BY SEAN CLARK

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

Jamrach’s Menagerie, by Carol Birch, reviewed by Ron Charles (Washington Post)

Ron Charles loved this book and his whimsical, insightful style suits its review perfectly. Mr. Jamrach, who runs a “menagerie” (somewhere between zoo and pet shop), commissions his animal catchers to find a dragon on the open ocean. Sounds like a rollicking, harrowing adventure novel, somewhere between Moby-Dick and Doctor Doolittle. [Get this book]

Fuzzy Nation, by John Scalzi, reviewed by Paul Di Filippo (BN Review)

John Scalzi wrote this novel, a reimagining of a 1962 sci-fi romp, without approval from the estate of the original author or guarantee of publication—purely out of love. Di Filippo raves about the result. This review is way too long—it starts with a discussion of what a “reboot” is—but once it gets going, it makes Fuzzy Nation sound irresistible. Skip to the 8th paragraph for specifics on the original author, or all the way down to the 15th for the actual review of Scalzi’s book. [Get this book]


The Deal from Hell, by James O’Shea, reviewed by Jack Shafer (Washington Post)

This book’s premise doesn’t sound all that engaging (O’Shea claims editors, not the Internet, caused newspapers’ struggles), but the review analyzes and educates with verve. Shafer supports and explores his thesis, that eyewitnesses never give objective accounts, more than it seems O’Shea managed to support or explore his own. Read the review; skip the book. [Get this book]

Everything Is Obvious, Once You Know the Answer, by Duncan J. Watts, reviewed by Nicholas A. Christakis (New York Times)

I find almost anything counterintuitive to be interesting, and this book is all about counterintuition itself. Specifically, it’s about how our intuitive thought patterns are often erroneous. Though Christakis irritatingly conflates the ideas of common sense and common knowledge, the review’s still worth reading. [Get this book]


In brief: It’s kind of fun watching the L.A. Times complain that the latest Sookie Stackhouse novel doesn’t have enough sex. … Best title I read this week: “Killer Stuff and Tons of Money,” a book about a flea market expert. … Do there really need to be two different books about the rivalry between Borg and McEnroe? … Several reasons why a “postmodern literary revenge story” might not be the best idea for a novel. … This book Stupid Terms for Famili— I mean, Unfamiliar Terms for Familiar Things sounds pretty unfamiliar. I mean, stupid. … And the L.A. Review of Books rounds up some anthologies of noir stories.

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