Category Archives: 4 stars

Thomas’s Top Ten 2015 Reads

Friends, welcome to my top ten books out of the 103 I read this year! Because I stopped posting the book reviews I write on this blog, I included a link to each book’s full review on Goodreads to force you to get an account yourself. You will see lots of books about mental health as well as feminism, and I have to say, choosing between the top ~15 stellar works of nonfiction I read almost slayed me to bits. Now, without further ado: Continue reading

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Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

How strange it is that people of honest feelings and sensibility, who would not take advantage of a man born without arms or legs or eyes – how such people think nothing of abusing a man born with low intelligence. It infuriated me to remember that not too long ago I – like this boy – had foolishly played the clown.

And I had almost forgotten.

It’s been a long time since a book has sucker punched me in the stomach both intellectually and emotionally. Continue reading

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Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

My professor introduced this novel by saying “Tess will change your life… but not in a good way.” Without a doubt, it has made me question the universe and all who inhabit it. My hatred of the patriarchy (aka Alec D’Urberville and Angel Clare) still shines like the sun in the middle of a hot summer day, but Tess of the D’Urbervilles has filled me with a cold, dark despair over the injustice of existence. As if a college English major didn’t already have to dwell on that.

One day Tess Durbeyfield learns that she actually descends from the noble D’Urberville family. Continue reading

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A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

At this point I’ve learned that George R.R. Martin writes in waves. Even though this probably isn’t how real science works, I visualize his plot structure as a giant tsunami: he adds little oscillatory currents that contribute to a huge tidal wave, which eventually crashes down and drowns us all in the most beautiful and devastating way. Though this might sound like how all books function – with a rising action leading up to a climax – Martin spends so much time developing and honing the rising action of his story that the inevitable climax calls for a great deal of praise.

Like A Clash of Kings, A Feast for Crows serves as the buildup of the tsunami. Continue reading

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Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

Here’s a secret: when I was 13, I wrote Naruto fanfiction. Even though it was pretty bad – and mildly inappropriate – one of my stories garnered over 600 reviews and hundreds of thousands of hits. Reading Fangirl flew me to my past life as an avid fanfic writer while reminding me of my present position as a college student.

Cath writes, reads, and breathes Simon Snow. Continue reading

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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Cover via amazon.com.

Cover via amazon.com.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn revolves around Francie Nolan, a young girl growing up in a poor neighborhood in New York. The plot of this novel does not drift from event to event, at least not in a way that fits standard plot summary – rather, it flows like fine water, split into five sections that match the stages of Francie’s coming of age. With warm prose Betty Smith addresses themes such as poverty, loss of innocence, and gender roles in a book she claims to have written without any intended message for society.

I loved two aspects of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, one of which was experiencing Francie mature from a tiny girl to a mature woman. Continue reading

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The Pig That Wants to Be Eaten by Julian Baggini

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

Here’s a question for vegetarians: if a pig were raised in a comfortable and humane slaughterhouse, would you eat it? What if that pig were also genetically modified to want to be eaten – if being eaten was indeed its life’s ambition? How about a genetically modified chicken that had lost its sense of self, environment, pain, pleasure etc.? It’d be like plucking a potato from the ground.

Another one, for everyone: let’s say you’re a doctor, and you have a patient who falls unconscious while on life-support. Beforehand she asked over and over again to be taken off the machine, but to your chagrin, an ethics committee forbids you from doing so. One day a random passerby – a janitor, perhaps – accidentally knocks out the plug and disconnects the patient from the machine. You let it go and the patient fades away: after all, you took no measure in shortening the her life, you just failed to prolong it. Are you justified? Continue reading

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