BY SEAN CLARK
[In this feature, we highlight a handful of the best book reviews appearing over the weekend in major newspapers. Follow it here.]
The Grand Design, by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, reviewed by Dwight Garner (New York Times)
Hawking might be the smartest man in the world, and his A Brief History of Time is a book everyone should read, even if they have only a passing interest in science and philosophy. Hawking’s newest book takes on religion, as a consequence of asking how the universe began. A ballsy book that could probably only be pulled off successfully by this man, whose “body has been wasted by Lou Gehrig’s disease, while his mind is utterly intact, a pinging black box amid the physical wreckage.”
Ape House, by Sarah Gruen, reviewed by Amy Canfield (Miami Herald)
This is a novel about a house full of apes. These are bonobo chimps that can talk to people with their hands. This quote from Canfield’s review makes me want to read this book: “Gruen sets up her premise with wit, using a couple of quotes. First we hear from Nim Chimpsky, a real-life chimpanzee who learned sign language in the 1970s: ‘Give orange give me eat orange me eat orange give me eat orange give me you.’ That statement is followed by a message even more succinct: ‘Gimme, gimme more, gimme more, gimme gimme more’ — Britney Spears, 2007.”
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen, reviewed by Troy Jollimore (Chicago Tribune)
I know I pointed to Freedom in last week’s installment, but this time I included it because I really liked Jollimore’s review. I just powered through this 550-page book in two sitings; it’s very good and you should read it too. I’ll be writing my own review for next week that will surely be the definitive take on the novel, but in the meantime, I like Jollimore’s ability to admire without leaving the faults unidentified.
The House of Walworth, by Geoffery O’Brien, reviewed by Carol Memmott (USA Today)
The McNewspaper isn’t the best place to be looking for quality book recommendations, but this one seems pretty intriguing. Though to be honest, I picked this one because poor O’Brien’s author portrait made me chuckle. Click the link to see it; might as well read the review while you’re there.
Bonus! This weeks best book trailer. The Room, by Emma Donoghue: