[In this feature, we highlight a handful of the best book reviews appearing over the weekend in major newspapers.]


Infinite Reality, by Jim Blascovich and Jeremy Bailensen. Reviewed by John Geiger (Los Angeles Times).

What do cave paintings have to do with Second Life? Is the next step of human evolution to develop a digital self? There’s some pretty interesting stuff brought up in this book’s exploration of how human live in virtual worlds. And it certainly looks to get a little heady:

But then, they ask, what is real? Perception, they point out, is based on constructed information and is still experienced subjectively: “If all of perceived reality is virtual,” they explain, “then the notion that ‘true’ experience can only be had in physical reality seems, well, unreal.” If you accept that premise, then the possibilities truly are endless. If the essence of a person, not only their appearance but vital aspects of their personality and character, can be captured digitally, then the elixir of life is at hand.

This kind of thing fascinates me; it’s already in my library queue. Check out the review.

Get a copy of Infinite Reality: Avatars, Eternal Life, New Worlds, and the Dawn of the Virtual Revolution at Powell’s.


The Paperbark Shoe, by Goldie Goldbloom. Reviewed by Courtney Crowder (Chicago Tribune).

Here’s an unlikely historical novel (does Australia, the forgotten step-child of the West, ever come to mind when talking about WWII?) from an underdog up-and-comer nobody’s ever heard of. But it sounds charming and unique, and actually quite good:

The book, Goldbloom’s debut novel, is set in the Wheatbelt region of Western Australia during World War II. Written in a diarylike manner, it centers on Gin Boyle, the albino wife of a short, arrogant farmer, and the two Italian prisoners of war who are forced to work on the couple’s farm. The plot is consistently surprising, the ending unpredictable and the characters fully realized.

I’ve been reading (and enjoying) quite a bit of historical fiction lately, so perhaps that’s why this book caught my eye.  Good luck forgetting a name like Goldie Goldbloom.

Get a copy of The Paperbark Shoe at Powell’s.


The Hollywood Sign, by Leo Braudy. Reviewed by Adam Kirsh (Barnes and Noble Review).

So the Hollywood sign is one of the last subjects I would ever think someone could write an interesting book about, but color me intrigued. The book tells the history of the now universally recognized landmark, and in doing so it will certainly expand to tell the larger story of the American film inustry and to an extent American culture. I like the reviews Kirsh writes for the B&N Review. They tend to be short and sweet, and well-balanced. This is a good example of just that, and it’s worth a read.

Get a copy of The Hollywood Sign: Fantasy and Reality of an American Icon (Icons of America) at Powell’s.


See Also: There are two memoirs coming out by former members of the now famous Seal Team 6. They don’t relate the recent Bin Laden escapade, but do promise to give a good look into some top secret badassery. Michiko Kakutani has a nice joint review in the New York Times that’s worth reading. I like that the two memoirs take very different approaches to the subject at hand.

Get copies of Seal Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy Seal Sniper and The Heart and the Fist: The Education of a Humanitarian, the Making of a Navy SEAL at Powell’s.


Bonus Book Trailer: presented with no further comment.