meets and promptly falls in love with handsome Sergeant Mike Flannigan of the Canadian Mounted Police. Days after their marriage, she is off to the far North where the newlyweds set up a life for themselves in that great white wilderness at the turn of the century.

Though not written in a journal format, this book is similar to Nancy Turner’s These Is My Words. Katherine Mary is not the spitfire Sarah Agnes was, but she is still a strong woman enduring a life filled with danger and sorrow, yet finding joy, love and friendship. Minus a little mild language this is an enjoyable book for almost any reader looking for a gentle and uplifting read.

Jane’s Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World
By Claire Harman

Jane Austen. Her name is familiar to almost everyone, but she still remains a figure we know little about. Most of her personal correspondence was destroyed within years of her death and what little remains provides a patchy portrait at best. This new biography covers more than just her life but the decades of fame she has enjoyed since her death. The author presents the popularity and almost universal enjoyment of her six novels as an unprecedented phenomenon. Austen’s books have provided material for plays, movies, prequels, and sequels and has inspired works on etiquette, dating, fashion, and more. Harman presents a host of interesting insights into Austen’s contributions to our literary heritage and popular culture over the past 150 years.

This is a must read for all Janeites. (Which is pretty much everyone, right?) Harman is an obvious fan herself and quickly draws the readers into the subject matter with warmth and humor. She includes quotes and characters from Austen’s books that enrich her narrative and make the reader feel a part of the “in” group, even including a section on Colin Firth’s wet shirt. Entirely entertaining and enlightening. After putting this book down, you will either want to pick up your worn copy of Pride and Prejudice or maybe even pop in the DVD.


Mary Ann said...

Wow. You read way faster than I do. And you write so well. I'm sold. I want to read those books as soon as I finish the one I've been reading for over a month...

Robyn said...

That first book sound really interesting. I have always had a hard time with making choices so I wonder if it has anything to say about that situation.

Michaelynn said...

Cool! Thanks for the recommendations.