Book Reviews

Unforbidden Pleasures by Adam Phillips

Unforbidden Pleasures

By refocusing our concept of morality on unforbidden pleasures, Phillips argues, we can drastically alter our lives to be more interesting, and indeed more pleasurable.

Apostle by Tom Bissell


Seamlessly weaving history, biography, and theology with travel memoir, Apostle tells the bewildering story of early Christianity.

Zero K by Don DeLillo


“Death is a cultural artifact, not a strict determination of what is humanly inevitable.”

The Lonely City by Olivia Laing

Lonely City

Laing envisions loneliness as a “very special place” that can take us toward “an otherwise unreachable experience of reality.”

The Blue Guitar By John Banville

Blue Guitar

“How my mind wanders, trying to avoid itself, only to meet itself again, with a horrible start, coming around the other way. A closed circle—as if there were any other kind—that’s what I live in.”

The Birth of Insight By Erik Braun

Birth of Insight

Ledi Sayadaw’s response to British colonization resulted in the modern global movement of Vipassana meditation, the idea that meditation is intrinsic to Buddhist practice, and the notion that lay people as well as monks can study advanced Buddhist scripture.

The Soul of the Marionette by John Gray

soul of the marionette

In his most recent book, THE SOUL OF THE MARIONETTE, Gray further exposes the fundamental assumptions and myths that lie at the heart of Western thought, ethics, and politics.

The Physics of Sorrow by Georgi Gospodinov


“What about the poor Minotaur?” The deformed child, abandoned by his parents, confined in the dark labyrinth, and then killed for being different. Hasn’t he been misunderstood? Doesn’t he deserve our sympathy? Bulgarian author Georgi Gospodinov takes this sympathetic perspective in his autobiographical novel-in-fragments, The Physics of Sorrow.

The Middle Ages by Johannes Fried

middle ages

How dark were the so-called Dark Ages? It’s assumed that for a thousand years, the light of Western Civilization was extinguished. In a sprawling and engaging tome of a book, The Middle Ages, German scholar Johannes Fried turns this idea upside down.

The Harder They Come by T.C. Boyle

harder they come

“They were all just criminals anyway, every politician bought and sold by the special interests and the cops nothing more than their private army.”

The Fifth Gospel by Ian Caldwell


I’m trying to figure out how to understand Ian Caldwell’s much-awaited second novel, The Fifth Gospel, which is described by the people promoting the book as both a “literary thriller” and “a masterpiece.”

Lies, First Person by Gail Hareven


Is there a limit to freedom of expression? Should some actions not be forgiven? These two questions form the core of Israeli author Gail Hareven’s powerful novel Lies, First Person.

The Country of Ice Cream Star by Sandra Newman

Ice cream star

“My name be Ice Cream fifteen star. My brother be Driver Eighteen Star, and my ghost brother Mo-Jacques Five Star, dead when I myself was only six years old. Still my heart be rain for him, my brother dead of posies little.”

Joan of Arc: A Life Transfigured by Kathryn Harrison


Joan challenged the sexist social structure of the time, and it’s this subversion of gender roles for which she was killed. It’s the reason why people called her a whore and spit on her, and why so-called righteous men treated her so sinisterly.

Munich Airport by Greg Baxter

Munich airport

There is no easy or better way to describe Munich Airport except as an affront to life itself, challenging its readers to look beyond the comforts of living, and, if not enact Miriam’s ascetic brand of willfulness, then question the very meaning of existence.